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-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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It Ain’t Hard to Tell” by Kenneth Hicks


Natural Life - kenneth-hicka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It Ain’t Hard to Tell”: Authors Old and Young are Inspired by the Sounds of the Struggle
By Kenneth Hicks

Inspiration can blossom from literally anywhere. As an artist, creativity can be drawn from a conversation, from the art of others or merely by taking a walk around their own neighborhood. Hip hop is one art form in which artists have benefited from varying sources of inspiration, and some of the greatest works in hip hop history have arisen from this formula. Conversely, Hip hop culture has succeeded in permeating all other mediums of artistic expression. For over 30 years rap music has served as a mirror reflecting the imperfections of social ills and the beauty hidden within those very same problems. When it comes to capturing these elements, however, few lyricists have managed to capture them quite like Nas did with “Illmatic”, T.I. did with “Trap Muzik” and Kendrick Lamar did with “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City”.

Each of these projects eloquently described the mindset of a young black man in their respective cities at their respective times. Nas’s groundbreaking first album “Illmatic” spoke of the perils and struggles he witnessed in New York City’s notorious Queens Bridge housing projects. T.I. introduced his fans to “The Trap” (southern slang for a drug spot) and conversely the “traps” that come along with it. Kendrick Lamar gave us the untold story of what becomes of a teenager caught in the midst of Los Angeles gang culture at its peak. The stories told, and the emotions invoked within these Hip Hop gems is reminiscent of the same stories and emotions found within Jazz music during the Harlem Renaissance, and just as Jazz served as the muse for many authors of that time period, many of today’s young authors find that same creative spark through hip hop.

The notion that literature can be influenced by music is not a new one. On a panel at the Newport Casino Theater during the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival called “Jazz and Communication”, Langston Hughes described the work of himself and some of his contemporaries as “Putting Jazz into words.” Louis Armstrong’s “What Did I Do (To Be So Black and Blue”) was the centerpiece of Ralph Ellison’s masterpiece, Invisible Man. Jazz birthed “Jazz Poetry” a precursor to what we know today as hip hop. The legacy of Hip Hop is clearly tied into that of its predecessor, Jazz. Similarly, the expression of music and literature has long been intertwined as well.
Following this notion of finding inspiration in song, my latest work stems from the artistry found in Hip Hop such as the aforementioned Nas, T.I., and Kendrick Lamar records. An author’s ambition should be to write a story so vivid that when the character stubs their toe, the readers say “ouch!” That being the case, the best way to achieve this is to give the audience as much insight into who these characters are as possible. Hip hop music serves as a great identifier. It can give the readers context for a situation. It can help provide ambiance. It can even provide clarity into how a character may dress, their temperament and even how they interact with one another.

In sitting down to pen my newest novel Natural Life, I wanted to produce a story that was true to the lives of young people growing up in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. In order to paint this picture I intended for the story to look, smell and sound like Cleveland. Overlooked during the East-West rap beef and the uprising of the South, the Midwest has always been open-minded to the very best of all incarnations of rap music (even when it wasn’t cool to be versatile). Whether listening to Gary, Indiana’s Freddie Gibbs while writing or referencing Bone Thugs ~N~ Harmony in the novel, there was no way for this story to be told without the lifeblood of hip hop coursing through the pages.

Much like the music, the writing serves as a platform to speak to how the people are living. Addressing issues like racism, materialism, classism, crime, education, the prison industrial complex and more Natural Life keys in on recurring themes in urban communities like Cleveland across the nation. The only difference being that a novel often times has the capacity to go more in depth on a subject than a musician can with a four minute song. By speaking to not only the effects, but the causes of these problems, art can open a dialogue on what can be done to improve on these ills that plague our society. By feeding off of the Hip Hop music at the heart of the book, the literature takes on the bass heavy rhythms that so many of us have already come to know and love.

Kenneth Hicks is a published novelist from Cleveland, Ohio. His fourth book, Natural Life will be released in April 2015. www.obeliskmediagroup.com

Family Business 3 by Carl Weber and Treasure Hernandez

Family Business 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Family Business 3: The Return of Vegas” by Carl Weber with Treasure Hernandez

Urban Books

$23.95 / $26.95 Canada

264 pages, plus extras

 

Family comes first.

That was a tenet you grew up with: nobody better come between you, sibs, and parents. Fam forever, sticking together.

But is blood really thicker than water? In the new book “Family Business 3” by Carl Weber with Treasure Hernandez, both spill just as easily.

Junior Duncan was a man in love.

He never thought he could feel this way, but Sonya made him crazy-happy. She was beautiful, smart, sexy – and though he didn’t know it at first, she was also the wife of Brother Xavier, murderous leader of the Duncan family’s biggest rivals. So on the day that Junior’s proposal to Sonya led to death threats, the Duncans circled the wagons.

Sonya tried hard to stay away from Junior, to protect him and his family, but it wasn’t possible; she knew that Xavier would kill the entire Duncan family in a second but she loved Junior too much. When he vowed to protect her, she ran away with him, hoping their escape wouldn’t lead to harm (or worse!) for everyone they loved.

Brother X was insane with jealousy and anger. If he couldn’t have Sonya, then nobody could, and he’d start looking for her by doing as much damage as he could to Junior Duncan’s family. But first, he had to break out of prison and then he had to try to broker a deal with Bernie Goldman and his men.

Gathering warriors was important now. What Junior did with X’s wife meant war.

Paris Duncan had always been Daddy’s Girl. Patriarch LC had taught his baby girl how to shoot, fight, and kill, and now Paris was one of the Duncan Family’s best soldiers. She’d even assassinated the man she loved because it needed doing. But it practically killed Paris when LC was shot in the chest by someone he knew.

It was widely known on the streets that nobody messed with Vegas Duncan. Fresh out of prison, Vegas was ready to take his usual position of security in the Duncan Family but the growing war with Brother X… it concerned him. There could be a lot of bloodshed with this kind of street-fighting. Vegas’ mentor offered to help quiet troubled waters, but would Minister Farah’s intercession be enough?

Action, sex, drugs, and violence – this book has all that packed between its covers. It’s gangsta gone gang-busters. And it’s kind of ho-hum.

In “The Family Business 3,” the women are beautiful, scantily-clad, and oversexed. The men are tall, handsome sure-shots, and oversexed. There’s the usual gay brother who crushes on a thug, violent twins, baby-daddy drama, a “dirty cop” on the dole, and ethnic mafias everywhere.

Sigh.

Yes, author Carl Weber (with Treasure Hernandez) includes just what you’d expect in a book like this. And yes, it’s tired.

Having said that, though, if you’ve read the first two “Family Business” novels, you’ll undoubtedly want to know what happens next. You’re probably wondering now, so go ahead. Put “Family Business 3” on your shelf. But I wouldn’t be grabbing it first…

The Delphine Queen – Tamika Newhouse

The Delphine Queen – Tamika Newhouse

Today’s publishing world is full of trick steps, strokes of luck, heartbreaks, and incomprehensible (see inconsistent, changeable) standards. Writers find dozens, sometimes hundreds, of obstacles between them and their dream of publication.

But the savvy have learned how to dance through those tricks steps, outsmart luck, endure heartbreak, and forge their own paths. One such writer is Tamika Newhouse. A writer, publisher, public speaker, radio host, award winner, and entrepreneur, Newhouse has overcome great odds to carve out a literary niche that allows her to tell truthful stories about African Americans and her own experiences as a black woman.

“I have been writing since I was eight years old. I didn’t begin to write it’s just something I have always done. I always tell people I didn’t choose to write I was born to write… [I write] stories that display black love in its ugliest form as well it its most beautiful form. Love isn’t perfect so therefore I never write a perfect life.”

Newhouse’s first book, The Ultimate No No, delves into the complicated and treacherous nature of love and revenge. “Publishing that first book was the biggest and [most] important step. Without that accomplishment none of this would exist. I would still be lost not knowing what to do with my life.” Despite the criticism that her plot was mediocre and the difficulty she faced in spreading the word about The Ultimate No No, Newhouse says, “I didn’t want to wait for someone to say they wanted to publish my book. I went ahead and made it happen myself.” With that determination, she formed her own publishing company, Delphine Publications (named in honor of her mother) at the age of 21. The company now publishes the work of other up-and-coming urban authors as well as continuing to publish Newhouse’s work.

Since that first novel, Newhouse has gone on to write and publish nine other books, including Trust No Nigga, published by SBR Publications. I was approached by… David Weaver on creating a story that can empower women but also show how we can react in certain situations. The title itself is risky and controversial as society has dubbed it as a horrible word. However this version of the word “N” refers to man or homeboy. It is a strong word and for Trust No Nigga there was no other title. I simply had to take from my personal experiences with men and from others I know and create an original plot. The drama is realistic and it is meant and portrayed this way to create a reaction.” In addition to heart rending personal situations, Newhouse does not shy from addressing the economic and racial issues faced by many African Americans. Indeed, she hopes to raise awareness of the continued plight of many throughout the United States.

Self-publishing is always an exhausting prospect. Authors have to take on the role of their own agent, publicity, marketing expert, delivery person (in many cases), secretary and much more. “The marketing aspect is always hard because there is always someone who hasn’t read my book so I have to creative with getting the word out.” When asked about the benefits of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, Newhouse remarked, “Working with other publishers I am able to gain exposure through their reach. I am always excited about opportunities to be exposed to new readers. [Though] I am able to make what they give me in a year in a month… the exposure is worth it.”

That exposure, coupled with her own enormous marketing efforts have made Newhouse a bestselling author and winner of numerous awards and accolades including the 2009 African American Literary Awards Self-Published Author of the Year Award; in 2010 she was inducted into the Who’s Who in Black San Antonio; a nomination for the 2011 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award; the 2013 Author of Distinction E. Lynn Harris Award; and the 2013 African American Literary Award for Self-Published Author of the Year.

As a natural offshoot of her writing and publishing career, Newhouse tours the country to do public speaking events. Her main message during these events is “That in spite of mistakes, economical reasons, and lack of faith you can make it happen. You can follow your dreams but it’s all up to you. No one truly controls your fate but you.”

To share her passion for books and literature, Newhouse founded African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC), which seeks to bring together radio, online chat groups, and the book club format in an innovative and exciting new platform.

While nurturing her public speaking career, helming Delphine Publications, and running AAMBC, Newhouse has several new writing projects on the horizon including a planned erotica series; Trust No Nigga 2; a spin-off series from The Ultimate No No; and a new series called The Illest Na Na now out in digital format.

Links:

Twitter @TamikaNewhouse
Instagram @BossladyTamika
www.TamikaNewhouse.com
Blog; www.PassionateSpot.com

Interview with Fallen Author Quiana

Interview with Fallen Author Quiana

UM: Can you Introduce yourself to readers?

I’m Quiana, a new author from Philadelphia! Writing is a passion of mine that I am eager to share. It’s been a long time goal of mine since age 17 to become a published author by the age of 25, so I am very proud to have met that goal and to deliver a great story to my audience.

UM: How did you get involved in publishing?

Well, I consulted with several authors that I know to decide if self publishing was the best option. I was proud of my completion but had no Idea how to go through the publishing process. I did a lot of research! I decided to go with self publishing due to the amount of freedom it allows, it’s just a lot of work.

UM: What prompted you to write Fallen? Anything based of true events?

The story is not based upon true events, however people can relate, I think that is why my readers love it so much. The plot just came to me one day in my living room after I already started another novel. I felt strongly in my heart that Fallen should be my first novel, and so far it has proven to be a good choice. There aren’t many stories, if any, about this new wave of cougars in the dating world. Fallen explores that type of a relationship with the upsides and downfalls. Throw sex, lies, and adultry in it and you have a very captivating story!

UM: Who is the audience for the book? What do you hope they take away after reading?

I have had young, old, white and black readers so far who all loved the story! I am very proud to say my audience range with this story is wide. Fallen was intended to be a story for mothers. Mothers who like myself, gave up youth in exchange for stability or to raise a family. Ramae, the main character, spends a lot of time reflecting back and wondering if things could have been different. I think for men and women, we have a hard time fighting selfish temptation, and thinking that we missed out on something. I want my readers to take the lesson of thinking before acting from this story. Is lust and youth worth risking for stability? Should we be accepting of the life that we have chosen or is it never to late to live our dreams? These are questions people deal with on the daily bases.

UM: Who was your favorite character? Why?

Well of course I have to say Ramae! As the main character she expereinces several transformations, which always makes a plot great. You see her at her strongest and weakest, you root for her while secretly wishing for her downfall. You will find yourself identifying with her internal conflicts, while wondering what is she thinking! But I also love her friend Porscha because she reminds me of myself! The fun friend who will always tell it how it is! I love her character because she doesn’t sugar coat things with Ramae, she focuses more on being a true friend not a good one.

UM: DId you have any challenges while writing the book?

With Fallen being my first book the greatest challenge was sticking to it! I had to remind myself that this was something that I’ve wanted for a long time and if anytime was the right time it would be 2011! I had prayed for time off from work to write my first novel, and when God blessed me with it I knew it was time to focus! Being a single parent also created challenge. I would feel guilty for giving up hours to writing somedays.


UM: Whats Next?

My next novel will be Uptown’s Princess! I am working on it now and I hope to release it in the spring. There will also be a sequel to Fallen in the future, and I would love to turn it into a stage play! Hopefully 2012 will be a big year there are lots of plots in my head that I am ready to put on paper.

UM: Tell readers how to contact you or attend some of your events.

You can always follow me on twitter @authorquiana, facebook Author Quiana, or my website www.Quianawrites.com which has my email listed! Readers should also checkout my video blog on my about me page to get a better sense of me as a person! My website also has info on my upcoming book party in Philadelphia and will have postings for radio interviews, book signings, and other events.

Interview with Alani’s Bigger Hustle Author Kai Storm

UM: Introduce Yourself to Readers.

KS: My name is Kai Storm, I am the author of Alani’s Bigger Hustle. It’s my first novel, written in 2008 and published in July 2011.

UM: Tell us about your book Alani’s Bigger Hustle.

KS: Alani’s Bigger Hustle is about a young panamanian girl who grew up in the drug game, came to America and met a pedofile/drug dealer and used him to get/overtake the game in her special way.

UM: How would you describe your writing style?

KS: The best way to describe my writing style is turning a nickle into a dollar. In other words I take a small, insignificant real fact and turn it into a whole fantasy. That’s what makes my stories so real.

UM: What are some of your favorite books?

KS: Coldest Winter Ever and Their Eyes were watching God

UM: What type of reader would enjoy your book most? What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?

KS: Any type, there are numerous life lessons written into the fantasy/fictional story of Alani’s Bigger Hustle and the moral of the story is to always follow your dreams because they can come true, that’s what my book represents to me.

UM: Who is your favorite character? Why?

KS: The main characters, Alani and Baker because their love/trust for each other is so real and genuine.

UM: What challenges occurred while writing the book?

KS: No challenges, the story lived within my since I was 12. The real challenge was getting published because I was first signed to a company that did nothing with my novel then I found a reputable company who published me within six months.

UM: What’s next?

KS: The sequel. Everyone that has read ALANI’S BIGGER HUSTLE has asked me for the sequel and I am about 60-80% into it. I also have two book signings in Philadelphia on 12/10/11.

UM: How can readers connect with you for signings etc.?

KS: On Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, Linkedin, just google me and you will find me, lol!

HERE’S THE LINK TO AMAZON AND KINDLE, & KINDLEGRAPH:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/alanis-bigger-hustle-kai-storm/1103960669

http://www.amazon.com/Alanis-Bigger-Hustle-ebook/dp/B004XN00C8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1317831229&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0069U4XOY

Put on Your Crown – Queen Latifah Book Giveaway

Which www.UrbaniaMag.com visitor will win a copy of the new Queen Latifah Book? How about a Vivitar Camcorder and camera?

Free registration here.

Thanks to a partnership with the Hatchette Book Group, 25 lucky visitors will win a copy of Queen Latifah’s new book, Put on Your Crown. In addition, one other person will win a Vivitar camcorder and camera accessory package.

Free registration here.

The promotion ends May 30, 2010. The winners will be announced. Registration is free and only takes a few seconds to complete.

Read the first chapter of the book here.

Don’t forget the free registration.

Have fun.

Street Legends Vol. 2 – Seth Ferranti

Seth Ferranti

Seth Ferranti is the acclaimed author of a number of books, perhaps most notably “Prison Stories”, which he self-published through his company Gorilla Convict Publications. Ferranti currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for dealing drugs. He has currently served 17 years. As he was sentenced under the guidelines of an LSD kingpin, Ferranti’s case was widely publicized and covered in high profile sources like Rolling Stone magazine and The Washington Post.

Not only did he form his company while in prison, he has helped to publish other incarcerated writers. Ferranti is an accomplished journalist and has written pieces for a wide variety of magazines including FHM, Vice and Don Diva. More information about Gorilla Convict Publications and Seth Ferranti’s work can be found at http://www.gorillaconvict.com

Urbania: Can you tell me a little bit about your publishing house Gorilla Convict? How did you find the other writers that you are currently publishing?

Seth: Gorilla Convict Publications is the voice of the convict. It is founded and formed by prisoners and for prisoners. We are trying to bring readers the voices that might not otherwise be heard. We are trying to shed light on the stories that have been manipulated by the mainstream media and government. We give the prisoners side. We give voice to the legends of the street. They have been glorified and name dropped in hip hop, now with Gorilla Convict Publications you can read their real stories, in their words and the words of their homies, co-defendants and relatives.

We try to promote any other prisoners who are writing and putting out books from the penitentiary. We know it’s a struggle because we did it ourselves. So anyone with like minds we hook up with and help them to do their thing. Like my man Lamont “Fridge” Needum whose book STRAIGHT SAVAGE is like that and my dudes from the MIA Plex and Mike Harper who wrote BooBaby and STREET RAISED respectively. Their books are like that. At Gorilla Convict we promote and network to find the talented writers that exist within this system. There are a lot of dudes in here with a lot of stories to tell.

Urbania: Do you ever think of writing a straight up biography about your own life?

Seth: I’d like to write a biography one day or a movie script about my story. I’m not a gangster or anything like that. I’m just a kid from the suburbs who got caught up in this bullshit war on drugs and now I am paying the price with this 25-year federal sentence of which I’ve served almost 17 years of so far. So eventually, yes, I will write a straight up biography of my life and case and the circumstances that led me to be incarcerated. As of now, magazines like Rolling Stone and Don Diva have touched it upon, but I look forward to writing the complete and unabridged story one day. But for now I have a lot more stories to write and to share with the world in my Street Legends series.

Urbania: I know you didn’t start writing books until you were in prison, did you ever have any indicators earlier in life that you wanted to write?

Seth: I always played in bands when I was young. I still sing and play guitar. I know its kind of weird being that I write about gangsters and urban stuff, but really I am way into punk and metal, music wise. Though I do love a lot of the early hip hop stuff like Run DMC, Beastie Boys, NWA, DAS EFX, UTFO and stuff like that. I have always written songs and poetry and lyrics and the like, and it just evolved into what it is now. So I guess I did have indicators early in life that I wanted to write. It’s about more than that though, it’s about being able to create and to have a vision and follow through on it. That’s what I think I have always been about even when I was out on the street selling LSD and marijuana at all the east coast colleges. That was my vision back then, Gorilla Convict is my vision now. When I finally hit the streets my vision will take on a new form.

Urbania: What are currently your main motivations as a writer?

Seth: My main motivation as a writer now is to get stuff done. I want to put out a book a year for the rest of my bid, 6 years. So that when I get out I will have a resume, my books, my works that will speak as to what I am capable of. I want to be heard. I want these stories to be heard. I think it’s great that hip hop and urban fiction has opened up these doors. Especially for me and other people in prison. It gives us something to aim for and it gives us hope of a future life when we get out.

I want to use my time wisely and crank out as much quality material as I can. I’m happy that people are interested in my work, but for real I would do this regardless. This is my passion. Like I said, I’m a visionary and I won’t compromise my vision for anybody or anything. My wife and I started this from prison. When I get out I want to take it as far as it can go. That is my motivation.

Urbania: Street Legends 2 comes out next month. Can you talk a bit about how this new book compares with the first Street Legends?

Seth: Street Legends Vol 2 drops in DEC 09 and it carries on where Street Legends Vol 1 left off. In Vol 1 I wrote about the death before dishonor sic- Supreme, Wayne Perry, Anthony Jones, Aaron Jones from the JBM, Boy George and Pistol Pete. Six of the most recognizable gangsters of the hip hop era. These dudes were the black and Latino John Gotti’s and Pablo Escobar’s.

Now in Vol 2, I am profiling the original gangsters. Dudes you might have heard about but never really knew about. Frank Matthews, Peanut King, Michael Fray, The Boobie Boys, Short North Posse and New World. A lot of the street legends we hear about from the rappers are from New York, so I widened my scope on this one and tried to write about legends from different areas including Baltimore, DC, Miami, Columbus, Ohio and New Jersey. I wanted to talk about the older legends you might not have known that much about and some of the newer, not so hyped up ones. So basically Vol 2 is the same format. We are just talking about different legends.

Urbania: Do you think you have inspired other people in prison to become writers? Can you give some examples?

Seth: I think I have inspired other people in prison to be writers. Me and my man Joe Black started off together, he wrote Street Team and Squeeze. I’ve also been around Robert Booker who wrote PUSH and Eyone Williams who wrote Fast Lane and Hell Razor Honeys I and II. My man Fridge who wrote STRAIGHT SAVAGE and Plex who wrote BOOBABY and Mike Harper who wrote STREET RAISED.

I’m sure I have inspired them and they have inspired me and vice versa. Wahida Clark has been corresponding with me since she first started writing. Also Kwame Teague, who wrote the DUTCH series for Teri Woods, is someone I correspond with. I know a lot of writers who are still in prison. We have all inspired and tried to help each other. I’ve done whatever I could to get interviews and articles about all the people I have named here in magazines and on Internet sites. I appreciate Urbania doing the same for me. I’m sure there are more writers too. That’s just off the top of my head.

Urbania: On one of your blogs you mention you are interested in filmmaking when you get out. Are you going to get into Directing films? Also are you thinking of making your books into films or would you do something new?

Seth: I am going to get into film making when I get out. I want to write and
direct. I want to be like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Like
I said before, I have a vision. Some of the stories I written about would
make great films.

But I want to do more than gangster films. I want to do action/adventures with a gangster edge, of course. Anything I do has to have that edge to it. But dudes like Supreme and Boy George have tailor-made stories for film. When I am in the right position, I will push to get those films made. I will write them and then I will do all I can to get someone to bankroll them. I have written a couple of scripts and am still perfecting my screenwriting craft.

Street Legends: Vol: 2 can be purchased the Booksellers below.

Amazon

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