Guest Author Interview – Tayvon Jackson

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Forty Acres_Financial

Title: 40 Acres and Some Dividends

Genre: Financial

Synopsis: Why is money such a sensitive topic for many African Americans? Why do we think about retirement planning when it’s time to retire? Are banks the only option? Don’t worry, it’s not just you reading this back cover that is nodding your head right now. 40 Acres and Some Dividends is the perfect book for anyone that just wants to learn more about investing. Financial literacy is the difference between living comfortably or paycheck-by-paycheck. The decisions you make in your financial future today will affect multiple generations after you. Take an hour and read this book, and it will change your life forever. Tayvon Jackson is a financial advisor, author, mentor, and motivational speaker dedicated to helping his community learn the basics of investing. A triple major and former collegiate basketball player who bypassed a professional career overseas to perfect his craft as a financial advisor. With plans to help a community that is underserved with regards to finances. He is known for taking confusing concepts such as investing, and explaining it at a level that a child can understand. Helping people is his passion, and he is determined to break the cycle of not understanding investing, and help everyone reach financial freedom.

Jackson Bw

Author: Tayvon Jackson

CH: Welcome Tayvon Jackson to my blog. Tayvon is a financial advisor and has recently written his first book. Thank you for joining us and sharing your financial advice and book with my audience.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

TJ: My book is an investing book for African Americans that simplifies the basic concepts to build wealth.

CH: What was the main reason that you decided to write this book?

TJ: As a financial advisor, I saw a niche of affluent African Americans who make great income but still are unaware of the differences between saving and investing.  We are natural consumers who enjoy the beautiful homes and cars, but minimal net worth.  There are so many investing books, but none were tailored to the African American community.

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

TJ: Rich Dad Poor Dad made investing so simple.  Robert Kiyosaki, the author, took confusing topics and made it understandable.  Another book, Storyselling for Financial Advisors, was very helpful as well.  I learned that many people do not care about financial jargon or terminology, but just want the concepts to be simple and relatable.  The same information that you see in financial text books, which can steer some people away, can be easily told in a story.

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

TJ: I polled hundreds of clients and friends to ask them what concerns they had with investing and what stopped them from investing versus saving.

CH: Did your knowledge as a financial advisor enhance the writing of this book?

TJ: My knowledge as a financial advisor enhanced the writing of the book because it made it natural.  Everything that is in my book has been discussed with my clients daily.

CH: Who, in your opinion, is a great financial author and why?

TJ: Robert Kiyosaki, author of the Rich Dad Poor Dad series, is a great financial author because of his ability to keep confusing topics simple.  I knew as soon as I read his books, they lit a spark in me to be great, and to not only focus on my own financial situation, but the financial situation of my family in generations to come.

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

TJ: I want readers to understand that you do not need a lot of money to invest, and that it is one of the easiest things to do.  The only challenge is managing your emotions and I feel my book will help them with there investing expectations.

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

TJ: People love that I kept the book short.  The book is less then 50 pages and it allows someone to read it in an hour and apply it to there life that same day.  The parents who bought my book love how simple I make it through storytelling and end up giving it to there young kids to read.

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

TJ: The biggest challenge in writing this book was coming up with the title and only focusing on the African American community when many of the concepts could apply to anyone.  I chose the title, 40 Acres and Some Dividends, because I knew that any African American would take a second glimpse of the book and may eventually pick it up.  I know there is a huge niche that I could help, so I decided to go that route.

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

TJ: I expect, in late 2015, to come up with my second book, Poor Dad, No Dad.

CH: Do you have a website? 

TJ: Yes. It is

CH: Where is your book sold?

TJ: My book is sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and for signed autographed copies, my website

CH: Do you have any closing remarks?

TJ: In closing, the financial decisions that you make today can have a huge impact on generations to come.  So get started, it’s never too late and you cannot afford not too.

CH: Thank you Tayvon Jackson for joining me on my blog, it has been a real pleasure talking with you.

Note: Photos are compliments of Tayvon Jackson and the Internet.


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: with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author 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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Cheryl Holloway Spent An Afternoon With Delta Authors On Tour

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Delta Authors on Tour

Facts: Delta Sigma Theta’s National Commission on Arts and Letters sponsors the Delta Authors on Tour, a literary component under the Sorority’s Project Actively Redefining Together (ART) initiative in which local chapters raise money while supporting the arts; Delta authors sell and promote their books; and the Delta Research and Educational Foundation receives funds to support the Benbow-Noble Endowment for the Arts. The Delta Authors on Tour program was established in August 2000 by Sorors Stephanie Perry Moore, Trevy A. McDonald and Victoria Christopher Murray.


Yesterday, I attended the Delta Authors on Tour, Eastern Region in Owings Mills, Maryland where the Deltas highlighted the literary works and experiences of Delta authors. The audience included all kinds of people: readers, other authors, publicists, book clubs, friends, family, screen producers, and supporters in general. The authors talked about themselves, their books, and answered questions from the Mistress of Ceremony and the audience during the panel discussions. The best part of the day for most was buying an autographed copy of their favorite book by their favorite author.

One of the founding members participated in yesterday’s event, Victoria Christopher Murray. Most of the authors are working on their next writing project and most of the authors have websites—just google their name.

The literary genres were diverse and included both fiction and non-fiction. The list below provides the names of the authors who participated: Brandelyn N. Castine;  Dr. Melissa Clarke; J. J. Michael; Ruth P. Watson; Victoria Christopher Murray; Maxine Bigby Cunningham; K. R. Raye; Brenda Lane-Oliver; and Francesca Cook. Brenda Jackson, author of over 100 books, was unable to attend.


Panel Discussion with some of the authors.


It was a wonderful afternoon spent in the good company of many great authors!

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Don’t Keep this Blog a Secret…Tell Your Friends about it!

Note: Clip art is compliments of the internet.

Guest Author Interview – B. J. Webster

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Wonder Fire_Cover

Title: Wonder Fire

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: 1666, was called “Wonder Year,” despite it being a year of great calamity and disaster in London. The joke was, at least things weren’t worse than they were.

Wonder Fire is a fast paced historical fiction based around the actual events in 1666 before the Great Fire of London, through the dramatic fire and in the days after the blaze had ended and London wondered at their fate. Who really started the Great Fire of London? Nobody knows for certain. Was it an accident or a deliberate act? Wonder Fire assumes the latter is the case and delves into the motives of ambition, illicit affairs, unrequited love and political intrigue, none of which was a stranger to the court of King Charles II.

Feel what it was like to live in 1666 and better understand the intricacies of politics, power and class divide of the time. Be drawn in by the fascinating web of intrigue and how it plays out to create one of the most devastating events in history.

B J Webster

Author: B. J. Webster

CH: Welcome B. J. Webster to my blog. B.J. is an Australian writer who has a keen interest in both fiction and history, so it was a logical progression to produce a work of historical fiction. Wonder Fire is her first published novel. Thank you for joining us and sharing your writing world with my audience.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

BJW: Historical fiction love story that will entertain the reader, as well as, provide an interesting insight into history.

CH: You provide insight and possibilities as to why London burned in 1666. Did you have to do a lot of special research to write this book? 

BJW: Yes, I researched the period in detail, as well as, the specific location for about six months.  Research included the people, clothing, politics, housing etc…

CH: You do a wonderful job of presenting believable historical characters; and you provide insight into the different classes: Nobles and royalty, as well as, commoners and poverty. Why did you decide to write this book about a piece of history that happened so long ago?

BJW: I lived in London at the time and walked past the site of the fire every day on my way to work for years.  That particular event intrigued me, so it was a natural point to research and write about.

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

BJW: Some of the inconsistency of the historical facts can be frustrating, though interesting and that’s where being a storyteller is useful.

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

BJW: Hilary Mantel and C. J Sansom’s work has influenced the way I write historical fiction.

CH: Hilary Mantel is the winner of the Man Booker Award and she reviews books for London and the New York Times. And C. J Sansom is a best-selling author who wrote a mystery about a fire in the sixteenth century. These are excellent writers to influence your writing. How long did it take you to write your book?

BJW: Six months to research, three months to plan and write, three months to review.

CH: The fire was the catalyst for the rebuilding of London and a lot of people are interested in this piece of history. So, what kind of feedback are you getting from readers of Wonder Fire?

BJW: Very positive.  They like the characters and feel as though they have a real sense of what it was like to live in 1666.

CH: This book is available only in eBook format. As an eBook author, do you find marketing your book harder or easier than with a traditional paperback book?

BJW: Much more difficult since this time I don’t have a publishing house employing their vast resources on my behalf.  There are so many possible avenues to reaching possible readers, but every little step will hopefully spread the word a little bit more.

CH: You have published two non-fiction business books. Did you want to test the waters before you published this historical fiction book? 

BJW: No, I wrote the business books as an accountant, as part of my love of writing.  Fiction is a different part of my brain and a more creative release.

CH: How long have you been writing?

BJW: Forever!  Ever since I could write, I have been writing stories to entertain whoever was around to listen and/or read them.  It’s something I have always loved to do and wanted to do, but I never thought it would be a full-time career, until now.

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

BJW: I am Australian and no I don’t think my background has much influence, except perhaps that being from the new world, the old world fascinates me.

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

BJW: Historical fiction based in the Caribbean, where I currently live.

CH: What would be the best piece of advice you would offer a new historical author?

BJW: Research and plan, then do some more research.  Find an interesting real character and build a semi-fictional world around them, drawing on real facts. The details though must be correct, i.e., names, clothes, food, transport etc.  It adds integrity to the work.

CH: Can you tell us about your publishing journey for this book? Why did you decide to self-publish?

BJW: Because I wanted my book out there, and agents and publishers are accepting fewer and fewer works from unknown authors, especially at a time when ‘celebrities’ are penning their own books.

CH: Do you have a website?

BJW: No. It’s coming soon!

CH: Where is your book sold?


CH: Any closing remarks?

BJW: I hope your readers will enjoy the escapism of my book, entertainment while learning something, what more can we ask for at a cost of $1.99?  ;-)

CH: Thank you B. J. Webster for joining me on my blog, it has been a real pleasure talking with you about a piece of history, your book and your writing journey.  I’m still reading and enjoying the book. We all look forward to following your writing career. 

Don’t Keep this Blog a Secret…Tell Your Friends about it!

Note: Photos are compliments of B. J. Webster and the Internet.


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: with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author 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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Guest Author Interview – Gigi Gossett

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The Midwife Factor_Cover

Title: The Midwife Factor: A Lynn Davis Mystery

Genre: Mystery

Synopsis: Only a kindly midwife knows that Nicola Moldovan, a fifteen-year-old Romanian teenager living in Cincinnati, gave birth to identical twin girls nineteen years ago. The twins, separated at birth, have grown up on different continents, unwittingly sharing thoughts, feelings, and dreams with each other without any idea they are sisters. But just as the now elderly midwife, Flossie Walker, decides to pen a tell-all letter to the families involved, a sinister plot unfolds in a Budapest prison.

Morgan Wellington, the adopted daughter of a Nobel Prize winning physician and his wife, has always secretly yearned to know her true biological identity-even more so after her Hungarian roommate tells her about a look-alike in Budapest and invites her to visit the country to see for herself. Meanwhile, Morgan’s parents, curious as to why their daughter has spontaneously traveled to Budapest, hire private investigator Lynn Davis to discover the truth. While Lynn tries to make sense of several perplexing scenarios, a habitual criminal puts the final touches on an evil plan that will change everything.

In this international mystery, past secrets are revealed as two girls separated at birth attempt to find their way back to each other, with the help of a private investigator and the midwife who brought them into the world.

GiGi Gossett (1)

Author: Gigi Gossett

CH: Welcome Gigi Gossett, PhD to my blog. Gigi is a fresh, new mystery writer, who is interested in the subject of twin telepathy because of twins in her own family. Thank you for joining us and sharing your writing world with my audience.

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

GG: The Midwife Factor is an international mystery that traces the trajectory of one family across continents and explores the phenomenon of twin telepathy.

19-year-old Morgan Wellington, an adoptee from a prestigious family in Cincinnati, Ohio, sets off on an innocent adventure to Budapest to find a look-alike she’d only recently heard about to see if she can explain the flashes of another’s thoughts, feelings and dreams that she has privately experienced since childhood.  Meanwhile, in Budapest, 19-year-old Ivona Palaki has had similar unusual flashes as Morgan.  Traversing from Cincinnati to Paris to Budapest to Bucharest, the book unveils lively characters along Morgan’s Path, including Flossie Walker, the kindly octogenarian African-American midwife who holds the truth of Morgan’s birth; Lynn Davis, the savvy, kick-butt private investigator; Nicola Palaki and Corina Moldovan who turn out to be Morgan’s biological mother and grandmother; and a sinister sociopath, just released from prison with an evil plan to capitalize on the family wealth—a plan that puts many lives in danger.

Fascinated with the notion of twins, and the ancient art of midwifery, I elected to combine these elements into my story.  For the storyline, I chose to focus on the actions of a memorable nurse/midwife, Flossie Walker, who delivered the twins.   An important part of the plot is that this book deals with mental telepathy among identical twins.  The midwife also had an identical twin with whom she shared a telepathic relationship.  I dedicated this book to my older identical twin sisters, both now deceased.    

CH: What made you decide to write an international mystery?

GG: As a global consultant, I have traveled extensively to several countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, South America, and the Middle East.  I wanted to share some of my experiences outside the United States with my readers.  During my first trip to Budapest, Hungary, I remember riding from the airport to my hotel through both new and old parts of town and admiring the gothic architecture of the older sections.  Being there almost made me feel like I was stepping back into medieval times.  Budapest seemed an ideal setting for my story.

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

GG: I look for situations and people that I, myself, find alluring and that are not your every day topics.  For example, my first novel, By Any Other Name, was about a powerful billionaire family.  The story had a strong inter-racial twist.  Based on the popularity of old television programs like Dallas and Dynasty, I believed that readers would find this storyline enticing as well.

Regarding The Midwife Factor, since so many people have twins in their immediate or extended families, I thought the idea of multiple births would appeal to the masses, especially, with the element of twin telepathy introduced.

CH: Your cover tells the story, twins with an international plot and the midwife in the background. Who designed the cover?

GG: My book was produced by iUniverse.  They gave me a website from which to select the stock photos for the cover.  I found the perfect face to represent the kindly, old midwife and the twins.  I also wanted the midwife’s picture on the cover, but not featured prominently.  The globe represented the fact that the twins grew up on different continents.  I presented the photos and my concept to iUniverse, and voilà!  They designed what I felt was a magical cover.

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

GG: So far, I’ve had a very enthusiastic response from my readers.  My vision is that people would love the book so much, they wouldn’t be able to put it down.  So far, several readers have “complained” complimentarily that they couldn’t put it down.   My book has been referred to as a page-turner, thrilling, exciting, and fast paced.  One reviewer said after reading it, she passed it on to her granddaughter as she wanted her to see an example of powerful relationships among women and how strong women handle their problems from an empowered position.  Another reviewer said she didn’t want the phenomenal story telling to end:  It was masterfully crafted, from start to finish, with all kinds of twists in between—danger, romance, family ties, the unique world of twins on two sides of the coin, triumph over life circumstances, sadness, joy and so much more”  I have been very happy with the reaction.  It inspires me to write more and more.

CH: Do you have a book trailer? What are your thoughts on book trailers?

GG: I do not presently have a book trailer, but intend to have one developed.  I believe a trailer is an extremely effective way of showing what your story is about and getting people excited about it.  A video, like a picture, is worth a thousand words.  When I see other well done book trailers, it increases my interest in those books.

CH: The twins in the story are so alike; yet, so different. Was it hard to create their characters?

GG: It really wasn’t too hard.  I developed a profile for each twin based on her upbringing and culture and was able to stick to it.  What was a challenge was writing in the voice of a 19-year-old—one a spoiled rich American and the other a studious and at times defiant Hungarian whose characteristics I believe I was able to realistically frame due to having traveled to Budapest and Bucharest.   Whenever I wrote as one or the other, I put myself in her shoes and could see her mannerisms, hear her voice, and see her behavior.

CH: What sets your book apart from other books in the same genre?

GG: The diverse characters and interactions in my book reflect the makeup of our world, racially, culturally, ethnically, and age wise.  Furthermore, there have been a number of books about twins, and likewise, about midwifes.  However, I am not aware of a book about twin telepathy, nor one in which the midwife plays such an important factor in so many lives.  The Midwife Factor essentially contains three stories in one—the midwife’s life and times, the twins’ telepathic relationship and their search for each other, and the criminals’ who were intent on capitalizing on their “find.” As the story unfolds, I have been told that readers could actually “visualize” the events as if taking place before their very eyes.

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

GG: With the complexity and intensity of my storyline, I give the reader the opportunity to become emotionally involved, entertained, and mentally stimulated.  There are parts of the story when I want the reader to feel the emotions experienced by my characters, ranging from excitement, to joy, to fear.  Furthermore, no matter how grim the circumstances, my stories tend to be uplifting, giving people hope, usually in a win/win fashion.   Because the story has many facets are intertwined, I keep the reader on his or her toes having to think about and wonder what is next.

CH: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?  

GG: This is where I may get too wordy.  I happen to believe that everyone has a story in them—either about their own life and experiences, or from their imagination.  First, come up with something unique to write about.  In fiction, create interesting and or unusual characters, because, after all, who wants to read about someone who is ordinary.  You have the power of the pen and with it, you can make your character do anything you want, even win the lottery.  You are only limited by your imagination.  And your plot should be impactful.

Next, start collecting your thoughts on paper.  Once you start this process, you will be amazed at the number of times when ideas will come to you in some fashion—either through magazine articles, random conversations, newspapers, television, events you’ve seen or heard about, etc.  And when you run across something related to your topic, capture it immediately.  Any of these ideas may have a place in your book.  Keep all your notes in one place so that when you are ready to begin, you will have many ideas to draw from as substance for your book, as chapters, events, characters, or developments.

Finally, it’s all done.  Now. edit, edit, edit.  Your work is never really finished.  If you are willing to acknowledge your imperfections, you will find many things to change with every reading.  And then, a professional editor will find much more.  In my first book, a non-fiction diversity book entitled Diversity Blues, How to Shake ‘Em, a professional editor cut my 240 page book down to 200 pages due to redundancies, wordiness, and things that were not necessary to say.  Do not get discouraged.  Make the changes and continue.

CH: Can you tell us about your publishing journey? 

GG: With Diversity Blues, How to Shake ‘Em, I knew nothing about getting published.  I sent a query letter to the Harvard Business School Press (HBP) and they wanted to take a look.  After reviewing my manuscript and making several recommendations for changes which I complied with, HBP had a personnel change and my new contact was not nearly as enthusiastic about my work. Ultimately, they declined it.  So I sent it out to other university and traditional presses. When I continued to receive rejection letters, I still had confidence that my book was worthy to be published because of the interest HBP had shown in it originally.  So I decided to self publish.  I taught myself the ins and outs of self publishing, spent a small fortune on things like editing, cover design, page layout, printing and promoting, but eventually the book was out and it turned out to be fairly successful among people in major corporations. I’m sad that the book is still needed in that we have made very little real change in eliminating racism and sexism or other isms since 2000, but I am very proud that that book is still in the public library system today.  I have continued to self publish, and my two mystery novels can also be found in the public library system.

CH: How long have you been writing? How did you start writing?
What is your next writing project?

GG: My first book was published in 2000.  It started as my doctoral dissertation but before it could be published, I had to convert it from a research document into a publishable manuscript. This book was non-fiction.  An agent who reviewed it commended my writing style and recommended that I try fiction. She told me that I had the ability to discuss difficult subjects (racism and sexism) in a non-accusatory; yet, compelling manner. She told me it was clear that I was passionate about diversity, and she wanted me to know that in fiction, I could still teach.  So, I embarked on my first mystery which had a diversity twist. The Midwife Factor is my second.  I will definitely write more, but I believe my next book will be non-fiction as I have a very meaningful topic to write about.

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

GG: Books with storylines that are interestingly unique, unexpected and exciting and that enable me to feel, love, or even strongly dislike the main characters are the kind of books that influence my writing. I try to make my books memorable in this same way.  Not all books can do this, for I have read quite a few books that were merely enjoyable, but then, I forgot the plot, or even the author’s name or the book’s title. However, even these books have influenced me in a reverse manner by showing me what I do not want my books to be.

CH: Which writer, living or dead, do you admire most and why?

GG: I can honestly say that my most favorite writer of all time is Ken Follett.  I have thoroughly enjoyed his books, and I have read most of them. Pillars of the Earth was over 900 pages long and I was deeply sorry for it to end. I love his writing because he puts you into the story right away and makes you feel everything, plus you learn a great deal. A classic example is Eye of the Needle which was made into a movie. His main characters are charismatic, fascinating and bold and he makes you know them right away. I usually experience an emotional reaction or attachment to his characters and his plot. His vivid descriptions and conversations are stimulating and electrifying, his topics are extremely diverse and very interesting and the settings for his books cover the globe, ranging from St. Petersburg in Russia to Egypt to London to the U.S. and other locales.  His work is sometimes current and sometimes historic and always fascinating.

CH: What was the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

GG: I was very pleased when my first book, Diversity Blues, How to Shake ‘Em was purchased by Walmart to put in a large number of its U.S. stores which is quite significant because Walmart has more than 2,500 stores in the U.S.  At one time, my book was on Walmart’s 100 best selling books list. As an author, and particularly, as a self-publisher, that was thrilling.  I was equally thrilled when I was contacted by an agent who was interested in pursuing my first mystery, By Any Other Name as a movie.  He is still working toward that end.

CH: Do you have a website?

GG: Yes. A second website will be launched soon under the name

CH: Where is your book sold?

GG: Presently on,,, and other online booksellers.  It is also available in e-book format.

CH: Any closing remarks?

GG: First of all, please note that GiGi Gossett is my pen name.  I use my full name, Gladys Gossett Hankins in my non-fiction writing.

It is important to me to write about characters and events that represent the world we live in. We all interact, sometimes daily, often intimately, with other races, cultures, ethnicities, religious groups, and genders, and the diversity of my characters will always reflect that.

Finally, Cheryl, I want to sincerely thank you for inviting me to be featured as one of the authors on your blog.  It is quite an honor to be among your chosen group, and I take it as a great opportunity to extend my reach to many that may not be familiar with me and my writing.  For that, I am most grateful.  I hope readers are pleasantly interested.  I wish you the absolute best in all your journeys.

CH: Thank you Gigi Gossett for joining me on my blog, it has been a real pleasure talking with you about your book and writing journey.  We look forward to following your writing career. 

Note: Photos are compliments of Gigi Gossett and the Internet.


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: with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author 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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Writing Tips – Know The Genre of Your Book or eBook

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I love writing




Know The Genre of Your Book or eBook

 Note: So many authors ask for a Guest Author Interview on my blog, but do not know the genre of their book. This post will help in picking a genre.

If you don’t know the genre where your book fits, then you’re saying to the world that you don’t know your target audience!

Others, besides the author, need to know the genre of a book: editors, agents, publishers, and readers—to name a few.

So, an author must know the genre of their book—it’s that simple!

All books are either non-fiction or fiction, which can be further divided into many different sub-genres. In a world of so many genres and sub-genres, at times, it can be difficult to classify your novel’s niche.

According to, a literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, tone, content or even (as in the case of fiction) length. The distinctions between genres and categories are flexible and loosely defined, often with subgroups.

There are certain elements in each genre. Some major genres of books that are available today are: children’s; crime; fantasy; horror; mystery; romance; science fiction (sci-fi); thriller/suspense; young adult; western; spiritual; biography/autobiography; motivational and historical. Other major genres may be categorized as: contemporary; urban; paranormal; and erotica. The good thing is that most readers will recognize the major genres. There are certain readers who will only pick up a book in a specific genre.

There are certain books in each genre with a sub-genre. Your book may be mainly a thriller with a little suspense. If you think outside the box, you can create something a little different, such as the legal thriller. Also, some genres can be combined together, such as contemporary romance, or mystery thriller, or historical romance. If your novel has elements of romance and suspense, classify it under one main heading—romantic suspense. Pick only two genres. Don’t get carried away and say your book is a thriller with suspense, a little romance and some sexy erotica. If it has all of those elements, then you need to re-think and re-write your book. It can only go on one shelf at the bookstore or in one category on Amazon. So, be realistic when selecting a genre and pick the genre that your book contains the most elements.

To figure out your genre, ask yourself 3 questions:

  • Who are my readers?
  • What do they want in a good book?
  • Who do they read (besides you)?

If you know the answers to these questions, you can pinpoint and know your genre.

Writers, whatever your genre, may your book find the best target audience.

CT_Father and Son CT_Italian Basketball Player

Title: Cougar Tales Series

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Jamaicanredo (1)

Coming Soon…

Title: Cougar Tales Series: Jamaican Love 

Genre:  Contemporary Romance


Special thanks to

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Guest Author Interview – Portia A. Cosby

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It's Complicated_Cover

Title: It’s Complicated

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis: “Portia Cosby has created a world of compelling characters who navigate a byzantine maze of love, secrets, lies and a whole lot of bad decisions in a page turner that will keep you up all night…just like it did me!”

         Lolita Files, Author of Child of God: A Novel and Sex.lies.murder.fame

Venni’s cryptic past is filled with secrets. Now that the beautiful executive is trying to settle down with the man of her dreams, she decides to come clean. She admits to a past filled with lies, heartbreak and scandal. But she soon learns that some secrets are best left buried. Once the skeletons are out, all hell breaks loose. In the midst of the drama, Venni’s long-time ally becomes her greatest adversary and her most hated adversary surprisingly becomes her ally. When it’s all said and done, egos and feelings are tattered and family lives are severed. Will Venni regret coming clean? It’s Complicated is a page-turner that reaffirms we all have a backstory and perfection on the surface isn’t always what it seems.

Portia Cosby

Author: Portia A. Cosby

CH: Welcome Portia A. Cosby to my blog. Portia is a fresh, new voice known for her unmistakable wit and relatable characters. Thank you for joining us and sharing your writing world and publishing journey with my audience.

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

PAC: It’s insightful, thought-provoking, heart-warming, funny, and sexy; something for everyone.

CH: Based only on the title, It’s Complicated, did the story trigger the title?

PAC: The story certainly triggered the title, but Venni’s backstory inspired the title more than anything.

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

PAC: It’s Complicated is a classic story of not judging a book by its cover and not letting your past dictate your future. It’s a story of secrets and lies. It’s a story of making tough decisions. Venni, the main character, was a supporting character in another one of my books, Lesson Learned: It Is What It Is, and she was one of my favorite characters. I believed she was a misunderstood character, and I wanted to revisit her and make her story the focus. I wanted to show that she was in a serious relationship, and I knew her past would be a major factor in that relationship.

CH: Your book is about coming clean and releasing skeletons from the main character’s closet. So, is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?

PAC: I don’t like to dictate what messages readers walk away with after reading my work. I believe everyone grasps something different based on their experiences. I will say, though, that many readers reflected on their own lives/pasts/situations and felt like they needed a session with Dr. Cox! The W-5s are the most talked about subject in regards to It’s Complicated.

CH: What inspired you to write this book?

PAC: The deal with Brown Girls Books (BGB) inspired me to write the book. I’d planned on giving Venni her own story eventually, but I committed to doing it when I signed with BGB.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

PAC: Lawrence was hard to write at first, but after I did a more in-depth character profile for him, capturing his character became effortless.

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

PAC: I didn’t do any special research, believe it or not. Most people think I researched therapists/therapy for Dr. Cox’s character, but I didn’t. Wait. If it counts, I did Google “Who collects money at the strip club when the dancers are done?” I had my answer in less than ten seconds.

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

PAC: The situations and issues were fictional, but it wasn’t hard creating them. You wouldn’t believe the storylines that run through my mind daily.

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

PAC: Hmm…Venni and I are both fluent in sarcasm. When she wasn’t at work or going somewhere special, she wore athletic gear. I’m the same way. That’s all, though. And really, I didn’t base her on me. I’ve only based one of my many characters on me.

CH: Is there an author, past or present, you would compare to yourself?

PAC: No. I like to think I’m the only Portia A. Cosby and not the next “so-and-so.”

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

PAC: I’ve been writing for twenty-one years, technically. I started in the ninth grade when my English teacher said we could write for extra credit. I wrote poetry at first, and then I wrote two stories/wannabe movie scripts. One of them later became my first novel. I’m forever grateful for my teacher, Mrs. Mary Jane Ryan. She cried when she read my first poem and told me I had to write more. And so I did.

CH: Of 104 reviews, you have 83 five stars and 12 four stars. That’s excellent! So, what kind of feedback are you getting from readers?

PAC: The feedback has been very positive. Readers seem to root for Venni, even when she frustrates them. Almost everyone references the W-5s, disliking a certain character, and wanting to know more about Fast Track.

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

PAC: I write because I was born to. I don’t know how to not write. There’s always a story developing in my head. As for what I want readers to take from my novels, I want them to find something or someone they can connect to in my novels. Whether they see themselves, a friend, or a family member, I want them to become a part of the story and forget the characters are fictional. Reading a Portia A. Cosby novel should be an experience.

CH: Do you have a website?

PAC: Yes.

CH: Where is your book sold?

PAC: The book is sold through all online book retailers and in some bookstores. Most stores can order the book if it isn’t on the shelf.

CH: Any closing remarks?

PAC: I thank you for this platform, Cheryl. I look forward to hearing feedback from new readers, and they can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Finding me is easy. Just search my name.

CH: Thank you Portia A. Cosby for joining me on my blog, it has been a real pleasure talking with you. We look forward to following your career. 

Note: Photos are compliments of Portia A. Cosby and the Internet.


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: with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author 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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Black History Month 2015 – Black History Book Review

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Black History

 So far, this is my second post on black history this month, the final day of February.

Black History Book Review

This Strange New Feeling_Cover

Title: This Strange New Feeling: Three Love Stories from Black History

Genre: Historical

Synopsis: “The horror of slavery . . . the excitement and terror of escape and the problems of the newly free are dramatized in three stories based on actual historical incidents. . . Memorable.” —School Library Journal

“Lester here personalizes and vitalizes the essence of freedom.”—Booklist

In two short stories and one novella, Julius Lester has created a rich, layered, and ringing portrait of the slave experience in America, and of the perseverance and bravery it took to seek out love and freedom during that time. Included is the tale of Ellen and William Craft, the escaped slaves who became famous abolitionists. And new for this edition, in honor of the book’s twenty-fifth anniversary, is a thought-provoking author’s preface about freedom and empathy. This Strange New Feeling is historical fiction at its finest.

Julius Lester_Author

Author: Julius Lester

Throughout the years, I have embraced the plights and achievements of blacks. Today, I want to discuss the damages of slavery…mainly, the lack of freedom.

A very dear friend of mine, Charles Lober, sent me this book for black history month with the note attached…“Thought you might enjoy this …would be a good author on your blog”

Well, as most of you know, I’m an avid reader. I started reading and enjoying this book long before I realized that it’s a children’s book. It has two short stories and one novella about the joys and the sorrows of slavery, all inspired by true events in black history. This book won the Coretta Scott King Award in 1983. In honor of the books Twenty-Fifth Anniversary, the author, Julius Lester, wrote a thought-provoking preface about freedom and empathy.

Julius Lester  is a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, where he taught Afro-American Studies, history, English, and Judaic Studies. So, I guess it was destined to be a wonderful book—long before I read it

My friends must have thought I was crazy, because I was telling everyone during black history month about this wonderful book that I had “discovered.” LOL So, now, let me tell you about it!

When I read the first story, This Strange New Feeling, I thought this is not a love story, but when I had finished it, I realized that it was a different type of love story. Raz was a slave carpenter who was working with a white carpenter named Jakes. Jakes kept telling him about all the things he could have if he was free. Raz never said anything, so Jakes thought he wasn’t listening. Later, his Uncle Isaac and a white man helped him escape from slavery and go to the town Jakes had told him about. Raz was caught when Jakes turned him in. Raz was returned home, but he didn’t get a whipping because he told the other slaves how awful it was up North. But soon he and his woman, Sally, helped other slaves to escape.   They are almost caught and must kill his master to save their own lives. The sad part of the story was that Uncle Isaac’s wife had strangled her own babies rather than have them live in slavery.

The second story, Where The Sun Lives, Maria falls in love with Forrest Yates, who has been a free black man all of his life. She had grown up with her mistress, who dies at a young age. Her master sells all of his wife’s slaves and sells Maria to Forrest. They live together as a couple and she enjoys a taste of freedom, until Forrest is killed in a freak accident and all of his property must be sold to pay his debts—including Maria. She loses her freedom, but Maria has seen where the sun lives.

The final story, A Christmas Love Story, a novella, is the story of William and Ellen Craft, who run away from slavery to Philadelphia at Christmastime. Ellen can pass for white and poses as an injured young white man and William poses as his slave. They are almost caught several times, before they find freedom in Philadelphia. They later go to Boston, where her husband wants to tell people about how they escaped from slavery. She wants to live a quiet life and keep the story to them selves. They begin telling their story and become celebrities. President Fillmore signs the Fugitive Slave Bill. Then John Knight and Charles Hughes came to reclaim the slaves—William and Ellen Craft—and return them to the south and slavery. When the President vows to send the military to enforce the newly passed Fugitive Slave Bill, the Crafts are helped to hide and, eventually, to run by Reverend Theodore Parker, Lewis Hayden and many other famous people in the Slavery Abolition Movement. The part I loved best about this story is that years after the story was written the author met William and Ellen Craft’s great-granddaughter in real life.

I know I told you what happened in the stories, but you have to read the book to see how it happened. (You didn’t think I was going to tell you everything, did you?)

In one of his interviews with Scholastic Magazine, Julius Lester’s suggestion to other writers was, “Read, read, and read. You have to know what other people have written. You have to have a good grasp of literature.”

I agree with his observation for writers.

February is a month to remember our history, but I propose that we think about our history every day—not just in February. I will try to give you 7 Black History Tidbits once a week (one for every day). It’s your job, as readers, to keep me honest and when I miss a week, email me.

Now, my only wish is that I can get an interview with Julius Lester!

I rate this book…


Action Steps:                                                                                                                                        1. View/read this blog and comment                                                                                    2.  Invite your friends to view/read this blog                                                                      3.  If you read the book, let me know what you think.

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


Guest Author Interview – Natalija Bajlo

header1_An Author Writes

This is International Month with authors and illustrators from other countries. 

King Burue_Cover

Title: King Burue Changes The Rules

Genre: Children

Synopsis: King Burue Changes the Rules is a children’s story with an adult dilemma told through the keen interpretation of an 8-year-old child. Author Natalija Bajlo (who is actually age 8) conveys the message about how we should treat others and how everyone is entitled to like—or love —anyone we choose, regardless of whatever societal “rules” are perceived to exist. In a charming and beautifully, illustrated story about an animal kingdom led by a goose named King Burue, Natalija challenges rules that are not fair and should not exist and leads the King to his conclusion that those rules should be changed. It is an important lesson for children told in a most entertaining way.

Natalija Bajlo

Author: Natalija Bajlo

CH: Please join me in welcoming the first child author to be a guest on my blog, Miss Natalija Bajlo. She wants to change the world—one story book at a time.

CH: Natalija, please tell us in one sentence, why children and their parents should read your book. 

NB: It’s has important lessons that teach kids how to treat one another and accept each other no matter what you look like.

CH: Where did you get your idea for this story/fable?

NB: Watching kids around me and how they can be mean to someone because they are different like the color of their skin or their culture. We’re all people and there’s no reason to hate someone for how they look.

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

NB: I write a lot of stories and my teacher always told my mom that she loves my stories and my mom helped me to publish it.

CH: How long have you been writing? 

NB: Since I could use a pencil. I would write stories and make pictures about me and my mom and make little paper books. I think, I was 5 or 6. My mom loved my stories and it would make me want to write more. Most of my stories were about my life with my mom. We have a really happy life and I love my mom so much.

CH: How did you start writing books at such a young age (8 years old)?

NB: I had really good teachers and I am in the gifted program at school. My teacher, Mrs. Neuhaus, really liked my writing and she encouraged me to write more.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book? 

NB: I write about morals. I was inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. and wanted to write a story that showed that it doesn’t matter what you look like, but about how you treat each other, so I used animals to show that differences don’t matter.

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

NB: I wrote the story in a month, but the book part took like 5 months. We worked with the artist over email and she would send a few pages at a time. The story had to go to a book editor and a book designer. Nancy is my publicist and she helped my mom to do all this stuff. I did a project in school about how a book is published, so I learned more about it.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write? 

NB: King Burue and I like the porcupine, too. I think he is cute.

CH: What is your all-time favorite book? 

NB: That’s really hard to pick one. I read a lot. My mom always read to me as a baby and she taught me the alphabet before I could talk. She would ask me a letter and I would point to it. So, I started reading early. I love the Chronicles of Narnia, The Phantom Tollbooth, all the Disney stories, Harry Potter (but these are mostly my mom’s bedtime stories to me and she still likes to read to me, too!). I also like poems and stories by Shel Silverstein, like The Giving Tree and Where The Sidewalk Ends.

CH: Your cover is bright and cheerful. Who designed the cover? 

NB: Amene Beheshti, the illustrator from Tehran. My mom found her online. We had different artists submit drawings after reading the book and she understood it the best and her artwork was different and goes with the story about being different.

Amene Beheshti_Illustrator

Illustrator: Amene Beheshti, representing Peru and Iran

CH: When Amene had the opportunity to read Natalija’s book, she felt an instant connection to the meaning of the story that served as an inspiration for her wonderful drawings of the characters and their world.

CH: How did you become interested in illustrating books for children?

AB: Well, I love children and from childhood, I was interested in books. By then, I just felt that I could say my words in illustrations and I did it.

CH: What do you love about illustrating for children?

AB: The visual appeals for example, colors, lines, etc.

CH: Can you tell us about the illustrating process for King Burue Changes The Rules?

AB: I have read the book many times and I felt that I could illustrate this book with flat (no shadow) colors and curved lines.

CH: What other children’s books have you illustrated?

AB: I have illustrated some educational books for children.

CH: Natalija, obviously there is a message in your book that you want the readers to grasp. What is it? 

NB: There’s lot of messages. I think diversity is important and accepting each other for who we are because you can’t change how you are born. I want to show people that if you treat someone nice, they will treat you nice. Even when someone says something mean to me, I try to say something nice back to break the cycle. You should stand up for what you believe in and you should be able to like who you want to like. It’s okay to change a rule that doesn’t make sense, if it’s not fair to everyone. That’s why King Burue changes the rules. He sees that in his kingdom that all the rules help the animals to treat each other nicely. It doesn’t matter what they look like and they can help each other because one animal has a skill that the other doesn’t. They can all be friends and love each other and they shouldn’t have to be afraid or hide because they are different and aren’t supposed to be friends. King Burue loves Kimiko and he tries to cover up her beautiful colors, then realizes how silly it is to change what someone looks like. My friends and my mom’s friends come from all different cultures and are all different. My best friend since I was 18 months old is African American. She had kids tease her and it’s not nice. She is a great person. Maybe if parents teach their kids when they are young, then they will all grow up to be nice to each other. That’s why I have been asked to read my book at some elementary schools and I answered a lot of questions about the lesson. The principal talked about how my book could also teach lessons about bullying. I guess it does but I like to focus on the positive, so I talk about accepting each other.

best friend buddies

Natalija hugging her buddy.

CH: I understand that your first book is in your school library. Do you have plans for a new book? 

NB: Yes, I already started a story about a baby polar bear who loses his mother and a harp seal helps him look for her. She takes care of him and teaches him lessons (like in my first story, but different kind of lessons) and at the end he asks her to be his mother. The moral is that a parent is someone who loves and cares for you. Some kids are adopted, and some have step-parents and that kind of stuff, but your parent isn’t always the person who you were born from.

CH: What is your website?  

NB:    You can send me an email and my mom will post your response to the book on the website.

CH: Where is your book sold?  

NB: Amazon and Barnes & Noble online and you can email us and we will send you a signed copy.(

CH: Any Closing remarks?  

NB: I hope everyone can read my book and learn something from it. Thank you for your interest in my book Mrs. Holloway. Sincerely, Natalija Bajlo

CH: Thank you Natalija Bajlo for joining me on my blog, it has been a real pleasure talking with a child author. We look forward to your second book. 

Note: Photos are compliments of Natalija Bajlo and the Internet.


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: with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author 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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Cheryl Holloway’s Publishing Journey Has Been Difficult

header1_An Author Writes

_IHP2823 Color High Res

Today, February 24th, is Cheryl Holloway’s Birthday.

Happy Birthday

My Publishing Journey Has Been Difficult

My publishing journey started early. My first official published article was when I was fifteen and I won the Crime Prevention Contest in Indiana with an outstanding essay. Then when I was eighteen, just before college, I published an autobiography with a vanity press. I majored in Journalism at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Later, while working for the Federal Government, I was a technical writer, editor, managing editor and finally a writer/editor. Ironically, while working, I didn’t have time to write books, only magazine articles. So, in 2003, I finally had completed my book, A Forgotten Negro League Star: A Personal Look at Al Burrows. I self-published the book in Jan 2004. In 2014, I decided to write Part II to the Negro League Baseball book with Mr. Burrows and he suddenly passed before we could get it written.

I was still working and decided to retire to have time to write full-time. But life happened, and I still wasn’t writing and publishing as I wanted to. I was a ghost writer for a sickle cell book. This was very frustrating when I knew that I spent a few years writing a book that no one would know that I was the author.

My publishing journey took another road when I wrote a historical novel for young adults, Lana’s Dream. I couldn’t get a traditional publisher after numerous tries. Then, I got a publisher in California, but they went out of business. I finally got another traditional publisher, Passionate Writer Publishing, and they went out of business before publishing the book. I still haven’t decided if I want to self publish the book.

So, I decided to write some short stories and self-publish them as eBooks on Smashwords. The Cougar Tales Series: Father and Son and The Italian Basketball Player were self-published in 2012; and The Bane Bath Salts was self-published in 2013 on Smashwords and Amazon.

Now, I have novella for The Cougar Tales Series: Jamaican Love that I will self publish on Amazon along with the other two short stories as a boxed set.

I have one other completed book, How to Enhance Your Life with Prayer, a Christian book, that I will self-publish. I have tried to find a traditional publisher to no avail. I had a couple of ‘almost.’ So, I may self-publish that book also. After all, my literary clock is ticking.

For me, self-publishing has become a wonderful ‘choice,’ since most traditional publishers are only looking at books that will be million dollar bestsellers. Perhaps, 2015 will be the self-publishing year for me!

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Guest Author Interview – Lorraine Pestell

header1_An Author Writes

This is International Month with authors and illustrators from other countries. 

all 6 fronts

Title: A Life Singular- Six Book Serial

Synopsis:  So this was it…Lynn and Jeff, two celebrities driven to change the world together, had grasped their life singular with both hands and were not about to let go.  They had the Midas touch, gifted through the virtues of reciprocity and a deepening understanding of right versus wrong.

The prospect of turning two into four, mirroring the black jetstone ring that lived on the handsome man’s right hand, filled the couple with excitement.  Never in his wildest dreams had the no-good street kid imagined himself as a father.  His own had given him nothing.  So much less than nothing, in fact.

Should Jeff settle that score?  Was it worth disturbing the paradise they had planned, where their well-established careers showed no sign of slowing down and their hard work yielded so much for so many?  Surfacing past wrongs and holding people to account for setting them right were part and parcel of letting go, his dream girl had insisted.  And who was he to argue?  She had been right all along.

As the book’s extraordinary chapters continued to document the achievements of their life singular, the solitary author cried and smiled in equal measure through the arrival of a small boy with blond, curly hair and the sultry gipsy girl, who could see inside his soul from the moment she was born.  Lynn had given him two new friends, who must now be steered through their young lives, learning their own lessons about the endless pursuit of love and wisdom.

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Author: Lorraine Pestell – representing Australia

Note: This interview has been edited due to space availability.

CH: Welcome Lorraine Pestell. Thank you for joining us and sharing your writing world and publishing journey with my audience.

CH:  Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read a serial book with six parts, essentially one story written in six books?

LP: I’d love readers to learn about one of the 21st century’s most pressing social issues, and at the same time discover a little more about themselves, while joining my protagonists on their sometimes challenging and always spectacular journey to love and wisdom.

CH: Tell us a little bit about Part Four to be released in March.

LP: First, if I may, a very quick synopsis of the serial in its entirety…  Essentially a love story, A Life Singular, follows a highly successful rock star as he writes his autobiography after a rogue gunman kills his wife.  Its themes are triumph over mental scars; the choices we make between right and wrong; and how one affects the other through the relentless passage of time.

Part One covers the aftermath of Lynn’s death, how Jeff and their children come to terms with their loss, and his plans for setting their very public record straight.  Parts Two and Three take us back to how the lovers first meet as teenagers, are torn apart by her parents and then find each other again as adults.  The pair’s independent careers take them all over the world, experiencing the best and worst of what life has to offer.

Part Four sees the reunited soul-mates leave their home in Australia as two highly successful celebrities who hope to make their mark on the world’s stage.  It begins in London, taking the reader from London to New York, and from fame and fortune to two adorable children, finally ending up back in Jeff’s home town of Sydney to settle the score with his father.

And Parts Five and Six?  We’ll have to wait and see, although I promise a few more radical changes of direction before the serial’s conclusion.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book?

LP: The idea for A Life Singular has been with me since my mid-teens, where an innocent romance about a rock guitarist and a pop star became the vehicle through which I unearthed and explored my own chronic depression and sought to make sense of myself and the world around me.

As my own life took its own violent and challenging twists and turns, the story developed very much as therapy and a comfortable retreat from my daily struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and its various debilitating symptoms.

With depression-related illnesses now affecting half of the developed world’s population, I have two main goals for my serial:  first, to inspire follower sufferers of mental illness to understand themselves and make a success of their lives; and second, to encourage the other 50 percent of the population to tolerate, support and even love those afflicted in our quest to live a “normal” life.

CH: How long have you been writing this book?

LP: Well…having already mentioned that I started A Life Singular at fourteen, I will have been writing it for four decades by the time I finish Part Six of the serial!

Of course, this has not been forty years of slaving over a hot computer!  I work full-time in the IT industry and also volunteer for several non-profit organisations, which meant that my writing has proceeded in fits and starts over this period.

Although, these books are not my own story, by any means, they have grown with me, similar to my protagonist’s own autobiographical account of how his beautiful best friend helped him conquer his own inner demons.

CH: When you wrote the first part, did you know there would be six parts?

LP: Most certainly not!  I only made the decision to publish in 2008, after several friends and associates began to encourage me to write my own autobiography.  Having become an advocate for mental health, particularly of young people and in the workplace, and having experienced first-hand the discrimination and lack of understanding that still exists around the topic, I chose to pour the knowledge I’ve gained and real-life scenarios I’ve either experienced, witnessed or been told, into a work of contemporary fiction that I hope stands as a fulfilling read in its own right.

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

LP: The writing process is a catharsis for me, a solitary craft which allows me to create something meaningful and entertaining while I figure life out.  I often say that writing is the only place where I can be myself, given the smiley-face mask I’m required to wear everywhere else!

The areas of challenge come with promoting the books, as an unknown author from a faraway, southern-hemisphere country the size of North America but with a population of only 23 million.  With a full-time job, volunteering and my writing deadlines, the amount of time required on social media, doing radio interviews in the middle of the night and exploring new avenues for exposure are all somewhat exhausting!

This is why the opportunity to be featured on this blog is so valuable, so it is much appreciated, Cheryl, and thank YOU for reading also!

CH:  The book is being published over several years, why does the story continue to grab the reader’s attention?

LP: Yes, Part One was published in June 2013, and I hope to release Part Six in 2016.  Heading into 2015, we are increasingly seeing vast areas of the world embroiled in conflict and discrimination, where our ability to understand those different from us is regularly put to the test.

I deliberately chose the universal theme of love and our endless fascination for a celebrity as basis for the A Life Singular serial because I seek to reach the widest possible audience.  Always fascinated by the backstory to every event we see reported through the media, I hope by slowly unwinding the various plot-lines and immersing themselves in my story, readers will look forward to developing an affinity for characters with whom they know both inside and out.

CH: What time period does the book span?

LP: The whole serial spans around fifty years, from the early 1970s.  My ambition is to finish the final part in contemporary times.  Throughout the serial, readers are transported back in time with the widower as he reconstitutes the couple’s amazing life into his autobiography.  I also use flash-forwards to return us to Jeff and his children as they piece everything together and proof-read the upcoming book.

CH: Which part was hardest to write?

LP: I am not a medical professional, qualified counsellor or psychiatrist, so the hardest thing for me when writing about alleviating the symptoms of mental illness is not to be seen to recommend specific clinical treatments.

There is definitely no “one size fits all” approach to mental health, since such a wide variety of causes and effects exist.  However, I am confident that educating ourselves further and enabling a loving, supportive environment cannot fail to help in the vast majority of cases.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of the book? How do they feel about the book being in six parts?

LP: I’ve been fortunate to receive many complimentary reviews, which has been edifying as a début author.  As with all art-forms, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I certainly understand that my serial will not be to everyone’s taste.

On the whole, readers who have followed all three published parts are eager for Part Four.  One such faithful reader recounted that she had a classic love-hate relationship with the handsome widower in Part One, then fell hook, line and sinker with a dangerous adolescent in Part Two.  As a chart-topping rock star, he drove her crazy in the first half of Part Three, but by the end she wanted to marry him!

A 5-star reviewer wrote of Part Three, “the story in the first book and second book meshes very smoothly with this one and all the dots continue to connect. This is not just a story of the past being retold but one also sees the life of the storyteller himself as he works hard to move forward in life and also keep his beloved wife’s memory alive.”

CH: What is special about your book that differentiates it from other books in the same genre?

LP: My books don’t sit comfortably in any one genre, which is a challenge in itself!  Since I am attempting to reach as wide an audience as possible, I tend to use the broad genre of “Contemporary Fiction.”  I wish to attract male readers, as well as the predominately female contingent of “Romance” consumers, for whom the story has its fair share of fast cars and sports.  It is also written from a male perspective.

I’m reluctant to describe my serial as pure romance because I’m hoping to live up to the “love story with substance” accolade to spread my more serious messages.

CH: Do you have any other plans for this serial book?

Certainly, even more grandiose, if I dare, I always write with the visual in mind, and I’d absolutely love to see A Life Singular made into a television serial or set of movies, in order to reach the non-reading audience, too.

CH: Is this your first writing project? If so, why did you choose this story?

LP: My backstory obsession began very early, where I would sit in my bedroom for hours dreaming up hidden secrets to explain things I had seen on the news or current affairs programs.  Although, I didn’t know it at the time, A Life Singular was born during this time!

Similar to my belief that depression chooses us, rather than the other way around, I am convinced my story chose me

CH: Book sales proceeds go to two Australian Charities for disadvantaged children.  Can you tell us a little about why these charities were chosen?

LP: Absolutely!  People with chronic mental illness, especially those without a support network around them, tend to be excessively inward-focussed and can become quite selfish in their search for that elusive thing called happiness.  My main method of avoiding this fate is to volunteer my time to charitable causes, either by serving on arts organization Boards or through providing business skills on a pro-bono basis.

I became involved with both The Smith Family ( and the School Volunteer Program ( a number of years ago, when I became a mentor for school students at risk of dropping out through financial disadvantage or an unstable family situation.  These children often have no role models to help them visualize a positive future, whether by continuing their education, staying out of trouble or not succumbing to substance abuse or early parenthood.

The people who work at organisations such as The Smith Family and the School Volunteer Program are incredibly committed to helping those who wish to help themselves, often with very few resources and at the mercy of funding politics.

Since several students I have mentored have already been affected by mental health issues, whether themselves or through members of their family, I decided to channel sales proceeds from my books into their coffers.  By giving young people resilience strategies for when life throws them the inevitable curve-balls, hopefully they will go on to live happy and productive lives, able to cope with stigma and rejection.

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

LP: Fundamentally, I write because I can’t not write!  I express myself way more fluently using fingers on a keyboard than my voice will ever manage.  I’m fortunate never to suffer from writer’s block, and regularly wake to find six or seven yellow sticky notes on my bedside table, covered on both sides with nocturnal scribbling!

I hope that readers will primarily love the story of A Life Singular and its journey into the world of super-stardom.  If they also assimilate the anecdotes and increase their understanding of the mind’s complexity and fragility, perhaps we can all make our world a happier and more tolerant place.

CH:  Do you have a website?

LP: My serial’s website can be found at and I blog on the topics of mental health and writing from I’m also active on Twitter as @LorrainePestell.

CH: Where is your book sold?

LP: If readers are interested in purchasing the books, the percentage the charities receive is greatest from my website:, for e-books worldwide and paperbacks within Australia.  (Unfortunately, with postage being so ridiculously expensive, it’s not cost-effective to send physical books overseas.) The books are available in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.  A Life Singular – Part Four will be released in March 2015, with Parts Five and Six appearing over the following 18 months.

CH: Any closing remarks?

LP: Thank you, Cheryl, for giving me this opportunity to showcase my books on your awesome blog!  Your readers are welcome to contact me for more information via the Contact Form on my website or by e-mailing

I wish you all the best for 2015, from a very hot Melbourne summer day!

CH: Thank you Lorraine Pestell for joining me on my blog, it has been a real pleasure talking with you. We look forward to following your career. 

Note: Photos are compliments of Lorraine Pestell and the Internet.


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: with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author 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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Black History Month 2015

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Black History 2                                                                         Black History

Note: There is so much Black History this month with all of the items in the news—Black Lives Matter—that I decided to only share a couple of posts on Black History.

Last week, I was talking to some writing sisters about Black History Month and we each shared a personal piece of Black History. The stories were just as diverse as the writers. Some had been publicized and others hadn’t. So, I decided to share my story with those of you reading my blog.

Anyway, I was a small child when this happened. I do not remember all of the details. (I called my brother to see if he remembered any details, but he didn’t.) But here is the story as I remember it. My Aunt Mattie owned a custom drapery business and was moving to an apartment building on the north side of Chicago in the 1950’s. There was an apartment on the second floor that she would later rent; her and my Uncle Charles would live on the first floor and her business would be in the basement. They were to move in on a certain date; however, a white physician had not finished moving out yet. No one knew of the change of plans, except the doctor and my uncle and my aunt.

Racists bombed the apartment building, because they did not want blacks moving in the area.

The doctor was hurt and sued the City of Chicago. The doctor won his lawsuit and the building was repaired, which delayed their moving in for several months. However, as a precaution, the City of Chicago would provide police protection for a few years. The police officers chosen to “protect” the property were all white. They used the business bathroom in the basement. And often left messages on the wall, written with feces that said, “Nigger go home,” or “Niggers not wanted.”

These were the first racial messages that I had seen (and smelled), as a child. Our family was always a nervous wreck when visiting our relatives. There was a park across the street, but we were not allowed to go to the park for obvious reasons.

Fact: According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, The Chicago Police Department, by far the largest police agency in the region, grew from 3,314 employees in 1900 to 10,535 in 1960. There was little change in the pattern of arrests. African Americans were better represented on the force than in other big cities and were slowly promoted, reaching the rank of captain—the first in the United States—in 1940. But black officers could not arrest white citizens, and black sergeants were never assigned to supervise white officers.

Note: The clipart is compliments of the Internet.

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Guest Author Interview – Gilbert Ohanian

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This is International Month with authors and illustrators from other countries. 


Title: Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied

Genre: Self-Help

Synopsis: Is there a bully in your life that you don’t know how to deal with? I had one too. It prompted me to write, Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied, a book outlining practical strategies for defending against bullies and resolving the conflict and aggression that often plagues victims of bullying. Inside these pages, I will take you through my own harrowing journey with bullies—from boarding school beat-ups, to violent attacks from crazed skinheads on the streets of London, to bullies in public school in America. In each chapter, a reflection of my personal story will show you what I did wrong, and how you can actually defend yourself in this modern day and age. Find out: How bullying is perceived by bullies, victims, parents and teachers; What goes on in the mind of a bully, and What you can do about it; How authority figures often make bullying even worse; and The steps you can take to defend yourself, find help and heal from the trauma.

In Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied, you will find out how to deal with psychological, emotional and physical bullying—and even what to do when one of your teachers is being a bully. Get this book now, and empower yourself to stand against the tyranny that oppresses you!

Gilbert Ohanian

Author: Gilbert Ohanian – originally from Iran.

CH: Welcome to my blog Gilbert Ohanian.  Thank you for joining me today to discus such a timely issue—bullying.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

GO: This book tells my experiences of being bullied as a child, but more importantly, provides insights of how to combat bullying.

CH: How much of the media’s influence and the public’s reaction helped you to write this book?

GO: The media and the public’s reaction had a lot of influence on me, which consequently helped me write this book.  Forty years ago, the media did not cover the dynamics of bullying like they do today and victims didn’t have the luxury to express themselves.

CH: How do you think a bullied child will take the guidelines/advice given in this book to “empower themselves to stand against the tyranny that oppresses them”?

GO: By reading this book, the bullied child will recognize and understand what bullying is and how to combat their own crisis.  Essentially, this book provides prudent guidelines in order to  “empower themselves to stand against the tyranny that oppresses them.”

CH: Why the Title Chestnuts? What Significance does the title have to you?

GO: The significance of the title “Chestnuts,” was primarily given because whilst I was sleeping in my dorm room at a boarding school just outside of London, the kids used to throw chestnuts at me as part of their intimidation tactics.  Also, partly because we were playing a game called conkers, which is mentioned in the book.

CH: There is a section in your book, ‘How Authority Figures Can Make The Bullying Worse.’ How so and is that all authority figures or just the ones in the immediate surroundings of the bullying?

GO: Yes, actually there is a whole chapter dedicated to this topic.  Authority figures can make bullying worse, for instance, if a victim complains to the authority figures at school, they (educators) might brush it off, which makes things much worse.  And in most cases, if the bully is reported to the authority figures at school, the bully responds harshly with a form of retribution, which also makes matters worse.  Inevitably, bullies are everywhere and they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and one has to deal with it head on.  Take it to the authority figures (educators), if you are at school; take it to the authority figures (employers), if you are at work; and take it to the authority figures (law enforcement), if you are out in the public.

CH: There is a short poem by Lao Tzu at the beginning of the book. Was this poem helpful to you during your time of bullying or was it found during research for your book?

GO: The poem was never researched when I was writing or even thought about writing “Chestnuts,” nor did I even know about the poem when I was being bullied in my childhood years.  I learned about the poem during my tenure at Glendale Community College in my psychology class, at which time I wrote those words in my notebook and carried it everywhere.  I have cherished those words since 2009 and when I thought about writing the book, I knew exactly where those words were going to be as part of the book.

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

GO: I am originally from Iran from Armenian descent, lived in England for almost 8 years and I have been in the states for 35 years.  My background one way or another had influence on the book because I was being bullied as a foreign student in England.

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

GO: Yes, I did research about bullying and my research has been cited in the book also.

CH: Was it painful to revisit some of the bullying situations to write the book?

GO: It was not as painful as learning about my son being bullied, much less literally watching him get bullied.  I dealt with it and I moved on, it doesn’t hurt anymore, because at some point you forgive and you forget; there is no point of holding a grudge.  We were all kids.

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

GO: There are so many, but I will give you a few excerpts from the book: Do not be split between who you really are and who people want you to be.  Every child is different.  Somewhere in the world, there are thousands of people who are just like you.  There is no urgency to find them right away.  But you must be willing to connect and share who you are with people, because that is what protects you from harassment.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book?

GO: I decided to write this book mainly because of the timely topic—bullying—which has taken a different and dangerous dimension, whilst at the same time when my son was being bullied, it was a constant reminder that I really needed to write and share my thoughts with people that are dealing with the issue.

CH: Is this your first book? How long have you been writing?

GO: Yes, this is my first book.  I have been writing since 2011, at which time, I started working on this book.  But, I have been a book lover, since I was 5 years old and I have to thank my father for that.

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

GO: Well, I don’t know about being an author, but I have the strong desire to be a advocate against bullying.  Although, I have brainstormed about writing another book, which is also a non-fiction based on a day traders life story.

CH: Do you have a website?

GO: I currently don’t have a website, but it is in the works and I should have it up within the next month.

CH: Where is your book sold?

GO: My book is sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major online bookstores.

CH: Any closing remarks?

GO: To everyone and anyone, who has a niece, nephew, grandchild, children; and to avid readers, Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied, is part of my autobiography and the rest is a social commentary about a timely topic—bullying.  This book mainly talks about my personal experience with being bullied and what I did wrong, but, more importantly, it sheds light on what bullying is to bullies, victims, parents, and educators; and how to combat the crisis.

CH: Thank you Gilbert Ohanian for joining me on my blog, it has been a real pleasure talking with you. We look forward to following your advocacy on bullying. 

Note: Photos are compliments of Gilbert Ohanian and the Internet.


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: with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author 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 : or