Interview with A Beautiful Satan Author RJ Champ

UM: Introduce yourself to the readers.

R.J. Champ – I’m the fresh new author and creator of the hot new urban thriller A Beautiful Satan, which is my first release under DC Bookdiva Publications. I’m a newcomer to the urban industry and I’m bringing a fresh new vibe that will enlighten the urban genre with my unique creative style. A Beautiful Satan is my freshman project, which is fire!

UM: Tell us about your book A Beautiful Satan.

Well, A Beautiful Satan is a thugged-out psycho-thriller with a fresh new vibe that’s my signature trademark. The story centers on infidelity and puts a sadistic twist on the subject of cheating. Heartbreak, murder and mayhem come full circle in this sadistic saga where the main character, Angel Rising has a duel personality, a secret alter-ego name Natasha, and Natasha is meticulously stalking and murdering loose women who are involved in some form or fashion with Angel’s husband – Jovan, who is a prolific womanizer, to say the least. Jovan’s antics and his womanizing ways set his wife off, sending her alter-ego on a hellish killing spree within our nation’s capital.

UM: How would you describe your writing style? Who are some of your favorite authors?

My writing style is urban with a dark creative twist that is intriguing and captivating and exciting for my readers. Every time I pick up the pen I challenge myself to bring something fresh and different to my readers…stories they can feel…stories they can identify with…stories that arouse the senses.

My favorite authors; at the top of my urban authors list, I would have to say Donald Goines. His writing introduced me to urban literature, and from there I gravitated to other urban authors such as Dutch, K’wan, and Wahida Clark.

UM: Who is the audience for your book?

Well, A Beautiful Satan is an urban thriller, so my target audience are readers in the urban genre; also readers who enjoy reading thrillers, the kind of story that’s dark, captivating and exciting. I’ve labeled my books Urban Adult/Urban Universal…pretty much anyone who enjoys a good read will enjoy A Beautiful Satan.

UM: What do you want readers to take away after reading the book?

Well, this particular novel A Beautiful Satan, my intention with this story was to highlight the effects of infidelity in a relationship, how it literally destroys the soul of the innocent partner. The story shines the light on psychological abuse, and the adverse consequences which are brought on due by infidelity. This story is meant for entertainment purposes, however, there is a lesson to be learned from this dark and twisted plot, beware, infidelity can transform a woman, literally bring out the darker side you never knew existed.

UM: Who is your favorite character? Why?

Well, from a man’s point of view I’d have to roll with my man Jovan—he really puts it down when it comes to being a playa…He has the look, the dress, the money, the cars, the swag—He’s the quintessential player through and through.

Interview with Real Talk Authors Dee Derrick and L.A. Mathews

Real Talk by
Dee Derrick and L.A. Matthews

UM: Can you introduce yourself to the audience and give them some background about you.
 
D.D.
My name is Dee Derrick, I reside in Atlanta, GA by way of “Sweet Home Alabama”. I attended Auburn University and received my Bachelors in Social Work. I’ve always had a strong desire to help others, even at a young age. I consider myself somewhat of a free spirit because I don’t let society dictate the person that I am. I love life, I love to have fun, I love to laugh…I believe that’s the kind of life that God, while fulfilling his purpose, wants us to have. Oh, and I really love football! War Eagle.
 
L.A.
My birth name is Lisa Anne Matthews; however my pen name is L.A. Matthews. I was born in Las Vegas, Nevada and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I graduated from the University of Georgia with a Journalism degree. I enjoy traveling, writing, conducting seminars, and teaching college courses. My loved ones call me a ‘social butterfly’ because I enjoy attending social activities and events. I appreciate engaging in thoughtful conversations with others.
 
 
Tell us about your book Real Talk.

 
D.D.

Real Talk is a compilation of conversations from Black men about their perspectives of Black women. L.A and I made a conscious decision to begin our series of Real Talk books within the Black community because we felt there was an extreme disconnect in how Black men and women view one another. We wanted this book to be positive, yet still cover controversial topics. So you’ll have sections within the book that will make you laugh and others that will definitely trigger some deep thought.  
 
L.A.

We interviewed 8 Black men from diverse backgrounds (i.e. cities, ages, religious backgrounds, family structures). The interviews were held in a location of our participants’ choice. After we conducted the face to face interviews, we transcribed each interview verbatim. We wanted to keep the voices of the men as honest and as real as possible.
 
UM: Who is the audience for the book and how will they benefit from reading?
 
L.A.

We wanted to reach out to all adult readers. It doesn’t matter what racial/ethnic background, age, or gender you are, because there is something for everyone in this book. We wanted to discuss topics that are sometimes uncomfortable for people to share with one another. Real Talk gives our readers the opportunity to hear the voices of some very opinionated men.
 
D.D

I agree with L.A., it’s a book that everyone can learn from. It’s great for women because it provides answers and a sense of understanding to those questions that we many times over-analyze in our own minds. It’s basically like having Barber Shop talk–in a book.  On the other hand, it’s just as great for men because it gives them an opportunity to relate or gain insight from other men.

UM: What is your opinion of the availability of the African American Male perspective?

L.A.

Unfortunately, oftentimes perceptions of Black men may not be very positive. This is due to the inaccurate and negative stereotyping that we see in the media. Black love does exist. Yet, we are all too familiar with the staggering statistics. Today, nearly 70% of African-American births are to unmarried mothers. In truth however, many Black people experience well-functioning and successful family units, yet very little research exists on positive marriages, satisfaction, happiness, and Black men’s view of love.
 
D.D.

There’s not enough. As L.A. stated, there’s an abundance of negative portrayals from the media of Black men but definitely a lack of availability of perspectives from Black men themselves. Honestly, that was one of our main reasons for creating a book from the perspective of Black men. We felt there were several books that catered to and were created for women; so it was important for us to give Black men an open forum to discuss a range of topics such as growing up in fatherless homes or how the really feel about the “Independent” Black woman.
 
 
UM: How did you pick the individuals in the book?
 
D.D.-We chose guys that we knew personally, guys that we felt would give honest and real feedback.
 
L.A.
Yes, it was important for us to have men would not hold back and weren’t afraid of telling the truth.
 
 
Describe the highlight of your research.
 
D.D.
One of the highlights of our research was hearing our participants express their sincere appreciation for the simple gesture of two women that genuinely wanted to hear their voice. 
 
L.A.
The highlight of our research was very simple in context, yet has a profound meaning for the Black community. It’s as basic as this—Black men do love Black women. Forget what you see or hear on the television. For once, close your ears to staggering and dismal statistics. Black love exists, has always existed, and will continue to exist.

UM: Describe the biggest challenge completing the book.

D.D.
I don’t know if I’d call it a challenge, but I’d say the editing process because you have so much great information that you would like to include but unfortunately everything can’t be.

UM: You co-wrote the book. What was the writing process like?

D.D.

The writing process was fun because we worked with a great group of men that allowed us into their worlds. We had fun with the process but it was a lot of hard work because we did everything on our own from transcribing the interviews to publishing the book. There were a lot of late nights, a lot of early mornings, writing retreats, tears of joy, and even a few tears of  “will this thing ever be done”…still, I wouldn’t change a thing.
 
L.A.

The writing process was an amazing learning experience. This was our first book so we learned the ins and outs about publishing, editing, book formatting, etc. It was very hands on and we learned more than any print or journalism writing college class could teach us.
 
UM: How can readers learn more about your book and upcoming releases?
 
L.A.

They can visit our website, www.realtalklive.com  and follow us on twitter @DeeRealTalkLA or become a fan of our Real Talk facebook page.

Last words?

D.D.
If there’s one thing I hope people take from this book, it’s that we need to challenge ourselves to dig a little deeper rather than conforming to superficial-driven conversations. Everyone has a story, what sets our stories apart is not the car we drive nor the career we have, it’s the journey. We’re on our journey and our hopes are that we create a platform that encourages more positive dialogue and views between Black men and women. The intent of this book was never about who a person chooses to date, it’s about no longer allowing society to pull us away from each other through misrepresentations of one another. We’re not relationship experts, we’re just two women that have a vision.   
 
L.A.
If you have a vision, just go for it and make it happen! Remember, for every person who will not help you, there is always someone who will. Dee and I had a dream for writing this book and we spoke it into existence. After we spoke it, we began working and believing in our purpose.

Conversation with Dream Relations PR Maven Dawn Hardy

UM: Budgets are tight in the industry and especially for most self published authors. How does the book marketing differ from book publicity?

DH:

Publicity/public relations are just one of many “marketing” tools. Marketing overall is reaching out to your audience and customer based using a combination of advertising, market research, product pricing, distribution, community relations, public relations, and sales tactics.

Publicity which consists of media placement across various mediums including, print publications (magazines, newspapers, newsletters), broadcast (television, radio), online( blogs, social media) is just a portion of a marketing plan.

I often explain to self published authors when creating a marketing budget they are to include the cost of everything outside of printing the book–including flyers and bookmarks, travel expenses, online advertisements, book release party and promotional items. If they can afford to, they should consider hiring an experienced publicist with a proven track record of success in the genre in which they are publishing their book. All of the forementioned are part of “marketing” your book.

Can you give authors three or four tips of what they should be doing on their own before they hire a publicist?

I strongly suggest social media should be the first and is the least expensive place to start. Social media sites Twitter, MySpace and Facebook are global. They are all free sites where communities can be located and formed without anyone traveling or spending any money. I encourage authors to take a photo with their book or use their book cover as their profile picture. Increase your numbers on all of these outlets by locating readers of fellow authors in your genre. A reader who loves Teri Woods (True to the Game), will enjoy Danielle Santiago (Little Ghetto Girl); and a one who reads Miasha (Secret Society) will enjoy Kiki Swinson presents (Cheaper to Keep Her).

#2 Website. Authors should really take the time to get an attractive easy to navigate website under their name, publishing company or book title. You need one location online where someone can find out all they need to know about you book including purchasing links, excerpts and contact information. As a publicist this will be the hub that I direct all media to for further information.

#3 Authors should be able to set up their own book signings or have someone on their behalf coordinate at least 5 for them. Publicist should be used more for the large scale events they may involve more pitching for participation ie: Brooklyn Book Festival, Los Angeles Times Book Fair, Essence Book Festival, Congressional Black Caucus Authors Pavillion.

I like to see what ideas and plans authors have for their books. How do they intend to promote? Who can help them promote,? Have they reached out to their local newspaper for a book review? Where can cities can they travel to for signings? I expect authors especially self-published authors to come to me with a plan of action on what they would like to accomplish for their book and how. By having all of these accomplished beforehand, it shows how diligent the author will be when we join forces.

UM: Some authors have a belief that a publicist will make them an overnight celebrity. If an author is looking to hire a publicist, what are some basic things they should expect and in what type of time frame?

First and foremost anyone who hires a publicist must understand that there are NO guarantees to media placement. Media coverage is current and up to the second. Short story, I had a client interviewed and his event photographed for a two-page photo spread in the Daily News. His story was bumped because the Pope came to visit New York City. Breaking news of the Pope’s visit was bigger than our event; therefore our story ran without photos, a month later.

When hiring a publicist you must have a realistic understanding of what they will be doing for you. I share with my clients what angles I will be pitching, we brainstorm on ideas and I allow them to fact check everything that goes out. Dream Relations works to make sure the every clients is placed in some form of media. I believe a publicist is a teammate. Even if you want to consider me the quarterback I need someone to throw the ball too, so the author and I must work together to make things happen.

I can guarantee that as a publicist I will work ensuring that my clients do receive placements that they can use to enhance their profiles, however I can not guarantee a time line for when the articles and interviews will run. Generally within one month of pitching I have garnered interviews

UM: In your opinion, at what point in a writer’s career when should strongly consider hiring a publicist?

DH:

In my experience an appropriate time for an author to consider hiring a publicist would be any of the following: author has a hot topic that is unique and special to mainstream readers, has garnered a lucrative publishing deal, option for television or movie, made the New York Times, LA Times or USA Today bestsellers list, or has won a book award. A publicist could leverage the accomplishment and bring it to the attention of readers, publishing industry executives, entertainment tastemakers and the media.

What project do you have going that you are excited about?

DH:

Recently Dream Relations signed on as the PR agency of record for national bestselling author Kiki Swinson, ( Wifey series, Playing Dirty, Cheaper to Keep Her) www.kikiswinson.net

UM: If someone needs a publicist, how can they reach you?

Website: www.dreamrelations.com Twitter @dreamrelations
Facebook Dream Relations, PR & Literary Consulting Agency

Mini bio—In 2004, Dawn Michelle Hardy formed Dream Relations, PR & Literary Consulting Agency. The agency has planned public relations campaigns for fiction authors signed to Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and Kensington/Dafina, as well as nonfiction self-published titles on career, health and empowerment. Most recently, Dawn Michelle joined Serendipity Literary Agency as an associate agent. She’s actively seeking to represent a broad range of projects including nonfiction self-help, pop culture and women’s fiction. She will be a featured columnist in the upcoming print issue of Urbania. Her column will be titled Power Lunch. 


Interview with Author / Playwright of The Diary of the Secret Life T. Nicole

Interview with Author T. Nicole

UM: Can your introduce yourself to readers.

Tiffany Nicole (T. Nicole) hasn’t been writing for long, but has taken every experience in life to create memorable works.

UM: How did you get involved in the industry?

I feel like I stumbled into it. I have always loved writing and the more I honed my skill, the more I wanted to be a part of anything having to do with writing.

UM: Tell us about your latest project?

My latest project is the adaption of my last book, The Diary of the Secret Wife, into a stage play. It debuted August 11th and ran for 6 shows. The response was so overwhelming, that we are doing it again on September 30th and October 1st of this year.

UM: Who is the intended audience and what should they expect when reading?

I don’t have one intended audience for any project I do. I feel like when  you write for only one certain audience you trap yourself in a box.

Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?

My favorite character in the book, and play, is Sharon. She is the big sister and she is full of wisdom and fight.

UM: Can you talk about any challenges you had completing the book?
T
his was my third book, novel, so writing this book didn’t present as many challenges as writing my first one. One thing that I had to make sure made since was the diary entries and the actual story. The diary entries are in 1st person and the story is in 3rd person. At first I was concerned that it would be confusing to the reading audience, but after tweeking it, it came out good.

UM: What did you enjoy most about the writing project?

It was something different.

Who are some of your favorite authors or writing influences?

I absolutely love Adrienne Bellamy. She has the ability to write comedically without it meaning to be comedic. I just love that.

What separates your book from others in the genre?

I am not quite sure what separates me, but I have been told my writing style is refreshing. 
How would you define your writing style?

UM: What are some of your hobbies? 

I love to create things, so anything that includes me creating something I love to do it.

UM: What is the best way for readers to connect with you and find out more about your upcoming projects?

Of course I am on facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/T-Nicole and they can connect with me through my website – www.tnicoleonline.com

Interview with Both Sides of the Fence Author M.T. Pope

Mondell Pope (M.T.Pope), Store Manager, Author of Both Sides of The Fence Series

UM: Let’s talk about your roots in the book industry. When did you
first get started and what influenced you?

MP: I started working at a bookstore, Urban Knowledge, in 2006 to help with paying some bills. I had no intentions of being a reader or a writer, but I became both unexpectedly.  I fell in love with reading books and pretty soon I was reading a couple of books a week. I am a person that gets bored easily, so after a about three years of constant reading I decided that I would try to write a book. There was no inkling of me ever getting published at all. I work for Carl Weber, who owns the bookstores and a publishing house. After ‘finishing’ my book I passed it around to a few friends and got some good feedback. A good friend, who also worked for the bookstore, mentioned that I had written a book and he asked to see it. Two short months later I was offered a book deal.


UM: Currently, can you describe the economic climate for African
American bookstores in general? What types of books are performing well
and not so well?

MP: As of late, the trend has been steady with Street-type Fiction and runner up would be Urban Fiction. Authors like, Ashley & Jaquavis, Miss KP, Wahida Clark,  Kiki Swinson , to name a few, are dominating the sales right now. Not to say that other categories don’t do well, because  I am seeing a small trend in increasing sales of Contemporary fiction and Alternative fiction, which I write.

UM: How has the acceleration of the ebook impacted sales of paperback
and bound books?

MP: One work; greatly. Paperbacks have taken a back seat to the new ebook era. I as an author like the ideas of this new era, but me as a bookstore manager could do without it. It and the economy have hit us hard. We feel it daily. Don’t get me wrong, we are still pushing out a lot of paperback, but the difference can be seen in what is and what used to be. I just don’t want to see the world shift to totally. I am that there can be a middle ground when it comes to reading. A customer who buys paperbacks and ebook are ideal. I guess we all will just have to wait and see what happens.

UM: Book signings helps sell books but not all signings are successful.
What are three or four tasks authors can do to have a better chance
of success at a bookstore book signing?

MP: Yes, Book signings can be a very useful tool for an author. My suggestion to an author would be; never sit down at the signing, dress appropriately, bring  any materials that a potential customer can take with them, and know how to summarize your book in a few sentences. All of those tips are key to having a successful signing, even if you don’t sell any books. People remember experience and making theirs’ with you memorable just may make you a sale in the future.

UM: In addition to managing the Urban Knowledge Bookstore, you are also the author of the Both Sides of the Fence Trilogy. What made you decide to start on the creative writing side of the book business?

MP: I loved to read, like I said before. I just thought it would be cool to see if I could do it. I wasn’t trying to change lives or tell my story I just want to see if I could do it. Now , I’m hooked on it…lol

UM: Can you talk about the writing process between the three books?
How was it the same or different?

MP: My writing process was completely different for each one of my books. When I initially wrote the first book, it was a lone book with no intended sequels. That changed when I got a two book deal. It took me five months to write the rough draft of my first book. Writing It went really fast and I honestly can say I don’t remember writing it.

The second book was started immediately after I got the contract for the books. I don’t like deadlines so I thought it would be nice to finish it before it was asked for. I finished the second part within seven months. It was a longer book and a harder one with more character points of view. Part three was totally a book idea I stumbled upon. It was the hardest to write because it had the most character points of view that I had ever written. 

My writing process is so sporadic. One day I might write ten pages, the next one. I never write every day, even though some say you should. I don’t want to force anything on to the pages that I write. I want the story to flow so if I don’t write for a week or two, I know that whatever comes for me to write, whenever it comes, is supposed to be there.

UM: Which book did you enjoy writing the most and why?

MP: That is a very good question. I would like to say that I loved the different elements to all of my books. Each have a different message and think that it is important to convey one when you are writing. There are some favorite characters that I have in my books, but a favorite book…no. I like them all. I couldn’t be partial if I wanted to be.

UM: Your writing has been compared to E. Lynn Harris and RM Johnson.
How would you describe your writing style? Who is your favorite
author?

MP: Whew! My writing style can be described as over the top, in your face, no holds barred. I have to say as a reader I like books that have me completely captivated and spell bound. I like stories that are character driven and plot driven and that is the way I write. You will remember the story and at least one of the characters from one of my books after you have read it. I like drama, suspense and  leaving your mouth wide open.
I have so many authors that I love. I’ll just name a few that always peak my interest; Carl Weber, R.M. Johnson, Terra Little, Karen Williams, Anna J, Kiki Swinson, J. Tremble. Those are a few and that list grows all the time.

UM: When is the next release and how can readers getting in contact with
you to learn more about your titles?

MP: My new release is Both Sides of the Fence 3:Loose Ends, which releases on Sept 27, 2011. I also have a story in the anthology Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell(Urban Books) to be released March 2012. I am currently finishing up a full length title that a single story to be released in fall 2012.

I can  be reached at chosen_97@yahoo.com . www.facebook.com/authormtpope . www.wix.com/mtpope/bothsidesofthefence  and www.twitter.com/mtpope
 

Interview with One Who Loves You More Author Andrea Clinton

Interviewed by Dana Rettig

They say that greatness lays within someone’s deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), an extremely long macromolecule that is the main component of chromosomes and the material that transfers genetic characteristics in all life forms. As the years progress, a person becomes blessed with enough talent to utilize their gift(s) for everyone to see in a positive light as well as encourage others to strive for the best. Author/poet/aspiring filmmaker is the perfect example of what persistence is. In 1990; her house caught on her fire, which destroyed the majority of her work, leaving her back to square one.

Despite her tragedy, Andrea Clinton began to seek out other ventures in life by holding a journalist/editor-in-chief position with The Scroll Newspaper. Some years later, another calamity had occurred: she was diagnosed with Lupus. Willing to surmount her condition, she began to write narratives relating to men and women’s perspectives and plights. Her first novel, Life knows no Bounds addresses that life is no one’s enemy; it doesn’t know any boundaries. More information on Andrea Clinton can be found at http://www.aroundthewaypublishing.com

UM: Tell Urbania Magazine about your book, “One Who Loves You More.” Which character(s) do you relate to the most in your book and what can the audience expect from reading your book?

AC: “One who loves you more” is a novel about a girl, Alisa, who follows in the footsteps of her mentors by making a profession out of using men for money, jewelry, credit cards; all the fine things a woman loves. She grows tired of hearing her mother fuss about her actions so she decides to get one man who can keep her in the way she’s become accustomed. Then, suddenly, she runs into Omar. Omar is an African American Muslim who’s lost his way; he’s a drug dealer. Having his own demons, he wants to go back to the peaceful life he once knew. But, life with a gold digger, Alisa, just won’t allow him to. With their lives colliding, readers experience a, “Clash of the Titans” type of around the way drama and action, not to mention all the skeletons that come falling out of many of the other character’s closets.

Regarding, which character I can relate to, Wow! Because I wanted to show real life character traits, I put a trait or three from myself into a few of the characters, anything from my views on, “The difference between a woman and a lady,” to “The demise and/or fall of those Muslims who fell between the cracks when there were divides among the Muslims in the 60’s and 70’s.” But, I’d have to say I probably relate more to Omar and the mothers, as although we are on the correct path now, we all have a story, and those two mothers have a story and a half.

What can the audience expect? Hmmm, a lot of DRAMA! He-he-heee, I packed the novel with drama and action and I spread them throughout the novel; Midwest Book Review and a few reviewers on Amazon acknowledged that. I also added a few surprises. I mainly write in realism and naturalism. Whereas realism is about real characters and real situations, which usually leave the characters with a decision to make, naturalism reveals enough about who the characters are, their history, environment and upbringing that you understand why they make the decisions they make. I love it, especially because we as a people are quick, “Oh that was a stupid decision,” or “thing to do” without ever even knowing what drives that person. So realism and naturalism provides me the room to spread the character’s story like a deck of cards, so the readers get the inside straight; the entire view of who the characters are and what drives these characters. Readers can expect to get a view inside of the character’s lives, experience the character’s decisions either pan out or blow up in everyone’s face, and many many issues that real people have that often times bring forth some exhilarating action and/or DRAMA.

UM: You have been writing poems and short stories based on young girls’ trials and tribulations in life for a long time. What encouraged you to put yourself in other young girls’ shoes as well as expanding your literature repertoire as the years progressed?

AC: I write for men, women and the youth. But, I guess for the youth because when we are young we don’t really know as much as we think we know. I been there; couldn’t’ tell me anything. But I don’t want to see anything happen to these young girls, teens and young women due to inexperience or someone not hitting on some issue they’re going through. We mature adults have to understand, it’s in a girl’s nature to behave as grown women, however, at those young ages, we’re not grown mature women. And the youth need guidance. They cannot be overlooked or overstepped because we’re too busy trying to make it happen or have issues that take up adult attention. If we get preoccupied, the youth will go astray. I pray the moral of the story in the books I write for the youth will be some sort of guide. I’m also going to get out and speak with the youth to encourage them to stay positive and strong.

UM: You have overcome many obstacles in life. Has there ever been a time when you wanted to say, ‘Forget it! Life is too complicated to move on’?

AC: Many. In fact, it’s the reason I’m just now publishing. I had heard so many horror stories about the book industry that I ran like a chicken for many years, sharing my stories in magazines and newspapers as well as with friends. Even when professors encouraged me to send my work out to authors I wouldn’t because it seemed too cut-throat and I wasn’t up for the task. After all the research I did and an agent who seemed rough around the edges, I just did away with the thought. But, when I was struck with lupus in 2003, I regretted having 10 or more year old stories that received rave reviews, but were all packed in trunks and storage boxes. It was too heavy on my mind as I lay sick that I never published, nor attempted to. All this, while laying and worrying about dying from lupus. So when I was well, a publicist I’d consulted with at that time said with having lupus and being fearful of not having the time to live to publish my finished books, I should self publish. Thus, the 1st book in the “Life Knows No Bounds series”

UM: What other projects are you working on besides writing?

AC: None, he-he-heeee. Seems everything I’m doing involves writing. I was just picked up by a producer so the book is being turned into a play, so I’m changing the book into play format for executive producers review; I’m adding some finishing touches to the next book, “A Blessing and a Curse”, completing a non-fiction book, “Shortcuts to Great Writing” which will help high school and college students write better essays. So, see, it’s all writing. I think it is truly my lot in life. Oh wait, I do have a non profit organization, “People Helping People, Inc.” and I counsel drug prevention & intervention, alcohol and tobacco use, and I also counsel the youth and help people in whatever way necessary to become self-sufficient and independent, which is our motto.

UM: Name three people who you believe inspire the community and beyond.

AC: Cornell West, Ph.d, because he’s attacking issues. He knows we sleep and he’s right there in the trenches with that gong in our ears saying, “Wake up! See what’s going on around you!? Look, it’s right there.” He’s really giving us the 411, and often times many others when he’s on shows like Bill Maher. Monique, because she is truly one of us and showed us when she was doing comedy shows, on Apollo, telling plus size ladies to love themselves and she even took it to a TV show and a movie. Then topped herself by winning an Oscar and topped that with a TV show where she’s putting the spotlight on others and helping them promote their projects. Monique is good people and we need that. Also, whether people realize it or not, I believe Russell Simmons inspires us. In the front of our mind we may not give it too much thought but, you see a man who came from the same neighborhood we everyday folk come from, where he made it from scratch and still moving ahead, it makes you want to get back up when you fall down; he delivers hope just by doing his own thing.

UM: What advice do you have for those who want to follow in your footsteps?

AC: I have so many things I dreamed about doing. So, I’d say pick something you want to do and stick with it, hahahahahaaaaa. I’m all over the place. I have so many interests, and honestly, lupus is the boogie man that scares me into thinking I’ve not a lot of time to accomplish them. As a kid I was afraid of the monster in the closet coming to get me and now, it’s lupus in my system I fear is going to get me, and that has me trying to beat the clock; beat my D-Day. Can be wearisome at times. So, I’d tell anyone, put your dreams in order and follow them in that order, putting your all into them. Don’t wait until something threatens you and don’t put them on hold for NOBODY! As the elders say, “You never know the day nor the hour.”

UM: Who are your muses to write literature based on life situations such as “Life knows no Bounds: One who loves you more?”

AC: My muses are, and I say it proudly, Richard Wright who made me want to tell my story; and my favorite, J. California Cooper who pushed me to complete my first short short story after I read family; Charles W. Chestnut who was the 1st African American realism writer in the 1800’s, he shed light on slavery from a different angle; and Charlotte Perkins Gilman who wrote, “The Yellow Wallpaper” after experiencing some mental health issues and felt the condition and the treatment of women needed to be exposed so male doctors at that time could stop treating women as if they were insignificant and limp. They make me not just want to write, but they make me want to blast off! in the literary world. They are my Duracell batteries; my muse’

UM: Where can people purchase your book, “Life knows no Bounds: One who loves you more?”

AC: You can buy it from http://www.amazon.com/shops/Cupcakestatus or my website www.AroundTheWayPub@aol.com, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstores. Establishments buying more than one should contact me at: AroundTheWayPub@aol.com to receive bulk or wholesale discounts.

Thank you for the interview and your interest in “One Who Loves You More” which is the 1st novel in the “Life Knows No Bounds” series. The 2nd is coming in the fall 2011 titled, “A Blessing and a Curse” please check it out on the website, www.AroundTheWayPublishing.com

Interview with Author of Lorton Legends Eyone Williams

Interviewed by Dana Rettig

UM: Introduce yourself to the readers.

EW: I’m Eyone Williams, author/publisher/actor/recording artist. I’m the CEO of Fast Lane Entertainment. I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. I’m the author of Fast Lane (Fast Lane Entertainment), Hell Razor Honeys 1 and 2 (Cartel Publications), the Cross (DC Book diva Publications), and the forthcoming novel Lorton Legends (DC Book diva Publications).

UM: How long have you been an author? Describe your writing style.

EW: I’ve been an author since I was a child. However, I’ve been a published author since 2004. It was the year I had released my book, Fast Lane with Fast Lane Publications. My writing style is raw and real. I write about what I know and what I have seen over the years. I keep it as real as I can. That’s all I know how to do when I sit down to write. My plots surround what goes on in the real world.

UM: What is the theme/ inspiration behind Hell Razor Honeys? Which character(s) can you relate to the most?

EW: The inspiration for Hell Razor Honeys came from the streets of D.C. where girl crews get down and do things that most people only know dudes to do. Different girl crews were making the news paper for going hard in the streets. I came up with an idea to write a book about how the girl crews were carrying things as well as dictating their vicinities with their destructive, street smart antics. I also went to school with D.C.’s First and Kennedy Honeys who were always into something. Basically, all of this helped me come up with the idea for Hell Razor Honeys.

The character Tec in Hell Razor Honeys would be the character that I relate to the most. When I was young, I was wild. I did things I had no business doing as a teenager. My past helps me write real street fiction.

UM: Illustrate the experience of being a former writer for Don Diva Magazine turned entrepreneur of Fast Lane Entertainment. What prompted you to embark your own company?

EW: [Don Diva] is connected in the streets and in the prison system. I did 17 years in prison and during that time I grew as an author. While in prison, I met the owner of Don Diva Magazine, Kevin Chiles and I asked him about some D.C. street stories that only I could bring to life, in my opinion. Kev was down with it and so was my man, Seth Ferranti. He brought light to the Fray and Wayne Perry stories, which will always be legendary stories in D.C. and beyond. I’m still down with Don Diva. We have bonds that will last a lifetime.

As far as establishing Fast Lane Entertainment, it was second nature. In my mind, a man must always strive to have his own thing. I’m a go getter. The only way to be a real go getter is to go and do your thing. It’s a must to maintain your connections and to network at all times, but to be your own boss is priceless. A boss is what I’ve always strived to be, right or wrong.

UM: What makes you stand out from other authors?

EW: I’m all about what I set my mind to. I write street stories that a lot of other authors write but I write in a way that you can only see it or hear it if you are connected to what goes on in the streets. I write what I like or what I would want to read. I end my stories the way I feel they would end in real life. I also stay on the front line with my books and my business. Attaining this kind of knowledge will keep me around for a long time. Also, I understand how important it is to surround yourself with positive, supportive people. For instance, DC Book diva was one of the first people in my city who believed in me when I was released from prison.

She helped me get this movement in order. With all of that said, what makes me stand out is really who I have standing with me. In this game, I surround myself with those who stand for constant progress. Simple as that.

UM: What advice do you have for upcoming authors/ journalists?

EW: Grind, do your own thing and don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do whatever you put your mind to. Also, study the game. Read, research and know what you are doing and getting yourself into. I hear people all the time talking about how somebody had treated them wrong on their contracts and stuff like that. However, you are the one that is supposed to read your contract. Be sharp and aggressive with you grind. Go hard or go home. Most of all follow your heart and dreams. Put time and energy into your work and it will all come together.

UM: Where can people receive more information about you?

EW: Check me out on Facebook under my name, Eyone Williams.

Interview with Diva D-Cup Series Author Vonda Howard

Interviewed by Dana Rettig

UM: Introduce yourself to the readers.

VH: First, thank you so much for the chance to speak with you! My name is Vonda Howard and I’m a native of Washington DC. I’ve had a passion for writing since I was a very young child. I actually wrote my first 200-page book (unpublished) when I was 10 years old. I wrote my first self-published book, Diamond Lives, Platinum Lies in 2006. In 2009, my dreams came true when I signed on to Anexander Books and published The D-Cup Divas series. I’m also the Editor and Chief of Black Literature Magazine and the Love and Relationships editor for Curvy Magazine.

UM: Tell us about your current book, D-Cup Divas. What’s the inspiration and theme of D-Cup Divas?

VH: The inspiration for D-Cup Divas is simple. Loving yourself no matter what size you are. That spans across all ages, races and genders. Frankly, I just got a little tired of the lack of representation of women over a size two. If we are represented, we are drug addicts, have low self-esteem, shy, and the butt of every joke. I wanted to create a series of books that highlights full figured women as confident, smart, successful and most of all sexy. They all have good jobs, nice houses, and maintain loving and spicy relationships.

UM: Besides writing, what other talents do you possess?

VH: I am also a graphic designer. I run my own graphic design firm, Cupcake Creative studio (www.CupcakeCreativeStudio.com). I can also make a mean Oreo cake. ;o)

UM: Compare D-Cup Divas to your previous books such as, Diamond Lives, Platinum Lies and It’s Always the Pretty Ones. Which character(s) do you like in D-Cup Divas and It’s Always the Pretty Ones?

VH: Ooh…that’s a hard thing to do. All of my books are so different in that I feel I grow as an author with each one. When I stepped on the scene with Diamond Lives; that was really my very first attempt at professional writing. As I moved on and learned more and more I put all of me and what I had learned into my books that followed.
In Diamond Lives, Platinum Lies, my favorite character has to be Peaches. (LOL) She is so crazy and out there. She is the type of chick that you wonder why you deal with her, but she reminds you with her loyalty and compassion.

In It’s Always the Pretty Ones my favorite is actually Dazzy. She was so twisted and disturbed. I had an awesome time writing her and developing her as a character.

Lastly, the D-Cup Divas. My favorite in this series is Lanora. She is smart as a whip, independent and says exactly what’s on her mind. She is completely in touch with herself and her sexuality and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it. She can come off brash sometimes, but it always comes from a loving place.

UM: As an author, do you believe that love conquers all? Or do you think otherwise?

VH: I am a sap at heart. I love a good love story and all the goo that comes with them. However, I don’t believe that love is the answer to everything. I believe that in our stories, just like in real life, no matter how much you love someone; life’s circumstances can sometimes determine the outcome. Not every story can have a happy ending.

UM: The publishing game is quite brutal. You can’t sell a book unless drugs, sex, and violence is involved. What motivated you to go against the grain by publishing D-Cup Divas?

VH: I have to disagree with that. I don’t feel you have to have those things to sell books. I think what you need is a solid storyline and believable characters. I will admit that the current hotness is Urban Fiction, but that’s been around for a long time. Even books that are gritty need to have decent storylines and characters. I honestly think also, it’s all in knowing how and where to market your book also. You can’t stick an ad for a Christian fiction novel in Playboy. Not gonna work. (LOL)

UM: Name three people that you consider conquerors inside/outside of the literature game.

VH: Inside…Wahida Clark: She dominated and wrote fabulous stories while in prison. Most people would be broken by that, but she wasn’t. She didn’t let her circumstances stop her dream for herself or her family.

Inside…T. Styles: She grew up in one of the hardest neighborhood in DC and didn’t let it break her. She writes riveting and true-to-life stories that keep her at the top of the game. Not to mention she is one of the nicest and most humble people you would ever meet.

Outside…Lebron James: I know, I know. I probably get a weird look for that one. I just admire his strength after what he had to go through to make his life what he wanted it to be. Being booed and dogged out by the team owners and fans in Cleveland had to be very hard for him. Nonetheless, he stayed on course and is actually fulfilling the dream he had set for himself and his family.

UM: What are your thoughts on society placing labels on those who are distinctive from others?

VH: I think anyone that labels or stereotypes anyone that is different from them is just plain ignorant. Plain and simple. This world would be one big huge snore fest if we all were alike and though the same. Can you imagine? I think that once we all learn to respect one another’s differences, and differences of opinions we will all be better off.

UM: If you could change one thing about the world, how would you approach the situation at hand?

VH: I’d definitely want to stop all the fighting and bickering. I know that will never happen as long as we continue to be separated by classes (rich, poor, middle class). Someone will always be fighting to keep what they feel is theirs and others trying to get what they think should be. I would think the only way to change that would be to evenly distribute all of the world’s resources and treasures to everyone. Like I said, never happen. LOL. We should just all stand up hold hands and sing like that old Pepsi commercial…”I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…”.

Interview with Sellout Author Ebony Wilkins

Interviewed by Dana Rettig

Being a teenager is not easy at all, but trying to seek your identity by being a part of a crew is more difficult than usual. In Ebony Joy Wilkins’ book, Sellout; the main character, Natasha Jennings does not fit in with the white kids in her suburban hometown. When Natasha runs into trouble with her mean, ill-willed peers; she runs and hides from them as if she’s running from the law. Not knowing that drama exists everywhere, she moves to one of the most merciless, hard-core cities in the United States of America- Harlem, New York. After facing some serious quandary with the kids at school, her grandmother, Tilly, suggests that she works with her at a crisis center for girls in the Bronx, so she can a get a feel of what the troubled, city slickers face on a daily basis.

Natasha is afraid to mingle with the girls at the crisis center, but soon begins to take tips from the troubled teens on survive anywhere in this world by learning that with a little courage, you can face anything predicament that may come your way.

UM: What motivated you to write Sellout? Which character(s) is/are similar to you when you were coming up?

EW: Sellout is loosely based on my own experience of transitioning as a teenager. I was once told in a writing workshop that you write best when you write about what you know. I can relate to elements of all of the characters in the book, but NaTasha’s character and her struggles, trying to fit into her world rather than leaving her stamp on it, are closest to my own. Reliving my own feelings through NaTasha’s eyes was an intense process for me. At times I found it hard to step far enough back from my experience to let NaTasha’s voice come forward. But it was important for her to carve her own paths and I tried to remove myself in order to let her do so. I was motivated to share Sellout because it’s comforting and inspiring for me to hear of others who share similar life experiences. I’m hoping this story will provide that comfort and inspiration for someone else.

UM: When you wrote the book, Sellout; what kind of feedback did you receive? Were the feedbacks positive, negative, or both?

EW: Writing Sellout took about two years to ‘complete’ and I received helpful critiques, and even a few rejections along the way from agents, but helpful responses from workshop partners, classmates, and other writers about how to improve the story. The overall message of the book remains, but the structure is quite different now from its original version. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. NaTasha’s story is a unique one, but her character and circumstance anyone can relate to. I do realize that everything I put on the page will not resonate with every reader, but so far, the response for her story has been a positive one. The harsh critiques are welcomed so that I look at my work through different lenses. It helps to know how the story I intend to tell is resonating with my audience.

UM: In your hindsight, what kind of advice do you have for teenagers not to fall victim to peer pressure and other life situations?

EW: I wished I would have listened to those who told me that high school is not real life, and just the beginning! Teenage years are a time to explore, to search, to enjoy, and to make decisions that set you on the path to your future. I believe now I spent too much time trying to fit into a mold, that I sometimes feel like I missed the opportunity to shine during those years. I don’t live with many regrets, but in hindsight, I would have settled into ‘me’ a little earlier. Peer pressure is all around, sometimes into adulthood, but I think it’s important to remember that we all have different lives to lead. Don’t spend too much time deterring from your own path, because it may take a lifetime to find your way again.

UM: Your online bio states that you have traveled to London, Switzerland, and Africa. Describe those moments of traveling to different terrains and meeting new people. When you are traveling to different countries, do you become encouraged to write or do you become enthused to do something else?

EW: I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel around the world with my family and have also seen parts of Canada, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), and every one of those trips changes me. Experiencing other cultures and traditions, meeting new people, listening to conversations in multi-languages, visiting schools abroad, and witnessing the day-to-day activities in another country are fascinating. Just recently, I met another teacher in Durban, South Africa who writes books for children as well. We talked about our students, our classrooms, our writing, and goals for the future – amazing to learn how different our worlds, but how similar our paths. Travel has been one of the most important parts of my education thus far. It inspires me to write, to volunteer, to share my photos, and to pass along new information that I learn. Although we travel far distances, learning can happen anywhere, even if you’re just experiencing a new part of your home city – Getting out of your comfort zone opens up new worlds, new opportunities, and new ideas.

UM: Describe the significance of the voices of AA/YA fiction as well as the diversity as a whole.

EW: There is significance in African American voices in literature, young adult voices in literature, and diversity in literature. Reading a variety of voices is a learning experience in itself. For so long many African American voices were absent from children’s literature. I believe there is a huge turn-around in the last decade to include more diversity in literature, and I’m glad to be a part of it. As many diverse readers as there are, the need and space for diverse voices in the stories that we read, write, and share is even greater. I’m a firm believer that every person has an interesting story to tell and readers respond to stories with characters present in the literature that are relatable and identifiable.

UM: What advice do you have for children as far as peer pressure is concerned?

EW: The advice I can give is to stay focused on who you are as a person because the peer pressure will come. Peer pressure is like exams in school – you know you will have to face them. You can prepare by deciding who to allow as an influence in your life and what you will allow to influence your life and sticking to those decisions no matter the situation. Of course, this sounds easier than it will be. But trust me it is a horrible feeling to look back on a situation wishing you had made different choices, so some of those choices you can control and prepare for now. One more piece of advice would be to not let someone else get in the way of your own destiny. Always be true to you!

UM: What are your present and future endeavors?

EW: I am working on a PhD in education at the University of Illinois Chicago. The focus of my research is African American children’s literature and creative writing. In addition to studying, I am writing another young adult novel and attempting a male point of view this time. The new story is centered on one group of friends, bullying from older kids, and surviving their final year of high school. So far I have enjoyed getting to know these new characters and the writing process. In the future I plan to revisit NaTasha (and the rest of the Sellout crew) to find out what is happening in their lives.

UM: How do you deal with the good and bad side of life’s situations and more?

EW: The only thing I can do is count my blessings and pray over my trials. My favorite Broadway show is In The Heights and the cast sings a song called, Patiencía y Fe (patience and faith), and I walk around humming that tune at times to remind myself that God is in control of my right now, my tomorrow, and my next week. When the bad comes, I take it, pray about it, and let it go. I’ve learned that the only things in life I can control are the words that come out of my mouth and how I react to what comes my way.

UM: Where can people reach you?

EW: I love getting emails from readers and I usually answer pretty quickly! Email me at ebonybooks@yahoo.com or check my website at www.ebonyjoywilkins.com to follow my blog and find more info about Sellout and other writing news.

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