Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Destin take me away...

I am not a summer person. That's really not a good thing for someone who lives in a hot city like Atlanta where we only have two seasons - summer and winter. I turn off the heat for the air-conditioning and the air-conditioning is on for more months than I care to run it. By the time August rolls around, I'm sick of long, sunny, hot and humid days. Add the business of life and Atlanta traffic and I'm a complete lunatic by 6 pm, Monday through Friday. Seriously, if I didn't pray I'd have to be medicated. However, unlike the summers of the past, this year right when I'd usually be approaching maximum misery, I have something to look forward to. That would be four days and three nights in yummy Destin, Florida. Six members of my writer's group, Visions in Print and many other authors and avid readers of Christian Fiction will be attending the second annual offering of the Faith and Fiction Retreat. ( ). The hotel is a five star resort with a spa where some body treatment awaits me. The seafood in Destin is right off the pier and the beach... let's just say, the picture below can't capture the magnificence of the emerald green water splashing against sugar white sand. It's absolute perfection.

I grew up one mile from the beach in New Jersey where the water was dark blue. I miss the beach, like most who live so close to the water, I took it for granted. Now that I'm land-locked I crave looking across an expanse of ocean, especially when life is particularly troublesome. Not only does the beach make summer bearable, but when I'm close to it, the presence of God penetrates my being. I've made some of the best decisions of my life staring at water. It really is a healing balm. I believe the ocean is the most poignant reminder of God's infinite desire to give us good gifts that soothe the soul in a way that no wrapped present can. My mini-vacation is just what the soul doctor ordered. It's the break I need to help me get my creative mojo back, so I can make better headway with my second novel. I don't even feel guilty about not taking my kids, September will be here soon enough and my oldest has requested Orlando, Florida. So this is mom's little excursion that will bring her back to them rested and spiritually refreshed. Just the thing I need to help me make it through until I can turn the air-conditioning off. Destin, here I come...take me away...

Tell me where you've gone or plan to go for the summer? If you're not getting away, what types of things do you do to refresh your soul and reconnect with God?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Interview with Author, Reshonda Tate Billingsley

"Noone knows more about drama than the GoodGirlz!
Don’t let the name fool you...we’re no goody two shoes...we’re just four girls who strive to do what’s right, and have major fun in the process. Along the way—and through all the drama—we’re learning some valuable lessons, which we hope will inspire and motivate you."

- from -

Sounds exciting. Today I wrap up Teen Fiction month with national best selling author, Reshonda Tate Billingsley. Reshonda has long been a favorite women's fiction author, entertaining and inspiring readers with her books Let the Church Say Amen, Everybody Say Amen and several others. Two of her books were optioned for a movie and last February, Reshonda had the pleasure of traveling to Los Angeles and watching her novel, I Know I Been Changed become a movie. But women's fiction isn't the only genre Reshonda has been successful at writing. Her young adult series is literally flying off the book store shelves. Join me as I interview this dynamic voice in Christian Fiction.

Welcome, Reshonda. Tell us about your series.
There are four books so far in the Good Girlz series. Nothing But Drama was the first one, followed by Blessings in Disguise, then With Friends Like These, then Getting Even. Each book is based on an inspirational theme, but is full of drama, scandal and intrigue. I know teens see some of everything in the world today, but my teen books are profanity-free and you won’t find anything inappropriate in the books. The books focus on a group of teens. The Good Girlz, who are sentenced to a youth group because they keep getting into all kinds of trouble. Although the books are a series, you can read them in any order.

What about writing for young adult appealed to you? Why did you decide to branch off into this genre?
I love writing for young people because I love incorporating a message that could make a difference in their lives into a story they find entertaining. I decided to branch off into this genre because I was having a hard time finding good, clean, page turning books that my teenage nieces wanted to read and I wanted them to read. Everything they wanted to read was too adult for my tastes and everything I wanted them to read was “too boring” for them. So I decided to write that happy medium.

You’ve established yourself in two genres – women’s fiction and now young adult fiction. How do you juggle it all? What’s your writing schedule like? And what do you find the most difficult to write?
I believe you make time for your passion and writing is my passion. Since I have three small children, I don’t have a particular schedule. I just write when I can, how I can. I write every spare moment I can. I just make sure that I write every single day. With three children, a lot of people will ask me how do you find time to write, but I believe every moment you spend talking about what you don’t have time to do, could be spent doing it. I can’t say that any of my writing is difficult although writing teen fiction has reminded me that I’m not as hip as I thought as I was.

YA novels are generally pretty short compared to women’s fiction. Tell us a little about the difference in the markets.
The markets are totally different. Publishers want the teen novels quicker. If you think about it, there is only a small window when a young reader may read teen novels, so you have to build a following a lot quicker than an adult book. You will also find teen books to be a little smaller because young people want a quick read so that’s what we try to give them.

Good point about he window being smaller. I never thought about that.

I imagine it’s difficult to juggle it all. What are some tips you have for an author who wants to establish themselves in more than one genre?
Work hard. No matter what. Some people think that just because they land with a major publisher, they can sit back and just write. But writing a good book is only half the battle. You have to then get out there and let people know about your book. And don’t limit yourself. If you’re wanting to write in multiple genres, then do it. Just devote as much passion, commitment and dedication to each genre and you’ll be successful.

I’ve noticed the teen fiction section in my local Barnes and Nobles has tripled. In your opinion, is the market saturated or is their still room for growth?
Publishers jump on whatever is the hot bandwagon and right now, teen fiction is hot. But I don’t think there’s a such thing as too many books. The challenge is getting more teens in the store to read those books, but I definitely encourage writers of teen fiction to keep writing.

I’m thinking you have to get into the psyche of a teenager to establish voice and authenticity. Tell me how you accomplish that?
Oh wow, that’s the hardest part. I thought I was cool, but I had my niece burst my bubble when she let me know no one says “that’s da bomb” anymore. So for that reason, I keep a teen advisory board that assists me i n keeping up with the trends and latest slang so that I can stay true to a teen voice. I don’t want my books to read like an adult writing teen fiction, I want them to actually reflect a teen voice.

I love the teen advisory board. Guess I need one too, because I still say "the bomb diggity".

Tell me about a rewarding experience you had since writing for teens?
There have been so many I don’t know where to start. But one in particular was when a young lady in Muncie, Indiana showed up to my book signing wearing a sign that said “Today is my 13th birthday and I’m getting the best gift ever, meeting my favorite author ReShonda Tate Billingsley.” The girl was so precious and her mom said she had been withdrawn and going through some things until she discovered my teen books. They’d renewed her spirit. That was priceless. Then there was an email from a 15 year old who said she was going to run away from home until she read Blessings in Disguise and the book made her realize her life really was a blessing. Or the email from a mother who had never seen her daughter read a book outside of school, until she discovered the Good Girlz. Things like that totally validate everything I do.

Would you share some early insight into who you were as a teenager with your readers? What were you like as a teen? Does that influence your writing?
I was shy and quiet, until I made the drill team in high school. Then it’s like this whole other person emerged. I became outgoing, vocal and involved in everything. But I had a mama who didn’t play, so I didn’t get into much trouble. I was however, very dramatic. I remember one time acting like I had passed out at a family gathering. I don’t know why. I was just bored. I just pretended to faint and wouldn’t open my eyes – even as my family rushed me to the emergency room, even when they wheeled me back to see the doctor, even when the doctor examined me – I kept my eyes closed and tried not to laugh. Needless to say the doctor figured it out, made me open my eyes and sit up. I did and cracked up laughing. For some reason, I was the only one who thought that was funny. Maybe that “drama” in me, helps in spiking my creativity.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a teen?
I didn’t really have a big selection of African American authors. There was Maya Angelou, but other than that I read a lot of Judy Blume, V.C. Andrews and Nancy Drew mysteries.
What do you hope young readers will take away after finishing one of your books?
I hope they will be entertained, enlightened and learn a valuable lesson or two.

What’s next for your teen fans?
Fairweather Friends comes out in September. That book is about racial division between Blacks and Hispanics at a high school after the Good Girlz learn that one of them was rejected from a high school sorority because she wasn’t Black. The Good Girlz series has also been optioned as a movie, so hopefully you’ll see them.

Fairweather Friends sounds like another winner for our young people. Thanks so much for joining me today, Reshonda. Your interview was extremely informative and it was great getting to know you.

Readers may visit Reshonda at,, or Also check out her extensive book tour for her recently released adult title Can I Get a Witness?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Let's Talk About Teen Fiction

I was really excited about Stephanie Perry Moore's series for young men. My 16 year old son is very picky about his reading selections and he absolutely loved this series, devoured each book in a day or two.

Let's talk about Young Adult Fiction.

1. Do you monitor or censure what your teens read?

2. What are your teens favorite books and do you think the values of the characters in those novels are aligned with yours?

3. What is a subject or social issue you'd like to see addressed in YA fiction?

4. What were you're favorite books to read as a teen?

I'll begin with my answers.

1. Yes, I do monitor what my son reads, but that's extremely easy, because he doesn't read very much outside of required material for school, which is a lot of material in Honors and AP classes. Most of the recreational fiction he reads is either checked out of the library or purchased by me. Makes it easy.

2. Stephanie Perry Moore's series for Perry Skky Jr. First book is Prime Choice, then Pressing Hard, etc. For part two of the question refer to #1. I make sure it does.

3. I would love to see more books for African American males that subtly mentor those that don't have fathers in the home. I'd also like to see a book where the main character is interested in something other than sports, maybe a car fanatic who wants to be an engineer or a computer geek who creates a video game.

4. My absolute favorite were Judy Blume. I enjoyed the required reading in high school, so the classics were my favorites. I sure wish the explosion in YA fiction happened in the early eighties. I would have spent all my babysitting money on books.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Janice Said... Book Review for the Exorsistah

Starting with this entry, Urban Christian Fiction will begin to post book reviews by Janice Ingle of J. Ingle Reviews. Welcome Janice, glad to be partnering with you.

This is what "Janice Said" about Exorsistah by Claudia Mair Burney:

Ms. Burney has introduced us to Emme, a young sister who has survived the perils of the foster care system only to step straight into the ominous world of demon possession and at the same time is ambushed by the precariousness of young loves first bite. Now Emme is used to seeing demons and knows that by using the Word of the Lord she can keep them off of her. But on her first day of freedom she meets a young, fine Blacktino brother who is not only kind but can also feel the demons she can see!

Their first encounter is with a dude who is obviously up to no good. Emme can see that big ugly demon hanging onto, and trailing behind him and that fine Blacktino brother can feel it. Between the two of them they have on the full Armor of God and by fiercely welding the Sword of the Spirit they take that big demon down!

Now her Blacktino wants to feed her, buy her Prada and introduce her to his exorcist papa. Emme is down with the first two but she is real leery about number three until she finds out her very best friend, Jamilla, is the one who needs exorcising. What’s a girl to do?

The Exorsistah is a great read for young adults and all readers. Ms. Burney not only gives our younger readers insight on young love but she also eases in lessons on abstinence and restraint. She takes us on a journey into the similarities of our different faiths and shows us that as children of God we can all work together in unity when it comes to doing His work.

This is the kind of book that is entertaining, informative and a great read. Thank you Ms. Burney!

J. L. Ingle, Reviewer

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Interview with Author, Claudia Mair Burney

Today I welcome author extraordinaire, Claudia Mair Burney. Claudia is one my favorite authors and just a great person to talk to. She, like several of the authors I've featured this month has followed the call of God to write for our young adults. I had the pleasure of receiving an advance review copy of Claudia YA novel, The Exorsistah and while I don't do book reviews, I must say, this was the best book I've read in years. I handed my copy off to a reviewer friend who also enjoyed it immensely. I'll post her review later this week. In the meantime. Let's meet Claudia.

Welcome Claudia, tell us about your exciting new Young Adult novel, The Exorsistah?
It's about a homeless teen who has an extraordinary gift of discernment of spirits. She can actually see in the spirit realm, and not just demons. She's run away from the foster care system and is living with a super morbidly obese mystic named Kiki. Kiki protects her, but when that situation goes bad, she's on her own again. Fortunately, she meets a hottie, and he makes her an offer she no can’t refuse. She gets a home. She only has to fight the devil to keep it.

You've been writing mysteries and women's fiction. Tell us why you decided to write a young adult novel?
It's really funny Rhonda, the idea was a joke. I was jealous of my friend Gina Holmes because she'd written this kick-butt novel, The Demon Chaser. I said, "I wanna write a kick-butt book." I'd make my demon chaser a teenager, and I'd call it, and like a gift the title dropped out of heaven into my head. "The Exorsistah." Then I laughed like a loon, because that was the funniest thing to me.

Tell us about your schedule? How do you keep up with writing deadlines and marketing for two genres?
I really do what I have to do. It's simply that. I write more or less, depending on what I'm doing, when it's due, and how this fibromyalgia broken body is cooperating.

How do you establish voice and authenticity for YA fiction?
I listen to kids. Or I try to. I remember that I actually was a kid once upon a time. The Exorsistah was my first ghetto girl protagonist, so it was really hard to balance the Emme I could hear speaking very naturally, and putting that hood speak on the page. I struggled and struggled. Sometimes I failed.

Who were your favorite authors as a teenager and why?
I really loved the classics, especially African American classics like Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. I was crazy about poets, Langston Hughes and Sonia Sanchez being perpetual favorites. And lemme tell ya, I read The Catcher in the Rye sooooo many times. And it's the favorite novel of sociopaths. That's hilarious to me.

Did you learn anything about yourself while writing this book?
I always learn about myself. And of course, the same old things crop up. I usually have to tone down the sexy, and the books tend to always end up being funnier than I intended them to be. I really missed being 17 when I wrote The Exorsistah. It conjured all those feelings. And wow! When did I get so old!?

Did this book require research? Any particular resources you want to share?
Sure. I really had to look into some creepy things. I read many books about exorcisms and demons, and some of the things were wild! I read a lot of Malachi Martin, but I wanted to have a firm grasps of demonology from both Protest and Catholic perspectives. It was a real education. And I must say, demons don't like their antics to be revealed. They fight back, and fight dirty. These are the hardest books I write, bar none.

What do you hope young readers will take away after finishing one of your books?
That we are empowered in Christ, but demon warfare is no joke. I started it all in jest, but it's a very serious matter. There are times I regretted choosing such an awful subject matter. I also want kids to enjoy the romance. What's a Claudia Mair Burney book without a love story?

Claudia Mair Burney--you can call her Mair--is a writer, artist's wife, and mother, not particularly in that order. She lives in Inkster, MI with her husband, five of their seven kids, and a crazy dwarf rabbit.

Thanks so much for stopping buy and all the best with The Exorsistah!

Exorsistah can be purchased on on the link below or where ever books are sold on July 22nd!

You can also learn more about Claudia and her other novels at the following site:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Interview with Author, Victoria Christopher Murray - Divine Divas

Today we welcome back author, Victoria Christopher Murray. This month Victoria is visiting to talk about her Young Adult series Divine Divas and the the first novel from the series, Diamond.
Welcome back, Victoria. Tell us about the Divine Divas Series.

The Divine Divas are four fifteen year old girls (Diamond, India, Veronique and Aaliyah) who have been best friends since third grade and they form a gospel singing group to compete in an American Idol type competition. They want to be the hippest-hottest new girl group in gospel music.

What about writing for young adult appealed to you? Why did you decide to branch off into this genre?

I’d been speaking at a lot of schools and noticed thirteen and fourteen year old girls reading the erotica books. Now, that’s not the authors’ fault. The authors didn’t write those books for those young ladies. But what I discovered is that our young people want exactly what we want in novels – they want drama, they want to be entertained, they don’t want to be preached too. So, after complaining for a while, I finally decided to give the ladies what they wanted – drama-filled, entertaining books with a message.

You’ve established yourself in two genres – women’s fiction and now young adult fiction. How do you juggle it all? What’s your writing schedule like? And what do you find the most difficult to write?

None of the writing is difficult to me. What’s most difficult is writing three books in one year. That doesn’t give me much time to do anything else. But my friends have a hard time understanding that. They always want me to “come out and play” and most times I can’t do that. I try to write every day, although that’s not always possible. Most days, I do get to write something. Write now (sic, I’ve got writing on my mind!), I’m past my deadline and I’m writing 12 hours a day! I’m on tour, so if I’m not on the radio or at a television station or at a book signing, I’m writing!

YA novels are generally pretty short compared to women’s fiction. Tell us a little about the difference in the markets.

I’ve only had one book released, so I don’t know a lot about this market yet. I’ve heard that teens like series, but I don’t know how that’s different than adults. Adults like series too. The books are shorter, I guess because of the attention span, although I don’t buy that. Although I am not an advocate, look at the Harry Potter series book lengths. And, I have many adult readers who would like my books to be shorter. And the twice a year release, I haven’t figured that out yet. But, I’m sure a year from now, I’ll have this all down.

I imagine it’s difficult to juggle it all. What are some tips you have for an author who wants to establish themselves in more than one genre?

You know, this is all about what you’re called to do. I think God makes room for the gift. If you’re supposed to write different kinds of books, He’ll make the time, He’ll make the way. I truly believe that because not everyone will write anything the same way, so my process won’t help anyone. I don’t even write all of my books the same way. I will say this – no matter how many books you’re writing, make sure you write every day. And if you’re truly trying to establish yourself as a writer, I think you need one book a year to compete with the thousands of titles that are released annually. I believe one book a year will help you build a market because your name will stay on the reader’s minds.

I’m thinking you have to get into the psyche of a teenager to establish voice and authenticity. Tell me how you accomplish that?

Well, you have to do that because I think teens, more than adults, are less forgiving and they want you to “bring it” and “be real ‘bout it.” So, I spend a lot of time watching teen shows. My favorite is Baldwin Hills. I get to see the teen issues, hear how they talk, see how they relate, check out what they wear. I’ve watched a couple of other shows, but Baldwin Hills has been invaluable.

Tell me about a rewarding experience you had since writing for teens?

The best email I received was from a young lady who said, “This was the best book she’d read in her entire life.” She went on to tell me that she was 11 ½, but that she was very mature for her age and that she ‘loved the imagery’ in my books. I’ve received dozens of emails like that and they reinforce to me that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Would you share some early insight into who you were as a teenager with your readers? What were you like as a teen? Does that influence your writing?

My teen years do not influence my writing at all. I don’t even remember them enough to put my experiences into a book. The times were so, so different. When I was growing up, there was one girl in my high school who got pregnant Senior year and not only was everyone whispering about her, but she wasn’t allowed to march at graduation. We were all shocked that someone had actually gotten pregnant at our school. It was unheard of. I grew up with a bunch of goody-two-shoe kids. NO ONE would want to read about us.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a teen?

Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, Claude Brown.

What do you hope young readers will take away after finishing one of your books?

That they can do anything through Christ! And that no matter what they do, God still loves them. He is a God of second and third and fourth.....chances.

What’s next for your teen fans?

The Divine Divas has been optioned for BET. I have NOTHING to do with that, so I don’t know when it will happen. But that’s what’s next on the horizon.

That’s fabulous news Victoria. We’ll be praying for you. All the best with the October release of India. We look forward to great things from you for our young ladies.

You can learn more about the Divine Divas at and view the trailer.

Diamond is available where ever books are sold and the second book India will be released in October and is available for preorder on and Barnes and

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Christian Fiction - Giving Us A Hand With Our Young People


Victoria Christopher Murray

Chapter One

We're gonna be so paid!"I waved my magazine in the air and dumped my messenger bag onto the lunch table. I waited for my crew to say something, but not one of them even looked at me. "Hello? Anybody home?"

India stuffed half a hot dog into her mouth. "I heard you."

"So, if you heard me, why aren't you excited?" But I wasn't just talking to India. I wondered what was wrong with Veronique and Aaliyah, too.

"Because," Aaliyah began, not taking her eyes away from whatever book she was reading, "you're always excited about something, Diamond."

"And what's wrong with that?" I asked. "I'm fifteen and fine! I'm supposed to be excited."

Indeed she should. Fifteen, even with all it's ups and downs, hormonal, emotional and otherwise is a great age, but it's also a time where teens struggle with their own identities. Our young people are bombarded with messages and images all day long, so much so that many are on sensory overload. Music videos that show them they are worth little more than the sum of the their body parts and ridiculous reality t.v. shows that make being FWB, "friends with benefits" seem like the right way to have a relationship, when in reality it's simply another way to be used. Like us, our young people have a very real and strategic enemy who desires to tear them down before they even reach adulthood, so that their womanhood, manhood, fatherhood and motherhood are all stripped of excellence. Indeed we live in scary times, but God is a provider.

I have a two year old and he's a busy little guy. This month my sixteen year old has been visiting with my parents and it's just been me and the toddler. I miss his big brother, because he's a big help. Always available to be the extra hand I need when I'm cooking or cleaning or even taking an important phone call. I can say, "Aaron, do me a favor, will you look after your brother," and he's right there to give mom an extra hand. I liken this to the ministry of writing Christian Fiction.

We, Christian Fiction authors, while entertaining are the extra hand Jesus uses to educate, remind, reveal, encourage, challenge, promote, and even convict those who read our work. I know when I read a Christian Fiction novel I close the book with a lesson learned or a reminder of something I'd forgotten or I'm challenged to consider something a different way. It's not mindless reading. In the same way, young adult/teen Christian fiction can speak to our young people. They need to read books written for them that have characters they identifiy with who may speak to their souls and imaginations in a way that an adult may not be able to. The right books may reinforce the morals and values we want instilled in them. Those realistic portrayls of their everyday dilemmas are written to remind them that their problems are not unique to them, nor are they insurmountable. There are solutions in Christ.

Please visit and share the trailer and the rest of the chapter one with a teen young lady you know and then purchase the book. It may be just the extra hand you need to help her choose to identify with Jesus.

Thanks for stopping by. Please make sure to come back for an interview on Wednesday with Victoria Christopher Murray.



Monday, July 07, 2008

Interview - Author, Stephanie Perry Moore

Today I welcome author, Stephanie Perry Moore. Stephanie holds the honor of being the trailblazing author of African American Christian Teen Fiction. She has several series for pre-teens and teens and an online novelzine. She's also stretched her wings and published two women's fiction novels.
I'm excited to have you with me this week, Stephanie. Tell my readers about your most recent teen fiction project, the Perry Skky Jr. series and your other books.

The Perry Skky Jr. books is a spin off from my Payton Skky series. Perry is her enormously popular younger brother. He’s two years younger than Payton and the start of the series is his senior year. The five books takes you through a journey of Perry being highly recruited by the top division one schools and actually becoming a man has he handles the pressure of staying pure, trying to be drug free, dealing with racism, having unshakeable self esteem, and spreading the gospel.

This series is my 5th YA series. There are five Payton Skky books and five Laurel Shadrach books that deal with dating, peer pressure, racial issues, confidence and salvation. My preteen series is called Carmen Browne. With the younger readers, the goal is to give them life issues that can make their journey brighter. Those books focus on friendship, honesty, bossiness, jealousy and moodiness. In addition, tougher topics such as affirmative action, adoption, domestic violence, breast cancer, menstruation are mentioned so that the readers understand these issues from a godly perspective. The Faith Thomas novelzine series is the first book mixing a novel in a magazine format. Writing for young people I feel has been my calling.

Let me begin by telling you, my sixteen year old son (the non-reader) read each one of the books in this series in one or two days. I have never seen him enjoy books so much. Please tell me what inspired you to write the Perry Skky series and what has been the response from readers?
My husband is the team chaplain for Georgia Tech athletics on staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Since he is a part of the coaching staff, I get to see and know quite a lot about the inner struggles of many dynamic young men that come to school with big dreams and tons of talent. Whether you’re the starting feeling the pressure to continue doing good or the red shirt freshman desperately praying for just a chance to play, all these young men need to know there is more to this life than the world they know. So I wanted to write a series to uplift all young men. Also, I wanted to write something for girls letting them know how guys think. wink wink. So happy to hear your son was blessed by reading Prime Choice (Book 1).

I’m thinking you have to get into the psyche of a teenager to establish voice and authenticity. In the Perry Skky series you’re writing from a young man’s point of view. Tell me how you accomplish that? Just talking to so many young men, with my hubby, I was able to capture their world.

Tell me about a rewarding experience you had since writing for teens? Daily I get emails that young people write telling me how the books have moved them to want to please God more. Those type comments make my day. Bottom line, I do it all for Him and I’m so very humbled young folks are being saved after reading a Stephanie Perry Moore book.

Would you share some early insight into who you were as a teenager with your readers? Does that influence your writing? Didn’t always make right choices and had no books were I could see myself in the tiles to teach me that I could still be cool, yet do it God’s way. I was popular and all, but I also was one that could not cut up and still get my lesson. So my tough choices led me to take remedial English in the 9th grade. My teacher Ms. Pulley, told me that I had tremendous talent and could go far in life, but I had to worker harder and smarter. Thankfully, I took in her advice. I bucked down and the next year I was in advanced English and now I have over 25 books in print. Understanding wrong choices does influence my writing.

What do you hope young readers will take away from your books?
I want young people to know that staying on the right path and doing the right things on the path towards greatness. And as long as you please God then it doesn’t matter who you displease.

You’ve established yourself in two genres – young adult fiction and now women’s fiction. How do you juggle it all?
Prayer and God influenced. I’m so happy to simply write stories where people need Him.

What are some tips you have for an author who wants to establish themselves in more than one genre?
Don’t talk about it, do it and really study books and read books in the genre you’d like to write in. Do research and take time to pray. If God has it for you don’t be discouraged if it takes a minute.

Can we expect to see another series for our teenagers now that you’ve completed the Payton Perry and Skky Perry series? What’s next for your teen fans and what’s next for Stephanie Perry Moore?
Yes, in 2009, I’ll release two new series. Beta Gamma Pi and made up college sorority series and Yasmin Peace series for preteens.

You may find out more about Stephanie's books at her website

Thanks for stopping by Stephanie. I look forward to sharing your new series with the youngsters in my life.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Young Adult Fiction Author, Brittney Holmes

We begin our Teen Fiction Month Series with Christian Fiction Author, Brittney Holmes.

Brittney Holmes is a recent graduate from Redan High School in Stone Mountain, Georgia, where her outstanding GPA earned her the title of Salutatorian of her senior class. For her outstanding academic and extracurricular status, she was recognized in Who’s Who Among High School Students. A gifted journalist, Brittney is a youth contributing writer for Global Woman magazine. Published through Urban Books (Urban Christian imprint), her debut novel, Living Consequences gained recognition from the African American Literary Awards Show where she received the 2007 Open Book Award for Best Young Adult Fiction of the Year. Her second novel, Testing Relationships, was released in June 2008.
Welcome Brittney!

Tell us about your two novels Living Consequences and Testing Relationships.

“Living Consequences” surrounds the lives of several teens who go through various issues concerning sexual intimacy and have to learn to deal with them by relying on their faith in Jesus Christ. The novel focuses on Nevaeh Madison who has been dating Ronald McAfee for three years. They have a great relationship until Ronald request that they take things to a more physical level. Nevaeh must now decide to stay committed to the vow she made to God to remain pure until marriage or if she is willing to give up all of her morals and values in order to please the guy she loves. Other problems arise when Nevaeh’s best friend, Shimone Johnson, finds out she’s pregnant, and their worst enemy, Sierra Monroe, is worried that her promiscuous lifestyle has finally caught up with her. They all have to learn not to rely on their own ways, but the way of God, in order to get through these challenges.

“Testing Relationships” is the sequel to “Living Consequences” and deals with the same characters and their families as their relationships with one another are put to greater tests than they could ever imagine. This story focuses on Shimone Johnson as she tries to raise their three-year-old child, attend school, and salvage her fading relationship with her boyfriend, Marques Anderson. But when Marques finds himself in a compromising situation with another woman, it may be too late to avoid losing the best thing that has ever happened to him—his family. Their relationship is not the only one that must survive hardships. Nicole McAfee’s family is falling apart and her life seems to be headed in the same direction, and when she can’t rely on her best friend, Imani Madison, to be there for her, she finds other ways to deal with her problems. While Sierra Monroe is living a good life with the hopes of making it a wonderful life by marrying the man she loves, her best friend, LaToya Thomas is trying to maintain a relationship bound for destruction. All of these characters must try to be strong for one another and learn to allow God to handle the outcome of all of their situations.

Tell us about your writing journey and the road to publication? What’s it like to be a published author?

It’s always funny to answer this question because most people find it hard to believe that I never had any intentions of becoming a published author. When I first began to write “Living Consequences” it was meant to be a personal journal for my eyes only, but the story took an unexpected turn and blossomed into a novel that would influence many young people. When I realized that I had actually written a book, I allowed my cousin to read it; he, in turn, gave it to my mother to read. My mother, Kendra Norman-Bellamy, thought it was worth publishing and began to shop it around to different publishing houses without telling any of them that I was her daughter. Soon, she received news that Urban Books’ newest imprint, Urban Christian, wanted to offer me a two-book deal. She revealed the news to me in front of an audience during one of her book release celebrations. From there, my career as a writer took off.

I love being an author! It’s nothing like getting paid for doing something you love and are truly passionate about. It’s such a blessing because I get to travel around the country, participating in panel discussions, interviews, and book signings simply because I took a life-long hobby and decided to make a career out of it. Being able to use my gift to share the word of God and inspirational messages with others my age also makes this a dream career because teens may not listen to their parents, teachers, or other adults, however, they will listen to someone their age. And I appreciate being able to speak with different groups of readers about how the decisions they make today will impact their future.

What do you hope readers will take away after finishing one of your books?

The one message I hope readers will take away from all of my books is that no matter what they may be going through, God is always with them. Regardless of their backgrounds, their pasts, or their individual beliefs, God is with them, bringing them through whatever it is that may be holding them back from fulfilling the plan He has for their lives.

You’ve just graduated high school with high honors and salutatorian of your class, you’re involved in various high school and community activities as well. How do you juggle it all? What’s your writing schedule like?

I was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities—National Honor Society, Beta Club, P.I.L.O.T. Program, Ladies of Redan, and the Blue Thunder Marching Band/Silver Essence Auxiliary were just the organizations I took part in at school. These, along with the community organizations I was a member of, took up a lot of my time, but I learned to balance it out with school work and writing by prioritizing. I tried to make sure that I put my school work before the extracurricular activities. Sometimes I would take my homework with me to any meetings I had to attend. Once I finished studying, I would spend any extra time writing. Most times, I wouldn’t finish my school work until midnight or later and I’d end up on my laptop, trying to get out my ideas for a story until two or three o’clock in the morning. So most nights I’d only get a few hours of sleep, but it was something I had to settle for if I wanted to continue to be a part of all the activities I was in and keep up with my school work.

Tell me about a rewarding experience you had since being published?

Although I desired to be an award-winning author and that dream came true when I won the Best Young Adult Literature Award from the African American Literary Show Awards in 2007, I believe my greatest award is receiving emails from my readers. My most memorable email came from a young lady who told me that she had been going through some of the same dilemmas that were presented “Living Consequences.” She had no idea how to handle her situation, but when she read my book, she figured out that she needed to let God take control. She also informed me that my book changed her life. She was a Christian, but hadn’t been living her life as such. Reading my book allowed her to find her way back to God. We’ve been emailing each other for since August 2007 and she has allowed me to advise her in certain situations. She has grown so much since we first connected and it blesses me to know that I’ve had such an impact on her life.

I’ve noticed the teen fiction section in my local Barnes and Nobles has tripled. In your opinion, is the market saturated or is there still room for growth?

I don’t think the teen fiction market is saturated because I strongly believe teens need as much help as they can get in dealing with life’s issues. Every teen is different and will learn a different lesson from each book they read. Every teen is not going to pick up a Christian novel, even if it is geared toward their age bracket. Nor will every teen choose to read a more urban teen novel. They will gravitate toward whatever piece of literature they can connect with, so having so many teen fiction novels adds variety to the market and gives authors a better opportunity to reach out to those who are in need of a inspirational message inside of a great story.

Who are some of your favorite young adult fiction authors?

My favorite young adult fiction authors are definitely Victoria Christopher Murray, Stephanie Perry Moore, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, and Sharon Draper.

What advice do you have for a young person who wants to be an author?

Anytime someone asks me that question, I always reply with the old Nike slogan: Just Do It! I use that phrase because I honestly believe it’s that simple. Usually when people want something they do whatever they need to do to get it. Why should the desire to be an author be any different? So to any young person who wants to be an author, stay focused and set goals for yourself, have people in your life who support your dream and are willing to help you achieve it, and make sure you’re willing to do what it takes to make the dream a reality—which means work. If you are truly determined, you have no other option but to be successful.

You’ve got a big year ahead of you. You’ll be a freshman in college. Do you plan to continue writing novels? If yes, what’s next for your fans?

I do plan to continue writing in college, though, not as much as I was in high school. The only downside to getting into college and related activities is that I may not get to travel as much to promote my novels. However, my readers can expect my third novel to be released in the next year or so. It is entitled “Grace and Mercy” and it delves into the life of a young lady who dates guys based on what they can give her and eventually finds herself trapped in an abusive relationship. It is my prayer that this book touches a lot of teens who have been in similar situations.
In addition to reading and writing novels, Brittney has also authored several pomes addressing the subjects of Christianity, peer pressure, and social issues. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, singing, dancing, listening to music, shopping, and spending time with her family and friends. In the fall of 2008, Brittney will enroll as a full-time student at the University of Georgia in Athens, where she plans to major in Mass Communications with a focus in Journalism. Brittney currently resides in Stone Mountain, Georgia with her parents, Jonathan Bellamy and Kendra Norman-Bellamy and her younger sister, Crystal.
Her books Living Consequences and Testing Relationships are available at Barnes and Nobles, Borders, and where ever books are sold. Her online homes are and
Thanks so much for stopping by Brittney!