Friday, January 30, 2009

Welcome Phenomenal Women Book Club

Today we have our monthly book club feature and I'm pleased to introduce the lovely ladies of Phenomenal Women Book Club. I had the pleasure of meeting some of these ladies in Florida last summer. After visiting their website I knew I wanted to know more about them. I interviewed the club president, Makeda Peterson.

Welcome Makeda. Tell us about Phenomenal Women book Club.
Phenomenal Women Book Club
is based in the Greater New Orleans area in Louisiana and we currently have 21 local members and 2 out of town auxiliary members. We have been meeting since October 2007 once per month, on the second Saturday of each month. Our meetings usually last 2-3 hours to discuss the book of the month, socialize, and cover club business (community service, fundraisers, outside literary events, upcoming books to discuss, any new info). Our members usually try to incorporate foods, themes, settings or something from the book into the discussions. We have held meetings in restaurants, member’s homes, and even in a battered women’s shelter that we were holding a book drive for. We originally began meeting after everyone had returned from Hurricane Katrina as a way of entertainment and to bond with female family and friends. Most of us have settled lifestyles and don’t go out to clubs and since most of us are readers and tend to discuss books whenever we see one another it seemed that a book club would be the perfect solution.

Our members range in age from 21-53; it creates a wide variety of responses and opinions about the books and questions. We also have a few ladies interested and attempting writing careers and the group makes a great critiquing audience. PWBC is also dedicated in performing community services and has also started a non-profit to promote literacy, other necessities and literary events in our community. We are committed to encouraging and promoting good books by providing book reviews on and our website of books the group discusses or books that are sent to us by authors for review.

Wow! What an awesome introduction. I had no idea you has so many members and did so much community service.

I see that your group is a Brian Smith fan. Tell me what you enjoy about his writing?
Brian W. Smith is a native of New Orleans and was the first author we contacted to meet with. He fully embraced Phenomenal Women Book Club and our community service efforts. His books are always quick reads that are entertaining from cover to cover. They are usually about controversial subjects that tend to split the members responses to them in many ways. It is also a plus to have an author willing to come in to speak with readers to discuss their books.

Tell us about a Christian Fiction selection you read last year and what you enjoyed about it? “Soul Matters” by Yolonda Tonette Sanders was the only Christian Fiction book we read as a group last year. Sanders created flawed funny characters with personalities familiar to all of us. In “Soul Matters” we found parts that made us feel sad, mad, happy, thankful and blessed. We were focusing on reading different types of genres our first year but will be reading a number of books including Christian poetry, Christian self help and more Christian Fiction titles this year.

Anything you’d like to see more or less of in Christian Fiction?
Christian Fiction short stories and anthologies are two things we don’t see a lot of that readers could benefit from.

How do you make your monthly book selections?
Each month two members volunteer to be book captain and co-captain of the month. The book title and genre is usually picked by the book captain. We try to read different genres to give each of our members an opportunity to read their favorite types of books and to enlighten others to a variety of new styles. We have collectively decided not to read Sci-fi; none of the members seem to enjoy that particular genre. We also focus on reading books by or about blacks. PWBC also chooses books based on if an author offers to meet with us.

You made the journey to the Faith and Fiction Retreat in Destin Florida last summer. I enjoyed meeting you ladies. You have a contagious energy. Tell us why you chose to make the trip. The Faith and Fiction Retreat of 08 was the first out of town event we decided to attend. We were just wrapping up a big book drive when we received an invitation to the retreat from author Tiffany Warren. We were all in need of a break but only 5 of our members were able to attend. We had also already selected Christian Fiction book “Soul Matters” by Yolonda Tonette Sanders (an author who was scheduled to be a panelist at F&F 08) as our book of the month for August. It seemed that He was leading us to the Faith and Fiction retreat, so we went with it.

What was the best part of the retreat? Can I expect to see you this year?
We were not in attendance for the entire retreat but truly enjoyed every event we were present for. It was great to network with the authors, staff and fellow readers. The group attending the event all seemed genuinely open and friendly. I’m not sure yet how many PWBC members will be attending the retreat this year, but we will be represented by as many as possible. We have two out of town events planned that are almost back to back (The Faith and Fiction retreat and the National Book Club Conference) so most members will only be attending 1 of the events. I (Makeda Peterson) have been asked to be a moderator for one of the authors and will be attending the retreat with my family and PWBC members.

Sounds great, I’ll look forward to seeing you again.

Anything else you want to share about your bookclub?
We are a phenomenal group of ladies who enjoy reading, writing, networking with other book clubs and authors, being in fellowship together and serving our community. PWBC plans to be around for a very long time and recently made 5 year goals for our future. It is our hopes to be able to provide scholarships to students studying the Arts, host a book festival in New Orleans, meet with some of our favorite authors and encourage and promote PWBC members pursuing careers in writing. We are willing to attend literary events, be a part of community service efforts by other clubs and individuals, and network with authors and clubs. Our website is and we can be contacted by email there.

1st Anniversary Picture

You certainly are a phenomenal group of women. Love that gold!

Thank you so much for sharing your book club with the readers at Urban Christian Fiction Today.
This lovely book club is featured on Oprah's book club here

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Manuscript Submissions...Oh dear

I found this horrifying picture of an editor's slush pile at a publishing house. Pretty scary. If you're sending off a manuscript in 2009 make sure it's top notch work. It takes forever to get pulled out of the pile and the editor or reader is going to give you one paragrah worth of reading to determine if they'll read the entire page. Once they make it past the 1st page they'll keep going to 2, 3, 4, and 5. So that first paragaph and then first five pages has to absolutely grab them. Literary agent, Noah Lukeman wrote a very good book, titled exactly that, The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile to help aspiring writers understand what an editor or agent is looking for. DO NOT MAIL OFF A MANUSCRIPT without reading this book. Really, don't.

Also, if you don't have a good critique partner(s), considering having a free-lance editor look at it first. It could save you time, postage and lots of praying about your baby as it waits in the slush pile.

I'm availabe at Legacy Editing and I'm having a New Year sale that ending soon!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review - The Someday List

“Someday” I'm going to give Stacy Hawkins Adams a big hug for writing this awesome story. While I acknowledge the Lord inspires Christian Fiction authors, the artist is one who actually toils to bring the work to the pages of a book. Stacy Hawkins Adams efforts were not in vain. The characters of Rachelle and Gabe Covington, Aunt Irene and Melba, Uncle Charles and Troy reminded me of people in my own life. They were real family and friends that I loved, and rooted for as I turned each and every page. The quaint city of Jubilant was a refreshing change, as so many African-American novels are set in urban cities. I can see why Rachelle made the journey there. It made me want to sell my house and move to place where life felt simpler. That’s good writing.

As the symbol of purpose and destiny, the “someday list” itself, served the story well. I have a list of goals and I have timelines to complete them. I check my schedule a few times a year to see if I’m on task. Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not, but I am the quintessential list person. However, there was something different about the “someday list” in this novel, even for a planner like myself. Something I describe as the spiritual fiber that may not always exist in our list of to do’s and to accomplish.

The Someday List made me think about myself and my life. The life lessons were hard to miss. I’m hard pressed to believe anyone would close its pages and not feel the same way. So I give this book the highest review I can assign, because not only did I enjoy it, I was challenged. In my opinion that’s the role of literature, to shape our conscious thinking and inspire our actions in a way that also entertains us. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who feels the same.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Introducing....Rhonda McKnight, Part I

I’m doing something different this Sunday. I’m going to talk about myself. Seems a little shallow, but I get so many emails asking me about myself, my upcoming book release, what I like to read that I decided it was time for me to introduce myself to the readers who visit Urban Christian Fiction Today (UCFT).

So, hello, I'm Rhonda McKnight, author, free-lance editor and your host here on UCFT blog.

First let me say, I really appreciate you taking time to read this blog. When I began blogging I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but people kept telling, blog and get an Internet presence. I knew this was important, but the idea of taking time to write blog post a few times a week was overwhelming. I mean, honestly, I write fiction, I write at work, write, write, write. I didn’t want to do it. So I prayed about it and one day I was at my doctor’s office waiting to be seen and I overheard someone on her cell phone telling a friend she wanted a good book for her daughter-in-law. It was her birthday and she wanted something that wasn’t filled with cussing or sex. I wanted to jump up and down screaming, I know just the right book! But I waited until she finished her phone conversation. I approached her and told her I overheard her talking, and offered her a brochure for Sherri Lewis’ book My Soul Cries Out. She read it and asked where she could get the book. I told her any bookstore, but then I remembered the copy I had in the trunk of my car and offered to get her one that was signed. (Great birthday gift right.) She purchased it of course, but told me she had never known black authors were writing Christian Fiction.

After my appointment, I decided to push Sherri’s book a little more, I handed brochures to the front desk staff. They quickly browsed, thanked me and told me they had never heard of Christian Fiction. As I walked out of the office I was troubled, because there are great Christian Fiction books coming out every day. That’s when the Holy Spirit said, “Promote the genre.” I knew in that instant what I would begin to blog about, and well here we are.

So now you know three things about me… 1) Why I started Urban Christian Fiction Today, 2) that I’m not shy, in fact I can be a little pushy and 3) I eavesdrop on other people’s phone conversations. More of my story to be continued on Wednesday…

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How Do You Compare A Book to McDonalds?

I read alot of book reviews. They often sway my decision on a purchase by an author I haven't read before. I respect reviewers a great deal, because like this blog, reviewing books is a community service. It's something you enjoy doing, but largely it's of benefit to others. Amen.

I've seen some reviewers (not professionals mind you, like my friends at APOOO and Urban Reviews, DeltaReviewers, etc. etc. I hope I'm not getting myself into trouble leaving folks out) who have been really hard on authors and I think this is largely because they don't like the genre or the author. What I love about professional reviewers is that they have the ability to classify the work, and look at it objectively. Cecelia Dowdy posted a review of one of her books that did exactly that in a very creative way.

Reposted from This and That Other Thing

Sometimes I've wished for a restaurant review that, instead of judging all restaurants by a single standard, judged them according to what the restaurant was trying to do. The "best" restaurant in New Orleans, at least according to the average restaurant critic is Commander's Palace. I've been there a couple of times, and it is wonderful. The chairs are padded and some have arms. It is a white tablecloth place. The food is inventive, and very good. The atmosphere is lovely--it is in an old mansion. It goes without saying that it is very expensive. Given a choice between it and our local McDonalds, my four year old would pick McD in a heartbeat. It its own way though, McD's is a great restaurant. It is clean (well as clean as anyplace that has that many people in and out all day can be). The food is hot, it tastes good, it is the same every time you go, no matter which store you patronize. The staff is generally friendly and some of the restaurants even have playrooms attached. The price is reasonable too. If my little one spills something, it isn't a problem (and if the manager sees her spill it, s/he will probably replace it). Why am I writing a review of two very different restaurants in a post headed by a book link and titled My Review: John's Quest? Well, I was about to right a not-so-flattering review of the book when I realized that what I was doing was basically criticising McD's because it didn't have white tablecloths (or criticising Commanders because they did). Basically, John's Quest is the Christan version of a Harlequin Romance.

Click here for more of this very interesting review.

Learn more about John's Quest at Cecelia's Blog

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's a New Day

The video says it all. Please pray for the success of our leadership. We're truly in this together.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm Not Published Yet

Story Structure Part 2: Beginnings

by Tyora Moody

In The Beginning ...

Anyone familiar with the first chapter of the first book in the Bible, Genesis, will recall these three words. While simple, the words in one breath, dramatically draw the reader's attention into a powerful event. With further reading, God is center stage and He "speaks" the world into existence. As a writer, it should be noted the power of words, and especially the awesome task of writing the beginning or if you want to think in theatrical terms, Act I.

In the last article, I talked about the two writing styles. Whether you are a pantser or a plotter, you will spend quite a bit of time editing those first few chapters. Why? Because these few chapters are not only crucial to potential readers, but you will eventually have to impress an editor at a publishing house or an agent. Currently, the economy is struggling and publishers are trying to stay afloat. That means books are clearly being perceived as luxury items as people continue to monitor their budgets. Your writing has to stand out starting from the first page, the first line, and in some cases the first word.

I can honestly tell you, for my first manuscript, I spent way too much time crafting the first ten chapters. At some point, I realized I need to get past the first one-third of this book. Along the way, there were some key points I learned. Below you will find five checklist items you should keep in mind for the beginning of your novel.

1) Opening Lines - Hook Your Reader. The opening lines are really important not only for the first chapter, but every chapter. You need to write well-crafted sentences that will hook the reader. These sentences may take some work, requiring that you sharpen them over and over again until they flow with purpose.

Here are a few first lines to ponder:

Rachelle Mitchell Covington felt both giddy and guilty.
-- First Line, Chapter 1 of The Someday List by Stacy Hawkins Adams

Rayna's eyes welled with tears as feelings of loneliness and disappointment overtook her emotions.
-- First Line, Chapter 1 of Married Strangers by Dwan Abrams

The worst day of my life was the day I caught my husband cheating on me.
-- First Line, Chapter 1 of My Soul Cries Out by Sherri Lewis

I hate demons. A dang-gone demon kept me from eating my French fries.
-- First Sentences, Chapter 1 of The Exorsistah by Claudia Mair Burney

No one would miss me. They never did. And that was okay because I'd made up my mind. I was never coming to the ballet class again.
-- First Sentences, Chapter 1 of Rhythms of Grace by Marilynn Griffith

After reading the first lines above, you can probably tell the genre and without even flipping to the back of the book, you've been clued into some powerful events and emotions that are about to take place. Those are just a few lines! That's what you need to aim for as you begin a chapter.

2) No Backstory. Most writers when they start a story for the first time, may be guilty of this one. Backstory is the events that happened off-stage or in the past. The first chapter is not the place to try to explain the character's background. There are ways with well-crafted sentences to include a small tidbit here and there about the background information, but you don't want to dump it all on the reader in the beginning.

Whether you write suspense or romance, just save the information, and try to include some mystery or suspense about the character. Information can be revealed later in the story where appropriate. Just remember your focus, in the beginning, is to draw the reader's attention into what's going on NOW!

3) Introduce your Protagonist. You may have a cast of characters, but usually there is going to be a main character or protagonist who really drives the story. How you present this person, whether through first or third person, plays an important role in the story set-up. Do you want the reader to empathize with the character? Or do you want the readers to love to hate the character? You definitely want to be sure to work on the character development.

Don't start a character off being sassy and then later she starts acting mousy. Through the character development process, you should have a really good understanding of her personality, so you can keep the behavior consistent. Sometimes a conflict or struggle may cause a character to stumble, but the personality should still be recognizable.

4) Bring the scene to life. Learn the art of show, not tell. This technique is another whole article. I still find myself having to work on this when I edit. You want to capture the reader's imagination and bring them into the story. This is usually done by honing in on the senses (sight, touch, smell, hearing, taste).

You have to be careful about being too detailed. I discovered depending on the genre, some writers can get away with more description then others. For example, if you write speculative or fantasy fiction, you really have to paint a vivid picture because you created a totallly fictional world. If you are writing a historical, you are going to have to spend some time bringing that particular time period to life in the reader's imagination.

5) Don't Stop! Have you start the first few chapters of a novel and then stopped? Maybe you edited those first 50 pages so much that now you are not really sure what to do next. Most proposal or queries only require the first three chapters. Those pages you wrote are probably impressive enough to attract an agent to ask you for your full manuscript. Can you see a problem here?

You have to push past the beginning. My advice is to write a rough draft, and then go back to edit. The more you write, the more you will develop editing skills along the way. What is most important is to TELL THE STORY, beginning to end.

Now these are just five pointers I've learned, but for a real expert, check out The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman.

Also during the beginning stages, it's important to format your manuscript properly. Believe me, this was one of the first steps I took and it really helped. When I decided to submit my manuscript to a few contests, I didn't have much to do as far as the formatting. As a matter of fact, I received great scores for the formatting if nothing else. LOL! This is another book you should have on your bookshelf. Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript by Cynthia Laufenberg.

Next Month on Urban Christian Fiction Today, I will continue part 3 of this story structure series. So, keep writing, push past the beginning and get ready to conquer The Dreaded Middle.

Tyora Moody is the editor of where she features “AA Literature that Edifies the Soul”. She often finds herself trying to juggle various hats on her short frame. Those hats include being a military wife, writer, blogger, book reviewer, web developer, and “momma” to two spoiled cats. Follow her journey to publication on

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy M.L.K. Day

Today is the day we pay homeage to Dr. Martin Luther King. Many acknowledge it as a national day of service in honor of his memory. I personally don't think we need to tie anything else to Dr. King's day. I mean we don't add anything to Washington's Birthday or Lincoln's Birthday, it's just their day. However, I do acknowledge service is better than a one day sale at Macy.

Here is one of my favorite speeches by this awesome, inspiring leader. Makes me cry every time. In this speech Dr. Kings speaks of the good samaritain. This story is the Christian faith in action. So if you choose service, serve in love and serve for more than one day. Find a charity or a cause that will bless those who benefit everyday, not just on a holiday, because Dr. King's work was not just 17 minutes speeches; it was hours of planning, coordination, communication with other groups, marches, prayer, was a work that was constant.

Part 1

Part 2
Have a truly blessed day.
Love and Grace,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Interview with author, Stephanie Perry Moore

Today, I welcome back author, Stephanie Perry Moore. Stephanie has two exciting new book series that I know you’ll look forward to sharing with the young readers in your life.

The first book in the series is titled, Finding Your Faith.

Welcome back, Stephanie. Tell us about the Yasmin Peace series. Thanks for having me back. I’m so excited about this new series. Yasmin is an 8th grader from the inner-city in Jacksonville , Florida who is trying to get her world in order. She is a triplet; it’s herself and two brothers. All three are very strong willed and extremely different. They are being raised by a single mom, holding down three jobs to take of them. Their father is incarcerated. At the start of the series, they have just come back from burying their older brother.

Book 1

I view it as a modern day Good Times. Though the Peace family struggles with not having much material wealth they find much joy and love as they face their problems together. There is peace during the storms of life if you just look for the positive in your situations.

Sounds extremely interesting and so timely for our young people. With respect to our young people, you’ve written for pre-teens, teens and even college age young adults, who is this series targeted to? This series is written for middle school aged kids and high school students. The series is bridge between middle school and high school. It deals with feeling good about one ’s self regardless of what others think of you. It also is about doing the right thing. Young people 12-15 years old will really relate to the storyline, but of course all can enjoy it.

Book 2

What would you like young people to learn from this series? Young people often admire and want what they don’t have. I pray this series teaches every reader that what you have is plenty. It’s okay to desire more, but be a good steward over what you have. If you don’t treasure the gifts God has bestowed on you, you could look up and they could be gone. The other big lesson in this series is God is there in the tough times and He will see you through.

Book 3

My son loved your Perry Skky, Jr. series. Anything in the future for young men?
Again, with the two brothers, York the street King, and Yancy the scholastic prince, as well as Yasmin’s next door neighbor and best friend, Myrek, who is the basketball stud. Young men will get a lot out of this series as well.

I'm glad to hear that. I'll make sure to share the first book with him. What’s next for Stephanie Perry Moore? My other new series I’m so blessed and happy to release is called the Beta Gamma Pi series. It is about a fictional sorority set on a college campus. Like the Yasmin books it will be a five books series as well. The series will teach young people about leadership, sisterhood, higher education, Christian principals and public service. Work What You Got is the first book, and the world of pledging has many twists and turns in this sassy novel.
Stephanie - we'll make sure to highlight this series next month. Sounds like an excellent option for our teen ladies who love to read about college life. How exciting.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
At this is detailed info on my books as well as a link to write me. I loved to hear from your readers and I thank you for allowing me to talk about the new series I pray will bless many.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Stephanie.

To read more about Stephanie's other series please read her interview at from last summer by clicking here

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sometimes Something Sweet is Just What the Soul Ordered

It seems African American readers sho' do like themselves some drama! My goodness. It's evident in our best sellers list. Bring the drama and keep it rolling till I close the book. I guess we like what we like, but don't we all want a little down time, a little hiatus from the roller coaster sometimes? I know I do.

I love romance. Love a good romance book and a good romantic movie. Makes me feel all good inside like I've eaten a half dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies (okay, the whole dozen, but who's counting), and I never forget the milk. Which brings me to the current book by author, Cecelia Dowdy. I love Cecelia's writing. Always have. Ever since I read one of her novels seven years ago in a collection titled Promises to Keep she sold to me at a writer/readers retreat. She's been giving me that cookies and milk feeling every time she has a new release, and on that note here's a little about my latest journey into the euphoric splendor.

Running a dairy farm is a big job, but doing it alone is almost impossible.When her dad dies, Emily must work hard to save the family farm, but she manages. Until the day the CPA pulls in her drive and announces he’s there to do an audit on the place.

Franklin Reese is appalled at the lack of interest the Cooper women have in the financial end of their livelihood, but he dives in, determined to help them learn. The further he looks into Mr. Cooper’s dealings, however, the more uncomfortable he becomes. Can he uncover the truth of the situation and still earn the love of the amazing Emily Cooper? Will issues in Franklin’s own life keep them apart, even after the farm is taken care of? Only God can heal hurting hearts and repair broken lives. Will these two let Him in?

Learn more about Milk Money and Cecelia's other novels at her website She also has a great blog where she gives away books every month. You can also read the first scene from Milk Money and more at

Thanks Cecelia for giving me that warm feeling without the calories.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Blessed Thoughts from Iris Celeste

The Hidden Talent

As I look back over my life I wasted so many years trying to fill a void with worldly possessions and meaningless accomplishments. That great office job, the perfect piece of furniture, the latest outfit, a budding new relationship…all to no avail. Eventually, after the newness wore off they all left me feeling empty—incomplete. I drifted aimlessly and with no direction or joy to speak of. The day-to-day grind was becoming intolerable. In time I became sick and tired of merely existing and not truly living life to the fullest. So I prayed and asked God for revelation. Why am I here?

The instant the prayer left my lips God gave me a wake up call (be careful what you pray for). I shockingly came to the humbling conclusion that nothing was about me. My life was not my own to claim. I was born with a purpose…on assignment for Him. God had impregnated me with a special talent. But it was up to me to birth the baby and bring it to life. Reluctantly, I started aligning my will with His will. It didn’t come easy. The laboring was hard; demanding even, and thrust me out of my comfort zone. I wanted desperately to resist and run back to the familiar. But discontentment wouldn’t allow me.

God amazingly ordered my steps, even when I refused to move my feet. He opened doors and provided opportunities to expose my talent. Not publicly at first, but to my own consciousness. I soon came to realize nothing God ever blesses us with is for us alone. My gifting wasn’t for me to keep to myself nor to hide. But to be a benefit for others. Standing on shaky, unsteady legs I stepped out on faith to uncover my true calling and with that came my life’s fulfillment. At last, the void had been sealed permitting the unveiling of the me I was destined to be. Are you too searching for your purpose in life? A reason for being? The answer is closer than you think.

Iris Celeste, Author
Praise Your Way Through

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Blog Tour - Day 1 - Meet Stacy Hawkins Adams

Today we welcome author, Stacy Hawkins Adams on the first stop of her Blog Tour for her new novel, The Someday List. Stacy is truly one of my favorite authors. I was so moved by Micah, the male character in her first novel that I named my son after him. (No kidding.)

Welcome Stacy. Tell us about yourself.
I'm a wife and mother of two. I grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and was always an avid reader and writer. I decided in high school to pursue journalism as a career and after obtaining a degree in mass communications, worked for newspapers in Florida and Virginia. I never stopped loving fiction, though. My first novel was published in 2004. These days, along with penning books, I serve as an inspirational speaker, freelance writer and marketing consultant.

What type of jobs or careers have you worked in the past? I've always been a writer! My college internships were at newspapers around the country, including The Albuquerque Tribune and USA Today. My first job was as a general assignment reporter at Florida Today. I left there to join the staff of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where I spent a dozen years writing in various capacities - courts reporter, social issues reporter and eventually spirituality columnist. For a while, I also delivered live reports from the Times-Dispatch newsroom on the local CBS affiliate's 11 p.m. news broadcast.When did you begin to realize you wanted to write?My 10-year-old daughter asked me this question the other day and was amazed when I told her around 'first grade.' It's the truth, though. I was very shy at that age, and often lost myself in the world of books. I soon began cranking out poems and short stories, and my family was surprised by how well they read. My eldest sister would take the pieces I produced, type them up and staple them together in what she called a 'book.' I guess the seeds were planted then. Everyone I knew - from my family to my teachers to my friends - would ask me to write something for them. Their enthusiasm encouraged me, and I just kept at it. As a fellow writer, Rhonda, I'm sure you know what it feels like to have to write something that's burning inside you. That's how it has always been for me, whether it's fiction or nonfiction.

Tell us about your journey to publication. My road to publication actually began through a journalism connection. I had written a newspaper column about a Richmond woman who operated a faith-based ministry for women in her home, and it was picked up by a freelancer for Today's Christian Woman. An acquisitions editor for Revell Books read that version of the story and contacted the woman I had featured to ask her for a book proposal. He asked if she knew any writers who could help her, and she recommended me. I helped her with her proposal, and during that process, the editor asked to see my fiction and nonfiction work. I had been working on my first novel, Speak To My Heart, off and on for three years. I pulled it off the shelf and sent it to him, and several months later, he called to discuss a publishing deal.

Are you a full-time writer? If so, describe your day? Yes, I'm a full-time writer, but not all of my writing-related work centers around my novels. I typically rise in the mornings between 4:30-5 a.m. and work on my fiction for about two hours. That's when I seem to be the most creative, and my mind hasn't been filled with the clutter of a busy day.After I get my kids off to school, my schedule varies, depending on whether I'm working on my parenting column or other freelance assignments, or assisting one of my nonprofit marketing clients. I write the bulk of the published material for two Richmond-based charities, from drafting their volunteer manuals and press releases to creating brochures and producing electronic newsletters.At the end of the day, after trying my best to catch up on emails and participate in various social media (I'm trying to do a better job of this!), I'll revisit my fiction and tweak the storyline or something about the characters or setting. When I'm on deadline for a manuscript, this schedule is completely altered, and I go into what I call my "cave," which is really a mindset, where I set aside emails, extracurricular activities, etc., and spend eight to 12 hours a day cranking out a draft of the book.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date? I still very much view my writing career as a work in progress, but I was honored to have my third novel, Watercolored Pearls, place second in the American Christian Fiction Writer's 2008 Book of the Year Contest, and to have a collaborative project, the anthology This Far By Faith, win first place in the 2008 African American Literary Awards Show anthology category. However, I honestly have to say the biggest accomplishment so far has been knowing that the fictional characters I've been given the inspiration to create have truly made a difference for readers. It's humbling to hear from people across the country - a woman who was contemplating suicide until she read Speak To My Heart; a medical student who landed a prestigious fellowship after being inspired by Watercolored Pearls to pursue her dreams; a wife and mother I know well who told me months after Nothing But the Right Thing was published that this book had given her the courage to leave her abusive spouse.Those are results I couldn't pay for, and every time I hear from readers with stories to share, I'm reminded of what I heard a fellow author say at a writer's conference about 18 months ago: When a book is "born," that means the person God ordained it for is ready to read it.

Stacy, we've learned quite a bit about you today. To close out this part of your interview, do you have a favorite bible verse and or quote you wish to share?Rhonda, it has been a pleasure to be your guest! Thanks so much for allowing me to share more about myself with your readers. Different verses have sustained me at different
periods in my life. Psalm 62:1- My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him has been the most recent. On New Year's Eve, however, I flipped open my Bible and was led to a familiar passage that will serve as my guide for 2009: Habakkuk 2:2,3- Then the Lord replied: Write down the revelation and make it on plain tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.


The Someday List Jubilant Soul Series Book One

by Stacy Hawkins Adams

Rachelle Covington has it all. A fabulous home, a handsome and prestigious husband, two beautiful children, and a place in the upper crust that's quite comfortable. But her life is not all it's cracked up to be. When her husband goes away on business trip and the kids are sent off to the grandparents for a month, Rachelle takes up the challenge of a seriously-ill friend to start a list of things to do before she turns 50. She heads back to Jubilant, Texas, to reconnect with her past, her purpose, and herself. But when her ex shows up in town looking very fine and very single, Rachelle must confront feelings she thought she'd long buried. Will she give up everything to recover the past? Or will she find a reason to plan for the future? The Someday List is an honest look at what makes us who we are and what can throw us off track. Author Stacy Hawkins Adams writes with a voice that is fresh, sincere, and completely real. Her characters jump off the page and into her readers' hearts.

For more information about Stacy, visit her at ~ ~THE SOMEDAY LIST BLOG GIVEAWAY Stacy Hawkins Adams is the author of four Women's Fiction books and has contributed to two anthologies. Read the question below to see if you can answer it and provide the name of the book in which it was featured.

When Serena's work-related project went sour, where did Micah treat her and his mother to lunch? In which book was this restaurant mentioned?Leave your answer in the comment section. Entries with the correct answer will be entered into a drawing for the The Someday List Blog Giveaway. View the prize package below:

The Someday List Blog Tour Giveaway
$50 American Express Gift Card
Autographed Copies of all of Stacy's books: Speak to My Heart, Nothing But the Right Thing, and Watercolored Pearls, and the anthologies The Midnight Clear and This Far By Faith.
20% Discount Coupon from Tywebbin Creations. (May apply to one service) Join Us for an Hour Long Chat with Stacy on January 30, 2009.

We will announce the GRAND PRIZE WINNER of the THE SOMEDAY LIST BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY during the call.

For details, visit Stacy's blog.~ ~ ~THANK YOU FOR STOPPING BY TODAY!

Continue to visit other stops on The Someday List Blog Tour at:

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Book Trailers - Six Things To Consider Before You Make One

Lotta bad book trailers out there. I've only seen one or two Christian Fiction ones that I liked. The biggest problem I have with them is they're too dang long. Some are also more focused on the praise music than the actual synopsis of the book. If you're thinking of developing a trailer to promote your book, here are some points to consider:

1. Keep it simple. Too many images can be confusing.

2. Don't overwhelm the reader with music. If it's there it should be in the background.

3. Keep it short. A trailer is a commerical of sorts. When was the last time you watched a 2 minute commerical? Commercials are under a minute.

4. Engage the viewer quickly. Most viewers click away from a trailer in the first 9 seconds. So you have to do something to reel them in and wow them before then, otherwise they won't watch.

5. Don't give away too much. It's a teaser. It's supposed to make the reader want to read more about the book.

Final tip...
6. Make sure there's an image of your book and your web address. The viewer should see them twice if you can manage it. Remember you're trying to make an impression on their memory.

Now here's an example of an excellent trailer I found visiting my friend Jessica's Blog. It's not Christian Fiction, but this preview is suitable for all ages.

Made me want to buy the book.

Readers tell me, has a trailer ever made you want to buy a book?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Editing and Writing - They Ain't The Same Thing

Reposted from top literary agent, Chip McGregor's Blog where he answers questions about writing, publishing, and marketing.

I thought this was a particularly interesting one, because as a free-lance editor I talk to clients all the time that have had a botched editing job from an author. I have to agree with Chip 100%. I know it seems that the two should come from the same place, but editing and writing are completely different. Now that being said, I'm an author who edits and "me" thinks I'm pretty good at doing both. The jury is still out on the book and I guess you all will let me know what you think of Secrets and Lies when it comes out in December. I'm optimistic.

Here's what Chip had to say...

"Why do some people edit fiction with the wisdom of Obi Wan Kanobi, but when they write their own novels they have the mentality of Forest Gump?"

Because editing and writing are two different skills. They are related, but not the same. A great songwriter isn't necessarily a great singer. A world famous choreographer may not be one of the best dancers. I know you're a sports fan, and one of the things we've seen in sports is that a great player generally makes a lousy coach (in fact, in football and basketball, the best coaches were normally average or below-average players -- perhaps because the game did not come easy to them, they needed to study the fundamentals more, and thus became better at thinking through the game). So a great editor, one who really understands what it takes to work on a good manuscript and make it even better, may not be able to write a great novelist herself. And there's no shame in that. I'm 50, and as I've gotten older, I've developed a much better sense of the work it takes to become great at anything. Malcolm Gladwell has surmised that it takes about 10,000 hours to become really great at anything. So (to go back to our coaching analogy) you can bet the guy coaching and winning with a professional sports team really knows his stuff -- and, in fact, knows much more than all those dipstick fans writing letters to the editor and complaining about his team. The people making a living at singing are blessed by God with incredible voice and talent, and probably worked as hard as anyone else who becomes successful in a chosen career. I know that the people who dance professionally are SO good they expose the rest of us amateur hoofers. I've said it before -- the editors who last in this business are generally VERY good at what they do. Listen to them...even if they've never published a book.

I say, good advice. Contact me at Legacy Editing if you have a manuscript you'd like assistance with. I promise you won't be disappointed in THIS author/editor. :o)

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Interview with Author Tiffany L. Warren

Today I welcome author, Tiffany L. Warren. Tiffany has a very exciting new book, The Bishop's Daughter that has created quite a buzz of anticipation for its release this month.

Tiffany, introduce yourself to my readers.
Hi readers :) I'm Tiffany Warren. I write Christian Fiction for women and Inspirational Fiction for young adults. If we've already met via some of my other books (What a Sista Should Do or Farther Than I Meant to Go, Longer Than I Meant to Stay) it's good talking to you! If we're just now meeting, I'm pleased to meet you!

Tell us about your latest project, The Bishop’s Daughter. The Bishop's Daughter is about a reporter/womanizer named Darrin Bainbridge who plans to write an expose on a fictional Atlanta mega-church pastor. His plans fall apart when he meets the bishop's sassy daughter, Emoni.

What do you want readers to take away from this story? Mostly that salvation is a process. Not everyone has the same journey or walk with God. Sometimes there are setbacks. Sometimes people backslide. As a matter of fact, I don't know one Christian who hasn't had that moment of weakness.

Please share anything else you want us to know about The Bishop’s Daughter.
I want y'all to know that this book is a work of fiction!!! If Bishop Prentiss, in any way, resembles your pastor it was not done purposely :)
You had elements of humor in your previous novels, does that come natural to you or did you build it into the plot. Anyone who knows me, knows how silly I am. Even my darkest subject matter is peppered with humor. It definitely comes naturally.

Tiffany, you are the mastermind behind the Faith and Fiction Retreat, which I enjoyed so very much last summer. Tell me how that began and your vision for this years retreat. Mastermind!!!! LOL. Okay, Rhonda :) It all started with the "Faith and Fiction Fellowship Tour". A few other authors (LaTonya Mason, Yolonda Tonette Sanders, Leslie Sherrod, Mata Elliott, & Bonnie Hopkins) and myself toured about five cities talking about our books. The response was great, but we were going broke traveling :) I thought it would be a great idea to bring the readers to us in a retreat like location, and spend the whole weekend discussing books.

For 2009, the theme is "Power of the Pen" and it will be held in Orlando, FL July 16-19. We've got some great authors coming out this year! Our featured authors are ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Tia McCollors, Angela Benson and me! We've got some GREAT author panelists as well including the hilarious Essence Bestselling Pat G'Orge Walker. This year we're doing teen sessions as well as book club building sessions. It's going to be a blast. For more info visit

I asked Tiffany some personal questions and shared the following answers:

Favorite scripture: Phillipians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Favorite dessert: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate frosting.

(Tiffany is a girl after my own heart.)

If you were a crayon in coloring box, which one would you be? Aquamarine.

If you could spend one hour with someone living or deceased, who would it be and why? I would say Jesus, but an hour wouldn't be enough! So, I'll say my favorite author Octavia E. Butler. She passed away a couple years back.

If you had to go to a solitary place and could only take one novel, that you didn’t write, what would it be and why? The Xenogenesis volume by Octavia E. Butler. I could read her stories over and over again and still be mesmerized.

What’s next for Tiffany Warren? My next adult novel is entitled "In the Midst of it All" and it's about a young woman with a prophetic gifting, and her escape from a cult. My debut young adult novel, "Step to This" under my pen name Nikki Carter will be released at the end of February. I'm also doing a stage play adaptation of my first novel "What a Sista Should Do" in the fall of 2009.

How can my readers find you on the Internet?,,, (Facebook),
The Bishop's Daughter can be purchased at, Barnes and Nobles, Books A Million, Borders and where ever books are sold. To read an excerpt click here.
Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 02, 2009

What Do You Want to Read in 2009?

APOOO Book Club (my favorite online book club) is having a reading challenge. Avid readers commit to reading a book a week for the first 13 weeks of the year. Pretty cool. Learn more by clicking here. As much as I love to read, I have to finished the manuscript for my second novel by summer, so that's my challenge. I also have about 7 books I'd like to finish from 2008 before I can get to my 2009 selections.

Here's my list of Christian Fiction books for the first couple of months:

The Someday List by Stacy Hawkins Adams
Chosen by Patricia Haley
The Bishop's Daughter by Tiffany Warren
Mom's the Word by Marilynn Griffith
The List by Sherri Lewis
Deliver Me From My Enemies by Sharon Oliver

What Christian Fiction books are you looking forward to in 2009?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Best of 2008

I love New Year's Day. It's one of those fresh slate things in life like a new car that you'll keep clean; a new checking account, that you'll keep balanced, or a new house that you'll decorate with your own unique touch (I wasn't going to go for the keep clean again). We begin a new year with plans and thoughts of what we WILL do for the next 365 days. That's why all day New Year's Eve everybody's counting down the best of, the worst of and such. One of the new year's rules is not to bring the baggage from last year into the new. But we all know, books are never baggage. They're timeless. That's why I feel okay about sharing the best of 2008 on January 1, 2009.

Okay, so that's a bunch of malarkey. I'm just plain late. I had so much content for December that I just didn't get it done. And the only resolution that I have for 2009 (other than the standing one to lose weight) is to not stress myself over small things. So here goes the UCF Today's countdown for 2008.

I asked three professional book reviewers to share their favorite 5 African American Christian Fiction books that were released in 2008.

Tyora Moody's List

I did my list like a countdown.

5. Too Little, Too Late: A Novel by Victoria Christopher Murray
4. Wounded: A Love Story by Claudia Mair Burney
3. Up Pops the Devil by Angela Benson
2. Rhythms of Grace by Marilyn Griffith
1. The Exorsistah by Claudia Mair Burney

Ty is a book reviewer, aspiring writer, and book marketing guru. You may learn about her by visiting her column on this blog (I’m Not Published Yet) and by visiting her sites at,, and

Dee Stewart's List

Dee added commentary. She always does. :o)

1. Claudia Mair Burney, Zora & Nicky. Romeo & Juliette set in megachurches. Very romantic, good read for young adults, well written.
2. Uwem Akpa, Say You're One of Them. This book gives African children a voice. Very well written, heart breaking, soul stirring. incredible.
3. Claudia Mair Burney, Wounded . Burney can take an interesting character and turn her on her head, spin her around, yet still give her grace.
4. A Mercy, Toni Morrison. Lovely poetic prose sweeps over this pastoral. Christianity is seen through a glass darkly. Wow.
5. Walter Mosley, The Tempest Tales. A homage to Langston Hughes and a classic discussion about what happens and don't happen at Judgement. This story reminds me of The Preacher's Wife and Easy Rawlins combined.

Dee is a reviewer for Romantic Times, a Christy Book Award Judge (you know the gold seal people), a dynamite publicist, and an aspiring novelist. You may learn more about her at,

Jennifer Coissiere's List

Jennifer just gave it to us straight:

1. Dance Into Destiny by Sherri L. Lewis
2. Braided In My Hair by Tiffany Alexander
3. The Legacies by Michelle Larks
4. Rhythms of Grace by Marilynn Griffith
5. The Pledge by Chandra Sparks Taylor

Jennifer is a reviewer for APOOO Book Club, and an aspiring writer. You can learn more about her at

If you haven't read these great reads yet they can still go on your shopping list. Books have the luxury of being timeless.

Happy New Year!