Sunday, August 31, 2008

Interview with Author, Ashea Goldson

Today I welcome author, Ashea Goldson. This is such a pleasure. Ashea and I met in 2003 in the Atlanta Black Christian Fiction Writer's Critique Group. ABCFW folded into the Visions in Print Writer's Group where I currently serve as president and Ashea works alongside of me as our treasurer. She's inspired me to move forward with my writing. Especially when she got the call that her novel was purchased. An online interview could never capture the warmth of her spirit, but hopefully you'll feel like you've met a very special lady by the time you finish reading this.

Welcome Ashea! Cyberhug, girl. Tell us about your debut novel, The Lovechild.
The Lovechild provides a riveting ride through the life of Makaeli Lovechild Hunt, a successful fashion designer who struggles with her biracial identity and her spirituality. Born into a dysfunctional family and enduring many hardships, she eventually becomes estranged from them. She escapes to Italy where she dives into her career and masks her resentment for her family, for God, and for herself. Finally, a family emergency forces her to face her tumultuous past. In seven life altering days, she discovers what forgiveness really means and amidst crises painful enough to make her turn her back on God forever, she learns what it means to be God’s lovechild.

It’s story of redemption and re-dedication. It’s a story about how God’s overwhelming, unconditional love can lift us from whatever pit we’re in, no matter how it looks, no matter what people say. It’s a story that confirms our victory in Christ Jesus.

What inspired you to write The Lovechild?
The whole concept of The Lovechild came out of me wanting to take a character who was broken and have God heal her spiritually and mentally. So I began to create a young woman who looked great on the outside, but after years of turmoil, had lost faith in God, and was ultimately crumbling on the inside. I think on some level, although the specifics are different, we can all relate to that. I believe that my own personal ministry is dealing with the broken hearted.

Your publishing credits include some self-published projects. Tell us about them.
Although I am new to the Christian fiction scene, I am no stranger to creative writing. I have always written since I was a child, throughout highschool and then through college. I've also written for local publications such as The Atlanta Christian Chronicle, The Senior News, The Georgia Poetry Society Newsletter and a variety of online publications.

I have also published several poetry collections. The first is When Torn Down Is All You Know, a collection dedicated to the broken in spirit. My second collection of poetry is Then Two Became One, which are very romantic poems for one’s spouse, a testament to my twenty two years of marriage, and my last poetry book is Song of The Unforgotten Youth which are poems written for young people struggling with today's issues.

The self-published work that I’m most excited about however, is Resurrecting Vision:45 Steps To Digging Up Your Destiny And Seeing It Through God’s Eyes. It’s a really awesome book and not because I wrote it but because I’m living it. God began speaking it to me a few years ago and once I got a revelation of it, it became so real in my spirit. It’s now my personal mission to get everyone to seek God for their purpose, to discover their destiny and to be totally fulfilled. I don’t want people to walk around with regrets when God already has the perfect plan for each of us if we would only receive it. Anyway, Resurrecting Vision is available at most online retailers like Barnes &,, etc.

What’s been the most exciting thing about The Lovechild’s debut?
I think the most exciting thing that has happened so far was being picked up by Black Expressions Bookclub. Also, the books are selling pretty fast at a church bookstore in New York City. That’s exciting too.

You’re a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Tell us the benefits to this organization.
Well, I am a part of this well known National organization, and being a member does provide credibility, industry and craft information, etc., but it is truly my local southeast chapter, Visions In Print that I benefit from the most. This group was truly a Godsend. I asked God for this several years ago and He gave me much more than what I could have imagined. We meet once a month but we communicate much more than that by phone, emails, teleconferences, etc. They’re a huge part of my support system. They’re my writer-sisters. We motivate, encourage, inform, teach, critique, and even rebuke each other. It is good to have people to be accountable to, who really care if you’re writing and what you’re writing. It is good to have other Christian writers with your same concerns, who have been down or are going down the same road that you’re going, that you can share with. Then we support each other’s book sales, spreading the word for one another and so on and so forth. The group is like an extension of my family. This is my writer- family

Favorite Color: Definitely purple, all shades lilac, lavender, plum and especially magenta.

Favorite Time of Year: Fall. I love the breezy weather when it’s just cool enough to wear my favorite boots and leather jackets yet it’s not cold yet.

Favorite Dessert: That’s difficult. I don’t know that I have a favorite. When I was younger I didn’t like sweets too much at all. I was so picky but now… I like so many desserts like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, moist chocolate frosted cake, rocky road ice-cream, or creamy sweet potato pie. Wow, what a choice to have to make.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Israel, the Holy Land. I’d like to walk where Jesus walked.

If you could spend one hour with someone, living or deceased who would it be and why? Jesus. I’d like the opportunity to thank him in person for saving me from a life of sin, and for rescuing me so many times I have lost count.

What would readers be surprised to learn about you? I think most people are surprised to know that I co-own a Christian school, not a daycare but an actual private school that goes up to the 8th grade. I'm actually the principal and I still teach everyday. It’s not an easy business but I’ve always loved children. I can never give up on them.

What’s next for Ashea Goldson? The next thing is my second Christian fiction novel, Joy Comes In The Morning and of course, preparing for its release. I will spend more time promoting the projects produced through my publishing company, Goldwrite Publishing, mine and those of other authors. In fact, I have manuscripts from a few authors that I’m looking at right now. I would like to do a teen writing camp for next summer and a dramatic poetry group for youth as well. I’d also love to write for television one day.

Readers may visit Ashea at and and

Her novel, The Lovechild is available at Barnes and Nobles, Books-a-Million, and where ever books are sold.

Thanks for stopping by Ashea!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Author, Sherryle K. Jackson

Chronicles of a Christian Author

Thrifted, Not Re-Gifted?

by author, Sherryle K. Jackson

A funny thing happen to me at the thrift store. As I was scanning the bookshelves for the lastest literary cast-offs my daughter cried out to me after unearthing a slightly worn copy of my debut novel, Soon and Very Soon-with a signature, no less. I haven't done many of these. This gave me pause. I was insulted. I felt the way I did when I found my favorite cassette tape of all time, New Editions's NE Heartbreak album in the bargin bin at Sam Goody record store. Surely, it was a mistake. The owner must have been like those clueless sad-sacks who give away one-of-a-kind artwork only to find iout its worth later on the Antique's Roadshow. I made my daughter take me to the exact same spot where she found it. I examine the void it left on the shelf between an outdated volume of the Childcraft encyclopedia and another book as if it would give me some clue as to who could have given my baby away. I want to know this person's identity more than anything. See, my book only came out seven months ago, and we were in my neighborhood. I was sure I could crack the case. That's only a twenty-five to thirty mile radius to cover. Not exactly a case for Scotland Yard. I narrow the field of known residents that I had told about the book or sold the book to. Just when I think I have a list compiled, I think how ridiculous this whole thing is. How do you tactfully ask someone, did you happen to pitch my book out with your argyl sweater and Hammer pants? Was there no one you could personally give the book to? Ever hear of paperback swap, for goodness sake. There had to be a logical explanation. The writer in me had me sit down at the kiddie desk set they were selling for just $7 to ponder a few possible ones. Maybe this person had a husband like mine who constantly threatens, "Don't bring another book in this house." But of course this person couldn't resist my realistic tale about two pastors that marry and combine their churches. So she took the risk and discarded the evidence immediately after the last page. Yeah, that's it.

Just when I thought I could rest a bit after a major signing at my sorority's convention at the end of this month. Yeah, maybe I'll do the Baltimore Book Festival in September, then the Capitol Book Festival. I've got a sequel to write. I can't possibly create and promote simultaneously. Soon and Very Soon will do alright. Wrong. I got a few more calls to make, connections to follow-up on and weekends to book with signings."Look mommy, you've got that book." That's my six year old who has gotten good at reading the spin of books. She gets caught up on the last syllable of Terri McMillian's last name as she spots the hardback copy of A Day Late and a Dollar Short. I do own that book. I stood in line for hours while pregnant to get it signed at the crowded-to-overflowing Karibu books in the Bowie Town Center (Don't get me started. That's a whole nother lament). I would have loved to get it for $2.10. Just thirty more cents than my book was going for at the Waldorf Thrift Store. God has a sense of humor. Just as I was about to grab my book up and discreetly pay for it at the counter like it was the last scandal sheet written about me left on the newstand, I realized I've gotten some real good books here. I wasn't thinking, poor Audre Lorde when I picked her book of poems up and added it to my library. I've found, read and treasured, Grisham, Jakes, Gaines, and Steele. I could take it home, wipe the red colored pencil price tag off with a bay wipe and add it to the other books packed to go to Florida-for sale for $15 a pop. Genreic signature could easily be personalized on the spot. Dead wrong-maybe, maybe not. ( I put this is print so I wouldn't be tempted to do that) I left the copy of Soon and Very Soon on the shelf next to the outdated volume of the Childcraft encyclopedia and the other book. God has plans for that book right there. My goal was that it would be widely read and that it would be a blessing to the reader. I couldn't think of a better place for that goal to be accomplished.

Sherryle's book Soon and Very Soon is available at Barnes and Nobles, Borders, Books-a-Millin, Wal-mart and where ever books are sold.

You can visit Sherryle at and

This story was reposted from with the authors blessings.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

KC Girlfriends Book Club

Book clubs are everywhere these days. The growth has been explosive over the last ten years. I thank God for book clubs, not only because I'm an author, but because book clubs promote literacy and fellowship in the African American community. They also provide a opportunity for networking and sisterhood or brotherhood depending on the make up.

One of the best experiences I've had this year has been getting to know book clubs. In March, I attended a book club meeting where author, Michelle Larks was being hosted. Last week at the Faith and Fiction Retreat I had the chance to spend some time with various book clubs and attend chats about several books. I enjoyed this tremedously. So with that, I've decided to feature a book club on my blog every month.

The lovely ladies of K.C. Girlfriends Book Club have the honor of being first up. I listen to K.C. Girlfriends' radio show on blogtalk radio a couple times a month and have gotten to love the president like family. It's been a great learning listening to their discussions.

I interviewed TaNisha Webb, the president of K.C. Girlfriends.

Welcome to Urban Christian Fiction, Tanisha. Tell us about K.C. Girlfriends Book Club. The KC Girlfriends Book Club was established in 2002 when a group of “girlfriends” decided to share their love of reading with each other by forming a book club. At that time the book club was known as the Girlfriends Book Club In 2003, the book club was reduced to 2 members. In the beginning of 2004, the book club was revitalized by inviting women from around the Kansas City Metro that had the same passion for reading. We grew from 2 members to 40 members within 1.5 years and are now at 25 members. Our name was changed to the KC Girlfriends Book Club during this period. We read books written by AA fiction authors that are mostly new authors.

The number of book clubs in the African American community has grown by leaps and bounds. Tell me why you think that is? I think that there are many people that just love to read and find that they are not alone in their passion. People love to share what they’ve read with each others and in turn decide to take the extra step to form groups where their love is shared by like-minded people. I also feel that some groups find it a way to be more connected in their own communities.

Several members of your book club recently attended the National Book Club Conference in Atlanta. Tell us about NBCC and why it’s the event not to be missed by book clubs. The NBCC represents what being in book clubs are all about, just on a bigger scale. This is the one place that you know that you’re going to be surrounded by many different book clubs that are doing wonderful things within their book clubs and communities and are able to come together once a year to share their thoughts and ideas. It is also a time where book clubs are able to actually meet many of their favorite authors in one place and because the environment is so intimate, you are able to really get up close and personal with the authors and learn more about them in their sessions. There are also powerful panel discussions that occur throughout the conference. The NBCC is like a huge family reunion for many that attend. I know for my book club personally, it has helped us become more focused and actually shape a more defined platform for how we want to proceed as a book club.

You were awarded the community service award at NBCC. What an honor. Tell us about what your book club does in this area. We are very proud to have been recognized for our community service that we’ve done upon our return from the 2006 NBCC. After our first experience at the NBCC, we were literally on the plane sharing the changes that we would like to make not only for our book club but within our own community literary-wise. We have since donated books to a local group that helps youth stay on the right path, we have helped support a mentoring group for girls as well, and we have helped a 70 year old man by giving him books to learn how to read for the first time. We have also created a radio show where we can help further support new authors, book clubs, literary resources and events. We recently began supporting book signing for new authors in our community and will begin sponsoring well-known author’s book signings beginning next year. We are also planning to bring all the local black book clubs together at least once a year for a luncheon where we will bring in authors as well.

How do you make your book of the month selection? And what can an author do to get your book clubs attention? Our books are strictly chosen by our book club members. We rarely take requests by authors because we do not want the process of reading what we like to be saturated by outside sources. Generally, we just run across books either online through an eblast, online book stores, or regular book stores that appeal to us. I would say to authors to promote and market your book so that we can be aware of them. Most books that we come in to contact with are because of the great marketing that authors choose to utilize or by word of mouth from other individuals or book clubs.

You recently read Sherryle Jackson’s Soon and Very Soon from Urban Christian Books and rated it very good. Tell me what you enjoyed about the novel. I felt that Soon and Very Soon represented real women in our society. Now that more women are pursuing careers, sometimes it’s hard to balance careers and a relationship. I also felt that Sherryle really stayed true to the characters and was able to deliver the story without feeling like she had an agenda, which is sometimes an issue for readers being able to relate to Christian Fiction books.

How many Christian Fiction books do you usually choose a year and do you see that increasing with the growth in Christian Fiction? Although some book clubs actually do choose books selections per month by genre, we do not. We choose books solely based off what catches our attention, predominantly written by new AA fiction authors. I think it’s definitely possible that we will choose more Christian Fiction books in the future based on what is written.

Please share anything else you’d like my readers to know about your book club? We realize that our book club is truly whatever we make it. We’re very proud of where we’re going and hope to grow even more literary-wise within our community and also within the literary community. Everyone will have to definitely keep up with what we’re going to do next!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Tanisha congratulations on the NBCC community service award. Kudos to you on the young adult chapter, also. You lades are doing awesome things. I look forward to meeting you when I come to Kansas City!

You can learn more about K.C. Girlfriends at the following contact sites. Their biweekly radio shows are lively and entertaining discussions that often educational.

Contact information: Website:
Radio Show Website:
Contact person: TaNisha Webb

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Faith and Fiction Retreat

I'm still recovering from my sunny days in Destin Florida where I attended the Faith and Fiction Retreat ( ), which means one of two things, either it was really a great or I'm really too old for activity. Suffice to say you know the former would be the true statement. Here are a few pictures of some new and old friends. The first is Reshonda Tate Billingsley in her p.j.'s at the book chat for her novel, The Paster's Wife (excellent read by the way). Reshonda is officially the funniest person I've ever met. The second pic is of Ashea Goldson and Kendra Norman Bellamy from my writer's group and also my sisters on the Urban Christian Book Imprint.

If I had to pick one thing that was best about the retreat, I'd have to say it was meeting the book clubs. What a treat. I've never been a part of a book club, but being a part of the late night chats made me want to join one. I looked forward to attending just to observe how bookclubs discuss the actual books and I was pleasantly surprised at the discourse and/or banter that ensued. Wow! I knew this going in but books really speak into peoples lives. Made me proud I'm an author. Below is a picture of the ladies of the Phenomenal Women Book Club. It was phenomenal to meet them and all the ladies from the Regal Sisterhood Book Club, Glory Girls, Sip n Read, Circle of Friends II and Spirit of Sisterhood. There were also readers who weren't apart of book clubs who attended from as far north as Rochester, New York and Columbus, OH and Texas. It was great to see such devotion to Christian Fiction.

The second best part of the retreat was meeting the authors I've never met in person - Reshonda Tate Billingsley, Michelle Andrea Bowen, Mikasenoja, Bonnie Hopkins and of course our conference host, Tiffany Warren. It was great seeing Victoria Christopher Murray as always. Victoria and Reshonda hosted a great panel for writers about the publishing business and the advice they shared was life changing...that is for my individual writer goals and my marketing plan. I really appreciate these ladies transparency and willingness to share. The other panel discussions were great as well. Ooops, please note my local sister writer friends Sherri Lewis, Kendra Norman Bellamy, Ashea Goldson and Dwan Abrams. You know how it is when you're in Nazareth, I appreciate you all too!

In the first picture from left to right is Tiffany Warren, Sherri Lewis, Kendra Norman Bellamy, Bonnie Hopkins, Victoria Christopher Murray, Dwan Abrams, Reshonda Tate Billingsley and Mikasenoja. In the second picture are Sherri Lewis, Ashea Goldson and Dwan Abrams, my Urban Christian Imprint mates from Atlanta and members of the Visions in Print Writer's Group.

Finally, the accommodations and the relaxation, superb. I didn't make it to the beach. Can you believe that? I was far too busy, but I did get to rest in a room with windows from floor to ceiling that had an ocean view. I also had some wonderful quiet time on the balcony in the early morning and the late evening hours. I listened to the waves come in on the beach while I spent some awesome time in prayer with the Lord. It was so peaceful and so needed at this time in my life. Yes, this is a picture I took from my balcony on at the Palms of Destin.

So with that all said, the retreat was a real treat. I'm already planning and looking forward to next year. The food was yummy, too. Who ordered the six layer chocolate cake?!!

Make sure to go over to to listen to interviews with attendees that Dee Stewart recorded.

As always, thanks for stopping by.



Sunday, August 17, 2008

Interview with Author, Sherri Lewis

Today I welcome Essence Bestselling author Sherri Lewis to Urban Christian Fiction. I have the pleasure of knowing Sherri personally as I slid into the seat she vacated this year as president of our local writer's group. Sherri's also the one person who wouldn't let me give up on writing my novel, Issues of the Heart. I can't say it would be finished if it wasn't for Sherri saying, I think you should go back to that story and then she read the entire thing in a weekend and gave me feedback. Without a doubt, she's the most faithful writer-friend on the planet.

Welcome Sherri! (Cyber hug, girl.)Tell us about Dance Into Destiny. Dance Into Destiny is a coming of age, journey story of two young women and their quest for purpose and destiny. Keeva Banks is a black Atlanta princess whose life looks perfect from the outside. She’s the daughter of a Senator, has the luxury car, designer wardrobe, a gorgeous boyfriend in law school – everything a girl could want. But on the inside, she’s empty. She’s miserably depressed and often wonders why she’s even alive and has no sense of purpose or destiny. Shara Banks has that sense of purpose through her intimate relationship with God, but has no balance in her life. She’s a purpose driven church mouse. The two women meet and form an unlikely friendship that leads them on a journey of purpose, destiny, and intimacy with God.

Is there a personal story behind this book? The two women in the book are me and my two best friends and our experiences with the same struggles in our lives. Of course, it’s fiction, and so loosely based, but it’s the same heart dilemma of who I am and why am I here and why am I so unfulfilled.

You’ve made the Essence Bestseller List for both your novels. Then you finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer Book of the Year Contest. What an exciting debut. Tell us about. This has been so exciting! I feel like, of all the things I wanted to do, I sorta stumbled into this writer thing. It really wasn’t on my list of aspirations. I always like to write but never really imagined I’d write novels. It was difficult at first, because it took so long to get a deal, but God has blessed it tremendously.

My Soul Cries Out is a powerful story and clearly as a nominee for Book of the Year others agreed. Tell us a little about it. I always tell people that writing is therapy for me. Because of what was going on in my life, I wanted to write a story about a Christian woman going through a divorce and needed to create a situation dire enough that she and her husband wouldn't get back together. So i decided to have him cheat with a man. I also have had several friends and an awesome Pastor who had been molested in the church in their youth and therefore struggled with their sexual identity. My pastor laid an awesome foundation in me in worship, intercession, and the prophetic but because of his past, he ended up dying prematurely. It broke my heart that others in the body of Christ didn't get to experience his gifts because of what happened to him. It seems as if noone in the church has a solution for those struggling with the sexual identity, so I wanted to tell their story as well.

Your fans are itching for a sequel to My Soul Cries Out. Will they see these characters again? Absolutely! I am finishing the end to the sequel now. I had NEVER intended to write a sequel but everyone kept asking for one, so me and some sistahwriterfriends (including the awesome Rhonda McKnight) sat down for a plotting meeting and 2 weeks later, I had the first draft completed. It flowed easy! Not sure when it will hit the shelves yet, so keep an eye on my website,

Tell us about your publishing experience? My journey was one of those “all things work together for good” situations. It took me four years to get a publishing deal. Four years of rejection and discouragement. When I was ready to give up and had actually told God and my sistahwriterfriends that I was through, God showed up and I got my deal with Urban Christian. In retrospect, I realize it was God’s perfect timing because when I first starting submitting my manuscripts, I was going through a bad divorce and was dead broke, so in no position to promote my books like I’ve been able. God knew what was best and made me wait until my life was so much better.

What would you like your readers to take away from Dance into Destiny ? I really want people to understand the importance of purpose and destiny. Life isn’t complete if you’re not doing what God CREATED you to do. In fact, it’s pretty miserable. A life of destiny is the most exciting adventure imaginable. I want people to press into God to figure out who they are and why they’re here and then chase after it with all their heart!

Tell us about your community service work. I work as a physician in a women’s prison as my day job. On one of my patient visits, one of my inmates mentioned that she had been locked up for eleven years and had read everything of interest in the chaplain’s library and regular library. I thought how awful it would be not to have access to books. Out of the was born a prison book drive ministry that’s been awesome, myself and my local and international writer’s groups have supplied tons of new books for the prison. Circulation has more than doubled and inmates are reading. I could tell hundreds of stories of how their lives have been changed. My favorite story is of one of my sweetest patients who happened to be illiterate. She persuaded her roommates to read both of my books to her. She really enjoyed them and wanted to learn to read. I made a deal with her that when my new book, The List, comes out in March, she’ll be able to read it herself.

What advice do you have for a debut author? STUDY THE CRAFT. It’s so important to be excellent. Studying the “writing rules” and learning the craft will make you a better writer. Link with other writers. My relationships with my sistahwriterfriends, the ACFW-VIP chapter are invaluable. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without them. Go to conferences. Be willing to do whatever it takes if you really feel like God has called you to write.

I asked Sherri to get personal and she shared these answers with me:

Favorite color: purple

Favorite worship song: Too many to narrow it down. I love Israel Houghton, Fred Hammond, and Joann Rosario.

Favorite scripture: Too many to narrow it down. I love Isaiah and Daniel, the book of Ephesians, and of course the psalms

Beach or Mountains: The beach every day of the week! Can’t wait to get to Destin!

If you could spend one hour with someone living or deceased who would it be and why? Jesus, of course. I mean, it’s cool to spend time with Him in the Spirit and in prayer, but face to face would be amazing. Who am I fooling though? His presence would be so awesome and overwhelming, I’d drop as though dead like John did. So to be safe, probably one of the healing revivalists of old like Smiths Wigglesworth or John G. Lake or Kathryn Kuhlman or Aimee Semple McPherson. These people walked in awesome miracles and I’d like to hear their experiences first hand.

If you were going to a deserted island and could only take one fiction book with you, what would it be? And why? The Shack. It was one of the most awesome books I’ve ever read. It has the potential to expand one’s understanding of God and therefore increase one’s intimacy with God. That’s my life’s quest.

What’s next for Sherri Lewis? I’m excited about my March 2009 release, The List. It’s about single, successful, saved but sexy women looking for their soulmate. It’s lighthearted and comical, but deals with a great burden many successful black women are facing. I’m about to start ministry school. I’ve already been ordained but I want to take it higher. I’ve also started singing again and can’t wait to start writing new worship songs. I’m praying about what book is next. I have three ideas fighting to be chosen, so we’ll see which one wins.

How can readers get in contact with you?,
Thanks so much for stopping by Sherri. We look forward to more heaven sent success for you!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Up Pops the Devil

Today as I packed for the Faith and Fiction Retreat, I listened to an interview author, Angela Benson ( had about her new book "Up Pops the Devil". I'll be featuring Angela real soon, so she can share her very interesting publishing journey and great premise for the book. Her interview spurred a deep reflection about some recent events that could have stopped me from traveling to this coveted event for Christian readers and authors.

Life is full of twist and turns, good things and bad things and we all know the best laid plans can be interrupted as quickly as a flash of lightening. When life gets interrupted I spend time with God and ask him what's going on? I wonder did I hear God correctly when he said go left or was I supposed to go right? Was I disobedient or hasty about a decision, or am I living through a JOB moment in life when you know, up pops the devil.

I'm a person who has learned to find the root cause of situtations in my life and work. Self-examination and personal accountability go hand in hand in my daily walk with Jesus. When one's "locus of control" rest with external sources accountability is low and the devil we blame will pop up more than we'd like. Since I'm not interested in trial and error I journey inward, searching my heart for the reason for the trouble. When asking God why I'm enduring a particular thing sometimes he answers clearly, other times it comes to me in the still of the night and alot of times I just don't get an answer. What I have found and grown to completely understand is that surrendering it all to HIM has made it easy to accept the gravest of situations. I find peace no matter the situation and peace is what he promised us.

The retreat seemed almost out of my grasp for several months due to finanical issues, but I remember clearly God told me I could go, so even when a $1,400 auto repair popped into my world a little over a week ago, I stood firm on the promise God made that I would make the trip this year. The devil popped up, but because of faith and grace and mercy, this girl is still packing.

What experiences have you had lately with an interruption of life's plans that faith bought you through?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Welcome Author, Sharon Oliver

Today I interview author, Sharon Oliver. Sharon holds a special place in my heart, because she has relatives in the same South Carolina town that my "people" are from. We've yet to connect the dots on the family tree, but I'm convinced she's my distant cousin. I've gotten to know her well over the last few months and even if there's no blood relation, I love her like family.

Welcome Sharon! Tell us about your novel, Keeping Your Enemies Closer: The story is set in South Carolina because of my familiarity and love for the people AND the food. Keep Your Enemies Closer is a humorous tale about how folk in a fictional town in South Carolina learn how to deal with life’s interruptions and deceptions without falling apart or killing one another. When the pastor skips town with the church’s money and a pair of twin sisters mysteriously disappear right along with him, the protagonist, Charlotte Morley’s summer vacation almost turns into a nightmare on Elm Street. However, with a little help from an acid-tongued friend of the family, a millionaire cousin, her skeptical best friend and a host of others, Charlotte is able to show a reason to hope to an impoverished community. Eventually, she and her family discover the truth surrounding the disappearance of the conniving twins, who happen to be Charlotte’s cousins.

What inspired you to write Keeping Your Enemies Closer? One day while seated at my computer, a gush of memories came flooding in. The next thing I know, my fingers had typed out a couple of chapters. In my mind, I even knew what I wanted for the plot twist. From that point on, God kept the desire and determination going for everything else in between. The book was completed nine months to the day I started.

You originally self-published your novel, tell us about that experience. How does being with a mainstream publisher differ from the self-publishing experience? Aside from not having to come out of your own pocket to pay for publishing, mainstream publishers provide a support system such as getting your books in the stores, a little promoting, etc. Of course, the author has to do a lot of leg-work as well, but at least not all of it. Plus, at that house that I am with, we have an online group. The camaraderie is great, supportive and unselfish in sharing resources. But self publishing has its benefits. It introduces your book to family, friends, etc., and establishes you as being published. To have work published (self or otherwise) is an important credential that agents, publishers and editors often take into consideration.

What would you like readers to take away from your story? I want the readers to feel “light” and enlightened on some aspects about God. I say “light” because there are too many people whose hearts are heavy. Even though there are some serious points interjected throughout the story, there is plenty of humor weaved in. Life is too short and being burden down with so much drama and nonsense in our lives will only shorten it more.

Do you consider your writing a talent, gift or calling and why? Hmm, I would say a calling simply because writing was never one of my aspirations. Now I find myself getting excited over words and how I can center a story, line or situation around them.

What advice do you have for an aspiring writer who wants to become published? Once you become pregnant with the passion…research, research, research. Also, PRAY! Seek out an agent. Don’t get discouraged by the amount of rejection letters you’ll probably receive. This is typical. Familiarize yourself with publishers who accept your particular genre. The Writer’s Market Guide is an excellent resource to have and can be found in the reference section of your local book store or ordered online. Taking classes and/or joining writing groups are always good choices to make. And above all, trust God to open(s) any door necessary.

I asked Sharon to share some personal information and she answered the following questions:

Favorite color? None. I truly love all colors.
Favorite time of the year? Spring.
Beach or mountains? Oh, Lord. I had to sound fickle, but I enjoy both.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? England and Israel.
If you could have a one hour meeting with the person of your choice (living or deceased) who would it be and why? My mom, who has now been deceased for almost ten years. I miss her and a lot has happened since she’s been gone.
If you were going to a deserted island and could only take one fiction book with you, what would it be and why? Any nice and thick Agatha Christie novel. Her stories are my favorite and I can always visualize characters and scenes from them.
What would readers be surprised to know about you? That’s a tough one. The only thing I can think of off-hand, and its probably more quirky than surprising, is that I don’t like certain things in all forms. For instance, I love oranges, but can barely tolerate orange juice (crazy, I know). Love grapes, but detest grape flavored Kool-Aid. Give me a raspberry lemonade, tart or what-have-you, but not the fruit itself. Wow! Apparently, I have issues with fruit. This has been very therapeutic.

I'm glad I could help with your issues. :o)
What’s next for Sharon Oliver? More writing and whatever the Lord has in store. I will keep you posted.

I know God is going to do awesome things for you, cuz! Keep me updated.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Sharon is a resident of the Atlanta area. A former Systems Administrator for the Social Security Administration, she is also a contributing writer for an online magazine, The Light of the Low Country. Keeping Your Enemies Closer is with Urban Christian Books/Kensingston Publishers and is available at (click to the right), Barnes and Nobles, Books A Million, Wal-mart, Kmart and where ever books are sold.
Thanks for stopping by cuz! I'm praying for great things for Keeping Your Enemies Closer.
You can visit Sharon and learn more about her online homes:

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Why Buy the Publicist When the Publicity Is Free

I grabbed this post from May 19, 2008 from and have to agree with the author, Angela Henry 100%, that is if said author has the time and inclination to handle their own campaign. However, there's certainly a place for publicist in this industry. One of my best friends is a publicist and when she talks about all the things she does for an author, my head spins. In my opinion, having a publicist is a good thing for those of us that work full-time, but are they absolutely necessary to the getting your name out there. Probably...definitely no. Share your opinions on the matter. Here is Angela's post:

Why Buy the Publicist When the Publicity is Free

When my first two books were published, I hired a freelance publicist to help me promote them. I spent a few thousand dollars, which is pretty reasonable considering many publicists charge three times that much. She was nice enough and I enjoyed working with her. She was able to get my book featured in several publications despite the fact that I actually hired her late in the process. Typically, you should hire a publicist at least six to eight months before your book is published. But I was happy with her results nonetheless. By the time book three was due to be released, funds were tight, which meant no publicist. But by then I’d learned a few things about the promo game, namely, that there are no guarantees that any promotion you do will result in book sales. I decided then that from here on out, unless I win the lottery or get that elusive six figure deal; I would be my own publicist. Guess what? I got myself better publicity than the publicist I hired. The most surprising thing was that the things I did that got the most coverage were the things that didn’t cost much. Here’s what I did that got the most bang, for little or no bucks?

I Wrote An Attention Grabbing Press Release:

The best thing I’ve ever done was to take an online class on how to write a press release. In that class I learned how to think outside the book, and pick out issues in my storyline that I could use to write a release that would peak the media’s attention. The release I wrote in that class tied an issue in my book: The lack of lead roles for African-American actresses, to the summer movie blockbuster season. As result of that release, I got featured in my hometown newspaper, as well as several other newspapers across the country, and many blogs, was invited to be a guest on three radio shows, and had my book included in AOL’s Black Voices Summer Reading List. I even had a reporter from The Wall Street Journal request a press kit, though ultimately I didn’t get interviewed. The cost of that online class: $19.00.

I Embraced Social Networking:

I’ve had a My Space page for about a year now and it has done a lot to help me spread the word about my books. I currently have over 1,700, and counting, my space friends. Through My Space I’ve connected with readers, reviewers, booksellers, and freelance writers from all over the world. I’ve gotten my book reviewed, and been interviewed by several people I’ve met through MySpace, who went on to post the reviews and interviews on their own pages thus maximizing the exposure. I’ve been contacted by lots of readers who said they’d been browsing in a bookstore and bought my book because they recognized me as one of their MySpace friends. Every time someone sees my friend profile on someone’s page it’s like a mini advertisement. I also have pages on Shelfari, Black Planet, and Crime Space. The cost of setting up pages on social networking sites: Nothing but time.

I Participate in Email Groups

I belong to several email lists for both mystery and women’s fiction. Not only do these lists offer opportunities to network and interact with other writers, but they often offer info on many promotional opportunities: Book fairs looking for authors to come sign or book promo materials to distribute, ezines looking for subjects to interview, and reviewers looking for books to review. You can find lots of opportunities posted on writer related email lists. Last year the editor of Spirit Magazine, the in-flight magazine of Southwest Airlines, posted a call for submissions on one of my lists for an upcoming article. The article was about unique, out of the way places featured in mystery novels. It just so happened that my last book featured a state park in the small village of Yellow Springs, OH. I was one of the authors lucky enough to get a small excerpt of my book featured in that article. Spirit Magazine has about 3 million readers. Cost of signing up for email lists: Free

All book promotion is a crapshoot. There is no way for me to tell how many books I’ve sold as a result of any of the things I mentioned. But since there are so many promotional things authors do that can nickel and dime us to death, I was happy to discover that book promotion doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Angela Henry

Author of Divas Last Curtain Call, Tangled Roots & The Company You Keep

When I sold my novel last December, the very next thing I did was purchase a book on marketing and promotion. Although I never know what God is going to do, I don't anticipate having alot of money to hire a publicist to promote my book either. The books listed doing the things Angela is doing, save for the social networking, because the book predates the explosion in social media sites.

So with respect to this topic, I have a question:

Authors - What other things have you done for free or close to free to promote your books?

Readers - Tell me the types of things authors have done to draw you to their books?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Interview with Author, Marilynn Griffith

Today we welcome one of my favorite authors and an all around great person with a wonderful spirit, Marilynn Griffith.

Rhythms of Grace has a beautiful cover, very different from your other novels. I’m used to seeing bright colors when I see Marilynn Griffith. Tell us about the story and what’s different about this novel for your readers?

Rhythms of Grace is my true first novel. I started it almost ten years ago. It’s about a group of friends who all have a heartbreak growing up that makes them believe differently about God and about themselves. There is one woman common to all of them, a teacher whose love and strength once helped them all. Now she needs help and to give it, each of them much come to terms with their trouble pasts…and their uncertain futures. Especially Grace Okoye.

Who is your favorite character in the novel and why? Who is the character you found most difficult to write and why?

I’ve lived with these characters so long and loved them so much that it’s hard to say, but off the top of my head, I’d say Dr. Brian Mayfield. Brian isn’t always right (sometimes he’s downright messed up) but he always tries to be real. He has a good heart underneath it all. In this story, none of the characters were really hard to write, but sometimes I had to make sure that the reader could really see the good and bad in some of the people

What do you want readers to take away from this story?

Hope. I want readers to put down Rhythms of Grace knowing that there is hope and healing available, that God never stops playing your song, even when you run away covering your ears.

I absolutely loved your Sassy Sistahood series with Steeple Hill (Made of Honor, If the Shoe Fits and Happily Even After). Are we going to see any more of Tracey?

I never say never. Tracey is very close to my heart and I get emails all the time asking if the Sassy Sistahood is really over. We’ll see… I’m so glad you enjoyed the series though, Rhonda. I did too.

Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

Writers see stories everywhere. I get many of my ideas in church, especially during worship. Other ideas come from poems, a few words someone might say, crazy situations that arise… Ideas are everywhere.

Marilynn tell us about your journey to publication and why you choose to write Christian Fiction?

My journey to publication started with me thinking I was having a heart attack. While my friends and family passed before my eyes, the characters to all my secret stories passed before my eyes too. I told God that if He’d let me get up from there I would write instead of waiting for the someday that might not ever come. I’d been playing around with some stories for a couple years before that, mostly the beginnings of Rhythms of Grace.

Joining ACFW was a turning point because there were workshops and critique groups available. There were some really hard years of waiting and working, working and waiting. And now…things haven’t changed that much though. Published authors get rejected too. It just takes one person to say yes!

Marilynn I know from following your career that you blog, you speak and teach at writer’s conferences, you also have a very large family – six kids that you used to homeschool, and obviously you write and market your novels. Please tell me how you balance it all? What’s your writing schedule like?

I actually have seven children and yes, we homeschooled for seven years. I’d love to tell you that my life is all perfect and balanced, but that would be a lie. We all try to support one another in our gifts, knowing that might mean that someone has to be away or unavailable. I don’t travel as much as most authors though, especially during the school year. During school, I try to do most of my writing during the day, though sometimes I have to edit after the children go to bed.

What are some recommendations you have for aspiring writers seeking publication?

Don’t give up. God’s delays don’t always mean denial. Read. Write. Read. And write some more. Keep seeking the Lord first in all things.

You’re a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and in the past have served in leadership in this organization, tell us the benefits of belonging to ACFW?

I’ve been a member of ACFW almost since its beginning and the organization, critique groups and fellow authors have helped in more ways than I can name. I’ve served on the national board as vice president and publicity officer and both those experiences taught me a lot about the Christian book industry and publishing in general. I look at you Rhonda, a president of one of the chapters that I proposed from the office in my bedroom closet and I think of how amazing God is! It’s a wonderful organization and I always recommend that people join it whenever I’m speaking. This year, two authors we both know well, Sherri Lewis and Stacey Hawkins Adams are finalists for the ACFW Book of the Year. I’m so proud of both of them.

Who are some of your favorite authors and what’s on your nightstand right now?

Oh…I dread this question because I read so much and I love so many books, all for different reasons. I just finished Trading Dreams at Midnight by Dianne McKinney Whetstone, who can turn a phrase on its nose and make it do the cabbage patch. This week I also read Graceling, a debut fantasy by Kristin Cashore (it came with a tattoo! How cool is that?), Think Big by Ben Carson, Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Balwin, Who am I Without Him? By Sharon G. Flake, The Folk Keeper by Frannie Billingsley (another YA fantasy) and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I’m blessed that many of my friends are my favorite authors, so you’ll always hear me talking about Claudia Mair Burney, Lisa Samson, Sharon Ewell Foster, Amy Wallace, Pat Simmons and so many of the authors I’ve been blessed to meet on the Internet and in real life. As for favorites, my short list (for today) would be: Delores Phillips (The Darkest Child), Kalisha Buckhanon (Upstate), Khaled Hosseini (A Thousand Splendid Suns), Lalita Tademy (Cane River) and Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man). That’s a short list that changes about every day. LOL

Let’s get personal with Marilynn:

What’s your favorite color?
This week? Gold. That changes too.
What’s your favorite food? Grr! Another hard one. I love anything ethnic, but not to spicy. Pizza and cherries rank high.
If you could spend one hour with anyone living or deceased who would it be?
Oh boy. Of course, I’m supposed to say Jesus, but He’s always with me now and I probably wouldn’t have known what to say. Virginia Hamilton, the late children’s writer, I think. I would just want to listen to her and write her a poem.
Beach or mountains? Hmmm…. Are we talking hotel or cabin? LOL You’d think I’d say beach since I live in Florida, but I’m going to go with mountains.
If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go and why? That’s easy. I’d go to Nigeria to meet my father.

What’s next for Marilynn Griffith? What are you currently working on?
I just finished my January release and I’m working on the conference for Sistahfaith, a wonderful nonfiction anthology I’ve been blessed to edit. Other than that, I have ideas, but we’ll just see what God does. J

Thanks so much for having me and everyone please stop by and say hello.

Thanks again, Rhonda!

Marilynn has several Internet sites where readers may reach out to her. Her books can be found at, Walmart, Barnes and Nobles, Borders, Books a Million and where ever books are sold. You can also look for Marilynn on the Soul Expression Book Tour. More details about the tour can be found at Marilynn's website