Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Book Club Feature - Sistahs in Harmony and Sistahs in Conversation

Today I welcome Sistahs in Harmony and Sistahs in Conversation Book Clubs. I found out about this club through my fellow sistahs of the pen, Anointed Authors on Tour. When Tia McCollors shared she was going to Stockton, California, I visited their website and found that the book club hosting them was sponsoring a scholarship luncheon.

Welcome, tell us about the Sistahs in Harmony and Sistahs in Conversation. Our journey with ten Christian women began five years ago with the purpose of reading Christian Fiction Books. We decided on the name Sistahs In Conversation Christian Book Club. Our first meeting was held in my home. As the news spread throughout the community, a need developed for another book club, thus, Sistahs In Harmony was formed. We now have 22 members between both groups. We meet every six weeks.

So are you one book club with two chapters? We are two separate book clubs under the same leadership. We both read the same books. We also share the same objectives, which is to Honor the Lord with what we rea, to offer readers fresh, contemporary and entertaining yet scripturally sound fiction and nonfiction by talented Christian authors; and assist believers and nonbelievers in discovering the relevancy of the Bible in our contemporary, everyday lives.
What types of books do you like to read and how do you make your reading selections? Our groups enjoy reading Christian Fiction. Suggestion for selection of books are done by each member of both groups. When selecting books members must always look for books that will lead you back to hope, truth and inspiration found in the word of God. These books should show us one or more saved characters in the readings. I am always looking at books to help out with the selection. Authors will sometimes send me a copy of their books to read and we often select from these books. Authors that would like for us to consider their books please email me at sistahdjm (at) yahoo (dot) com

What format do your meetings take? Most of our meetings are held in the members home sometimes we meet at other venues. It really depends upon who is hosting and where they would like for us to meet. We always start our meeting out with a word of prayer inviting Our Lord Jesus Christ to take charge for the evening. The facilitator for the evening takes over with discussion and questions. The questions are used from the readers guide and from the facilitator herself. Meetings are usually held on Friday. Refreshments are served before we have our book discussion.

Tell us about a recent Christian Fiction book you’ve enjoyed and why? We have just had the opportunity of reading five great books from The Anointed Authors on Tour. The stories that they have written let us all know that all things are possible through Christ. One of the lessons learned was through Divas of Damascus Road by Michelle Stimpson This story show how the women all shared faith, hope, strong family bond and forgiveness. The Truth About Love by Tia McCollors shows us how powerful prayer and sisterhood can be in our lives.

What types of stories would you like to see more of in Christian Fiction? We would like to see more family stories with more of the story line including children. Stories of Redemption.

You recently held a scholarship event. Tell us about it. This scholarship luncheon began five years ago with both book clubs getting together for a yearly celebration. We began having a small dinner with our members and their invited guest. Then we decided to host a luncheon and invited 50 women and featured a bestselling author Victoria Christopher Murray. Our first luncheon was so well received that we had to expand and look for larger locations. God gave us the vision to focus on our graduating youths from high school bless them with a scholarship from the proceeds.

This year we featured the Anointed Authors on Tour. Norma L. Jarrett, Kendra Norman-Bellamy, Tia McCollors, Michelle Stimpson and Shewanda Riley. These ladies blessed us with their anointed literary works.

The number of book clubs in the African American community has grown by leaps and bounds. Tell me why you think that is? The love for reading and the awareness of African American Authors.

Please share anything else you'd like us to know about your book clubs. We are constantly thanking God for his favor upon our book club ministry and upon our events. This year we had a sold out event and women are asking when our next event will be. Please email Donna at sistahdjm (at)yahoo (dot)com if interested in our Annual Scholarship luncheon.

Thanks so much Donna for your time. Your group is truly awesome and I’m so glad I learned about you through the Anointed Authors Tour. It does my heart good to know there are so many readers out there who not only want to be entertained, but would like a story with some sustenance. Thanks for joining me and I pray God’s abundant blessings on each and every member of your groups and your future scholarship luncheons.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Interview with Author, Pat Simmons

Today, I welcome author, Pat Simmons to Urban Christian Fiction. Pat's second novel, Talk to Me has just been released with Urban Christian Books. That's makes us sisters in the business. Pat you have got to have the yummiest book cover I've seen all year.

Tell us about Talk to Me. My blurb says Noel Richardson is perfect, but genes, wealth, and education don’t define a man….BUT oh what a great start. Jesus has a way of taking our imperfection and molding it into something else.

Where did this wonderful story come from and what motivated you to write it? My brother-in-law, Ben “Rusty” has been Deaf from birth. He also has some other disabilities, but our worlds are intertwined. My motivation? Nosiness. How could I eavesdrop when I have no clue what they are saying? I began to wonder what would keep a person from developing a love relationship: race, religion, employment, blindness, a wheelchair, etc. I truly believe God created a special someone for everybody. I wrote Talk to Me from Noel’s point of view. The man is fine, he has two degrees, the CEO of a non-profit organization, and yes—he can talk. He wasn’t deaf (small‘d’) until he was a teenager as a result of a fireworks explosion. The only thing he wasn’t aware was his sexy baritone voice. Mackenzie Norton loved to hear his voice and he enjoyed watching her lips.

What types of resources did you use to learn about deafness. My brother-in-law was useless, especially if he was watching baseball. Unfortunately, none of my husband’s seven other siblings could sign. Only my mother-in-law signs because “Rusty” went away to a Deaf School as a teenager. Maybe, if he stayed at home, the others would’ve been forced to sign. Of course, my husband’s siblings regret not learning.

I have a good friend who is near certification ASL. I also visited a local Deaf school. I interviewed a Deaf guy from Baltimore over the phone (yes, over the phone—you have to read the book to learn how); I attended the National Black Deaf Advocates convention in my hometown—that was a shocker—Deaf folks are noisy. I emailed a few black Deaf people I had met. At home, I have about five books on signing, including Signing for Dummies, which I lost, but found it later. Try practicing signing in public.

Tell us a little about your previous work and the 2009 sequel. I’m so glad Ms. Jossel enjoyed and accepted Guilty of Love. God told me to write the storyline. At the time I was deep into the research of my family tree. Plus, I didn’t want to deal with the subject of abortion, but God can exonerate us from ANY sin. Guilty of Love is based on that premise. We’re guilty of doing things because of the love we have for our children, parents, siblings, spouse, neighbors, etc. Sometimes, we don’t always make the right decisions, BUT God is always ready to forgive us, if we ask. The other side is accepting the forgiveness. That can be the hardest, because we beat ourselves up when we don’t forgive ourselves. I’m working on what and how I say things to people because if it comes out wrong, I can’t take it back. Now, if I can’t get it together in my mind, then I better not open my mouth. An example is I said the wrong thing to a person and hurt her. I didn’t mean too, but I didn’t think before I spoke. I asked her and God to forgive me, but I began beating up myself, wondering if she really forgave me. God reminded me of my book title and His redeeming love and blood that also applied to me. Then He spoke that I was after His own heart. I’ll never forget that. I mean, God isn’t looking for perfection to be after His heart, He’s looking for …can’t find the right word, so I’ll leave it open for someone else to finish.
As for the sequel, Not Guilty of Love (September 2009), I praise the Lord for the support and accolades I received from Guilty of Love. As a matter of fact, there wouldn’t have been a sequel without queries from readers. They enjoyed Grandma BB, cried with Cheney, wanted to slap Parke a few times, cheered for Malcolm and Hallison, and prayed for a baby.

Tell us about your journey to publication? It seems like the wait was longer than about two years. After the contract was signed and I was in the process of doing my re-writes, God spoke to me. I was sitting at my kitchen table. It was as if the Lord was pointing His finger at me. “Everything that happens in your life advances the story.” The conferences, the authors I met, and the rejection letters, including the one I received the DAY BEFORE Guilty of Love was in the book stores (hah! Look at Jesus), was to advance the story and give me a testimony. Again, look at Jesus.

What has been the most rewarding thing a reader has said to you or sent via email since you’ve become published? A month after Guilty of Love, a reader wrote and poured out her soul to me. She identified with one character, Imani, who appeared in the story maybe five or six times, and a character Ms. Jossel had me tweak. Thank God for editorial advice. I emailed the woman back to encourage her and let her know I was praying for her. Within minutes, she emailed me back, and questioned if it was really me responding, or my secretary. I laughed and assured her if I had a secretary, it would’ve been my daughter, and I couldn’t pay her to do it. Plus, I clean my bathrooms just like everybody else.

Pat, you work fulltime and do publicity for Romantic Times and write novels. I envision a super organized person. Do I have that right? That would be me on steroids. Actually, my shift was changed a few years ago to per-diem, which is minimum days assigned and an on call status. I can be scheduled for three days in one week and be called in three days, which could result in six days. Sometimes, like lately, I’m only working one day a week. Now as a publicist for Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine’s annual RT BOOKLOVERS Convention, I sigh. Talk about work, whew, from December until the convention, which is usually in April, my co-publicist and I create the press kits and update the press release. We are solely responsibility for media coverage for authors and the convention, which include setting up TV live shots, author radio, newspaper, and television interview. We work with almost 50 to 60 media outlets per convention from across the country, arranging author and convention exposure. It‘s so rewarding to see authors get FREE publicity for the first time. More than once, New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham scolded me to speak up while we’re on a media event that I’m an author. “Nah, I rather bless others.” God isn’t slack, concerning His promises or blessings. If I call the publisher, Carol Stacy, and say I need…I got it. She was apart of God advancing my story.

As for writing, I do most of it when I’m not writing. I allow my characters run the show, which is usually seconds after I lay my head on my pillow then my want to argue, pray, or go on a job interview! I get back up scribble their thoughts and tell them to hold up until the morning. When I shut my eyes, I shut my mind down. If I can’t write immediately the next day, I try to memorize the scenes until I can get to the keyboards.

As for the Bionic Woman image, I’m no longer as organized as I use to be thanks from my two girlfriends. They ordered me to stop ironing my pillow cases and sheets.

As if you weren’t busy enough, you’ve spent some time in the old family tree. Tell us about that. There’s not enough paper or energy in my fingers to let you know about my passion. Let’s just say I appreciate the struggles my ancestor endured for what I have today. Years ago before I was published, I worked at Books-a-Million in the capacity of a community events coordinator. At closing when it was my turn to clean the restrooms I recalled my grandmother and others who cleaned worse to bring home food for their families. Here I am with a B. S. degree in communications, and I reminded myself that if my ancestors could do it then who am I? I got the bleach, gloves, and towels and got to work. It is SO important to record information from your elders, because once they are gone so is the verbal history. One example: my great-grandmother lived to be 97 years old. I thought, surely she was born in slavery. Nope. Not her or her parents who both were born around 1878—13 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed the last remaining slaves in Galveston, TX. I was able to find my great-grandmother’s great-grandmother born in the late 1850s. Talk about stories to tell. In honor of my ancestors, I feature one or two as characters in my novels. At the end of the novel, I introduce them and give whatever background I’ve uncovered. Who knows? Maybe some of my lost cousins will recognize the names and contact me, a genealogist’s dream!

Pat you were the recipient of the Katherine D. Jones Award at the 2008 Romance Slam Jam Conference . Tell us about it. Fellow author Dyanne Davis surprisingly presented me the plaque in her hotel suite as I walked in in tears, telling her I had to leave immediately because my father-in-law was dying. My husband and I made it back home Saturday evening. We were with him as he departed this world. Thank God Papa Simmons was baptized in Jesus name and was filled with the Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in other tongues. I wish he was here to see the historic election with the first black man as a contender for the highest office in this country.

Oh, the Katherine D. Jones Award was named after the late author who passed away in 2007 from a heart attack. I’m honored because I think, I think, I’m the first recipient for grace and humility award. I thank God for His grace and for the Christian walk of humility.

What an honor. Pat, I’ve enjoyed this interview. Tell my readers how they may learn more about you. Fortunately, I've had a great deal of publicity, so I'm on just about every blog I know of on the Internet. My main website is People can also catch me on Facebook, MySpace, Shelfari, Shoutlife, Booktour, three connectplatorm networks, earlhallradionetwork, blogspots, etc…

It was great to have you, Pat. All the best with your new release. It's on my TBR pile and I'm definitely planning to get to it before the holidays. Although I must say, it's been nice just looking at the cover. :o)

I know, I hear that alot. A likeable cover is always a blessing. Thank you, Rhonda, for advancing my story. God Bless you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Dow is Up, The Dow is Down - Isn't It Good To Know Jesus

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 6-7

Now more than ever, we live in troubled times. Our country is at war and violence in our cities is increasing. The divorce rate is climbing, so families and marriages are unstable. New church scandals and drama hit the media every week, so ministries are unstable, the current investment and mortgage crisis has our economy unstable, even the weather has been beating on some of our cities this year, so the very atmosphere is unstable. The angst over the upcoming election has many of us on edge. Will our candidate get into office and will that candidate deliver on the promise to fix the mess the last eight years have created?

I was chatting with a good friend the other day. We work for the same government agency. Due to state budget deficits we’ve been told that not only are we not getting our small cost of living raise in January, but effective November we’ll be furloughed one day a month. Losing income while anticipating higher health insurance cost for 2009 isn’t a pleasant scenario. Particularly when everything else in the world from gasoline to food is climbing higher by the week. My friend said, “Girl, we’re living in such hard times.” I replied, “I know, can you imagine how much harder it is for the people who don’t know Jesus.

Christians have an awesome assurance through the promises of our faith, that God is a provider of not only our physical needs, but of the emotional need for peace during life’s trouble. The Bible says in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Those are powerful words, because the reference to the word “give” means peace is a gift. However, I’ve learned that like many of God’s gifts, it’s one we must understand to actually receive.

As topics in the Bible go, peace is a large one. The King James Version makes over 400 references to the word peace. I’d like to point out two things about peace that we as Christians sometimes forget. The first is that peace is not situational. The biblical concept of peace does not focus on the absence of trouble. It is unrelated to circumstances. You may be in the midst of great trials and still have the peace that Jesus promises. The Apostle Paul said he could be “content in any circumstance” and he demonstrated this ability when he was in the prison in Philippi. He witnessed to a guard while there and bought the man and his family to a saving knowledge of Christ. Imagine as a prisoner Paul was able to witness to someone who was free. It was the power of not only Paul’s words, but his countenance and not only his countenance, but the singing that came out of his soul. Paul was able to get this man’s attention by how he looked, what he said and how he lived out what he said. Paul reached out and grabbed the gift of peace.

My second point about peace is that although it’s a gift, it’s one we have to work at keeping. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that peace is one of the fruits of the spirit. That means as a fruit of the spirit it’s one of the qualities we strive to have. God has left it for us, but we must reach out for it and work to keep it. We do that through prayer, Bible study, controlling out thoughts (as admonished in II Corinthians 10:5), and through Godly relationships and entertainment. That’s why it’s so important to guard our hearts and our spirits by surrounding ourselves with people who love the Lord. It’s also the reason I take great pride in writing Christian Fiction. Our world is so filled with filthy, silly entertainment. I love the gift that is Christian Fiction.

It’s good to know that in Jesus we all have access to same peace that Paul had. It’s good to know that if we keep our minds stayed on HIM that we can always count on HIM to plant a song in our hearts. It’s good to know that if we put the time in with prayer and supplication that the fruit of peace will bear itself. And finally it’s good to know that no matter what, Jesus never takes a furlough day and his Dow Jones average is always up!

Many Blessings,


A version of this column was originally published at where I write a monthly column.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Interview with author, Nikita Nichols

Today, I welcome author, Nikita Nichols to Urban Christian Fiction. Nikita is one of my label-mates at Urban Christian Books and a really lovely person to have been fortunate enough to get to know over last few months. I'm pleased to offer her a spot on UC Fiction.

Welcome, Nikita. Tell us about your novel, A Man’s Worth. “A Man’s Worth” tells the story of the friendship between Pastor Cordell Bryson and Randall Loomis. They were childhood buddies and are now grown men who were as close as blood brother’s, until the sultry seductress, Amaryllis Price came on the scene. From the moment Randall set his eyes upon her, all hell broke loose. No one can deny that Amaryllis is beautiful but her heart beats to the devil’s tune. Blinded by her sex appeal, Randall is oblivious to the fact that she’s on a mission, sent from the pits of hell to steal his integrity, kill his relationships with his best friend and mother, but Amaryllis’s ultimate goal is to destroy Randall completely. Not only is he Randall’s best friend but as his pastor, Cordell discerns Amaryllis’s foul spirit the moment he met her and he voices his opinion to Randall every chance he gets.

Sounds very interesting. What inspired you to write this story? I wanted to flip the script. Too often, we hear of women in the church who are taken advantage of by handsome men. I wanted to write a story that shows how men too can easily get caught up, tangled up and twisted up in the arms of evil if they’re not careful.

What do you want readers to take away from this story? The overall message that I’d like for my readers to take away from this story is very simple. I really want men and women to understand that everything that looks good to them may not necessarily be good for them.

A Man's Worth has a sequel that’ll be released in March. Tell us about that. Actually the release date for “Amaryllis” is April 1st, 2009. And it picks up right where “A Man’s Worth” ended. My character, Amaryllis Price, moves to Las Vegas to live with her sister Michelle and wreaks more havoc than she did in “A Man’s Worth”. Michelle is engaged to Minister James Bradley and treats her like the queen she is. Amaryllis becomes jealous of the attention James showers on her sister and she sets a plan in motion to steal him from Michelle and claim him as her own but it is how she does it that blows the minds of readers. Like a thief in the night, Amaryllis comes at James full force and blindsides him when he doesn’t see her coming. She places him in a compromising position and it takes a move of God to get him out of it.

Tell us about your journey to publication. My first novel, “None But The Righteous” was born on the heels of my divorce. I suffered through a nine year loveless marriage and was the poster child for mental and verbal abuse. I felt compelled to share my story with other women who were in my shoes. “Righteous” takes readers on my journey from the very beginning of my marriage ‘til the day God delivered me. I didn’t have a title until I had completed the final chapter because at the end of the novel, the rapture happened and the male character was left behind. He wasn’t righteous, therefore he didn’t see God.

What’s been the most rewarding thing about being published? What’s been the most difficult thing? I’d have to say that the most rewarding thing about being published was being picked up by Black Expressions Book Club. It’s every black authors dream. Also, going into book stores and seeing my novel surrounded by trailblazers such as Maya Angelou, Hill Harper, Barack Obama and Terry McMillan is overwhelming.

Why do you choose to write Christian Fiction? I choose to write Christian fiction because it deals with real issues. People think church folks have no issues but it’s just the opposite. Because we’re struggling to live right, we have more drama, turmoil and difficulties than the average man. We are in a war each and everyday of our lives. Christian fiction tells powerful stories of how church folks deal with the struggles of life but we’re overcomers, our faith in God delivers us each and every time.

I asked Nikita to get personal and she answered the following questions.

Favorite worship song: “Spend My Always”, by Kirk Franklin
Favorite flavor of ice-cream: Baskin and Robbins Chocolate Chip
Favorite scripture: Psalms 37:1
If you could spend an hour with one person, living or deceased, who would it be and why? Harriet Tubman. I’d ask her where she got her strength because I want some.
If you were going to a deserted island for a year and could only take one novel, that you didn’t write, what would it be and why? I’d take “Icy Sparks” by Gwyn Hyman Rubio. It’s an awesome read with a combination of fire and ice. I could read it over and over and over.

Nikita, it’s been a pleasure to have you at Urban Christian Fiction. Please tell my readers how they may learn more about you.

Readers can visit my website at and to chat with me they can log on to or simply send me an e-mail at

Nikita's books are available at, Barnes and Nobles, Borders, Wal-mart, Books a Million and wherever books are sold.

Thanks for stopping by!



Friday, October 17, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, based on the New York Times best selling novel and set in South Carolina in 1964, is the moving tale of Lily Owens (Fanning) a 14 year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother (Burton). To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father (Bettany), Lily flees with Rosaleen (Hudson), her caregiver and only friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters (Latifah, Okonedo and Keys), Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping.

Written for the Screen and Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Based upon the novel by: Sue Monk Kidd (Christian Fiction author)
Produced by : Lauren Shuler Donner, James Lassiter, Will Smith, Joe Pichirallo
Executive Produced by: Jada Pinkett Smith
Cast: Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Nate Parker, Tristan Wilds, Hilarie Burton and Paul Bettany

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Pink Wings for Delta Airlines

This month is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, it's estimated that about 178,480 women in the United States will be found to have invasive breast cancer in 2007. About 40,460 women will die from the disease this year. Right now there are slightly over 2 million women living in the United States who have been treated for breast cancer. National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) organization is comprised of several national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working in partnership to build breast cancer awareness, share information and provide access to screening services. NBCAM, and, are a year-round resource for patients, survivors, caregivers and the general public.

I thought it would be interesting to report on a creative idea that Delta Airlines implemented to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research. Delta’s website reports, “Delta Air Lines is taking flight for the fight against breast cancer. In October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the airline is introducing a newly painted Delta Pink Plane to its fleet to raise awareness for the cause and for its partner, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). BCRF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding innovative clinical and genetic research to find ways to prevent and cure breast cancer.

Go Delta Airlines for joining the battle against breast cancer! A pink and white Boeing 757 decorated with pink ribbons took to the skies last week. Aboard were some of its own employees who are breast cancer survivors who Delta treated to a special flight to Minneapolis. Delta’s brightly colored pink aircraft also features BCRF’s trademark pink ribbon logo, adjacent to the boarding door, as a visible reminder to passengers that they are flying on Delta’s Pink Plane. Throughout October, Delta is offering pink lemonade to customers for $2 on all domestic and most international flights with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting BCRF.”

For more information on Delta’s breast cancer awareness initiative, click here

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Interview with Author Sherryle K. Jackson

Today, I'm featuring author, Sherryle Jackson. Sherryle and I are also label-mates on Urban Christian Books.

Welcome to Urban Christian Fiction, Sherryle. Please tell us about your debut novel,
Soon and Very Soon:
Soon and Very Soon is a book about Willie Green, the strait-laced Pastor of the traditional Harvest Baptist Church who marries Vanessa Morton, the dynamo preacher-pastor of the contemporary Mt. Pleasant. The nuptials are followed by a decision to join their churches. All hell breaks loose as a group of dissenters emerge led by the staunch Deacon Charley Thompson who goes to extreme lengths to keep their religious routine going.
If you are a part of a church you’ll identify with these characters. Soon and Very Soon reveals some truths about traditional and contemporary Baptist churches, the motives behind what people pray for, and the way people fall in love.

What does your tagline “Soon is not just a promised destination, but a journey” mean?
I played off the word soon with my title. When we receive a glimpse of the vision God has planned for our life we often feel we have already arrived. I wanted to show that most of the times it is just beginning. We must continue to be faithful and work to make the dream a reality.

I agree one hundred percent about faith and works. Tell us about your journey to publication. In the late nineties, I penned Soon and Very Soon and at that time had little success shopping it to literary agents who were reluctant to take on a Christian fiction title. I signed a book deal with a Christian imprint of a major publishing house which held my book up for three years then went sour. This taught me valuable lessons about the publishing industry. I remained prayerful and devoted to improving my craft. As God would have it my friend would attend the Hurston/ Wright literary conference in D.C. and hear about a new Christian imprint. She talked about my novel and information was exchanged for submission to Urban Christian.

What’s been the most memorable experience you’ve had since being published?
Besides being a big fan of many authors and getting to meet many of them at various literary events where I am considered a peer, I felt especially proud when I spoke at Career Day at a local Elementary. I shared my writing process. Two weeks later I received a packet of letters from students telling them thank you. The teachers thanked me also for reinforcing to their students the necessity of revising and rewriting.

What do you wish you’d known as an author, before your book was released?
I wish I knew the cost associated with marketing and promoting. I mean, I think authors should take a business class in marketing to package and promote their intellectual property whether they are with a mainstream publisher or not.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? It is important to learn your craft. I believe in the principles of The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. I try to take artist’s date to appreciate other art and just creation muse off that. You’ve got to write even if you’re not working on a project. Write for the love of it even if it doesn’t get published. Blogging is great for that.

Sherryle got personal with me and shared the answers to the following questions:

What is your favorite color? Royal blue
What is your favorite movie? Love and Basketball and Good Will Hunting
What’s your dream vacation location? Belize or Cayman Islands
If you could spend an hour with one person (living or deceased) who would it be and why? It would be my grandmothers on both my mother and father’s side. I got so little time with one and never got to meet the other. I’m sure I could pull extraordinary wisdom from the both of them.
If you were stranded on a desert island with one fiction book, which one would you want it to be? I would say The Manual, my next release on Urban Christian. It was a book that I had to cut by 40,000 words. The characters are so authentic they still haunt me (in a good way). It was hard to let them go.

What’s next for Sherryle Jackson?
I will be releasing a second novel, The Manual in October 2009. I will be finishing a sequel to my first novel, Soon and Very Soon called Soon After.

How can readers contact you? They can visit me on the web at or

Great interview. Thanks for stopping by, Sherryle. Sherryle's book, Soon and Very Soon is a available at, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Book Giveaway Winners

I have winners.

Dona - New Jersey

Dwan - Georgia

Genneth - Alabama

Good job answering those questions ladies and here are the answers:

1. What city was the Faith and Fiction Retreat held in? Destin, FL

2. Name three things that author, Sharon Oliver and I have in common? We are both with Urban Christian Books. We both live in Atlanta. We both have relatives from the same small South Carolina town.

3. What is Ashea Goldson's first self-published work? When Torn Down is All You Know.

4. What is the name of the writer's group I'm president of? Visions in Print, American Christian Fiction Writers' Southeast Atlanta Chapter Visions In Print

5. What is the name of Marilynn Griffith main character in her new novel? Grace is the main character in Rhythms of Grace.

6. This is subjective, but seriously, who is my "favoritiest" author? Victoria Christopher Murray

7. What is the name of Sherri Lewis' next book? The List

8. Which of my teen fiction authors has just started college? Brittney Holmes

9. What does the K.C. stand for in K.C. Girlfriends Book Club's name? Kansas City

10. Which of the teen fiction authors wrote a book about demons? Claudia Mair Burney wrote Exorsistah

Monday, October 06, 2008

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I thought I’d take the time to recognize National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Domestic violence statistics are tragically familiar. Annually, 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by their partner. One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. And 50 percent of men who frequently assault their wives also abuse their children. If you or someone you know is in trouble, please remember help is just a phone call away. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has an 24 hour toll-free number, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Author, Stacy Hawkins Adams, addresses domestic violence as a social issue in her first three novels. In Speak To My Heart we are introduced to a minor character, Erika, a beautiful woman who from the outside appears to have it all, but life with her fiance is anything but a fairytale. Then in Nothing But the Right Thing, Erika is one of the point of view characters. We journey with her through more pain, but also celebrate some personal victory. In the final book, Watercolored Pearls, we catch up with Erika again…will she finally the peace and happiness God longs for her to have? I won't tell, but the books tell it wonderfully.

Here’s an excerpt from Nothing But The Right Thing

Chapter One

The first blow split her lip, then his fist kissed her eye. By the third time her beloved slammed his shiny knuckles into her soft flesh, Erika Tyler Wilson had decided.

This was it. Tonight’s one-sided boxing match would be her last.

Elliott would hold her tight, as usual, and try to kiss away the pain of the bruises he had inflicted. He would cradle her in his embrace and wipe her tears, whispering in her ear how much he loved her. Tomorrow, though, the dozen yellow roses he always sent after a particularly brutal episode would be coming to an empty house.

As she lay there in a child-sized, crumpled heap, covering her face and head with her arms, she told herself this would be the last time she would cower on the floor of this house. No more worries about removing bloodstains from the snow white carpet. No more wondering if the neighbors were peering through their palladium windows to get their weekly entertainment—same time, same place, same guest star.

No more excuses. No more shame. No more pain. Erika felt free, even as Elliott continued lashing out at her.


He punctuated each word with a blow as he called her a foul name—again.

She knew the routine. When he began spouting ugly words, it meant the end of his tirade was near. Erika locked herself into a corner of her mind, away from the pain. She felt her husband hitting her, but then again she didn’t.

In this space she was safe. She didn’t think about anything, really, except getting through the beating. By removing herself from the present, she could keep her sanity.

She often lifted her thoughts above what her body was enduring so that when Elliott was ready to make up, she could comply without hating herself. If she forced her mind to disengage from the abuse, she couldn’t remember everything that happened.

The process made it easier to look into her husband’s clear brown eyes and believe him when he said he was sorry. It made it easier to believe what she always told herself: he couldn’t help it. He really hadn’t meant to hurt her, but once again she had done something foolish to provoke him.

Erika always managed to upset Elliott, with her probing questions, with her inadequate efforts to be the dutiful wife of a law firm partner, or simply with her failure to have dinner on the table when he arrived home from a stressful day at work.

“Don’t I work hard enough so you can stay home? The least you can do is have a hot meal ready for me. Is that too much to ask?” Elliott would sneer as he sat in the cavernous dining room, loosening his tie and waiting to be served like a king.

His after-work routine never veered too much off course. He rarely entered the house the same way, always coming in quietly, as if to catch Erika in an illegal act. Sometimes he would casually enter through the garage door off the kitchen, sometimes through the front door, and other times through the entrance off the side patio. On occasion he would use the entrance to the walk-out basement and startle Erika by emerging in the foyer as she stood in front of the stove putting the finishing touches on their meal.

Elliott would stroll past her without speaking, pick up the dry martini she had waiting for him, and stand with his feet spread apart in front of the bay window that took up most of the rear wall of the kitchen. He would gaze at the golf course, though he couldn’t see much because it was usually late evening and too dark.

Instead of relaxing him, the routine seemed to fuel his frustration. It seemed to be his quiet time to dream up a grievance that would give him an excuse good enough to pick a fight. If it wasn’t about dinner, the problem would be an errand Erika had forgotten to run or the inappropriate tone she had used when she finally summoned the courage to welcome him home for the evening.

The reason never mattered. When his mood soured, when he felt like swinging, she would enter the ring whether she had asked for the match or not. It had been that way since they had eloped in Jamaica four years earlier. Even in that idyllic retreat, Elliott hadn’t been able to control himself.

“Why do you make me hurt you?”

It seemed he had been asking that question in a pained, remorseful whine for as long as she could remember, even before she had become his wife. Funny how she thought their vows would make things better. Not funny how much worse life had become.

Now he was finished. He had grown tired quickly tonight. The trial today must have been particularly grueling, Erika thought as she let her mind return to the present.

Elliott knelt beside her and picked her up. In his muscular arms, she felt as light as a paperweight. She struggled to recall a time when she had felt safe there too.

She kept her eyes closed as he carried her up to their bedroom. A single tear slid down the side of her cheek as she rested her head on Elliott’s chest.

“I love you, baby,” her tall, honey-complexioned husband said softly as he lay her on their king-size bed.

Any other night she would have concentrated on keeping her bloody lips off the sand-and-gold comforter, but tonight she didn’t care. She shook with silent sobs as Elliott peppered her with kisses. He didn’t seem to notice.

“Why do you make me act this way?” he asked as he closed his eyes and kissed her neck. “Why do you always make me hurt you? I love you.

“Stop crying, baby. I still love you,” Elliott whispered into Erika’s hair. “Let me show you how much.”

Erika stopped shaking as Elliott began to peel off her clothes. Her tears dried up as she lay there and stared at the ceiling. Tonight she was grateful he hadn’t bothered to look into her eyes.
If he had, he would have known she was leaving. He might have tried to kill her. Instead, he apologized and expressed his affection in the best way he knew how.

As usual, he didn’t notice Erika’s lackluster response to his fervent lovemaking. He mistook her stillness for enjoyment. And when he was done, he lay next to her and told her again that he loved her.

He pulled her close to him and gently kissed her swollen lips.

“Good night, baby. Happy anniversary.”

You can learn more about the author, Stacy Hawkins Adams and her novels at

What are some Christian Fiction books that you've read that address the issue of domestic violence?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Interview, Author Shelia Lipsey

Today, I welcome Author, Shelia Lipsey. I'm excited about having Shelia with us, because Shelia is not only one of the author's who launched the Urban Christian Imprint, but she's also a very sweet person who truly exemplifies the spirit of Jesus Christ. Shelia is also 2007 SORMAG Choice Awards Winner and the Author of the Year for 2008 for Conversations Book Club. Both very distinguished honors in a time when over 400,000 books are published a year.

Welcome to Urban Christian Fiction Blog, Shelia. Tell us about your latest novel, My Son’s Wife.
My Son’s Wife is a novel about the lives of imperfect people. First Lady Audrey Graham, of Holy Rock Church believes she's found the perfect woman to become her only son, Minister Stiles Graham's wife. Sweet, sensitive, kind, and of course a fine Christian girl, Audrey couldn't ask more of lovely Rena Jackson. But skeletons start to fall from the closet when Audrey and Stiles discover that Rena is secretly in love and committed to a troubled, rebellious, ex-con. My Son's Wife is more than a love triangle, it's a time bomb set to explode with twists, turns, entanglements and sinful revelations that only a loving God can make right. My Son’s Wife hit bookstores nationwide October 1, 2008.

What are your other titles?
I am the author of the novels, Into Each Life (Urban Books Jan. 07, and the scintillating novel, Sinsatiable (Urban Books, Aug. 07). They are also available wherever books are sold including online. I have a self-published nonfiction book entitled, A Christian’s Perspective-Journey Through Grief.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want readers to pick up any one of my novels, at any time, read it and come away with a lesson in life, love, relationships and living. I want them to know that the journey is real and my characters, much like everyday people and events, are traveling that journey as well.

Tell us when and why you began writing?
I began writing seriously when I was an adolescent. My teachers had a hard time believing that I wrote some of the essays and papers myself that were assigned to me. To this day, I often wish that I had kept those papers. I began my writing as a means of escape into a fantasy world of my very own where I could make my life the way I wanted it to be and not the way it was playing itself out. You know, during the time I was growing up, not only was I physically challenged, there was rampant segregation and prejudice. I was the only physically challenged person in elementary, junior high and high school so I stood out like a sore thumb. Polio has a deforming effect on parts of your body and the part that was affected most for me was my legs. I limped and wore leg braces. I sought to be like everyone else so I fantasized and dreamed a lot. My mom called it daydreaming and I would venture off into my own private world without a moment’s notice. I was a teenager when I discovered that reading and writing provided me a means of escape into my own world, my own way of doing things and being who I wanted to be, when I wanted . When I was writing, I was in control of what people did or did not say. It became a great outlet for me to escape the cruelties of the world.”

Very moving story, Shelia and the depth of your knowledge and experiences shows in your writing. I've enjoyed both of your previous titles. Tell me do you believe you have a specific writing style? More times, than not , the title of my books come first, and from the title my characters evolve. Even when I compose my inspirational speaking messages, I find myself thinking about what the title or topic will be and go from there. I’m most comfortable with writing fiction, especially Christian fiction. As for a particular style, I can answer that by saying, I write according to what God places in my mind, spirit and heart. I write in third person but each novel that I have weaved is uniquely designed and laid out by the Holy Spirit.

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
It has played a major role in my writing. The protagonists in my novels, like myself, are and will be physically challenged yet they have a strong spiritual side as well. All of my life, I wrestled with the fact that I have polio. I fought many an emotional battle before I came to accept me for me. I believe my life long emotions, experiences and thoughts play heavily in the way my books are written. Also my spiritual upbringing and total reliance on God has been the reason that my writing has taken on the form it has and I hope this will always be evident in my writing.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I love J California Cooper. She has the innate ability to craft a story that keeps her readers turning the page. I like the message that is delivered through and in her books. I like the fact that her books are “real life” kinda stuff. The girl is my mentor and doesn’t even know it. My life experiences; and definitely my mother, who always instilled in me that I could do whatever I set out to do, regardless of my handicap, as long as I keep God first.

You are quite a prolific writer. Tell me, what do you do to set the mood for writing? I really like to be alone, sitting at my computer, house quiet with a tall glass of ice tea sitting next to me, no phone ringing, no doorbell, just quietness and total solitude. On the other hand, I am gifted to weave my novels when the house is filled with people (but I prefer my solitude). It’s like once I sit down at the computer, everything else, fades away and it’s only me, the computer, and my thoughts.

Thanks so much for stopping by Shelia. Tell us how can you be contacted if someone wants to invite you to a book signing, conference, seminar, or other literary event, including church events?
Thank you for having me, Rhonda. I can be contacted at;;; And of course, you can feel free to ‘google me.’

Shelia is a native Memphian. She attended Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, graduating magna cum laude with a BBA degree. Lipsey, a published author, professional copyeditor and inspirational speaker has been actively writing and speaking most of her life. Lipsey has written several short stories and over 200 poems which she has plans of publishing in the near future.
Among Lipsey’s list of literary accomplishments and affiliations, she was awarded Conversations Book Club 2008 Author of the Year (, Dallas Morning News Bestselling Author ’07, Urban Knowledge Memphis Bestselling Author ‘07; Founding president Memphis African American Writers Group (MAAW), president UC His Glory Book Club ( Founder of Living Your Dreams Now ( online member of Black Writers Christian Network (, Booknibbler_Christian, Black, Copy Editor ( Lipsey is also a contributing writer for Sankofa Literary Society( guest columnist at, as well as several other online literary groups.

Shelia's book are available wherever books are sold, including online at such sites as;;;; and more.