How to Submit a Winning Scholarship Application by Shay Spivey

Name-ShaySpivey(1) Howtosubmita winning
What inspired you to write your book?
I wrote this scholarship series to fill a special need in the community.  I wish I had these books when I was in high school because I would not have felt so lost.  I dropped out after my sophomore year when I ran out of money.  Years later I decided to return to college as an adult and began researching alternative ways to pay for college.  I won $100,000 in college scholarships and want to help others find free money to complete their degree.
What is your favorite lesson in your book?
My favorite lesson is that scholarships and free financial aid provide financial access to education to underserved groups of people.
Who is the intended audience for your book?
“Hot to Submit a Winning Scholarship Application” is written for high school and college students, families, teachers, and counselors looking for alternative ways to pay for college outside of student loans.
What do you want readers to take away or say about your book when done reading?
First I hope that my readers can walk away with a solid understanding about scholarships and financial aid.  Also I want people to walk away feeling empowered, knowing that they can afford to pursue their higher education goals.
Name a few of your favorite books
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  I also have been deeply inspired by  – Don’t Bring Home a White Boy: And Other Notions that Keep Black Women From Dating Out by Karyn Langhorne Folan.  Both books changed my life, perspective, and set me on a journey to look deeper into myself and my experiences.
Who are some of the writers that have influenced your writing?
My current influential writers would be Karyn Langhorne Folan, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  Their books are showing the world a new global perspective.  Also, their writing styles are great examples of how research, critical thinking, and a hot topic can be informative.
What are your thoughts on the publishing process and getting your book to market?
My publisher said to me that was very accurate – “…writing the book is the easy part. The marketing and promotion work after the book is written is when the real work begins.”  I believe her now.
Where is your book available?
My books are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many libraries across the nation.  If readers do not find my books at their local library or bookstore I encourage them to request it.
Amazon Links:
How to Submit a Winning Scholarship Application @
How to Find Scholarships and Free Financial Aid for Private High Schools @
How can readers find out more about your book, upcoming titles and events?
Readers can learn more about scholarships and free financial aid at my blog:
Readers can learn more about my books, workshops, tours, and events on my author’s blog at:
I can also be found on Facebook ( and Twitter (@ShayMSpivey).
How did you win $100,000 in college scholarships?
I won over $100,000 in college scholarships which allowed me to return to college and change my life.  Earning my degree became a top priority; therefore I made finding the money to pay for it a priority as well.  One thing was certain in my situation:  No money, no college.   
I treated the process of applying for scholarships and free financial aid like it was the last chance I might ever have to return to college… because it was.  This was it.  College was my ticket out of poverty, my chance to change my life, and the opportunity I had been waiting for.  
If I could not convince scholarship organizations to help me financially, I had no other way to pay for college.  I put my heart and soul into telling my story and getting it into the hands of anyone who could help.  Applying for scholarships opportunities became my part-time job, and I was determined to give it my best shot.  
What is next for you, Shay?
In addition to writing books, I also provide scholarship and financial aid workshops and presentations at schools, organizations, churches, and college preparatory programs.   Learn more at or email me at

This is What You Put in Your Mouth by Patrick Di Justo

This Is What You Just Put in Your Mouth
“This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth?” by Patrick Di Justo
c.2015, Three Rivers Press
$15.00 / $18.00 Canada
255 pages
That’s the technical term for what you’re experiencing now: great big rumbles from ‘neath your navel. Snarls from your stomach, a reminder that it’s snack time. Aside from sugary-salty goodness, though, and a feeling of satisfaction, what will you consume? To find out, read “This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth?” by Patrick Di Justo, and hang on to your gut…
But first – the vending machine.
The vending machine is close, so let’s start out with a cuppa joe, which includes an ingredient that “helps give real butter its flavor” and one that actually keeps bacteria off your teeth.
So far, so good.  Real good, in fact, so you might follow it up with something sweet to get you through your day, complete with “artificial human salivary enzymes,” perhaps topped with a product that contains “a high percentage of air.”
Uhhh, or maybe not. How ‘bout something cheesy – some “cheese, processed cheese, cheese food, [or] cheese spread” – each of which are different, says Di Justo. Or salty, which might contain three ingredients that cause addiction in lab rats. If you’re watching your weight, though, beware: federal regulations state that serving size is generally based on what a four-year-old can consume. And expiration dates?  Nope. There’s “no federal regulation to date food at all…”
Well, now, your appetite is gone; in fact, you might want to lie down somewhere… like, in front of a fire, where you might burn birdseed and “a giant sideways candle in your fireplace.” Or maybe you just need to be with friends, so put in your contacts (the solution for which may contain a product used with anticancer drugs) and mascara (which you definitely do not want to wear near a magnet!) and head down for your favorite libation (which could cause irregular heartbeat). Or maybe you’ll just skip it all to spend time with the dog (and feed him something that’s “deliberately stinky”) or the kids (and give them what “attempts to artificially re-create something that already exists…”).  Bon appétit!
“If you’re looking for shocking stories of the gigantic corporate conspiracy to poison America … you’re reading the wrong book,” says author Patrick Di Justo of “This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth?”  Without intending to scare, he says he looked at various products with curiosity and the notion that knowing what’s there is better than not knowing. It can’t be an accident that he also entertains readers, then, can it?
I don’t think it is: in this collection of Wired magazine articles, Di Justo is hilarious, as he explains how he learned what’s inside everyday products, not just food. What he finds may surprise and delight you.
For sure, you’ll read ingredient labels a whole lot closer.
Depending on how you look at it, this is a consumer’s dream, or it’s a nightmare. Either way, it’s a twistedly-fun and very eye-opening book to have. “This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth?” will give you food for thought – and it may make you growl.

Interview with Author Stacy Campbell

What inspired you to write your book?
Wouldn’t Change A Thing was written because of my desire to learn more about mental illness. It’s also a love song to my hometown, Sparta, Georgia.   I received a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission to do research at a mental health facility in Georgia but wasn’t sure which angle I wanted to tell the story, so I wrote other books in the meantime.
What is your favorite character /lesson in your book? Explain why?
Toni Williamson is my favorite character. She is intelligent, a liar, compassionate, deceitful, meticulous, and shy. In a nutshell, beautifully flawed. My favorite lesson in the book is that you can always go home.
Who is the intended audience for your book?
People who may have relatives living with mental illness or people wanting to learn more about the subject.
What do you want readers to take away or say about your book when done reading?
I want them to take away a different point of view of why some people are ashamed to associate with sick loved ones.
Name a few of your favorite books.
The Third Life of Grange Copeland by Alice Walker, Leaving by Richard Dry, Parallel Pasts by Julia Blues, Sugar by Bernice McFadden,  Leaving Cecil Street by Dianne McKinney Whetstone and anything by Adrienne Thompson. You said a few; I could go on forever.
Who are some of the writers that have influenced your writing?
Terry McMillan, Renee Swindle, Sheneska Jackson, Richard Dry, and James Baldwin.
What are your thoughts on the publishing process and getting your book to market?
I was very blessed to find an agent and a good publishing home. I think marketing has been my biggest challenge.
Where is your book available?
Wouldn’t Change A Thing will be available July 14, 2015 at Amazon, Simon and Schuster, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. My other titles, Dream Girl Awakened and Forgive Me are also available or can be ordered through those outlets.
How can readers find out more about your book, upcoming titles and events? I
can be found on Facebook at stacy.campbell.376,, or readers can email me at

Miss Jessie’s by Miko Branch

Miss Jessie's
“Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business from Scratch – Naturally” by Miko Branch
c.2015, Atria                         
$24.99 / $31.00 Canada
256 pages
Starting a business is not for the faint of heart.
It takes brains and guts enough to step out of a comfort zone. It requires going against the grain, letting go of pride, and a dash of innocence. Starting a business is the worst, most difficult, wonderful, magnificent thing you’ll ever do – but as in the new book “Miss Jessie’s” by Miko Branch, sometimes it’s also quite hair-raising.
Jessie Mae Pittman was born in 1919 to a sharecropper family in North Carolina , and grew up hating fieldwork. To avoid picking cotton, she taught herself to cook and later became renowned for her skills. That independent self-sufficiency impressed her granddaughters; Miko Branch and her sister, Titi, were raised knowing that they’d someday be businesswomen.
Throughout their childhood, the Branch sisters learned and dreamed. They also toiled long hours with their father at various family businesses, which was work they did for free. That eventually taught Branch the value of her labor and gave her a sense of what owning her own business might entail.
When it was time to enroll in college, Branch decided on a career in fashion but her schooling taught her what she didn’t want. Upon graduating from Fashion Institute of Technology, she’d realized that she needed to work with hair; specifically, she wanted to work in a high-end salon that catered to a certain kind of clientele.
“There is a long, rich… complex history surrounding African-American women’s hair that ties to… self-image,” Branch says. As a woman with curls, she knew she could make a better product than what was available. She experimented with gels, crèmes, and technique before she and her sister opened a salon that ultimately grew into a full-fledged, hip and trendy mini-empire with products named after their grandmother.
But, like many fledgling entrepreneurs, the sisters made mistakes – one of which led to a split, lawyers, and a months-long parting that hurt Branch in more ways than one. It took two years, two moves, and too much money to fix what broke.
Business book or memoir?  Though it may appear more the latter, the answer is that “Miss Jessie’s” is both.
Sometimes, of course, the story of a business is the story of its creators, and author Miko Branch takes her readers back nearly 100 years to see where the very roots of her company began. That’s a very interesting tale but if it’s not what you read a business book for, well, Branch has that part covered, too. She subtly includes business advice for entrepreneurs in nearly each chapter, and a nicely succinct epilogue as a final takeaway. That serves to entertain and inform readers on one hand, while steadily encouraging entrepreneurship on the other.
Though I thought there was a bit too much repetition here, I did enjoy this by-the-bootstraps story of a growing company, and I think you will, too – especially if you’re up for the unique format of it. Still, business book or memoir, “Miss Jessie’s” is something you won’t mind curling up with.

Interview with Dope Fiction Author Antwan Floyd

Dope Fiction Front








What inspired you to write your book?

I originally wrote a screenplay and after discovering Urban Literature from a book I read called Hoodlum by K’Wan. I began researching how to self-publish. I then converted my screenplay Crew Love into my first novel in 2009.

What is your favorite character /lesson in your book? Explain why?
My favorite character is Black Love, he is a Attorney turned Private Investigator. He is my favorite because he is the first character that I’ve written for since switching genres from Urban Fiction to Crime Fiction. I feel as though I’ve grown as a person and it reflects in my writing.

Who is the intended audience for your book?

Anyone who has a passion for the written word. My goal is to write fun, entertaining stories that anyone can relate to.

What do you want readers to take away or say about your book when done reading?

That was good! When is part two coming out?

Name a few of your favorite books.
Not sure if you meant that I’ve written or that I’ve read. I’ll go with what I’ve read. Off the top, I’d have to say Eric Jerome Dickey’s Gideon Series, A Wanted Woman (another Eric Jerome Dickey novel) and Policy Kings “An Informal History” by Nathan Thompson.

Who are some of the writers that have influenced your writing?

Donald Goines, Eric Jerome Dickey, K’Wan, Walter Mosley.

What are your thoughts on the publishing process and getting your book to market?

My thoughts, it’s most definitely a grind and although I have been doing this since 2009 I am still carving my niche.

Where is your book available? or

You are also a graphic designer, how can someone look to get their Book cover designed reach you?
Just like purchasing one of my titles they can reach me at about getting a book cover done.

How can readers find out more about your book, upcoming titles, and events?

Infinite Words by Zane

 Infinite Words by Zane
Infinite Words: A Comprehensive Guide to Writing and Publishing” by Zane
Atria    2015
$16.00 / $18.99 Canada
198 pages
Sometimes, you feel like a boiling pot.
That’s because you’ve been cooking a story up and it bubbles and rolls just below the surface of your mind, waiting to burst forth into a bestseller for an eager audience. It’s always been your dream to be a famous author – and that could happen, but there’s work to do first. “Infinite Words” by Zane can get you started.
You’re witty. You’re hip. You’ve had an interesting life and friends have said that you should write a book, although “Not everyone who thinks they want to will be able to write a book or become a published author,” says Zane. Even so, if you decide to walk the walk, there are lots of steps to consider.
First of all, she says, you’ll need discipline to set your writing habits, to find the right people to help you create a good product, and to finish your manuscript. Determine your writing style, and “make a PIE” (Persuasion, Information, Entertainment) to hold your readers’ interest. Mixing the “six basic human needs” into your story is also important, and while you’re writing, read, read, read; you will learn from other writers.
As for characters in a novel, know what to do and what not to do. Zane warns against adding too much “fluff” in your story; it only serves as padding and might turn readers away. For a nonfiction book, remember that anything libelous or slanderous won’t be published by a reputable company. “Publishers,” says Zane, “are not going to risk a lawsuit, no matter how amazing the book may be.”
Understand that the editing process requires patience (and yes, even if you’re self-publishing, you’ll need proofreaders and an editor). Don’t ever send a sloppy manuscript out. Know the realities of being an author, keep in mind that “The literary industry is a very small, close-knit community,” and maintain professionalism at all times.
Says Zane, remember that “A successful writing career is not going to fall into your lap.”
Oh, how I wish I could wave a magic wand and put “Infinite Words” into the hands of every new and budding writer!
With blunt truthfulness that’s like a breath of fresh air, author-publisher Zane tells it like it is as she coaches writing readers with tough-love and advice that regretfully still might not bring success (which she explains). Be aware that that may squash your dreams; in fact, there are many pages where her words could be hard to accept. Nevertheless, readers brave enough to be in it for the long-haul (and that includes erotica writers) will find info to instruct, becalm, and enlighten, from opening sentence to finished product.
If you’ve been told that you “should write a book,” this is the place to start it. This book can keep you on-track and avoiding mistakes, and it can help you determine if you’ve got it in you to continue. If you’ve always dreamed of being an author, “Infinite Words” is perfect, whether you’re planning history, memoir, erotica, romance, or… potboiler.

The Hand I was Dealt Episode 1

The hand I was Dealt











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Interview with Tra Verdejo and Silk White

The hand I was Dealt








Recently, Baltimore has experienced the riots. The Hand I was Dealt is based in Baltimore. Explain why you chose to set the web series in Baltimore and what makes Baltimore a unique city?

Silk White

We chose to shoot the web series in Baltimore because it’s a strong city and people there are always so alive. While shooting the final episode the riots began to break out and we actually got some footage of a few of the protest. Baltimore always shows us love so it’s only right that we show the same love back.


Tra Verdejo

Baltimore, because Silk and I have done a lot of business in the Baltimore, we have owned bookstores and we also filmed Black Barbie in Baltimore as well. We’re both from NY but our heart belongs to the city of Baltimore. We know the city, so it’s easier for us to find the right locations. Also, throughout the show you will see a different side of Baltimore, we filmed everything in the city but you won’t see the row houses and dirty alleys, it’s more to see in Baltimore besides what everyone saw in “The Wire” & “The Corner”

It just so happens while we were shooting the very last scene of episode 10, we ran into the protesters, so we filmed a little bit of it and we will show that, not the riots but the peaceful protest. The world scene enough of the looting. 


After years of writing, selling and publishing books, what made you venture into film?

Silk White

Well we always wanted to do films and bring our stories to the big screen but some times its all about timing and i think now was the perfect time for The Hand I Was Dealt

Tra Verdejo

Prior to filming this Web-series, Silk and I wrote and Directed 2 films (No Way Out and Black Barbie) and I wrote and directed a short film (The Naked Monster). The filming itch was there. My fans always told me they could envision my words. Lately the book industry has not been as lucrative as it was in the pass, so we are trying to put more energy into the film industry   

How did the web series “The Hand I was Dealt” come about?

Silk White

I had the script already done went and talked to my partner Tra Verdejo and we worked out all the details and a month later we had a finished product. We put in a lot of hours behind the scenes to make this project come to life.

Tra Verdejo

Silk called and told me about the project, we were trying to figure out our next moves. We both have our own companies and projects but our work chemistry is straight magic so when he called me I was like I’m all in, let’s do it. Real talk when we were filming Black Barbie back in 2011, Silk had an idea about a web-series, the timing was right


How did you come to the decision to act in the web series as well as direct?

Silk White

We felt that we needed to be the directors because no one knew the story line better than us and we knew exactly how things needed to play out and be shown on the screen. As far as acting it’s just something that we love to do and continue to get better at.

Tra Verdejo

We are Bosses, so unless a big time Director comes along, we would handle it ourselves. No one knows your vision better than yourself.  It’s the same attitude we had in the book game. We are independent with the mentality of a major company.  The acting part is fun, but like Silk said we are getting better at it.

Is the web series an original script or based on any previous books? Characters?

Silk White

This web series is an original script. Just wanted to give the people something fresh and new.

Tra Verdejo

Silk wrote it as a web-series. We didn’t want people to compare it to anything or say the book is always better than the movie / web-series.

What was the biggest challenge getting the web series completed?

Silk White

The biggest challenge in getting the web series done for me was getting everyone on the same schedule. With everyone being so busy everyone has to work on each other’s schedule and some times that can a hassle. Also finding these locations was a challenge

Tra Verdejo

I agree with Silk, getting everything and everyone scheduled was crazy because we had people from NY, DE, MD, DC & VA.  Also the promoting of the casting call making sure the right agencies knew about it so we could find the right actors.


What was your favorite scene shooting in episode 1 of the series? Why?

Silk White

My favorite scene in episode 1 would have to be the opening scene with Macho and Missy that’s the scene that gets everything started.

Tra Verdejo

My favorite part from Episode 1 was the whole Big Time scene, when he pulled up in the red car looking for Zoe. It just reminded me of the good old hustling days in the hood.


When will the second episode be released? How frequent and how many episodes in the series?

Silk White

The second episode will air Tuesday 5/12/15 and an episode will be aired every Tuesday at 8PM


Watch episode 1.  Additional Episodes will be shown here

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Reach by Ben Jealous











“Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding,” edited by Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters, foreword by Russell Simmons
c.2015, Atria $15.00 / $18.00 Canada 275 pages

Where do you go from here?

You’ve been looking at your life and everything around you, and that’s the question you’ve been asking: what next? What will you do with the rest of your days? In the new book “Reach,” edited by Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters, foreword by Russell Simmons, you may find some guidance.

What you see is what you do.

That’s natural. Says Ben Jealous, “…imitation has always been the first step for those who achieve great things.” It’s easy to emulate positive behavior and success, once you see it done – which is what you’ll find in this book.

When D’Wayne Edwards was sixteen, he lost his beloved older brother. That, says Edwards, “really encouraged me to pay attention to my gift” of drawing and design. Realize your “true potential,” he advises.

Says actor Louis Gossett Jr.: learn that you can play Superman.

Shaka Senghor was still a teenager when he was sent to prison and “was on course to become the best predator I could be,” until journaling helped him look at his life and “the most absurd stuff you can imagine.” Write down your thoughts, he says. Read them and “understand that [they] have power.”

Read, says Dr. Eddie Connor. “We’ve got to promote books instead of prison bars…”
Ben Jealous advises taking risks. Learn math, says Emmanuel Cephas. Broadcasting executive Ron Davenport says to “Be in the room where the decisions are made.” Learn to fail, says aviator Barrington Irving, but don’t let it be an option. Name your future, says Van Jones. Become involved in politics, get an education, and cultivate empathy. Be financially literate, and promote entrepreneurship. Be a role model, and ask for mentors. Work collaboratively, and lift up future generations who come after you.

And above all, stay hopeful. Loss of hope, says Reverend Tony Lee, can “sabotage [your] faith.” Says Yusef Shakur, “without… hope, poverty becomes overwhelming.”
Says Senghor, “… hope, man – hope is the saving grace.”

Wow. Though it’s only a few ounces of paper and ink, “Reach” truly packs a punch.
There’s a lot of takeaway in this book, for starters. Editors Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters invited 40 black men from all walks of life and achievement to tell their stories and share what helped them succeed. While it’s natural that there’d be some repetition, you’ll find dozens and dozens of short chapters to uplift and inspire.

I loved that in this book – but there was one thing that bears mentioning: pay attention, and you’ll start to notice that many authors here were raised in fatherless households. It truly struck me as further proof that there are no excuses not to succeed.

While I think anyone will be glad they read this book, I can definitely see it being a great gift for any young man on his way to high school, college, or post-college life. It will give him something to think about on his path to success. For him, “Reach” is a great book to have, wherever he goes.

Letters to an Incarcerated Brother

Letters to an Incarcerated Brother








“Letters to an Incarcerated Brother” by Hill Harper
c.2013, Gotham Books $27.50 / $29.00 Canada 400 pages

You figured you had a lock on things.

Sell or steal a little something. Hold for somebody, “borrow” a car, gain respect. Make a little money and it’d be all good, right?

Now that lock you had… has you. You’re in prison and it’s a whole new world in there, one you’re not sure you can survive. But when you read “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother” by Hill Harper, you’ll see that you have choices.

It’s no secret that there are more people in American prisons than ever before. “In less than thirty years,” says Harper,” our prison population has mushroomed.” But though statistics show that offenders are likely to return, Harper says “there is hope and there are solutions.” This book lays them out.

When Harper was contacted by an old friend who landed in “county,” he admitted to the young man that he “didn’t know what to say.” Harper believes himself to be a problem-solver. He had no answers that time, but he quickly discovered some.

First, he says, find mentorship. You can’t go it alone, so look for someone you want to make proud. Consider prison as a place to “make… tune-ups and adjustments” in your life, but remember that “you need to be prepared to change.”

Stay patient, even though it’s hard and even though you don’t always understand what’s to come. Sometimes, “it’s more important for you to simply understand you.” Learn to keep your mind free, even if your body is not.

Get as much education as you can: get your GED, look for college coursework that’s available to incarcerated students, and read. The time you spend in prison shouldn’t go to waste; use it to better your mind.

Stay in your children’s lives any way you can. Keep away from prison gangs and trouble; it’s only going to make things worse. Learn not to take things personally. Understand that real men do ask for help when they need it. Eliminate disrespectful words from your vocabulary, particularly in reference to women. Set goals. Learn to apologize and embrace change. Be a leader. And do not “micro-quit.”

In his introduction, author Hill Harper lays out several goals for this book: among others, to show the importance of education, to offer inspiration through example, and to explain how to “beat the odds and avoid returning” to jail.

Definitely, those goals are attained but that’s not all. Harper offers words of wisdom from influential contributors to support his ideas. There’s guidance here, help and resources, and he displays gentle patience, even deference, for his friend – but Harper’s nobody’s fool. He’s not afraid to call the man on his lies and half-truths, and he’s not afraid to show frustration. Such realism makes this one powerful book.

This isn’t just a reference for inmates, though. It’ll also be a great help for families, as well as a caution for boys who are headed for trouble. If that – or encouragement, sense, or inspiration – is what you need, “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother” has it locked up.








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