Guest Author Interview – Granville Wyche Burgess

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Please, join us for Guest Male Authors Month! We had so many responses that we will have two Guest Male Authors each week—on Tuesday and Friday.

Stone in the Crick_Cover

Title: The Stone in the Crick

Genre: Christian Romance

Synopsis: Rebecca Zook feels as stuck as a stone in her family farm’s crick. On the surface, the twenty-two-year-old Amish woman seems happy enough. A talented quilt-maker, Rebecca is engaged to Jacob, an honest, God-fearing man with a successful farm of his own. Jacob would make most young women proud to be his fiancée, but Rebecca remains restless and unsure. Whether she’s performing her chores or working at Mrs. Ansbacher’s quilt shop, Rebecca finds herself resisting the Amish way of life despite her love for her family and her culture. Even her quilting seems at odds with her heritage. Rebecca yearns to be an artist and knows self-expression is vital for true art, but the Amish feel any act that draws attention to the individual can lead to the sin of pride, so artistic expression is viewed with suspicion. Matters come to a head when Englisher Gregory Pinckney comes to Lancaster County with his horse, Bojangles. Despite their many differences, Rebecca and Gregory grow closer through their mutual love of horses. Rebecca has competition though, when Wanda, the beautiful daughter of local horse-farm owner Ivan Heminger, sets her sights on Gregory. Then Rebecca’s old boyfriend reappears, and her heart is torn in many directions. When an insurance scam almost kills Bojangles, events are set in motion that will test Rebecca’s faith and her family’s future. Is Gregory’s life in danger? Must the farm be sold? And does Rebecca dare follow her heart, or is she destined to remain a Stone in the Crick?

Granville Burgess

Author: Granville Wyche Burgess

CH: Granville is a playwright, lyricist, novelist, director, actor, producer, and teacher.  Welcome to my blog, Granville.

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

GWB: You should read my book if you like Christian-based romance (Amish), suspense, uniquely-memorable characters, and a plot with lots of surprises and complications.

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?

GWB: I do not have a formula. Stories come to me slowly and in pieces. I try to figure out what the protagonist wants and what is keeping her or him from getting it, which is how I find conflict. Then I play “what if” games: what if X did Y, then what would happen? For instance, I had no idea when I started what was going to happen to Ivan and Gregory in the climax or how it was going to happen.

CH: Readers seem to love the setting, the plot, and the memorable characters. What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your unique writing?

GWB: I grew up in South Carolina.   Southerners are wonderful storytellers.   I think I am very strong on story/plot: in everything I write, be it plays, musicals, or novels, a lot happens.   Also, because of my many years of writing plays, I think I write exceptionally strong dialogue that is centered in character and uses vivid, action-oriented language that is both fun to read and advances the plot. As for setting, I try as much as possible to put my characters in unique places, because the setting can enrich the action. For instance, in “Crick,” why have the love scene happen in a parlor or another expected place when it could happen on a horseback ride?!

CH: Since your wife is an Amish-Mennonite, did this part of your background have an influence on this book?

GWB: Every influence! I was inspired by sitting around listening to my wife’s mother and other relatives tell stories about their Amish life. I spent many weeks on the family’s beautiful farm in Lancaster County, PA, which frames the settings for the story. I shamelessly would scribble dialogue that I heard around the table, I walked among the cornstalks to get the feel of the land, I canoed down the crick, spending a good deal of time looking at the crick and spying there a beautifully-sculpted stone!

CH: Since you are the author of teleplays, plays, and musicals, what inspired you to write a book?

GWB: I loved the challenge of it. I had always told myself I could never write a novel, since I had never studied creative writing or any kind of narrative writing.   I was afraid to try. The plotting didn’t scare me, nor the creation of characters, since I had done that in plays. But finding my voice, and—as I put it to myself—writing all those words!   Happily, I found that when I had finally convinced myself to try to overcome my fear, by focusing on the characters and what they wanted and what they felt, the words came. I also found that, in contrast to plays and musicals, which have to be so economical with words and so focused on structure, I really enjoyed just letting lots of words pour onto the page.

CH: The book seemed full of suspense. Where did your ideas come from?

GWB: Once I knew Gregory had a horse and that it would be the means by which he and Rebecca came together, I knew I had to find some complication with his horse, some danger. That led me to the creation of Ivan and the whole subplot of the horse insurance scam and to putting not only the horse, Bojangles, in danger, but Gregory himself. I had such fun creating my villain, Ivan, and giving him all kinds of dastardly things to do. I started out to write simply an Amish romance, but by making it, essentially, a murder mystery, I brought a whole other level of complexity to the Amish romance genre. I am proud that my novel is not a “typical’ Amish romance.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book?

GWB: I wanted to honor and celebrate my wife’s Amish heritage. I admire the Amish greatly for their sense of community and their solid, Christian faith.

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

GWB: My message is for each of us to ‘play with all the talents God gave you,’ as I put it in my first play. Rebecca is an artist; yet, she is afraid to commit to being one. I hope readers will follow whatever passion God has put in their hearts and souls, and not let ‘the way things are always done’ frighten them away from pursuing their dream.

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

GWB: The characters of Mabel and Hannah are based on real people, and I peppered my wife about how they would say certain things and how they would react with each other. The story of an Englisher falling in love with an Amish woman reflects my own situation with my wife, as well as the issue of whether her family would accept that she wanted to marry an Englisher.   The horse insurance scam happened years ago in our hometown. The other situations, yes, were hard to create: lots of time lying on a couch with eyes closed (my favorite position for pure imagining!) to answer ‘what happens next?’ interrupted with quick jottings, then back to eyes closed.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

GWB: This is a hard one, because authors fall in love with all their characters, even—or maybe especially—the evil ones.   If I had to choose, I would say Hannah.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

GWB: Ivan! I know nothing about criminal activity or the criminal mind or mobsters or how they think and talk.

CH: With an Emmy nomination and other outstanding awards, as far as accolades or achievements, what would you say has been your greatest achievement?

GWB: My greatest achievement is my two daughters, Loring and Clara, both wonderful young women. As far as career goes, I am very proud that my second play, Dusky Sally, about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, won an award for best new play in New York City, where, as you can imagine, the competition was fierce.

CH: You are such an accomplished individual, so what’s next for you as an author?

GWB: That’s easy: the sequel to Stone in the Crick. After all, at the end Gregory still doesn’t know who his birth mother is and Rebecca is still not committed to being an artist. It’s called Fork In The Crick, and will be followed by the third and final book, Home On The Crick.

I have also written a novel about Shoeless Joe Jackson, yet to be published, called The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe, and a musical about Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass which, fingers crossed, will make it to Broadway some day.

CH: Do you have a website?

GWB: Yes: www.granvilleburgess.com

CH: Where is your book sold?

GWB: Through my website and through Amazon.com

CH: Any closing remarks?

GWB: I want to let readers know that ALL—not just a percentage—of my author proceeds are being donated to the Lancaster Farmland Trust, a nonprofit engaged in preserving the beautiful Amish farmland in Lancaster County, PA. I believe deeply that the Amish, having created a kind of paradise of healthy, Christian-based living right here in America’s heartland, should not lose their farms to development. So if you buy my novel, know that you are contributing to preserving a special place in America and to supporting the continuation of the Amish lifestyle.

CH: Thank you Granville for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your book and writing experience 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

 

 

 

Guest Author Interview – Neely Tucker

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Please, join us for Guest Male Authors Month! We had so many responses that we will have two Guest Male Authors each week—on Tuesday and Friday.

The Ways of the Dead_Cover

Title: The Ways of the Dead: A Novel

Genre: Crime

Synopsis: Sarah Reese, the teenage daughter of a powerful Washington, D.C. judge, is dead, her body discovered in a slum in the shadow of the Capitol. Though the police promptly arrest three local black kids, newspaper reporter Sully Carter suspects there’s more to the case. Reese’s slaying might be related to a string of cold cases the police barely investigated, among them the recent disappearance of a gorgeous university student.

A journalist brought home from war-torn Bosnia and hobbled by loss, rage, and alcohol, Sully encounters a city rife with its own brand of treachery and intrigue. Weaving through D.C.’s broad avenues and shady backstreets on his Ducati 916 motorcycle, Sully comes to know not just the city’s pristine monuments of power but the blighted neighborhoods beyond the reach of the Metro. With the city clamoring for a conviction, Sully pursues the truth about the murders—all against pressure from government officials, police brass, suspicious locals, and even his own bosses at the paper.

A wry, street-smart hero with a serious authority problem, Sully delves into a deeply layered mystery, revealing vivid portraits of the nation’s capital from the highest corridors of power to D.C.’s seedy underbelly, where violence and corruption reign supreme—and where Sully must confront the back-breaking line between what you think and what you know, and what you know and what you can print. Inspired by the real-life 1990s Princeton Place murders and set in the last glory days of the American newspaper, The Ways of the Dead is a wickedly entertaining story of race, crime, the law, and the power of the media. Neely Tucker delivers a flawless rendering of a fast-paced, scoop-driven newsroom—investigative journalism at its grittiest.

NeelyTucker

Author: Neely Tucker

CH: Neely Tucker is a journalist for the Washington Post. His memoir, “Love in the Driest Season,” was named one of the best 25 Books of 2004 by Publisher’s Weekly, the American Bookseller’s Association, the New York City Library and won numerous other awards. Welcome to my blog, Neely. 

CH: Please tell us about your book and why we should read it?

NT: The Ways of the Dead is the first in a series of novels about Sully Carter, a war-scarred newspaper reporter in Washington, DC, in the late 1990s. In this first installment, he’s assigned to cover the murder of a powerful judge’s daughter in a rough section of the city.

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

NT: The story is loosely based on the real-life Princeton Place murders in D.C., in which a serial killer killed between seven and nine women in one neighborhood during a three-year period. But none of the slayings in the book, most particularly that of the judge’s daughter, is based on any real event. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable using an actual slaying for ones in the book. My wife’s daughter was the victim of a high-profile homicide, and I just don’t think real-life homicides should be the basis for entertainment.

CH: How much of your leading character, Sully, is based on you?

NT: Not as much as you’d think. There ‘was’ a Washington Post reporter who dug into the Princeton Place killings, wrote that they might be the work of a serial killer, crawled around beneath floorboards of houses where women were killed and interviewed people in strip clubs down the block…and that was Gabriel Escobar, not Neely Tucker. Plus, I didn’t know Gabe (now managing editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer) had done most of that until after I’d finished the book. As I said before, I didn’t want it to be based too closely on the real events, so I purposefully didn’t do much real research. I didn’t want to take the chance of it bleeding over into the writing. That said, I put Sully in the Bosnian war, as I had been, and he works at ‘the paper,’ which is sort of like where I work. And he lives in my old house on Capitol Hill—so that, as the series went on, I wouldn’t have to try to remember what the place looked like as we went from book to book over several years. He and I certainly have things in common, but in no way is he supposed to be some surrogate version of myself.

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

NT: The most challenging thing was that I wrote it all on nights and weekends, before I knew anyone would buy it. I would get very nervous that I was just wasting not only my time, but that of my family. We have a teenage daughter and young twins, and my wife had to watch them while I was locked upstairs, writing away.

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

NT: No. I picked this particular case to base the novel on because I was already familiar with it from my work at D.C. Superior Court, which I covered for the Post. As noted above, I just didn’t have the time to go out researching unknown material. I either already knew it, could quickly find it, or just wrote fiction.

CH: What kind of advice do you have for those aspiring to write? If you had to give them a blueprint for success, what would that be?

NT: There is no ‘aspiring’ to write. Either you’re in the process or you’re not. The most difficult thing is to get the first draft done. After that, you’re just fixing literary problems, one by one, as you go through the draft. That can be done. It’s just time and effort and, sooner or later, you’ll be done. I’ve never understood the ‘aspiring author’ thing. It’s like being an ‘aspiring marathon runner.’ There’s no such thing. Either you’re training and doing it or you’re not.

CH: Is there a certain routine you implement when writing? What is it? 

NT: Not really, no. I’ve filed stories from more than 60 countries on four continents and from more than 25 of these United States. It’s really great practice for learning to write anywhere. I write in my office at work, at home in the bedroom desk (my home office), on the back porch, in bars, planes, trains, restaurants, beaches, hotel rooms or the back seat of cars. I’m writing this on the laptop at the kitchen counter, with our dog sleeping by my feet. Writing is concentration, and when you learn to concentrate you also learn you can do it anywhere.

CH: Are there any new authors that have grabbed your attention? 

NT: No, alas. I just don’t have much time for leisure reading. Although, I am reading Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, at the moment. I started it a month ago, before it won the Man Booker, and still haven’t finished! It’s really great, though.

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

NT: No, it’s a luxury I don’t have. Although, I DO listen to music a lot when I write. On this book, it was a lot of Tom Waits, since Sully seems to me very much a character in a Tom Waits song. For the close of the book, I listened to his Closing Time over and over and over again while writing the epilogue. I really wanted to the book to feel that way.

CH: Since you’ve traveled across the world and written stories about many celebrities, what’s next on the agenda in your writing career?

NT: Just more novels and more non-fiction pieces at the Post. I’m now the Post’s blogger about The Walking Dead, one of my favorite television shows. I love doing new stuff like that.

CH: What authors do you read? And who are some of your favorites?

NT: I’ve got three kids, two jobs, a spouse and a 140-pound Rottweiler. I just don’t have a lot of free time for anything at this point! But, in crime fiction, I really do love Elmore Leonard, Richard Price and George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane. For other reading, it’s mostly what’s described as literary fiction—Edward P. Jones, Salman Rushdie, Garcia-Marquez, Toni Morrison. And of course the classics, led by Faulkner.

CH: As far as accolades or achievements, did you think a poor boy from Mississippi would accomplish so much?  What would you say has been your greatest achievement?

NT: I’m very pragmatic. To the extent that I’m proud of anything, it’s been that way since I turned 21. I’ve made my entire living by writing. It’s enabled me to go all over the world and meet all sorts of people, and that career is entirely based on an ability to write quickly and at least fairly well.

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

NT: Mostly very positive. People really are fascinated by Sully, and they love or hate Sully. They like the dialogue stuff. When people don’t like you or your newspaper stories, they love to write emails and tell you how much you and your paper suck; or they are biased and generally are miserable human beings who shouldn’t be allowed to live. When you write books, the people who don’t like them just ignore you, for the most part. Most people who take the time to read it are, by definition, at least somewhat interested.

CH: Last but not least, why do you write, and what do you want readers to take from your novels?

NT: I want them to be entertained, of course, and I want them to be hooked by the plot. But I want them to take away the same thing I’ve taken away from three decades of reporting—the legacy of violence, and how it shapes the rest of peoples’ lives. We can all see physical injuries, and that’s one reason why Sully is so damaged from the shell in Sarajevo—I wanted readers to physically see how scarred the man is. Deeper, of course, is that all of the principal characters in Ways of the Dead are scarred by violence, and everything they do is shaped by that. I really love Lorena, the sister of one of the murder victims. She’s hurt, damaged…and very, very resilient. It doesn’t necessarily make her a nice person. It makes her tough, and interesting to write about, because she’s not going anywhere until she finds out what happened to her sister. I really sort of had a crush on her by the end.

CH: Where can my audience find your website?

NT: My website is www.neelytucker.com

CH: Where are your books sold?

NT: The books are on sale everywhere, and book II, Murder, D.C., will be out next summer. The paperback of Ways of the Dead will be out in late spring.

CH: Any closing remarks?

NT: Thanks so much for your interest!

CH: Thank you so much, Neely for sharing your new book and 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

Guest Author Interview – Temba Magorimbo

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Please, join us for Guest Male Authors Month! We had so many responses that we will have two Guest Male Authors each week—on Tuesday and Friday.

Butterscotch - Ebook

Title: Butterscotch: Meet Me in Alberta

Genre: Contemporary Romance (African)

Synopsis: The heat is on from the moment Raphael concludes his apprenticeship. He starts working part-time as a lecturer, while searching around for a permanent job of his caliber. He meets, Virginia, a state registered general nurse-in-training. Together they become an inseparable item. He finds contract work that pays well and is within his trade 280-kilometres away from his love. In her part, Virginia concludes her training and is posted further away from her dream boy. As he thinks he is settling down, Virginia slips through his fingers like an eel in muddy water. She marries another person. Smitten, he turns to his work and his experience, but his heart cries out for love. Four times, he meets the same woman on a bus and in another location. Dorothy is not his type, but she does have charm, elegance, charisma and things work well between them. She is not desperate to end her late spinsterhood, but they do work well. He marries her. He thinks he has settled down, when he meets Virginia again—years later. He is tired of one contract after another without getting any permanent work, until he gets a call to come to Alberta, Canada. Both women want to be with him, Dorothy as his wife and Virginia as his girlfriend, but who will he share his Alberta abode? Will a double divorce and remarriage work with Raphael and Virginia or will the African cultural establishment work its pressure and charm on him. Only one woman can win the race to meet Raphael in Alberta.

Author 2004

Author: Temba Magorimbo

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

TM: African contemporary romance fiction brings a new zeal to fiction that excites the readers.

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

TM: I mix humor, fiction and fact while looking at the period before and after the Rhodesian bush war. Believe you me this was a grueling and bloody guerilla war of independence. I also look at post-independence when the one man vote was in place as socialist experiments started to come home and bite real time. Then I make comparisons between the period of racist Rhodesian rule in terms of military and policing, then the same after the end of the war, especially from the side of the opposition.

CH: Where are you from? How much of your background has any influence on this book?

TM: My background is in my fiction. I grew up in and around the city of Gweru in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe. Then the country had five administrative provinces which were later increased to ten by subdividing the larger ones like Matebeleland and Mashonaland. The short phases of the Rhodesian bush war is relevant in my writing as this is history we can’t run away from. What I saw as I grew up is what is in my books.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

TM: In Butterscotch: Meet Me in Alberta the favorite character to write was Dorothy, whom I made huge, tall and strong looking with a feminine heart. Though the odds were stacked hard against her, she still had faith and resilience to make it through testing and trying times. First, she became a senior spinster living in a small mining town, whose fortunes were waning after faltering dates. A female teacher with a degree teaching in a small town devoid of dates is one thing. She then meets her man of the moment Raphael, almost three times through chance meetings without exchanging names or telephone contacts. Raphael was recovering from the loss of his loved one. Their romance is further complicated by distance between Shurugwi and Zvishavane with an hour and some minutes in between. Driving or riding on a bus for a date is not kosher every time the heart grows fonder. Then after she is married to Raphael, she still has to face financial issues when he is in between contracts (jobs) and when she suspects he is having an affair. She gets to know that she stands a good chance of losing Raphael to a competitor, Virginia but she keeps her cool.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

TM: In Butterscotch: Meet Me in Alberta, Spencer the husband to Virginia who was Raphael’s ex-girlfriend and now mistress is a hard character. He is supported by a nephew who collects data when he (Spencer) starts suspecting that his wife is having an affair. Together, uncle and nephew have to find out. It is difficult to write about the fall guy who must wake up and find the steam train has gone through the city, no derailment, but his wife of many years is aboard with her lover, gone with the wind. All that remains is the smell of smoke!

CH: Do you think politics has an effect on love?

TM: African politics has a great effect as it affects the economy and security of the family. Disagreements in politics here are solved more like how a resident male lion views a young challenging male. There is bound to be a fight and cubs are bound to be killed. Or politics is like two bull elephants resorting to fight in the bush, it is the grass and shrubs which suffer the most.

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

TM: I have been writing ever since I was around twelve years of age. That makes it about thirty-six years in the game. There are no prizes for experience though. I didn’t win the Booker or Pulitzer Prizes in Fiction because I would have been in Switzerland. The kudus go to the ones who can generate bestsellers. I started writing when I was inspired by radio stories as a young boy in a period when the in thing as a young man was either to be wearing jackboots, a military backpack and a Rhodesian FN rifle and camouflage or jeans and AK 47 rifle shouting slogans in support of Soviet Union or China.

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

TM: There were many books that influenced me including among others Franklin W. Dixon’s The Hardy Boys; Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew; Enid Bylton’s The Famous Five; and Captain W.E. Jones’ Bigglesworth. All of these were series which I read in secondary school. These crime series made me want to do my own crime series which didn’t work out well. How do you solve crime problems? Jack London’s White Fang; Colin Forbes’ Target 5; and Alistair McLean, etc. and my African favorites like Kahiga, Cyprian Ekwensi, Ngugi Wa Thiogo and others.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book?

TM: Butterscotch started after two sad events. A stranger explained to a relative on the telephone that his vehicle had burst a tire and he had lost his wife, the baby was in the hospital. My cousin also lost his South Africa daughter. I mixed the two to come up with a compelling and sad ending which I edited somehow. The rest is the story which evolved later into a contemporary romance fiction.

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

TM: The readers haven’t yet told me what they think. I just watch the number of reviews going up. I only get feedback from reviewers who have never been below 4-points.

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

TM: It is a challenge to write in fiction without looking at real life. Who wants to read about real life except about the really famous and their scandals? Stories and events have to be in fiction, but the places have to be real. You have to describe the lake, river and fish swarms as they are.

CH: Last but not least, why do you write, and what message do you want readers to take from your novel?

TM: My contemporary romance is about giving relationships staying power to survive another storm and face life with brute force. I know there are divorces and re-marriages; yet, romance is about second chances. I normally write about the early stages of marriage either dating or post wedding. I write because writing is therapeutic. It heals the soul and the mind. It releases imagination.

 CH: Do you have a website?

TM: I don’t have a website, as yet. You can watch my author page on amazon, goodreads or pinterest for the moment.

CH: Where is your book sold?

TM: All over the world, except in Mars. :-)

CH: Any closing remarks

TM: My sample reading (excerpts)—mainly free short stories—is available on wattpad (dot) com and timbooktu (dot) com.

CH: Thank you so much, Temba for sharing your new book 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

Guest Author Interview – Dwayne Alexander Smith

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Please, join us for Guest Male Authors Month! We had so many responses that we will have two Guest Male Authors each week—on Tuesday and Friday.

Forty Acres_Cover 2

Title: Forty Acres: A Thriller

Genre: Thriller

Synopsis: What if overcoming the legacy of American slavery meant bringing back that very institution? A young black attorney is thrown headlong into controversial issues of race and power in this page-turning and provocative new novel.

Martin Grey, a smart, talented black lawyer working out of a storefront in Queens, becomes friendly with a group of some of the most powerful, wealthy, and esteemed black men in America. He’s dazzled by what they’ve accomplished, and they seem to think he has the potential to be as successful as they are. They invite him for a weekend away from it all—no wives, no cell phones, no talk of business. But far from home and cut off from everyone he loves, he discovers a disturbing secret that challenges some of his deepest convictions…

Martin finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery—but this time around, the black men are called “Master.” Joining them seems to guarantee a future without limits; rebuking them almost certainly guarantees his death. Trapped inside a picture-perfect, make-believe world that is home to a frightening reality, Martin must find a way out that will allow him to stay alive without becoming the very thing he hates.

A novel of rage and compassion, good and evil, trust and betrayal, Forty Acres is the thought-provoking story of one man’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of a terrifying new moral order.

Dwayne Smith

Author: Dwayne Alexander Smith

CH: I am pleased to welcome first-time author Dwayne Alexander Smith. Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

DAS: Forty Acres is about wealthy black men who are members of a country club where they secretly keep white slaves.

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

DAS: Two wrongs don’t make a right…no matter how horrible the initial wrong.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book?  

DAS: I thought the story of black men enslaving whites to get revenge for slavery would be an intriguing and thought-provoking story. I liked the fact that the story touched on very real racial issues in American society. I knew that readers of any race would be able to relate to the issues confronted in the story.

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

DAS: I wanted the motive of the antagonists to be about more than just simple revenge.   I felt that had to be driven by something deeper in order to give the story real gravity. Coming up with a believable reason for their horrible crime was definitely a challenge.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

DAS: Dr. Kasim was my favorite to write but also the most challenging. His views are extreme, but I had to find a way to make him sound somewhat reasonable. I had to make him charismatic enough that the reader would believe that these smart men would follow his twisted philosophy. If that didn’t work the entire book would fall apart.

CH: Since your original dream was making movies, are there any other plans for this book, possibly a movie?

DAS: There are some efforts by my manager and agent to develop Forty Acres into a feature film or a limited TV series. I hope it happens because a lot of readers have expressed to me a desire to see a Forty Acres movie. Some have gone so far as to make a list of who they would cast in the movie. That’s pretty cool.

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

DAS: I write full-time. I’ve have been lucky enough to have a career as a full-time writer for more than thirteen years. I make my living writing screenplays, but hope to write more novels. Writing and having Forty Acres published was an amazing experience.

CH: When you start a new story, do you have a title for it? Or does the story trigger the title?

DAS: Usually when I come up with the idea for a story it comes complete with a title. I don’t think that I could write a story without knowing what the title is first. The title helps to inspire me. I also like to create the cover page of my current projects and pin it up next to my computer. Seeing the cover page of my current project is like seeing the finish line.

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

DAS: I wrote Forty Acres over a two-year period. I was working on various screenwriting projects at the time, so the writing was on and off.

CH: Have you always wanted to write?

DAS: I started out wanting to direct movies, but I after a few years of trying to make independent films, I finally figured out that writing movies was a less expensive way to break into the film industry. So, writing was really a plan B for me. But now that I’ve been a professional writer for so long my desire to direct movies has diminished. Right now, I’m more interested in producing than directing.

CH: Whats next on the agenda in your writing career?

DAS: I’m working on several film and TV projects. I’m also working on another thriller novel. There’s a sequel to Forty Acres all worked out, but whether I write it or not will depend on how well Forty Acres sells.

CH: If you could work with any author, living or dead, who would that be and why?

DAS: I’m a HUGE Stephen King fan. I would give anything just to meet him. The idea of working with him is just mind blowing. Most of the writers I admire are dead.

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

DAS: To prepare for writing Forty Acres I decided to read a lot of thrillers. Some of the authors I read were John Grisham, James Patterson, and Daniel Silva. Despite the heavy issues tackled in the story I wanted Forty Acres to be a page turner.

CH: Where can my audience find your website?

DAS: My website is www.writtenbysmith.com on Twitter@writtenbysmith on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/writtenbysmith?ref=hl

CH: Where are your books sold?

DAS: Forty Acres is sold everywhere—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible. Anywhere books are sold, you can find my book.

CH: Any closing remarks?

DAS: I love hearing from readers. They can email me at writtenbysmith@gmail.com  I also like meeting with book clubs. I’m available to meet in person, if distance allows, or over Skype. Just email me your requests. And lastly, thanks for your interest in Forty Acres and my writing. I enjoyed answering your questions. Thanks for the opportunity.

CH: Thank you so much, Dwayne for sharing your new book and 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

 

Guest Author Interview – Ben Burgess, Jr.

header1_An Author Writes

Please, join us for Guest Male Authors Month! We had so many responses that we will have two Guest Male Authors each week—on Tuesday and Friday.

Wounded_Cover 2

Title: Wounded

Genre: Urban/LGBT

Synopsis: Samantha Miller didn’t have an easy start. Molested as a child and subsequently forced into prostitution by her drug-addicted mother, Samantha learned at an early age that men were not to be trusted. Being constantly preyed upon taught her to be a predator. Her target was women—specifically, straight or married women. As the headliner at a local strip club, Samantha capitalized on the gifts she was cursed with. In turn, her life quickly spiraled down a dangerous path of violence, seduction, and exploitation. When Sasha is brought on as the new bartender, she becomes Samantha’s newest target. The last thing Samantha anticipated was falling in love. When tragedy strikes, what was once a challenge may prove to be her downfall. Can Samantha heal from her abusive past, or will she always be wounded?

Ben Burgess, Jr.

Author: Ben Burgess, Jr.

CH: Ben, welcome to my blog. Please tell us in 20 words or less, why we should read your book?

BB: Readers should read Wounded because it’s a book that will make them think and it’s a great discussion starter.

CH: Why did you decide to write about abusive relationships?

BB: With every book that I publish, there is always a purpose. I try to write about topics that are problems in people’s everyday lives. My main goal with my writing is to help change the world for the better. I feel that tackling topics that no one else writes about sets me aside from other writers; it will get people to begin thinking; and possibly help someone, who is going through the same situation.

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

BB: I feel that art imitates life. Being in my position as an NYPD Detective, I see a lot. Observing all types of situations and experiences, combined with my own personal experiences, sparks my imagination to tell realistic stories. When I first started writing Wounded, I was working on another novel, my next novel Love and Happiness. My co-workers asked me to write a book with a lesbian protagonist. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be possible, since I wasn’t a woman and knew nothing about being Gay or the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. After going to a Lesbian bar with them and talking to the women there, I decided to work on the book. I did a lot of research. I talked to fifteen women, in addition to the five couples I interviewed, to hear their thoughts, feelings, and philosophies about being a lesbian, and life in general. I listened to their joys and pains. I also mixed some of my family into my characters to add drama and heart to them. Wounded was the hardest book I have written so far. With my other novel, Monster, it was easier because 90 percent of that story was about me, but this story was a entirely different world for me. It was both challenging and exciting at the same time.

CH: What message do you want readers to take from your novel?

BB: Wounded is the story of how childhood trauma can make you who you are as an adult; how it can alter the trajectory of your life; and change your goals, and your ambitions. There are so many lessons I want people to learn from Wounded. The most important lesson is “Love is Love.” I want readers to learn that love can help you heal. Also, I’d like for readers to learn that sometimes a person’s wounds will not show with their appearance. Sometimes people are mentally and emotionally wounded, but a person can heal if they put the effort into healing and if they allow themselves to heal. Which leads me to another lesson: “You can’t move forward if you’re always looking backwards.” Sometimes we have to accept things and let them go. There are a lot of things I hope readers take away from the book, but some lessons I want readers to discover for themselves.

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

BB: It’s extremely hard to write from a female perspective. While women might have some similarities, all women are different. Interviewing, listening to, and talking to so many women to get the perfect tone for my characters, was very hard. It was also fun, educational, and interesting. By listening and researching women, I feel I have a better understanding of how some women think, and approach life

CH: Are you a self-published author?

BB: Yes, I believed I had an important story to tell. I believed that my story was different and unique, and a book that would help to change the world. I tried to publish traditionally, but many publishers believed my book was too dark. There were times when I felt like giving up. I doubted myself and felt that I wasn’t good enough. I decided to ignore what the publishers told me and self-publish. It has been one of the most rewarding and happiest experiences of my life. I have won the 2013 Readers Favorite Book Award for Urban Fiction, the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award for African American Fiction, and I was a finalist for both the 2014 International Book Awards, and the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards. Recently, I’ve won the 2014 Readers Favorite Book Award for Urban Fiction for Wounded. I feel I’m living proof to anyone who wants to self- publish that if you have a dream to write a book, never give up. Work hard on your craft and accomplish your goal!

CH: Have you always wanted to write?

BB: I’ve been writing since I was in the eighth grade. I used to write poetry and perform at open mic’s and poetry lounges. Now, I’m more focused on creating new novels to entertain people, but I will always write poetry also.

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?

BB: My ideas can come from almost anything. I love to people watch. I can listen to or watch people in real life, imagine what their lives are like, and formulate my own story about them. Sometimes a memory or an experience that I’m going through or one of my friends or family is going through, can also spark an idea for a character or storyline. Once I start writing the story, I do not have a set storyline. I let the story come to me as I write it.

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

BB: When I write, I try not to create stories that haven’t already been told. I don’t want people to think that my books are just smut. I don’t want to be similar to another author. I feel if we all read the same, then what would sets us apart? I try to write about topics most people can relate to and/or understand. I think it’s always good to see things in different perspectives to stay well versed and open minded. I try to be an inspiration to other authors and readers—to encourage them to think outside the box.

CH: What attracted you to writing in the first place?

BB: When I was in eighth grade, I read Richard Wright’s Native Son. It was life changing for me. I knew I wanted to one day write something that could have the same effect on people. My English teacher, Mrs. Marcus, was one of my most influential teachers, and my dream was to publish a book.

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

BB: Books that have inspired me have been Richard Wright’s Native Son; Eric Jerome Dickey’s books Milk in My Coffee, Cheaters and Between Lovers. I also love Zane’s Addicted.

CH: Do you have a website?

BB: My website www.woundedmonster.com

CH: Where is your book sold?

BB: My books are available on Amazon/Kindle, Google Play, Itunes, and Barnes and Nobles/Nook.

CH: Any closing remarks?

BB: I’m very serious about my writing. I’m currently trying to have Wounded made into a movie! I have a kickstarter campaign right now to gain funds to turn this dream of mine into a reality. I thank all of you in advance.

 

CH: Thank you so much, Ben for sharing your new book and 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

Celebrating Veteran’s Day

Thanks Vets

Veteran’s Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. 

On Veterans Day, put out your flags, cheer the marchers at parades, and go to tributes.
But when you wake up the next day, Nov. 12, remember that it’s still Veterans Day
for our veterans — and it will be every day of their lives.
— Gen. Colin L. Powell, (Ret.)

Veterans day

I want to honor and celebrate the service of veterans that I know. So, here is my 2014 Veterans Wall of Honor of family and close friends. (If I forget anyone, please blame it on my memory.)

Willie Holloway                                                                                                                   George Britt                                                                                                                         John McCaa                                                                                                                         Larry Irons                                                                                                                                 Al Burrows

William Holloway                                                                                                                 Samuel Robinson                                                                                                               Donald Robinson                                                                                                                 Juanel Humphrey                                                                                                            Herschel Britt                                                                                                                   Howard Britt                                                                                                                           John Marshall Britt                                                                                                               Kevin Long                                                                                                                               Keith Britt                                                                                                                               Kevin Mabry                                                                                                                       Marvin McIver                                                                                                                 Johnnie Flack                                                                                                                         John Maynard                                                                                                                   Richard Ligon

Husband and Wife                                                                                                             Donald Britt                                                                                                                         Valerie Strickland Britt                                                                                                       Kenneth Holloway                                                                                                             Lanette Padron Holloway

God Bless our men and women in service—their dedication will never be forgotten.                                                                   ~Cheryl Holloway

Guest Author Interview – Jihad

header1_An Author Writes

Please, join us for Guest Male Authors Month! We had so many responses that we will have two Guest Male Authors each week—on Tuesday and Friday.

Dark Horse Assasin_Cover

Title: Dark Horse Assassin: Rise of the Messiah

Genre: Conscious hip-hop fiction

Synopsis: Modern Day Babylon – The almighty dollar is reigning supreme and America is in complete disarray. Even God is being exploited for a dollar more than ever before. Now, as thousands are dying, America’s fate lies in the hands of one person.

Redemption? Thousands consider the young man known as Zion as their only hope for salvation. But time is running out as the veil of darkness threatens to consume the Earth and all that inhabit the dying planet. With the help of twelve of the nation’s most prolific spiritual leaders, Zion, and two friends risk their lives daily trying to redeem mankind while barely staying a step ahead of the world’s most powerful men who have two goals – Destroy Zion and his friends, and world domination under a One World Order.

Will the greatest good triumph over supreme evil? Is there really a God? And if you have any questions to God’s purpose for humanity, by the time you finish reading the nail-biting suspense Dark Horse Assassin trilogy you will have no doubt to what your purpose in this life is.

Jihad

Author: Jihad

CH: Jihad, welcome to my blog. Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

J: Dark Horse Assassin is the African-centered biblical revelation, in other words, the apocalypse meets the Matrix.

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

J: This book is revolutionary in that it’s about what is to come with the second coming of the Messiah being an African-American young man that lives among the hood element and inspires change.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your type of writing, the conscious hip-hop fiction?

J: I bring a reality that black America doesn’t get to see through imaginative literature, which Nguni says, “…shapes all society’s.”

CH: Why did you decide to write this book?

J: I was so sick and tired of seeing biblical stories that have written African people out of history. I was tired of seeing history being rewritten by an oppressive and Euro-centric mindset that uses and has used their fictional version of history to marginalize people of color around the world. Dark Horse Assassin gives African-Americans a voice in imaginative and non-fiction literature.

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

J: Yes, to stop allowing oppressive thought and concept to define who you are and your purpose. People are more important than money. And the concept of Nguzo Saba, “…I am because we are and we are because I am.”

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?

J: My ideas and plots are inspired by history and the fragmented history that is taught and understood in America that lead to current events in the world. My writing is better defined as socio-political suspense.

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

J: I’m getting phenomenal feedback. My book is being taught this semester at Clark University in Atlanta in African-American Literature. For me, that is an honor because the academy has already defined Dark Horse Assassin as literature.

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

J: Yes, I was going to school, while working. I was afraid I wasn’t giving enough time to my life. This book totally took over my life, while I was writing it.

CH: Which writer do you admire most and why?

J: Barry C. Davis. This man is a phenomenal writer that writes cutting edge historical fiction, he is self-published and he researches extensively before he pens a story and he hasn’t succumbed to what pop culture wants to read. And I admire Guy Johnson who is a good friend and has not allowed his paralysis to stop him from writing. He’s also Dr. Maya Angelou’s son, a great writer.

CH: You have several books published, can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?

J: It has been rough. I don’t have the resources that the major publishers have but I have been able to build a following over the last 14 years. My journey has helped to define me as a man of principle because I have continued to write what I want instead of what’s popular and I’ve been blessed to write from my heart.

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?

J: I get an idea and I begin writing January 1 of every year and I don’t use outlines because I don’t know where my books are going. I let my characters take over and I write with my original concept in mind. I write 35 pages a week usually 5 pages a day. If I want a day off, I have to write more in one day, but I usually write more than 5 pages a day.

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

J: I was in Federal prison in the 90’s when I realized that black folks in general want to be entertained and that’s when I said I’m going to edu-tain; and become the bridge between Donald Goines and Dr. John Henrik Clarke.

CH: Have you begun your next writing project?

J: No, I haven’t.

CH: Where can my audience find your website?

J: www.Jihadwrites.com

CH: Where are your books sold?

J: Everywhere including my website. It is also available in kindle and nook.

CH: Any closing remarks?

J: Thanks for having me on your blog. Please, family don’t judge me by the category my books are placed in, judge my books by the content. And please Christians stop telling our urban brothers and sisters that all you read is Christian fiction when all of Jesus’s boys were hoods, and all of God’s prophets were gangsters at one time. Christianity is about Sankofa—reaching back to pull others forward.

CH: Thank you so much, Jihad 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

 

Guest Author Interview – E. L. Crenshaw

header1_An Author Writes

Please, join us for Guest Male Authors Month! We had so many responses that we will have two Guest Male Authors each week—on Tuesday and Friday.

They Always Come in Three_Cover

Title: They Always Come in Three

Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Synopsis: Department of Homeland Security Agent Michael Speed, with peculiar personality quirks and his partner Dave Cyrano are assigned to investigate a succession of unexplained airplane crashes. Their pursuit takes them in several different directions. From Whidbey Naval Air Station to an arrogant Aryan nation’s militant group to an obscure aviation company in Sweetwater, Texas, and then finally, to the top tier of the nation’s aviation investigation organizations in Washington, D.C. They find two common threads in their search, Avanti Aerospace and the European Alliance Consortium. However, each time they are close to uncovering the conspiracy, they are abruptly assigned to another project. As the body count, from the airline disasters continues to pile up, Speed and Cyrano enlist the aid of Jason Brady, a teenage survivor of one of the air crashes with inside knowledge of the flight deck. Together they embark on a course that puts their lives in danger. When the smoke clears only one of investigators will be left standing.

CCI02052013_0000

Author: E. L. Crenshaw

CH: E. L., welcome to my blog. Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less and tell us why we should read your book?

ELC: Action packed, quirky but efficient main protagonist. The book offers a mixture of thrills and suspense in extraordinary situations.

CH: Since you have over thirty years of experience as a U.S. Aviation Maintenance and Flight Test expert, why did you decide to write this book?

ELC: Although, this book was written before the disappearance of Malaysian flight MH 370, many people still take for granted the ease at which an aircraft can be hijacked or used as a weapon.

CH: If there is only one message you could leave with readers after they read, They Always Come in Three, what would it be?

ELC: The message would be that new aviation security methods need to be in place.

CH: I know you are the expert, but did you have to do any special research to write this book?

ELC: Tons, and tons of research, especially the inter-action of flight crews during emergency situations.

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

ELC: It was a challenge finding the right characters to interact and complement each other and finding the right locale to extend the plot

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

ELC: A lot of it I took from listening to people who had been in near disaster situations, and from reading books on aviation mysteries.

CH: Since you read and write in the suspense/thriller genre. Are there any other genres that you would like to write a book?

ELC: Yes, I plan to write in the science fiction genre for my next book.

CH: Did your extensive experience in Aviation enhance the writing of this book?

ELC: One of the things I learned in my creative writing class, was if you are not sure what genre you like, write what you know, my many years in aviation has given me the expertise to learn and know the language and terms; and to give my readers the sensation of actually being with a flight crew in an emergency situation.

CH: Your first two books came out almost back-to-back. It’s been eight years since your last book, what took so long? How long does it take you to write a novel?

ELC: I took a few years off and went back to college to gain a degree and strengthen my creative writing skills.

CH: Are there any authors, alive or dead, that you consider your mentor?

ELC: I learned a lot about explosive and DNA from reading books by Colin Evans, and about a progressive plot from Walter Mosley, Lee Child and David Baldacci.

CH: I know how hard it is for a self-published author to find a publisher. Can you tell us a little about your journey to finding a publisher?

ELC: Although, I had offers to self-publish, I wanted a traditional or independent publisher so I started with the 2014 Novel and Writers Market book; and when I found ones that would offer me a contract, I checked The pre-editors and editors website to see what type of feedback they received about the publisher.

CH: Have you begun your next writing project?

ELC: I have started, but slowly, right now I want to concentrate on marketing for this just released novel.

CH: Where can my audience find your website?

ELC: My website is www.fictionwritersplus.com

CH: Where are your books sold?

ELC: You can get my books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my publisher: www.blackrosewriting.com/suspensethriller/they-always-come-in-three. In both, paperback and ebooks.

CH: Any closing remarks?

ELC: Book enthusiasts’ who enjoy a book that offers a mixture of thrills and suspense in extraordinary situations, will, I hope, love reading this book. It parallels such novels as, Airframe by Michael Crichton, Hijacked by Dave Hirschman, and Last Man Standing by David Baldacci. I will leave you with the question, ‘Could that really happen?’

CH: Thank you so much, E. L. 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

 

Celebrity Guest Author Interview – Bettye Griffin

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Please, join us for Celebrity Guest Authors Month!

Love Sand

Title: Love Will Grow

Genre: Romance

Synopsis: In the final installment of Bettye Griffin’s Love Will series (preceded by the prequel Lost That Lovin’ Feeling and the novel Love Will Follow), Nylah Taylor has devoted herself to the care of her orphaned nephew, Dillon, since he was an infant. It’s been a lonely four years, but she takes solace that he is happy and well-adjusted as he approaches his fifth birthday. When an innocent inquiry reveals someone has stolen Dillon’s identity, Nylah immediately goes to the police station to report the crime.

Detective Marc Samuels has to force himself to focus more on the legal issue of the beautiful woman before him and less on the woman herself. He presses her for information about Dillon that Nylah is reluctant to give, creating an antagonistic atmosphere. But he’s determined to get into her good graces, for he believes that under that hostile exterior lies a woman in desperate need of some TLC…and he also feels he’s just the man to nurture Nylah.

Bettye Griffin

Author: Bettye Griffin

CH: Please join me today in welcoming our Celebrity Guest Author, Bettye Griffin. She is the national bestselling author of numerous contemporary romance and women’s fiction, as well as a few series.  She is known for writing romance in the real world. Bettye has published 20+ novels and eBooks.

CH: Bettye, thank you for joining us and welcome. Tell us a little bit about your book. Where did you get the premise for the story? 

BG: Many of my stories come from real-life situations that I read about online. Sadly, I read of a tragic story of a house fire that wiped out five members of a single family who lived on an upper floor of a two-family house. The fire had been started when tenants, moving in on the lower level at night, carelessly leaned a mattress against the stove, inadvertently turning on one of the jets. My writer’s imagination took over, and I added in my idea file a woman who raises her sister’s little boy after her sister and the rest of her family are killed in a fire. What would happen, if she was forced to tell the child, now a preschooler, that she’s not his real mother? I had already created the character of Nylah Taylor in my book, Love Will Follow, (she was the heroine’s best friend), and this seemed like the perfect premise for her own love story.

CH: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from when you write?

BG: As previously stated, I’m a ‘ripped from the headlines’ writer, although I prefer to use lesser known stories I see on the Internet or hear on the news rather than big celebrity stories (although, I’m not above using the latter). There is often a tragic element to the stories, which makes them more real and gives them depth. Such as, the true story of a multi-generational family vacation that ended in a fiery crash on a Caribbean road on the way to the airport for the return flight became a basis for my book, Isn’t She Lovely? Sometimes, I can form a story from a single idea, and sometimes I combine two or three ideas. The important thing is to have a written record of the ideas!

CH: When you wrote the first book in this series, did you realize it would be a series then?

BG: Yes. I wanted to write about both Illinois resident Tierney and her childhood friend who still lives in their native Indiana, Nylah. Love Will is sort of an un-series-like series.  :-) The first book is a prequel that catches up with Tierney’s friend and former co-worker, Tracy Pegram (now Norwood) from Isn’t She Lovely? (Tierney was a very minor character in that book, which is not part of the series). The series contains a prequel, Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, which addresses the state of Tierney’s marriage, which she revealed at her first introduction had been under some strain (it’s a FREE download at my publisher’s website, www.bunderfulbooks.com. In the follow-up full novel, Love Will Follow, I throw a monkey wrench into their path. Nylah is there to help her friend through a highly stressful situation, and of course in Love Will Grow, it is Nylah’s turn.

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

BG: Not Really. Nylah is an HIM Director (formerly known as Medical Records Director) at a hospital, something I know a little about. My husband was a pre-law major (he ultimately switched career paths), and knows enough of the basics to keep me on track. The rest is pure personality.

CH: How much of your leading lady is based on you?

BG: Nothing, other than she tries to do the right thing, even if she’s wrong.

CH: Who is your favorite love interest from this series?

BG: I’d have to say Prentice Blake from Love Will Follow. He’s sensitive, caring, and his desire for a family of his own is especially poignant—his being a pediatrician only makes this more heart tugging. In the midst of his unexpected relationship with Tierney Simmons, he was faced with a situation that would make many men run for the hills, but he hung in there and didn’t give up.

CH: What are some of your aspirations as far as the writing profession?

BG: I never really had any aspirations, other than to get published. I’m way too old for dreams or fairy tales, so I’m afraid I can’t say the usual about having my stories made into movies (although, I’ve been approached two or three times, I know these inquiries generally don’t lead anywhere) or winning awards (although, a Pulitzer would be nice :-) ). My years of writing for traditional publishers helped prepare me for the rigors of going Indie. I do my best to write interesting stories about interestingly flawed people. If readers enjoy them, I’m happy!

Bettye Griffin Office

Bettye Griffin’s office, which has recently been updated.

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

BG: It depends on what’s going on in my life. My elderly mother (96 years) spends part of the year here with us, and she requires more attention, and of course, I like spending time with her. I don’t get a whole lot done when she’s here. The shortest time I completed a book remains at 90 days for Man of Her Heart…I had ended the previous book in the series, Something Real, with a cliffhanger and promised readers they wouldn’t have long to wait to learn the outcome. In hindsight, I don’t know how I managed to pull that off, but I do know, I won’t be attempting that again! It usually runs 3 to 6 months.

CH: What other genre that you haven’t written in would you like to write a book?

BG: None. I love romance and women’s fiction, and that’s what I write.

CH: Who is your favorite author? Why?

BG: I have favorite books rather than favorite authors…every author I’ve read has penned at least one book that’s a miss for me. In terms of favorite books, they include: Valley of the Dolls and The Love Machine by Jacqueline Susann for the fascinating storylines and zippy dialogue; Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine by Bebe Moore Campbell for its lyricism and wonderful use of metaphors; For Always by Bette Ford for its sensuality; and Blue Heaven by Joe Keenan for its laugh-out-loud humor. These books cover a pretty wide spectrum in terms of genre.

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

BG: I’m currently working on a holiday novella that—provided I can get the editing done—I’ll publish in the weeks before Christmas. Then I’ll be publishing my first nonfiction, a collection of thrifty tips. I hope to bring some long-simmering projects to fruition in 2015—I have a penciled-in schedule, but I’m not ready to make it public yet.

CH: Where can my readers find your website?

BG: My author site is www.BettyeGriffin.com . My publisher’s site is www.bunderfulbooks.com Check out the Freebies page.

CH: For my readers, where are your books sold?

BG: The eStore at my website has my books in all formats, including ePUB. Amazon has my books in their proprietary MOBI format. Most of my more recent books are available as eBooks only. I stopped doing print when those books grossly underperformed in comparison to eBooks.

CH: Any closing remarks?

BG: Just that I hope your readers will check me out! Thanks, Cheryl!

CH: Bettye, you are quite welcome and thank you for sharing your writing experience and your books with my readers

Note: Photos are compliments of Bettye Griffin and the Internet.

 

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

Guest Author Patrise Henkel Discusses “How to Succeed at NaNoWriMo”

header1_An Author Writesnanowrimo

NaNoWriMo Goal: writing 50,000 words in 30 days with over 300,000 writers

Fact: Only 14% complete the challenge

Patrise Henkel

Author: Patrise Henkel and NaNoWriMo Winner

CH: I am so happy to present to you today, our Guest Author, Patrise Henkel. She is a local Maryland author and a writer friend, who has participated in the NaNoWriMo challenge five years in a row. Today, we will discuss How to Succeed at the NaNoWriMo challenge.

CH: Patrise, thank you for joining us and welcome. Let’s get started. What is the best way to prepare your mind and body for the challenge?

PH: Ha! NaNoWriMo is quite a challenge! I like to say that I may not be able to run a marathon, but I sure can write one! So, yes, it does take good preparation and pacing. And stubbornness. And coffee.

CH: How can a writer identify ideas, storyline, characters, plot, setting, narrative voice and story tense?

PH: Great question, but you really don’t need to worry about all that in order to participate. NaNo has a tradition of including anyone who wants to write, including very young writers. The founder, Chris Baty, even wrote a book, No Plot? No Problem!, to encourage people to jump in and write, and just see where it takes them. This process is called ‘pantsing,’ writing by the seat of your pants.

CH: Should a writer prepare an outline for the novel before starting to write?

PH: ‘Pantsers’ will find a great deal of support and encouragement for this approach, and there is definitely something to be said for showing up at the page and seeing what happens. My first few years, I had an IDEA, but not much of a plan. And there were surprises.

This year, however, I have devoted much more time to planning and will have an outline to work from. I even know the ending! So, planners are welcome. You have lots of company. The boards have been busy with writers working on character profiles and research, getting ready for that November 1st green light.

CH: Should a writer make chapter sketches beforehand?

PH: More than chapters, character sketches are the essential ingredient. This week, I attended an amazing NaNo prep workshop with the writing coach Mia Zachary. She really pushed us to define our characters, in terms of background, temperament, capabilities, even their Myers-Briggs profile!

CH: Is this going to be a “first draft”?

PH: Yes, very much so. There is no time to stop and edit. All the clean-up happens after November. If you look at yesterday’s work and feel like you’ve gone off course, just jump back in, and write yourself back to where you need to go. There is no re-write in NaNo, and don’t delete anything!! Every word counts!

In Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott, she says your first goal is to write a really shitty first draft. That’s because you want that excellent raw material for the work of editing, after November. They should call it ‘National First Draft Month,’ but that doesn’t sound as sexy! First drafts don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be written.

First Drafts

CH: What about catch-up days? What about writer’s block? What about brainstorming?

PH: Everybody’s schedule is different, although writing every day is certainly recommended. Moms with full time jobs manage to do this challenge, so it is possible. It just requires that you make it your top priority.

Some folks work all week and write like the devil on weekends. Some get up early and write in the pre-dawn hours, some write 2 hours a night and take weekends off. You will find your own rhythm.

Attending NaNo write-ins are great for beating writers block! Get out of your physical rut, go meet some other writers and do it together. I am hosting local Write Ins on Wednesdays in November at the Accokeek Library (Maryland) from 7-9pm.

At write-ins, you hunker down together and have the peer reinforcement of writing together. We write for a while, then take breaks and share the frustrations and relief of making headway. Also, ‘Word Wars’ are a fun, competitive way to get your fingers flying. Set a timer and write until it dings; see who has the highest word count!

CH: Should a writer use the NaNoWriMo website and forums?

PH: Absolutely! First of all, in order to officially ‘win’ you will want to verify your word count at NaNoWriMo before midnight on November 30. For that, all you need to do is register with a username and password, and paste your draft into the Verifier.

Beyond that, the resources on the forums and regional threads are amazing! While forum chat can be a way to procrastinate, it’s also a great place to make new friends, share your struggles and victories with others, and ask for help.

You know how some things come easy, but other little things can be a challenge? For instance, naming characters is something that I find really challenging. There is a whole forum called Appellation Station dedicated to naming of all kinds, and I’ve been helped out by some amazing people who love to name characters, suggest book titles, place names, etc. That’s just one example of the kind of help available on the forums.

CH: What software should a writer use (word or special writing software)?

PH: I’ve used Word, and Google Docs; and now I use Scrivener, which is pretty cool, but takes a while to get used to. Everything has different advantages.

Google Docs is brilliant because it’s always there in your account no matter what device you log in on.

Word—for many of us this will be the most familiar and the most comfortable tool. But be sure to back up your files!

Scrivener is a NaNo sponsor, and will provide you a free trial edition to use during NaNo, a NaNo-specific template, and a 50% discount to use for purchase for NaNo Winners. It’s a pretty cool program, since you have all the pieces and parts of your novel contained in one universe. Scrivener calls it the Binder. You can organize your research items, character profiles, outlines, and more all in one file. It also has great formatting tools for self-publishing. I look forward to needing those very soon!

CH: Is it better to use a pc, laptop, notebook, or tablet?

PH: Whatever you are comfortable with is best. There are plenty of people who write longhand, too. Although, they have the added challenge of transcribing in order to verify their word count.

CH: What about handling other things, such as emails, calls, visitors and meals?

PH: Ha, the interruptions of life! One gets accustomed to repeating the phrase, “Not now, I’m writing!”

And that is good practice for every day. The most valuable thing about this project is how you choose to put your creative work at top priority, and get used to how that feels. I believe this is a radical act for women writers in particular.

CH: Should files be backed up daily?

PH: Absolutely. You need a backup plan. When I wrote in Word, each day I emailed the draft to myself, so it was always archived in email. Using Google Docs, I wrote each chapter as a separate document, downloaded them as Word and pasted it together to track total word count. Just make sure you are not left without a backup in case of the worst. Hard drives fail at the most inopportune times!

CH: Do writers need a writing buddy or support group? How do you find these?

PH: The forums are there to encourage you to connect with local writers, as well as make online friends. Each region has its Municipal Liaisons, or ‘MLs’, who are in charge of the local meetings. They will usually arrange a kickoff meeting or two, and encourage local writers to host meet-ups throughout the month.

Register with your region and you will see the regional calendar on the forum, complete with events highlighted for the next few days. That’s how I discovered the character development workshop I attended this week.

Locally, the Accokeek Womens’ Writing Group meets the 2nd Monday of each month from 1-3pm at the Accokeek Branch Library. I will host Write-Ins there on Wednesday nights. I know there will also be some Write-Ins at Panera (restaurant) in Waldorf, MD.

CH: Should I tell family and friends that I am doing this challenge?

PH: Absolutely! Shout it from the rooftops! Get yourself some stickers for your laptop, a NaNo mug and T-Shirt! I’m wearing mine from last year. It declares “I’m a Winner!” Actually, it’s good to buy it now; it’s one more thing that helps you keep your commitment to yourself.

CH: Any closing remarks?

PH: Yes. Write down that dream, persevere FOR YOUR CREATIVE SELF, and the rewards are immeasurable and priceless. There are new people in my life, I have paid writing work that would have never come if I had not followed my Muse and made my creative work a priority. So if you want to write, this is a great time to do it—NaNoWriMo! On the Nano forums I am Patrise and you can check me out here http://nanowrimo.org/participants/patrise/novels.

Bio: Patrise Henkel is an artist and writer born in Detroit and living in Southern Maryland. A self-described eccentric, Patrise is in love with color, never tires of geography, wants to read everything and takes her dog everywhere.

For gainful employment Patrise operates Clearwell Co., a marketing communications consulting and coaching firm that helps clients promote their small business or great cause with online marketing. She also ghost-writes for the Commercial Real Estate and Public Health and Safety Marketing niche/genres. Co-founder of the Accokeek Women’s Writing Group (AWWG), Patrise functions as Blogmeister for the Women’s Pages, AWWG’s official blog.

CH: Patrise, thank you for sharing your NaNoWriMo experience with my readers

Note: Photos are compliments of Patrise Henkel and the Internet.

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

Celebrity Guest Author Interview – Kendra Norman

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Please, join us for Celebrity Guest Authors Month!

Kendra Norman

Author: Kendra Norman (Formerly Kendra Norman-Bellamy)

CH: I am so blessed to present to you today, our Celebrity Guest Author, Kendra Norman. She is the national bestselling author of numerous faith-based titles. She is best known for her fiction writing, but is also the author of nonfiction spiritual empowerment books. Kendra is also a motivational speaker and a licensed minister.

CH: Kendra, thank you for joining us and welcome. You began your literary career in 2002 and since then, you have won numerous awards and you have received multi-book deals. Can you tell us a little about your literary journey? 

KN: I believe God designed my journey to be uniquely mine. I began writing, not because I aspired to be an author, but because I found the craft to be refreshingly therapeutic. The idea to publish came in 2001 after I’d written the manuscript titled For Love & Grace, but I actually began writing a number of years earlier. For Love & Grace became my debut novel when I self-published it in 2002, after getting a number of rejection letters from mainstream publishers. It was in circulation in its self-published version for just shy of a year when the publishers of the now defunct, BET Books, called me and asked for not only the opportunity to re-release my novel on a national level, but they also asked that I make it a 3-book BET series. (Ironically enough, BET was also one of the many companies who had already rejected that same manuscript.) Less than a month later, one of the acquisition editors at Moody Publishers called and offered a contract for a separate manuscript that I’d sent them a few months earlier; a manuscript that they’d originally rejected, as well. Each of these companies agreed to non-exclusive contracts which allowed me to write for both. Eventually, I was writing for three mainstream publishers, simultaneously. My literary journey has come with its highs and lows, but I consider myself to be very blessed to have been ordained for such an assignment as this. The awards and recognitions are awesome, but they don’t compare to the joy that comes along with receiving emails and letters from readers that share the details of how much they have been blessed by the works God has inspired me to create.

CH: Can you explain how it works when you write a book with a co-author, such as Hank Stewart?

KN: There is no set in stone answer for the dynamics that come along with working with a co-author. Every writer’s experience may be different. I’ve heard horror stories from some of my fellow authors regarding their experiences, but it was easy to work with Hank on the two projects on which we collaborated. We already had an established relationship in the industry having worked on several community and literary events together. Hank is a nationally recognized poet. He’d written a few poems that he decided deserved to be brought to life in full fictional stories, and he contacted me for help. The poems he’d selected were romantic in nature. I combined the romance with a faith-based drama-filled storyline and the end results were amazing. Readers loved those two books. I had a lot of fun working with Hank. Basically, I did all of the writing, but he and I would talk regularly during the process, and I would feed off his adrenalin. He was like a big kid in a candy store! He was so excited about the projects without even seeing them, and I thrived off his enthusiasm. When we spoke, he would give me ideas to incorporate in the storylines. Both Three Fifty-Seven A.M. and The Morning After were written by me, but they were based on poems that Hank created.

CH: Since you are a licensed minister and most of your books are faith-based titles, are they an extension of your ministry?

KN: Absolutely. When I stand in a pulpit and minister to crowds of listeners, it is my most earnest prayer that God will use my lips to say something that will uplift their spirits, encourage their hearts, and change their lives. When I sit down to write a book, the process is the same. I’m very prayerful, and I desire that God uses my hands to write something that will not only entertain, but also bless the hearts of the readers.

CH: What was your favorite book to write?

KN: I can’t tell you how difficult of a question that is to answer. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing all of my books. I don’t necessarily have one that I enjoyed writing most. I will admit, though, that I have characters that I enjoyed creating more than others. I think that the characters in the Grace Series (For Love & Grace, Because of Grace, and More Than Grace) are the ones I most enjoyed creating and living with as I wrote the books that they’re in. (Gosh . . . I hope that doesn’t make the characters in my other fictional novels jealous.)  :-)

Office

Kendra Norman’s writing space/office.

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

KN: It’s no secret that in books largely geared toward the African-American community, very few are found wherein the male character is depicted as a genuinely good, decent, and strong role model. This was especially true when I first began writing. Because of that, people pegged me as a different kind of writer. First, I was a female whose fictional books were written from the male perspective (meaning the main lead character was a man). And secondly, the men in my books were good upstanding men who loved God and tried to do right by their families. They weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but as flawed as they may have been, they were men whose motives and actions were pure. I found that readers enjoyed that change of pace. It was refreshing for them to see the community (especially its men) shown in a more positive light. When men read the books, they told me that they felt emancipated. When women read the books, they told me that they felt like there was hope, after all.

CH: How did you start writing?

KN: My love for writing began as a ten-year-old, fifth grader. It was at that age that I began writing poems. Poetry was my specialty all through my teen years and even as a very young adult. I didn’t begin creating manuscripts until 1999, and even then, I wasn’t writing to publish. I’d endured the heartbreaking loss of my first husband a few years before, and had gone into a state of depression because of my refusal to properly grieve that loss. I discovered that writing dramatic fictional stories about love and redemption brought me a sense of joy, peace, and healing. I wrote for quite some time before I ever had a thought or desire to publish anything.

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Readers can pre-order this book.

Title: The Path From Pain to Purpose

Genre: Christian

Synopsis:  Purpose is a destination, which means before reaching it, we must first travel. And along the way, we discover that the road to getting there can come with many unforeseen trials.

Before we can carry out our God-ordained purpose, He must first prepare us. We have to be molded and equipped for our life’s assignments, and that process is often accompanied by pain.

The phase that takes place between our spiritual transformation and our final destination can be so agonizing that we want nothing more than to give up and detour onto what appears to be an easier path. I know. I’ve been there more than once. But what my experiences taught me first hand is that we only come to the full realization of PURPOSE when we endure.

Walk through the pages of this book with me as I share my incredible true-to-life testimony of the earth-shattering challenges that I triumphed on the path to finding my divine purpose. In candid transparency, I share my experiences of betrayal, embarrassment, heartbreak, and by the grace of God…my amazing triumph!

All things work together for the good of them that love the LORD and are called according to His purpose!

CH: Do you have plans for a new book?

KN: Well, my latest one, The Path From Pain to Purpose, was just released in September. Right now it’s available in electronic download format only (for e-Readers such as Kindle and Nook) and can be ordered on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. I’m working toward having some limited print copies available later this fall. Because it’s my 20th book and I consider that a landmark accomplishment, it will only be released in print in limited edition collector’s copies. Print copies can be pre-ordered through my website. Only those who pre-order are guaranteed a print copy because I won’t be doing any reprints once the original print run is sold out. Early next year, I will begin working on another fictional novel. I know the title, and I have much of the storyline already in mind, but readers will have to wait awhile, before I divulge any of the details.

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?

KN: No; I never look at what’s trendy at the time of my writing. I never piggyback my storyline on headline news, celebrity gossip, or what was seen on a popular talk show. Nor, do I look to see what books are the hottest selling ones and try to come up with a story that addresses that same issue in hopes that it’ll result in high book sales for me. I’m not saying anything is wrong with doing those things. The industry may even applaud them as smart ways to market. But that’s just not the way it works for me.

CH: Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from when you write?

KN: My story ideas are drawn from everyday life, but they are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and I’m not ashamed to say that. I’m a very prayerful writer. I literally ask God to feed me ideas that He wants me to write about. I do that because I want whatever I write to be a blessing to the reader, and only God knows what the readers need to be exposed to in order for that to happen. Generally, He’ll allow me to see or hear something that will spark an idea for a storyline. Sometimes, it even comes by way of dreams. I love my unique creative process.

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

KN: None of my fictional novels are based on real life experiences. However, some of the characters in those books have been inspired by real life people. But even though none of the situations I write are replicas of my real life, none of them were hard to create either. In the world we live in, very little that happens is a shock anymore. Things that used to be unimaginable when I was a child are virtually normal in today’s society. It’s a sad truth; but it’s the truth nevertheless. It’s not that much of a challenge for an author to create a believable situation for a fictional book without basing it on the happenings in their real life.

CH: Of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite book?

KN: At this point in my career, I’m primarily known as a Christian fiction writer, but personally, my favorite books are my nonfiction/ministry titles. Of the twenty books that I’ve published over the last twelve years, only two of them are nonfiction, but those two—I Shall Not Die (released 2010) and The Path From Pain to Purpose (Released 2014)— have brought me the greatest sense of accomplishment and joy. That makes them my favorites. Because of how personal they are and the unmasked messages of life and hope that they offer the readers, my nonfiction titles are the ones that are nearest and dearest to my heart.

CH: You are a national bestselling author.  Can you explain how you felt the first time?

KN: No, actually I can’t. It really was a very indescribable feeling when I first got the news of my national bestseller status. My third title, Crossing Jhordan’s River, was the first to reach that pinnacle. One would think that after attaining that status the first time, every subsequent time would feel more and more routine. For me, that hasn’t been the case. Eight of my titles have been named national bestsellers and several of those titles reached that status on multiple occasions. Still, every time it happens the feeling is just as euphoric as the ones before it. It never gets old. I’m just so thankful.

CH: Do you find anything challenging while writing your books?

KN: The only real challenges that I’ve faced are the ones that have come with writing, while also working a full time corporate America job. For me, that was a monumental challenge. It doesn’t make it impossible, but it does make it much harder. Based on how mentally or physically draining a writer’s “day job” is, it can be next to impossible to write at any time except on off days. And even then, it can be difficult; especially, if they have families or other obligations. Thankfully, I write full-time now and have done so for the majority of my career. I’ve worked an outside job for less than five of the twelve years that I’ve been a published author. Being able to write full-time really frees up the focus and creativity that’s needed in order to do it well. It’s a blessing that should never be taken for granted.

CH: Do you read in the same genre that you write?

KN: Yes; pretty much. If I’m not indulging in Christian fiction, then I’m reading faith-based nonfiction or some other type book that’s motivational or inspirational in nature. I like to read material that inspires and encourages me.

CH: Is there a certain routine you implement when writing? If so, what is it?

KN: I have a morning devotional time prior to jumping in to my writing, but that’s about it. That includes prayer, scripture reading, and a quiet, meditational time with the Lord. He’s going to be in the driver’s seat once I get started, so when I sit at my desk, I need to be sure that we’re in the same car, so to speak. Other than that, I don’t have any routines. I don’t do character sketches or chapter outlines like many other writers do. Nothing’s wrong with doing those at all; it’s just not a personal practice of mine.

CH: Your daughter Brittany Holmes is also an accomplished writer. Did you have any influence on her becoming a writer or did she just follow in your footsteps on her own?

KN: She credits me as her biggest influence, but it was due to what she saw in me, not what I said to her. I never approached her and encouraged her to pursue the craft. As a matter of fact, Brittney was writing even before I knew she was writing. She had completely finished her first full length manuscript before I had a clue that she even knew how to write a manuscript. I was clued in on her extraordinary talent by a close cousin of mine. She’d given him the manuscript to read, and he called me one day and told me about it. I was actually floored. And once I read it, I was floored again. She’s a very gifted writer, and just as it is with me, her writing is like second nature. Her first manuscript, Living Consequences, became her debut novel. She was offered a contract by the first major publisher that we ever shopped the manuscript to. She reached national bestseller’s status much earlier in her career than I did. I’m very proud of her achievements, so far. She’s five books in now, and I know she has more successes to come.

CH: Where can my readers find your website?

KN: My official web address is www.RoyaltyWriter.net

CH: Where are your books sold?

KN: The less frustrating place to find my books is online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. They can be found in major bookstores as well, but the African-American sections of most bookstores are not as generously stocked as other sections, so the titles aren’t as readily available. Often times, readers have to go to the front register and have the store order the books that they want. Because of that, I typically direct people to Amazon and Barnes & Noble online.

CH: Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers?

KN: Yes, to any aspiring writers, I like to encourage you to press forward to reach all of the goals that you have set for yourself. Life is too short to have regrets. Press forward. Invest in your career, respect the craft, and enjoy every moment of your journey!

CH: Any closing remarks?

KN: To any of my loyal readers, I’d just like to say thank you for your priceless support. I couldn’t do what I do if you weren’t doing what you do. Your support is never taken for granted. I appreciate you more than words can say. To any future readers of my works, let me say thank you in advance for venturing out and allowing space for my books on your bookshelf (whether that bookshelf is physical or electronic). It’s my prayer that you will read something that will have you coming back for more.

Cheryl, I want to thank you for the opportunity to be featured in your online blog. I appreciate your generosity and I count myself blessed that you thought enough of me to make the request.

CH: Kendra, you are quite welcome and thank you for sharing your writing experience and your book with my readers

Note: Photos are compliments of Kendra Norman and the Internet.

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

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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 – Endangered: A Novel by Jean Love Cush

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Title: Endangered: A Novel

Synopsis:  An innocent black teenager is accused of murder in this provocative and compassionate thriller that skillfully probes issues of race, class, crime, and injustice and offers a searing portrait of modern America.

From the time her son, Malik, could walk, Janae taught him that the best way to stay alive and out of trouble with the law was to cooperate. Terrified for his safety, she warned him, “raise your hands high, keep your mouth shut, and do whatever they say,” if the police ever stopped him. But when a wave of murders hits Philadelphia and fifteen-year-old Malik is arrested, Janae’s terror is compounded by guilt and doubt: Would Malik have escaped jail if he’d run?

Unable to see her son or pay for his defense, Janae, a cafeteria worker, reluctantly allows Roger Whitford, a white human rights attorney, to represent Malik. With the help of an ambitious private attorney named Calvin Moore, Roger is determined to challenge the entire criminal justice system and expose its inherent racism—racism that threatens the very existence of America’s young black men.

Offering a startling and unprecedented defense, the lawyers spark a national firestorm of debate over race, prison, and politics that burns to the very core of Janae herself. As she battles to save her son, she begins to discover that she is also fighting for her own survival and that of her community.

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Author: Jean Love Cush                                                                                                 Note: Jean Love Cush is a first-time, self-published author.

I must preface this review by saying that there have been many reviews of this book, and I merely add my impression of Endangered: A Novel.

For those readers who know me, you know that I am a paralegal who loves legal thrillers. So, I started reading…

It was a little slow at the beginning, but picked up to become a page-turner.

Malik’s mother, Janae, only wanted justice and fair treatment for her 15-year old son, who was wrongfully accused of murdering his friend, Troy. Janae had raised her son in a poor disadvantaged area of Philadelphia. She had said, “If approached by the police, raise your hands high, keep your mouth shut and do what they order.” He did exactly what his mother had told him and now he was charged with murder. Janae didn’t have the money to hire a private attorney to properly defend Malik. So, his life was in the hands of a public defender. Or was it?

Roger Whitford, an attorney for the Center for the Protection for Human Rights (CPHR), wanted to try Malik’s case because of the social issues involved. He told Janae, “We’re not in the business of innocence or guilt. Our job here at the CPHR is justice…African American boys ought to be deemed legally endangered.” He told Janae that our current legal system is unfair to black boys and new laws should come out of this whole situation.

She wasn’t worried about changing laws; she was worried about getting her baby out of jail and proving his innocence of this murder.

Calvin Moore was a brilliant African American attorney, who was added to the legal team to bring clout and a different perspective.

I enjoyed an honest judge, who wasn’t afraid to express his personal opinion. I also enjoyed how the mothers and women of the “hood” stood by each other. I wasn’t quite sure if the budding romance between Janae and Calvin was appropriate or added to make the readers feel the realism of the story. The ADA was over zealous and unlikable.

Kid in Prison

Dealing with social issues is difficult, whether in real life or in a book. There were a lot of real issues in this book—real statistics, real issues of crime and real issues of justice. These are “real issues” that we must deal with today. This book is going to make you think about all of this…whether you want to or not.   Endangered: A Novel allows the reader to think beyond the crime that was committed; think beyond the consequences of the courtroom decision; and think about what can be done in today’s society. We can think about recent headlines with similar issues of African-American teens in Sanford, Florida; Ferguson, Missouri; and Chicago, Illinois.

Malik hadn’t had a chance to be a teenager—he hadn’t even had a first date. I wanted to hear more from his point of view. I wanted to hear how he felt about his beating by the police; his time in jail; and his being scared in the courtroom.

This book was well written, so that attorneys and readers alike could understand the story. The ending was good, but I would have liked an epilogue with how Malik and Janae had enhanced their life as a result of this incident.

My only real negative issue was that the cover didn’t really do justice to the book.

I wish Jean Love Cush much success in her 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.

Special Feedback From A Reader: Seven Sentence Sunday

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I saw one of my blog readers at the library, Mili, and she told me that she enjoyed the “Seven Sentence Sunday” Exercise that I did in August.  She said that it inspired her to write something. She also said that she would have never believed that anyone could write a short story in just seven sentences.

So, Here’s to you Mili, two more short stories.

Once Upon a Time

Story 1: A Haunted House

A chill engulfed my body the moment I entered the haunted house.

Looking around the room, I felt bathed in darkness, as my thoughts began to drench me in fear.

I saw a broken mirror and I looked in it, only to notice no image looking back at me.

I could smell a burning candle and when I got close to it, I saw footprints on the ceiling.

I reached out my hand to touch the candle, when suddenly a black cat jumped on me and I heard screaming.

I don’t know if the screams were coming from me or someone else, but I ran for the door.

My heart was beating faster and faster as I was trying to open the heavy, wooden front door, then someone touched me and said, “Happy Halloween.”

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Story 2: A Guardian Angel

The baby was crying and I had to quiet her, so that we could walk to the bus stop to pick up my older daughter from school.

Just as I was about to walk out the door with the baby in my arms, I heard the loud screeching of brakes.

All of the mothers were running towards the bus stop, and in my heart, I knew that something eerie had happened.

I held the baby close to my body and sprinted the short distance.

When I arrived, the bus driver was crying and she was bending over a child—mine!

She had black tire tracks on her new red coat, but the bus had missed her by an inch.

My daughter said, “Mommy, this nice, old lady pushed me out of the way so I wouldn’t get hurt!”

 

Thanks for reading the stories. Please give me some feedback and tell me if you like them or what you think about them.

Note: The clip art is compliments of the Internet.

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