Sunday, June 29, 2008

Teen Christian Fiction Month - Putting the Good Stuff in Our Young People

I've noticed there's a section in my local Barnes and Nobles that seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. A few years back, I can recall the teen fiction section of the store having two racks of shelves. Last month when I visited the store I noticed there were six and an entire side devoted to Inspirational/Christian books. What an explosion in offerings.

Apparently teens are reading and I'm happy to report that amongst the many books that are now being offered I've actually found some that my sixteen year old son will opt to read, so it's a good trend. With that in mind, I've decided to feature teen fiction on my blog this month. Look for interviews with authors Brittney Holmes, Stephanie Perry Moore, Reshonda Tate Billingsley, Claudia Mair Burney, Victoria Christhopher Murray and more.

Encourage kids to read this summer. Purchase a book this month for one of your teens, a niece, nephew, neighbor or to donate to your local library , children's hospital or juvenile detention center. Our kids are reading and we can make sure they're reading the right stuff. If not, garbage in, garbage out...

Book Giveaway Winners

Okay, so perhaps there were some trick questions. No one got all the answers right so I just threw all the names in the old hat anyway. Here are the answers:

1. Which of Victoria's books is being optioned for a movie? Joy

2. Who are the people Victoria would most like to meet? Jesus, Barack Obama, and Oprah (some left out Jesus)

3. Too Little, Too Late is her _8_ th novel? That includes the young adult novel. Quite a few said 7.

4. What is the name of Victoria's first young adult fiction book? The title is actually Diamond. Divine Divas is the name of the series. Ain't I a stinker.

5. What year was Tempation published? 1997 was the year it was self-published, in 2000 it was picked up by Walk Worthy/Time Warner. Either answer was fine.

The winners are:

Temptation - Carmen Harris

Joy - Carol Gaskins

Truth Be Told - Tina Allen

Too Little, Too Late - Dee Stewart

Thanks for participating.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Writing for HIM

You haven’t heard my voice in a few weeks. I’ve been busy with author features and book giveaways. It’s been an exhausting month. I’m looking forward to July, because I sense some peace on the horizon. Although I’ll be extremely busy at my day job and busier still with writing related things, I’ve been praying for God to give me that place of rest where the cares of this world won’t carry my joy away.

I’ve been pecking away at a couple of writing projects. Really, trying to hone in on one in particular that would wow my agent, my editor, and the reading public at large. At the same time I’ve been in this dry place, where God hasn’t been giving me direction about where he wants me to go and what he wants me to do with my writing. I’ve been feeling insecure about my first novel, going back through it with a fine tooth comb looking for the weaknesses and errors that I can still fix before my editor finds them. I’ve been re-reading craft books and skimming blogs about writing and finally, I’ve been immersed in reading and critiquing other people’s work. All this while I’ve been waiting for heaven to open up and say, “Okay, the next writing assignment is...” or so, that’s what I thought I was waiting for.

This past Saturday I attended a writing workshop. As always, I had childcare issues, so I arrived too late to eat my $14 meal, but right in time to get the food I really needed which I couldn’t have paid for, because it was priceless. The presenter, Anna DeStafano (, President of the Georgia Romance Writers and award winning author, made a point that hit home and woke me up to my current reality. I’m not waiting for God. Jesus has already come and he left me a message about my writing many years ago, when I was wrestling with the decision whether to write secular fiction or Christian Fiction. The Lord spoke to me and said, “You can write whatever you want, but I’ll bless you more if you write for me.” Heaven opened up along time ago.

It’s a fundamental truth, at least in my world and in my relationship with Jesus, that he’s not a micromanager. The Lord gives us gifts and assignments and sends us on our merry way to get stuff done. HIS expectation is that we not bury the talent and that we not forget that he has called us to spread the Good News. Everything else in life from ministry to childrearing really revolves around those two charges. The details of how only require that we exercise excellence in getting it done.

So, the truth is I’ve been putting off the writing of the novel in the same way I put off dealing with anything in life that I don’t want to do. My dirty little secret is that procrastination is how I handle conflict and I have Anna to thank for pointing that out to me. But I’m a big girl; all grown up and I’ll fight my personal demon, take it by the horn and wrestle it down to the ground. I will go forth and get to doing the thing I was born to do and that’s write the Great American Novel. It may not be on the order of a Zora Neal Hurston or James Baldwin classic or even our modern day masters like Walter Mosley or the late BeBe Moore Campbell, but it will be my masterpiece…my divinely orchestrated work of art and my attempt to do what HE has graciously allowed me to do. Write for HIM. What an honor and a privilege.

Thanks for stopping by.



For a good post on keeping Jesus in your work, visit Dee Stewart at and read about writing vertically.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Interview with Author, Lily Ratliff

Today we welcome author, Lily L. Ratliff as she shares with us her memoir, The Life of a Lily.

Here is a synopsis of Lily's book:

Are you going through life’s ups and downs alone? Are you a victim of the foster system or adopted and want to know, Why me? Can there ever be life after abuse or abandonment? If you have experienced opposition or neglect, this book is for you. In her autobiography, The Life of a Lily, author Lily L. Ratliff shows you that through all of your mess, God can bring you to a point of acceptance of what life has given you, with the vigor to carry on. A catalyst for hope and restoration in your life, with easy-to-read vignettes and relevant corresponding Scriptures, The Life of a Lily shows how a young girl triumphs by discovering what so many others failed to realize that God had a plan for her life.
How did The Life of a Lily come to be?

This book started as a diary around 2001. I was awakened one late night to start writing down things that God needed me to know. One of those things was to share my story. At first, I thought, “No, I have too many skeletons in the closet to share.” But I was quickly reminded of all those people that are hurting and don’t have the answers to many of life’s problems. I was also reminded that someone needs a word. So I came to know that my story is far more than just words to paper, but a mere testimony of what God can do.

Besides THE LIFE OF A LILY what other writing projects are you working on?

I have four books being released between now and early 2009. On December 16, 2008 the first two, of the four, books will be available. They are a part of a six book children’s series called “The Last Shall Be First.”

Then sometime in December 2008 you’ll find my story called “All Is Not Lost” in Kimberly T. Matthews’ anthology titled “After You’ve Done All You Can.”

Lastly, I have another story called “The Breakthrough” featured in Vanessa Miller’s anthology titled “Stepping Out on Faith” expected in early 2009. “The Breakthrough” is my personal testimony.

You’re also working on a series of Children’s Books. Did your daughter inspire your decision?

Not initially since the stories are for an audience older than her. However, I am writing to leave a legacy for her since she may have to encounter some of the topics addressed within each book.
You lead a very busy life. How do you spend your free time?

Definitely, not the movies! No…all kidding aside I like to hang out. I bowl, shop, visit restaurants, exercise, anything that has me out and about. I love to read, write, sing and liturgical dance.

What is next for Lily L. Ratliff?

In the fall I’m entering South Florida Bible College & Theological Seminaries. I will begin pursuing my PhD in religious education in the hopes of one day being a youth pastor, director over Christian education or professor of a bible college.

Please give us some parting words.

Just remember, in Philippians 3:13-14, it says:

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (italics & emphasis mine).

Your past does not have to predict your future. If God said you are forgiven, then you are forgiven. If God said you shall have life more abundantly, then it shall be so. If God said, you have power to move mountains, then you can say to the mountain of doubt and hopelessness, be thou removed, and it shall be done. Hallelujah! You are more than a conqueror, my brothers and sisters. It’s time to speak a word over your life that you shall live and not die! You have Victory NOW, in the name of Jesus!

Lily L. Ratliff’s debut titled The Life of a Lily: Growing in His Strength, Blooming in His Love is available for purchase.

To learn more about future events visit Also, join Lily L. Ratliff on Nia Virtual Book Tours this Monday, June 23, 2008 at 9pm EST at

Lily L. Ratliff is available for speaking engagements, interviews and booksignings. For scheduling email requests to

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Interview with Author, Alicia Jones

Welcome to Author, Alicia Jones

Tell us a little about yourself, including how you have arrived at this point of living your dream to publish a novel.

I was born and raised in Richmond, VA and the youngest of two. Growing up in a rough, low-income Southside neighborhood is part of my history—but not my story. My father died when I was six, so my mom raised my brother and me alone. I thank God for not allowing me to fall in the traps that were all around me as a child. Now, I’m married with two princesses, ages 5 and 17 months. I am a member of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), where I serve as the Program Coordinator for the Richmond chapter. My day job is as an Internal Auditor for a large corporation, but I’m believing to become a full time Novelist in God’s time.

I’ve been writing for over 20 years and have binders of short stories, etc. to prove it. I finished college with a B.A. in Accounting, instead letting my passion guide me to choosing a degree in Journalism or Mass Communications. Through life lessons and faith, I realized that when God blesses you with a gift or talent He will not let it return to Him void. As Christians, God has predestined our lives and through us His plans prevail (Proverbs 19:21). In the fall of 2005, I accepted my destiny and began writing Blessings of Purpose.

What inspired you to write Blessings of Purpose?
After reading the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, it was dropped in my spirit that a modern day story needed to be told related to the desire and possession of material wealth. I see it everyday around me. People had an abundance of material things, but are so spirituality empty. Those material things bring little or no comfort to them when they fall on hard times. In some cases were the material possessions are lost, it seems as if their world falls apart.

How does the title tie into the story?
Blessings of Purpose
can be interpreted in a few ways: First, knowing God’s purpose for your life is a blessing because there are so many people that leave this Earth not knowing what they were here for in the first place. Secondly, when you are living God’s purpose other blessings will automatically come forth. He promises us that throughout the Bible. Lastly, once you reap blessings you must remember to sow—to be a blessing to others. In doing so, you reap more blessings. They may not necessarily be material; just the feeling of knowing that you were able to help someone in need is a blessing in itself.

What messages do you want the readers to grasp from Lia and Nigel’s (the main characters) story?
As Christians, we have to remember and honor the source from which all blessings flow. Keep focus on the kingdom of God and everything will continue to fall in place. God knows the desires of our hearts and if we are faithful and obedient He gives them to us, in His time, of course. On the other hand, if we become proud and reckless with our blessings, they can be taken away just as quick as they were given.

Are there any of your personal experiences tied to the story or characters?
There are some of my personal experiences that I weave throughout my writing, but very loosely. I feel experience is one thing that allows an author to tell a more vivid, realistic story that captures the readers.

What role do you believe faith plays in obtaining and maintaining success in life?
As I mentioned, when we are faithful and obedient to God He promises us that we will be blessed for it. When we start focusing more on the things we want instead of God and what He wants for us, that’s when the trouble begins. The key is staying focused on the will of God because He’s the source of all blessings and the enjoyment that comes from them.

This is a fictional story based on Christianity. Do you think it will appeal to those who are not Christian or do not practice religion at all?
Yes, because whether you’re a Christian or not it’s only humane to be caring and generous towards others. Remember, The Golden Rule says, “Treat others as you want to be treated.” There are also other spiritual messages related to life the reader can get from the story without feeling like they’re being preached to.

What topics/issues can readers expect to be addressed in your future writings? Everyday issues that Christian’s face from the things I see going on around me or things that are actually going in my life. This walk is not easy, so I hope my work inspires and encourages people to keep going because the destination and rewards are out of this world, literally.

Tell us about your publishing company, Destiny 11 Publications.
Destiny 11 Publications is the self publishing company I started to present my work, as well as the work of other Christian authors who wish to self publish. They may not want to deal with the administrative side of getting published, so we’re here to provide that support, as well as getting the manuscript ready to print. Contrary to belief, you don’t have to spend your life savings or go broke to self-publish.

Any advice to aspiring authors?
Dreaming and thinking about becoming an author is not going to bring it forth. You must write and complete your manuscript! There may not be enough time in the day for you to sit at the computer and type or write something down on paper, so a voice recorder is a great investment. Within in a minute, you release an entire scene from your mind and go back to write it later. The feeling of accomplishment from completing a full manuscript is surreal.

Tell us about your future projects?
Next on my agenda is to complete my second novel and putting some focus on growing my self-publishing company, Destiny 11 Publications. I also have something exciting in the works for promoting Blessings of Purpose. On June 3rd, the characters of the novel started blogging at This is an interactive blog that will give the readers a sneak preview and commentary into the novel. It will also allow the readers and characters to connect on another level. I encourage those who have read or have yet to read the novel to join us. It won’t be a dull moment!

Thanks for stopping by Alicia!

Readers may find out more about Alicia at and

Blessings of Purpose is available where ever books are sold.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tia McCollors - A Tribute to the Godmother

Today we welcome guest blogger, Tia McCollors with her tribute to Victoria Christopher Murray. Don't miss the book giveaway at the end.

From Tia's Pen:

I had the privilege of meeting Victoria, aka "The Godmother"for the first time in the summer of 2002 when I left my job early and rushed to a nearby mall where she was doing a book signing along with other literary greats Jacquelin Thomas and Patricia Haley.

Anyone who has ever met Victoria knows that they get the REAL Victoria from the very beginning -- funny, energetic, knowledgeable, and a master wordsmith all wrapped into one huge personality.

Victoria has personally influenced me by the words of encouragement she drops me that appear in my email box at just the right time or via voice mail. When the "person" doesn't speak to me, her "books" do. Victoria's mastery of the craft has grown tremendously from the first novel I read (Temptation) to this upcoming release that I can't WAIT to get my hands on.

She not only blazed the trail for other Christian authors, she went back and layed down the "gold" so that we could walk boldly as scribes in God's kingdom.

Thank you "Godmother."

From your FAVORITE godchild (SMILE),

Tia McCollors
A Heart of Devotion, Zora’s Cry and The Truth About Love
A copy of Too Little, Too Late will be given to a lucky poster. Please post a statement about why you read Christian Fiction and tell me about an issue you'd like to see addressed in an upcoming novel by a Christian Fiction author. Also tell me what you think has been over done by Christian Fiction authors. Remember to post your email address to be notified if you win. I'll contact the winner on 6/30.
Thanks for your support and good luck!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Victoria Christopher Murray Book Giveaway #2

Okay, it's time for another Victoria Christopher Murray book giveaway. I've got a copy of Joy and Truth Be Told for the two winners. You'll have to have read my feature on Victoria and answer these questions:

1. Which of Victoria's books is being optioned for a movie?

2. Who are the people Victoria would most like to meet?

3. Too Little, Too Late is her ____ th novel?

4. What is the name of Victoria's first young adult fiction book?

5. What year was Tempation published?

Post your answers and make sure to share your email address in your post or by email to You've got to post on the blog to enter the contest. Also, tell me which book you want.

My feature on the African American Christian Fiction icon is winding down, but here's another comment from a fan. Avid reader, reviewer and aspiring author, Tyora Moody had this to say about Victoria:

While designing the website in 2000, I learned about “Temptations” by Victoria Christopher Murray. For a few years, I had struggled with finding books to read as I grew into my Christian faith. This novel truly ignited my passion for reading again. One of the things I really enjoy about Victoria’s novels since “Temptations” is how she continues to raise the bar with her characters and storylines. She’s a class act and inspiration for authors and readers of AA Christian Fiction.

Good luck winning the books and make sure to check back for a chance to win Too Little, Too Late.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Victoria Christopher Murray - More About Mama

Welcome to my first guest blogger, Essence Bestselling author, Sherri Lewis. Sherri is the author of My Soul Cries Out and Dance Into Destiny. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the first president of the Visions in Print Writer's Group in Atlanta, GA.
From the pen of Author, Sherri Lewis:

As the last of my sistahwriterfriends left after a Sunday evening plotting meeting, I held the blessed gift Rhonda McKnight had brought me. An advanced review copy of Victoria Christopher Murray’s latest release, Too Little, Too Late. I looked at the time – 8:30 pm. Could I chance it? I was exhausted from a busy weekend and had a long Monday ahead. I went upstairs, leaving the book behind – knowing that if I started it, I wouldn’t put it down until I finished it. A few minutes later, I came back down to get it, promising myself I would only read the first chapter. At 12:38 am, I closed it after reading the last sentence.

Victoria Christopher Murray has done it again. Too Little, Too Late delivers as a fast moving page-turner – a reader’s dream, full of twists and turns, lies and deceit, pure drama. It’s a writer’s manual – perfectly woven with conflict and tension, foreshadowing, great dialogue, and description. I am ever amazed that Victoria’s writing improves with each novel. She perpetually perfects her craft and challenges me to do the same. Now that I’ve enjoyed it as a reader, I’ll go back and dissect it as a writer, trying to discover how she creates the magical world she sucks me into.

When Rhonda asked me for a blurb on Victoria, I told her there was no way I could do that in 80 words or less (which was her orignial request). Like most black Christian fiction writers, picking up Victoria’s self-published copy of Temptation let me know there was a place in the world for my writing. Since meeting her for the first time, Victoria has proven to be much more than the pioneer leading the way. She’s become a mentor and friend. I’m sure much of the reason God has blessed Victoria with favor and success is because of her willingness to share with new and aspiring writers her wisdom about the craft, the industry, marketing, and career building. I’m not talking a few minutes at a book signing table. She makes time for long dinners, emails and phone conversations. She encouraged me over the four years I waited to land a book deal, protecting me from bad career decisions and encouraging me to persevere when I wanted to give up.

When my debut novel, My Soul Cries Out was released, on of the greatest rewards was a personal phone call from Victoria telling me how much she loved the book. But she didn’t stop there. Victoria set up my first real book signing with her, Reshonda Tate Billingsley, and S. James Guitard. I sold out that day. Pure bliss for a newbie. She helped me schedule other dates for my first tour. At a book signing in Little Rock, Arkansas, two carloads of women flooded my table at once. They told me they had been waiting for me to come because Victoria had told them about me on her recent visit there. I’ve gotten numerous emails from new readers from Victoria’s recommendation. Who does that? I mean, really. While on tour for her release, she promotes my novel? Unheard of. But classic Victoria.

Now I greatly anticipate August – the Faith and Fiction retreat where I’ll get to spend some quality time with my Christian fiction shero and godmother. Glean wisdom about the craft and maneuvering the industry. I look forward to one-on-one time to discuss where I am right now and what’s next.

I’m with Rhonda on wanting Victoria on the New York Times Bestsellers List. Tomorrow, I’m going to buy copies of Too Little, Too Late for gifts and give-aways. I’ll be that one-minute publicist and email everyone I know. It’s the very least I can do to celebrate one who has meant so much to me and so many others in our Christian Fiction writing careers.
More about our guest can be found at her online home

Thanks for stopping by Sherri!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Victoria Christopher Murray - Book Giveway!!!

Okay, it's time for a Victoria Christopher Murray book giveaway. I'll have several over the next week or so, and we'll start with Temptation. The book that began it all. (By the way, it's a brand new book.) Here's the synopsis:

"Kyla and Jefferson Blake count their sixteen years together as a wonderful blessing from God. Their marriage is passionate, their daughter is a joy, Jefferson's medical career is prospering, and they have loyal friends. Kyla knows her newly divorced and lifelong friend, Jasmine, is desperately unhappy and no amount of prayer or encouragement seems to help. Yet what Kyla doesn't know is that Jasmine has a plan to move her life forward with the type of man she feels she should have married in the first place. A man like Jefferson. Alexis Ward, Kyla's best friend, is single and successful and willing to wait for the right man for all the right reasons. But when "Mr. Right," Dr. Brian Lewis, finally appears, she finds herself facing a new challenge.Does she really have to walk away from what she believes in order to have a man in her life?As people who love God, Kyla, Jefferson, and Alexis discover, each in their own ways, what happens when they truly allow God to be first in their relationship.

Sound tempting? Post a comment answering the following:
You find yourself shipwrecked and stranded on a deserted island. You're wishing you had your favorite fiction book. What's the title? Who's the author? Why is it your favorite?

Make sure to sign your post and either leave your email address in the post or email me at with the subject VECM Book Giveway. Make sure I can match your email to the post. That means sign your name. You can't just email. You have to post.

Good Luck!