The Blackbirds by Eric Jerome Dickey

“The Blackbirds” by Eric Jerome Dickey
c.2016, Dutton                        
$27.00 / $36.00 Canada
519 pages
You and your girls are birds of a feather.
You flock together, preen together, share your nest when needed and, while you happily sing one another’s praises, you’d never open your beak to spill their secrets. Then again, as in the new book “The Blackbirds” by Eric Jerome Dickey, you’d never crow about all the details of your own life, either.
A mere birthday wasn’t good enough for Indigo Abdulrahaman. Oh, no – she got a birth month.
She decreed it, planned it, and made her friends follow along with her wishes. A strong-willed woman born to Nigerian parents, Indigo was the tallest of the four women, dark-skinned, with a hunger for the finer things – including men, of which she had two. And when a woman caught Indigo’s eye, she wasn’t above giving that a go, too.
Kwanzaa Browne spent the weeks before her birthday crying over a man: she caught her fiancé cheating with a Brazilian woman, which was the last straw for Kwanzaa. It would take a lot for her to forget her ex. A lot – including, perhaps, a romance with a handsome man she’d been watching for months.
Kwanzaa snagged him three weeks before Destiny Jones’ birthday, which didn’t matter to Destiny; she had nothing to celebrate. The man she loved didn’t know an important truth about her, and she didn’t know how to tell him – but before she could figure it out, he learned of her fame-not-fame, and it threatened to ruin everything.
As for Ericka Stockwell, some things were already in ruins by the time her birthday arrived: her once-abusive mother was around again, as was cancer for the second time. Even so, grateful for life, Ericka’s bucket list was full that anniversary of her birth, and it included finding the Love of Her Life. Unfortunately, once she found him, she knew she could never share the good news with her friends…
Aside from the gorgeous cover, size is likely the first thing you’ll notice about “The Blackbirds.”  At just over 500 pages, it’s a brick – and I daresay it’s an unnecessary one, at that.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s a decent plot here; Oh-My-Goodness twists; and characters that are gorgeous, loyal, and cheated-upon every few pages. Since I love a good scandal, wow, that was fun – until those characters launched into mattress gymnastics and cutesy raunch-code, both of which become tiresome in short order. Cut half the ubiquitous (and rather humdrum) bedroom scenes and most of the silly faux sex-words, and I’d have been just fine. Even so, I would’ve missed the action usually found in more recent Eric Jerome Dickey novels. Sigh.
Much as I gleefully anticipate author Dickey’s novels, I didn’t think this wordy one was his best – but it’s not the worst, either. It’s not as good as his thrillers, not as good as “One Night,” but better than his more-erotic novels. So cautiously, I guess I’d say don’t discount “The Blackbirds.”
It has issues, yes, but diehard fans may still crow about it.

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

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.
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