Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Writers Contests

SistahFaith and Amani Publishing are co-sponsoring the WordPraize Writing Contest 2009 for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The grand prize is a $1,000 publishing contract, a $500 editing deal, and $100 cash. For more information, click here.

Triom Publishing and Emerging Writer Magazine are co-sponsoring the Emerging Writer Awards. There is a smorgasboard of entry categories, from short stories to poetry to almost every genre of fiction to non-fiction. The grand prize winner gets $2,000, and possible publication.

Both Triom and Emerging Writer, a Triom publication, are new but the website says Triom is "an independent publishing house dedicated to discovering America's newest talents" and "not a subsidy publisher".

Deadline for entries is August 31, 2009. Winners and Finalists will be announced in November 2009. The Emerging Writer Awards was established to honor the best undiscovered writers in the English language. Whether it’s poetry, short stories, literary fiction or unpublished novels, we want to help you step out from behind the shadows. For more information click here.

God's blessings if you decide to throw your manuscript in the ring. Also consider hiring an editor to help you polish your submission. I'm available at Legacy Editing http://www.rhondamcknight.net/

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Interview with author Jackie Moore

Today I welcome author, Jackie Moore to Urban Christian Fiction Today. I'm sure Jackie is still recuperating from the book release party for her debut nove, Serving Justice which was this weekend.

Welcome to UCFT, Jackie. Introduce yourself to the readers. My name is Jackie Moore and I am a 50 year Christian Writer from Detroit. I'm a single mother of two boys and I have been writing for more than ten years. Christian Fiction and Romance are my first loves. Over the years, I have completed and published other Christian-related articles, stories, and novellas. I didn't discover a love for writing until a very good friend who knew I loved talking about God, asked me to write a few devotionals for her. Not only did I discover I rather enjoyed that daunting task, I was good at it.
Interesting title for the book. Tell us about the story. "Serving Justice"
What happens when a prominent and successful Chicago Judge falls in love with her driver? Angela Jenkins decided as a child that she would become a lawyer. Fighting injustices perpetrated against those who could not or would not fight for themselves ran like passion through her veins. Growing up, Angela was taught that putting God first in her life, respecting the rights and choices of others, and working hard, were the most important things a person should strive for. While in pursuit of her law degree, Angela meets Rhonda, Theresa, and Darlene who are there reaching for the same goals. Over the next two decades, an unbreakable bond forms and friends become sisters.

Angela finds the more successful she becomes, the more she begins to lose her connection with God and starts conforming more to the world, than to the word of God. When love enters her heart, she must decide if having a relationship is more important than what others, including her friends, have to say. Angela is forced to look at what’s important in her life and has to choose between allowing others to shape who she is or conforming to what God wants her to be.

What is the spiritual take away from this novel?
There are actually several. The foremost lesson is that we have to stop listening to the world around us and seek out that still small voice within; the voice of God. Success is futile when it’s not tempered by the word of God. We all make mistakes but we serve a God of a second chance. Finally, each of us needs to examine our reasons for believing in the things we do. Do we serve the greater good, our friends or ourselves?

Lots of aspiring writers want to be where you are right now, so tell us about your writing process? When I get an idea about a story I just free write. I enjoy watching people and listening to their conversations. Those observations tempered with the word of God, make for some very interesting stories.

Share a little about your journey to publication. As I mentioned, I started by writing devotionals. At first, I only wrote them to help out a friend. Then, I began receiving feedback from those whose lives had been touched by my devotionals. It was a very humbling experience. To know that something I penned actually blessed others. My readers and my friends encouraged me to do more. So, I began researching how to become published. I joined a few writing groups and did some research on becoming a published author. As a part of my journey in addition to the devotionals, I wrote for ezines and published a total of five short stories, one of which led to my being picked up by Elissa Gabrielle of “Peace in the Storm Publishing.

Share with us the feeling you had when you first held your book in your hands.
It was like holding my newborn baby. I had gone through the pregnancy and finally gave birth to my dream.

I asked Jackie some personal questions and she shared the following answers:
Favorite color: Yellow.
Favorite season: Summer
Favorite scent: Fresh cut grass and flowers early in the morning.
Beach or mountains: Beach

If you had one hour to spend with anyone, living or deceased, who would it be and why? My mother. My mother passed away more than 25 years ago. I would like to share with her the events of my life since she’s been gone. I often wonder if I make her proud and did she see the potential in my all those years ago.

If you had to go to a solitary place and could only take one Fiction novel, what would it be and why?“The Shack” by William P. Long. I read this book and there were so many lessons to be learned from it. I often reread a book if it’s really good because there are often new things to be discovered that you may not have seen the first time around. It is definitely one of those books that make you think.

Thanks for sharing with us today, Jackie. Tell us how we can find you on the Internet. My website is http://www.jacquelinedmoore.com/ and I am also on Twitter.com, facebook.com, myspace.com, blogger.com, iseecolor.com, linkedin.com and I go by the name of mamajacq. My email address is jackiemoore@virtuousliving.com and you can also find me at http://www.peaceinthestormpublishing.com/.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Writing a mystery?

Research is critical in fiction writing. Here's an inexpensive way to learn how to keep it real.

May 4th – 29th, 2009

Skips, Lies, and Videotape : (How PIs Find the Missing, Nail the Fraudulent, and Obtain the Proof)

Instructor: Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman

If you have ever wondered what it was like to work at a PI and incorporate it into your books, then this is the class for you.

This four-week class will cover the following: The Skips: Tracing Electronically. The steps of a skip and researching on the web, along with case examples. Tracing on foot and how to dig in public records. The fraudulent: from black market to white collar and the types of investigations. Types of proof and ways to obtain the proof needed for the case.

Colleen Collins (http://www.colleencollins.net/) has written 20 novels/anthologies for Harlequin (including one paranormal romance thriller for Dorchester w/a Cassandra Collins). As a private investigator, she specializes in skiptracing, witness interviews, surveillances, and infidelity investigations. She and her business partner Shaun Kaufman co-own Highlands Investigations in Denver, Colorado, and also teach workshops for writers who are developing PI stories and characters (http://www.writingprivateinvestigators.com/).Shaun Kaufman is a retired trial attorney who specializes in forensic and financial investigations, domestic relations and civil surveillances, and criminal litigation assistance. Along with his investigative business partner Colleen Collins, he teaches the popular "Writing PIs in Novels" workshops (http://www.writingprivateinvestigators.com/). He has published articles on private investigations in PI Magazine as well as on the Internet.

Cost: $20

All payments for a workshop must be received by the registration deadline - May 1st .

What a steal. Visit the groups website for payment details or the contact information for questions. Click Here...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Anniversary

It seems like just yesterday that I started Urban Christian Fiction Today and now the blog is celebrating it's one year anniversary. Isn't that cool?

Alot has happened in the year. I've posted about 60 author interviews, 9 book club features, quite a few guest blogger posts, writing and inspirational columns, countless updates on publishing, writing contest, writing events and some personal stuff about my debut novel, Secrets and Lies which had a title change from Issues of the Heart back in September.
I hope you'll all agree that I kept my word that I would do gentle marketing for my novel, as the intent of this blog is really to highlight all African-American Christian Fiction and not just my work. But I have to say I'll be beefing up the self-promotion over the next few months. Secrets and Lies is coming to a book store near you December 1, 2009, and hey a sistah has got to sell books!!! (I promise not to take over.)

I plan to do a feature titled "What Happens After I Sign the Contract" to just kind of chronicle my publishing journey for my aspiring writer readers. That'll begin in May. But in the meantime I feel like celebrating. How about a sneak peak of my book cover? It's just a draft, and the line at the top is ALL wrong. If you can manage to read it, please ignore it completely.
Here's a little teaser I wrote for the book:

It’s hard enough to keep a secret without telling a lie, but when you’re married it’s almost impossible. In Secrets and Lies, the Morgan’s marriage is collapsing under the weight of both. Against the backdrop of old memories, new enemies, and a plot for revenge this intense drama unfolds addressing several relationship issues; communication, honesty and trust among them. The story takes readers into the complex mind of Dr. Jonah Morgan; a man who’s dedicated his life to physically healing children, but he’s emotionally and spiritually sick himself. And can his wife, Faith, keep the “faith” when Jonah’s accused of the unthinkable? Or when a woman’s fed up, is she truly fed up?

Let me know what you think, and thanks so much for taking the time to read UCFT. I know there are countless blogs you could spend your time reading. I appreciate the support of those who visit here.

Many Blessings,

Rhonda McKnight

Also - don't forget to pre-order! Just click on the picture or click here...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Janice Said...Book Review of Up At The College

A Review of the Novel: Up at the College

By J.L. Ingle, Reviewer

Novelist Michele Andrea Bowen really took me waaayyy back with her new novel Up at the College. I attended an HBCU for four years and anyone who has had that experience along with me can tell you that there is always some serious politics and high drama happening on campus.

Michele’s heroine, Yvonne Fountain Copeland, is thrust right into the thick of both the politics and the drama when her scandalous, adulterous husband decides he doesn’t like being married anymore and forces her and their two daughters, to move out of her beautifully decorated home in Richmond, and Yvonne back into the world of employment.

Yvonne moves back to her hometown of Durham and lands a job at HBCU Evangeline T. Marshall University, or Eva T., as it is affectionately called by the local residents. She is back among her loving family, who feels it is time for Yvonne to get out there and find herself a new man. Enter Curtis Parker, the Head Basketball Coach for Eva T. and the finest man Yvonne has seen in a long time.

Now Eva T. has drama, not confined to the Drama department, in the shape of a shapely Femme Fatale, that beautiful new Gym with the huge parking lot and those two assistant basketball coaches who are exhibiting what can definitely be call ‘questionable character’. Add in the drop dead gorgeous, attorney who also has her eye on Coach Parker and you have enough drama and excitement to keep you turning those pages to see just what happens next!

Now Yvonne knows from experience that the Lord has her back, and when there is trouble with her new job at Eva T. she has plenty of backup and prayers coming from family, friends and the members of Jubilee Temple. With a combination like that you have got to be looking at a win/win situation.

Up at the College will touch all of your emotions and you will fall in love with Yvonne and her friends and family. You will see the power of prayer and how it can be a catalyst for the workings of the Lord.

What more can you ask when you are blessed to curl up on the weekend with a truly good book like Up at the College.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm Not Published Yet

Who’s Telling The Story?
Tyora Moody

Whether in the form of a short story, novella or novel, there takes some skill to write a story. Choosing a viewpoint or point of view (POV) is a vital part of the process that starts with character development. Some stories are told through one person’s point of view, while others may involve multiple points of view. In this article, I will talk about how to build your cast of characters. I will discuss the types of narration in the next article, but keep in mind, fiction is mainly told in first or third person.

The Main Characters

In a recent article, Getting to Know Your Character, I discussed character sketches. Using a journal or notebook, I like to get to know my characters through their thoughts and conversations. Not to sound crazy, but it doesn’t take long, for one of the characters to start “talking” louder than the others. The character who wants to tell the story eventually stands out as the main character or a protagonist. Every story has a protagonist, a character who has something emotionally at stake in the story.

When it comes to the romance genre, the main character usually will be the woman depending on the storyline. If the male love interest is the one who has more to lose or whose experiences make the story more interesting, he may have the main viewpoint. Either way, romances usually have two viewpoints or two main characters. The couple’s thoughts and experiences may be shared via their own chapters or scenes.

Adding Characters to Create Conflict

As you develop each character sketch, you may start to visualize a potential or existing conflict that arises between characters. The protagonist may have an enemy or an archrival. A character bent on making life difficult for the main character is known as the antagonist. Depending on your genre, you may or may not give the antagonist a point of view.

Suspense writers often like to include a few chapters or scenes that give the reader a peek inside the mind of a deranged individual. These sneak peeks make a great addition to storylines with proper timing and pacing. The reader knows what the protagonist doesn’t know - that someone really crazy is on his or her trail.

In the first few drafts of my first manuscript, I thought it would be a good idea to try giving the antagonist a point of view. It’s not easy to do because it has been done so much in commercial fiction. You don’t want to appear to be adding it just because it seems to be the popular thing to do.

In my case, I became more concerned about the reader figuring out who it was too soon. In my final manuscript, based on a critique advice, I chose to keep the antagonist off-stage and show the events mainly from the protagonist’s reactions to events.

Who Do You Really Need To Tell This Story?
With my first manuscript, , I struggled with viewpoints. In the very early drafts, I had five viewpoints. Yes, five – explains why it took me so long to wrap my head around the story. My protagonist had her scenes. Since there was a mystery to solve, the detective had his scenes. As I mentioned above, I thought the antagonist needed to show up every now and then. The other two viewpoints had a relationship with the deceased that I felt was necessary to tell the story.

I soon found, writing a story with multiple points of view can really be tricky and probably not a good idea for a novice. I do plan to try to write a novel with multiple points of view, but only if it’s necessary to tell the story. Novels that generally have a group of friends with their own stories are great examples of when you may want to use multiple points of view.

My final manuscript, When Rain Falls, has two POV’s, the main character and the detective. With the help of my critique partners, I cut numerous scenes and removed a character. The cool part of telling the story through these two characters, I was able to focus more on the romance elements. Most women who read my manuscript wanted to see something happen between the protagonist and the detective. I was able to write more scenes placing them together to solve the crime and also gradually grow attracted to each other. It brought more texture to the story.

Finalizing the viewpoints also helped me define the manuscript’s genre as romantic suspense. Romance is the top selling genre which is something to keep in mind if you choose to write primarily for female readers.

I encourage you take the time to study your characters. Make sure the minor characters are included in the story only if they have something to add. It’s not necessary to give them a point of view if it only takes away from the main character.

For Further Reading
Here are a few books on my shelf that discuss viewpoint.
· Characters, Emotions, & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress
· Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
· The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

Tyora Moody is the editor of WrittenVoicesBlog.com where she features “African American Literature that Edifies the Soul.” Known simply as “Ty” in many circles, she’s also a writer, blogger, and the owner of Tywebbin Creations, a marketing and design company. Follow her journey to publication on TyoraMoody.com.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Interview with author, Michele Andrea Bowen

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Michele Andrea Bowen to Urban Christian Fiction Today. Michele is one of the early pioneers in this genre. I still remember reading her debut novel, Church Folk and laughing out loud for three nights in a row. After hearing me laugh, my husband read the book and he's been a Michele Andrea Bowen fan ever since.

Welcome Michele! Introduce yourself to my readers.
I’m Michele Andrea Bowen. I live in Durham, NC. I’m a single mom. I have two sweet babies—girls. The oldest is almost 21 and the baby is 11. I sing, when I’m not writing, and I have been writing stories since I was eight years old. My first novel, Church Folk, was such a blessing, it gave me name recognition that only God can give.

Tell us about Up at the College?
Up at the College was a fun and interesting book to write. It is about two main characters, Yvonne Copeland, who comes back to Durham, NC after a nasty divorce, and Coach Curtis Parker, who is the head basketball coach at a fictitious HBCU, Evangeline T. Marshall University in Durham, NC. Their lives have intersected since they were teenagers but they never did more than give each other a passing glance.

Now, even though sparks fly between these two characters, it is not a ‘love story’ per se. It is about trusting God, it is about restoration and recompense after being in a storm, and it is about how God wants to be in every part of your life—even if it means He has to come on out on the basketball court with you. Up at the College is also very funny.

I know the Holy Spirit guides us in interpretation, but what do you see as the spiritual takeaway for this novel. Renewal, restoration, righteous living, and learning to open your heart to the beauty of a relationship and deep friendship with the Lord.

If you had to describe the person you believe reads your books, what would he or she look like, and what would be their interests? Hmmmm….they would be anywhere from the age of 28 to 80, a church-goer, someone who appreciates a good joke, someone who loves a good movie, and somebody who loves a plate of good ribs.

Last year at the Faith and Fiction Retreat, I have to tell you, I was very impressed with your presentation during your book club discussion; specifically the scriptural ties to the story. Is all of this planned during the outlining process or does the Lord reveal this to you while you’re writing? Both. God touches my heart during the prep time for the books, and then He really blesses me with the scriptural ties during the actual writing of the book. By that point, it is like singing a solo at church. You know, you have worked on learning the song, the notes, the rhythms and so forth, and now, you’re with your choir, and it’s time to let the Holy Ghost catch a hold of you and cut loose.

You’ve been successful at navigating this publishing business for almost ten years now, and you are certainly one of the few authors in Christian Fiction that is released in hard cover. Other than the obvious favor of God on your career, share how you’ve been successful. Prayer, prayer, prayer, and more prayer. I trust God. And yes there have been some “trills and tryboolations”….but as Jesus told us, He overcame them all. Some of the things I’ve also done is to make sure I write a strong manuscript, I research my books, and I really enjoy the editing process. I participate in the work needed to promote the books and I look for new opportunities to touch base with more readers. I also work real hard to form relationships with churches. I’ve learned that so many readers will come to a book signing at church and they buy the books when they are there. I am very aware of the business side but I don’t let that control how I create and write the stories.

And then, I’ve been with what is now Grand Central Publishing (they used to be Warner Books) since I started my professional career as an author. They started me off in hardcover, and have continued doing so with each new book.

If you weren’t a Christian Fiction author, what else would you be? Historical Fiction with some romance thrown in.

Please share how readers may get in touch with you.
Readers can reach me at my website…. www.micheleandreabowen.com My oldest told me to catch up with the modern world, and is working with her Facebook-challenged mom, to do a page on Facebook. I’ll have a link for that soon, so folks will have a better way to touch base with me, and my child can take me off of her “Lawd, please put my mama on Facebook,” prayer-list.

Michele, I'm a Facebook junkie. I have to tell you of all the social media I find it the easiest to use and people are very friendly, so join the new millineum and get that item off the prayer-list. Great having you.

Please join us on Wednesday for a review of Up At The College by Janice Ingle.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Can I Get A Witness?

I've been meaning to recommend this book. I read it last fall and as always was thoroughly entertained by Ms. Billingsley's inspiring, yet humorous romp through her characters' lives. Can I Get a Witness? (awesome title that fits the story to a tee) is filled with interesting plot twist, great description, zany dialogue and lots of laugh out loud moments. Ms. Billingsley keeps the reader guessing how these peoples stories will play out in the end and it did not disappoint. Hurry and get it. She has a new title being release in early July, The Devil is a Lie. Can't wait for that one either.

The irony of a divorce-court judge getting divorced herself is not lost on Vanessa Colton-Kirk. After all, she's seen everything in her notorious Houston courtroom, where she's presided over the breakup of countless unhappy and disillusioned couples. Even her own sister, Dionne, is dealing with a relationship drama of her own, a betrayal that's left Dionne hungry for revenge on the man she hoped to marry. But when career-driven Vanessa chooses to work late on the night of her fifth wedding anniversary, her husband, Thomas, decides he's had enough of her putting work before starting the family he so desperately wants -- and he tells her he wants out.

In a last-ditch effort to save the marriage, their own judge orders Vanessa and Thomas to attend a spiritual retreat. She goes -- but not without a fight. And just when she thinks she's won, fate steps in and helps her see things in a whole new light. Now Vanessa and her sister face the toughest choices of their lives. Can Dionne untangle herself from a payback plan gone horribly wrong? Can Vanessa rebuild a bond that she had a big part in destroying? Will she learn from her own mistakes and her years of experience on the bench? Or will she need something else to keep a tide of bitterness from taking over her life?

About the Author
ReShonda Tate Billingsley is a former general assignment reporter for KRIV-TV, the Fox affiliate in Houston, Texas. She is the author of the nonfiction book Help! I've Turned Into My Mother and five previous adult novels: My Brother's Keeper, for which she received the prestigious Gold Pen Award for Best New Author from the Black Writer's Alliance and the Nova Lee Nation Award from the Greater Dallas Writing Association; the national bestseller Let the Church Say Amen, chosen for Library Journal's Best of 2004 list for Christian fiction; its powerful sequel, Everybody Say Amen; I Know I've Been Changed, a Main Selection of the Black Expressions Book Club; and an uplifting and warm-hearted novel of love and faith, The Pastor's Wife. Visit her website at http://www.reshondatatebillingsley.com/.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm Not Published Yet - Only 2 days left!

Aspiring writers and new authors you don't want to miss this...

Taking It To The Next Level In 2009

Virtual Fiction Writers Conference

“Coming to a computer and telephone near you!”

Thursday, April 16, 2009 – Saturday, April 18, 2009

$50 Registration Fee Includes All Sessions!

My writer's group is back with our second annual Virtual Writers Conference. Faith Based Fiction Writers of Atlanta, formerly Visions in Print Writers Group is raising money to award a college scholarship to a Class of 2009 high school student. We invite you to attend a not to be missed Virtual Writers Conference. We’re offering seven workshops and teleconferences sessions with top selling authors and industry experts like ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Pamela Samuels Young, Vanessa Miller and more. You'll improve your writing and/or learn how to market your current work. Click here to learn more and register.
I hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Author Interview - Bonnie Hopkins

Today, I welcome author, Bonnie Hopkins to Urban Christian Fiction Today. Bonnie is one of the authors I met at the Faith and Fiction Retreat last summer. I purchased her novel, Seasons, and while I admit the Seasons became a Christmas gift, I've been anxiously awaiting the release of this novel because Bonnie really managed to wet my appetite for the story. Plus my girlfriend raved that Season was one fo the best books she'd ever read.

Welcome Bonnie. Introduce yourself to my readers.
I am a happily retired woman who resides in the Houston, Texas area. I live close enough to my grandchildren that I am able to interact with them frequently, and that is a joy. I am currently enjoying my second career as a writer of Christian novels. I am a prayer intercessor in several intercessory groups; I serve in my church and volunteer as often as possible in worthy causes. My most rewarding endeavor is as mentor/coach to a group of aspiring writers and others who just want to be inspired to pursue their God-given gifts.

Tell us about your new release, Now and Than, Again.
Now and Than, Again
is the story about a woman whose past is strewn with deep disappointments and hurts. But she has overcome them (she thinks) and is finally beginning to experience new and exciting things. However, just as she begins to savor these new things, a devastating demand issued by an unexpected person from her past sends her reeling with shock. She is forced to face ugly truths about herself when she is challenged to actually WALK her Christian TALK. But strongholds of unforgiveness, hurt, anger and fear, hidden in the rut of her soul, defeat her. Every aspect of her new life is threatened, as these strongholds joyfully wave the flag of victory, and mock her when it seems she is failing the ultimate Christian tests of love, faith and unforgiveness.

Who is your favorite character and why?
My favorite character in the story is Savannah Sinclair – known as ‘Vann’ to family and friends. I love this character’s strength, wisdom and determination. She is the one everyone around her depends on for help in their time of need, - which she tries to give – even in the midst of her own troubling situation.

What would you like readers to take away from this story?
I would like the readers to turn the last page of this book filled with the assurance that God never forsakes His children; that He has the power to reach into the past and bring restoration, renewal and redemption into their present circumstances and relationships. I pray their faith will be stronger, as they are reminded through the story that NOTHING IS OVER UNTIL GOD SAYS IT’S OVER.

How long have you been writing? When did you realize you were gifted/called to write Christian Fiction? I have only been writing books a very short time. Contrary to most writers, who grew up with the desire to write books, I had no idea I would be doing this. It was only as I started down the path to developing my own inspirational greeting card line, and decided to make a devotional a part of it, that I discovered God desired something more from me. I went a few rounds with God over it, and as you can see, God won. Truthfully, it took me a while to realize that writing inspirational books is indeed God’s purpose for my life. But God knew it all along, and it’s truly amazing when I look back over my life and see how God navigated the circumstances of my life to prepare me for this writing journey. Readers can go to my website and read my entire testimony about how God directed the course of my life to bring me into His purpose – writing inspirational stories.

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences since publication?
My most rewarding experience is when someone tells me how much my book(s) blessed them, drew them closer to the Lord, or motivated them to make a Godly decision about a situation they were dealing with. And I am overjoyed when they tell me that they are reading it over and over. This assures me I am fulfilling God’s purpose for my life.

What’s been disappointing or difficult? The most disappointing and difficult thing has been my inability to publish more inspiring books to bless others. As many may know, the publishing road is filled with unexpected delays.

Anything else you’d like to share? Although long in coming, this is the most fulfilling and rewarding season of my life. I would like to encourage anyone who may be struggling with finding their purpose in life to continue to pray and trust God. Believe me, He will make it crystal clear in His own timing. But be prepared to jump in with both feet when it happens. And whatever you do, never give up!

How can readers contact you? Where are your books sold.
E-mail: bonniehopkins08@yahoo.com; Website: http://www.bonniehopkins.com/
The book is available in major bookstores and on-line outlets.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Book in a Nutshell Contest

The literary agency, Knight Agency, is holding the Book in a Nutshell submissions contest. The deadline is April 20, 2009.

If you're interested in participating, submit three compelling sentences - 150 words maximum - about your completed, unpublished manuscript to submissions@knightagency.net. You must write BOOK IN A NUTSHELL in the e-mail subject line. One submission per project.

Agents will choose 20 of the best submissions and request the writers' work. The agent will then give feedback on that work. The contest may even lead to possible representation.

Remember, the deadline is April 20, 2009. Winners will be notified by May 1, 2009. For more information, click here.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Blessed Thoughts

For in Him we live, and move, and have our being

It’s 2009, the dawn of a New Year and time (past time) for you to take charge of your life. This is it!!! Don't allow another day, minute, or second to go by without walking in your destiny. God created each and everyone of us for greatness! Today stop living a mediocre life and live out your God-given purpose. Unleash the gift He has placed inside you. If you are unsure as to what that is, pray and ask God to reveal it to you. But, more than likely, it's the area that gives you the most satisfaction and sense of being. I'm willing to bet you are already operating in it and don't even realize it. Want to know what your gifting is, find your passion!

Live the abundant life God set out for y-o-u. Stop permitting other people to navigate your path by taking control of the wheel! Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for having mentors that provide a positive influence, those who support, encourage and stimulate your growth. It’s a good idea to build relationships with people who are where you want to be. However, the path they took isn't necessarily your path. Travel down your own road to success.

Now success can be many things to many people, depending upon whom you are asking. Some may find it in money. For others, it’s a big house and a fancy car. Success for me is personal fulfillment. Money may afford comfortable surroundings, but it doesn’t provide happiness or contentment. The world is full of miserably wealthy people. Redefine your interpretation of success by realizing your potential. It's in your gift...There are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit!

Linger no longer. Commit to following God and bringing Him honor through the use of your gift. I searched for inner peace in many ways, but nothing silenced my quest like recognizing who I was in Christ...For in him we live, and move, and have our being! All that I am and all that I hope to be is in Him...Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. Anything that I attempt to do with no regards to my Father is all for naught...For apart from Me you can do nothing. After innumberable wrong turns and mishaps, I have found that I am useless without Him and my existence insignificant. Now I offer my life as a living testimony to Him as thanks for the endowment entrusted upon me...Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. A sure way to delight yourself in the Lord...stir up the gift in you!

Iris Celeste, Author

About the Author
Iris Celeste has always loved the written word and spent endless hours as a child being entertained through books. Writing became her chosen method of expression and with that her debut novel Praise Your Way Through was brought to life, as well as, a collection of her poetry entitled Seasons of Life. Iris also writes a weekly column entitled As a Woman Thinketh for Big Time Publishing Newspaper.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Author Interview - Claudia Mair Burney

Today, I welcome one of my favorite authors; truly, one of my favorites in craft and spirit. If you've been following this blog for more than a month, I've said something about Claudia's work. Zora and Nicky and The Exorsistah were two of my top pics for 2008 and Claudia was my author of the year. I'm a fan.

Welcome Claudia. Introduce yourself to my readers. I’m Claudia Mair Burney, friends call me Mair, which rhymes with fire, no matter how it looks. I’m a Catholic Jesus freak, wife, mom, rabbit owner, artist, and word lover, and I wrote a series of mysteries that are funny, and sexy, and still have Jesus in it.

Your latest releases is the third book in the Amanda Bell Brown series. Tell us about it. I named the heroine after my own great-grand mother. She came from share croppers, and wasn’t able to live her dreams, so I shared some of mine with her. Amanda, Bell to the people who love her, is a psychologist with a troubled past who spends a lot of time helping other people, but she has no idea how deep her own post traumatic stress syndrome runs. She meets Jazz Brown, a fine man, with his own emotional wounds, and they fall in love. But they’re a train wreck together. Half the fun of reading the books is finding out if they ever get it right. Solving a murder is just icing on the cake.

Click to order

Love this cover. Tell us about Deadly Charm.
It’s the last in the series, unless Howard Books decide to publish an optional fourth book. Buy the others and they may! In this one, we see if Bell gets everything she’s dreamed of: her man, her baby, and yes, another murderer going down, this one her most cunning nemesis yet.

Bell's gotta get the man, Claudia. I just ordered my copy and I can hardly wait to see where they're going. How have Bell and Jazz evolved over this series?
It’s easy to focus on Bell’s dysfunction, but we see in subsequent books that the fine man has a few chinks in his armor. Bell and Jazz don’t get better initially, they get worse, like most of us, until grace, the amazing kind, saves us. And salvation isn’t a one time event. We are being saved all the time. Loving each other is a big part of Bell and Jazz’s, as is trusting in love. So, it’s all good in the end, but what a ride getting there. I think Deadly Charm is the funniest of the three.

I know readers will interpret this as the Holy Spirit guides them, but from your perspective, what’s the spiritual takeaway for Deadly Charm? That God loves you, even if you’re broken, and crazy, and make horrible decisions out of love, because you really want to help people. And I want people to know you can love Jesus, too. Boldly go to the throne of grace, battered and bloody if you have to. And love one another. That’s my big message. Seriously.

Claudia, in addition to mystery, you write in other genres – young adult, woman’s fiction, even romance. How is the writing different from genre to genre?
It’s just story, Rhonda. Some books are a little harder to manage, because they characters are not as much like me as Bell is. In the end, I try to tell a good tale, beautifully, or at least do so giving the readers a good time. But I try not to sacrifice story for… anything, including the “rules” about one can and cannot do in a genre or with a structure, and I strive to give readers characters they can love enough to walk 200 to 400 pages with. I do that with all the genres, as best as I can. Sometime I fail, other times, not so much.

What has been the most rewarding experience since being published?
Meeting so many people. When I begged Jesus to let messy ol’ me write for Him, I told Him I’d tell people as broken as I am that He loves them. I’ve been able to do that through these books, and the relationships I’m building because of my work. It rawks! Hard, girl.

Any disappointments or things you would have done differently?
Publishing is unbelievably brutal, from vicious reviewers, to the crazy things that go on for the sake of business. Only the strong survive. Unfortunately, I’m not as strong as I thought I was.

Are we going to see Bell and Jazz again? I hope so. If people buy the books it can happen.

What’s next for you? I’m writing The Exorsistah 3, for Pocket Books, and Let Nothing Upset You, a non-fiction, playful journey with Teresa of Avila. I also write galleries on occasion for Beliefnet, and just dusted off an urban tale I’d like to try my hand at again. It’s called Restoration.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
http://www.claudiamairburney.com/ and my blog, http://ragamuffindiva.blogspot.com/, if readers want to know way more about me than they should.

Claudia's books can be found where ever books are sold and certainly on Amazon.com. She has quite a few of them. If you try one new author, make it Ms. Mair Burney, I promise, promise, promise...you'll thank me.

Enjoy the trailer for Deadly Charm.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Black Book Clubs Rock Awards

Today, I welcome Tifany Jones, the founder of the first Black Book Clubs Rock Awards. Tifany, tell us a little about yourself. Well, I could start off with the usual answers to this type of questions, but since I am a bit different (hence the spelling of my first name), I will answer differently. All jokes aside, I am a stickler for knowing more about a person than what is perfectly written in a bio, so to know that log onto my website http://www.tifanyinternational.com/. However, as the founder of Sistah Confessions Book Club and Radio Show I will confess something with your blog.

I used to be in love with a particular R&B singer (very well known in and out of court) and before I get stoned, please notice the word ‘used’. Before and after I got saved I had every song he’d ever written, including those he’s written for others and some never released. When I got to the point in my life where I felt the need to throw out my CD collection his were the only ones I could not do without.

Then in 2005 my church and I went to the Holy Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta. The experience was amazing. Besides the rap group from our church, I had no idea there were so many great Christian artists. But when Canton Jones came out on stage and sang the words, “There’s no other name that’s higher than yours Lord…,” I bout fell out. He is my fave! Needless to say I got rid of the rest of my CD collection when I returned home.

So nice to hear/read your testimony. Thank you for sharing that. I know I had to throw out quite a few CDs as I endeavored to grow spiritually.

Tell us about the Black Book Clubs Rock Award Event. The Black Book Clubs Rock Awards is the only show of its kind that honors excellence in the literary community for book clubs and other literary supporters. I wanted to host an event where book clubs felt appreciated because they do much within our communities. Without them many authors would not be where they are today.

What inspired you to host this event? How would you like to see this impact the literary community? The concept actually came from God. As a book club founder, I personally know the dedication that is required to run a successful book club. Many don’t make it past a year. So those that have been established and thriving need to be recognized.

I surf the web a lot and came across so many book club sites that were doing great things within their communities and for authors. I wanted to give back, but didn’t really know how. I started thinking about how most awards are for authors, and while that is cool, I wanted a way to say “Thank You” to the back bone of African American literature, book clubs! God was like, “Black Book Clubs Rock,” and the rest is history in the making.

Though this event is about book clubs, I want the impact to be a change in the way we view relationships. Think about it. Book clubs come together at least once a month to fellowship, share, cry, and love. They discuss everything and they work as a unit to achieve a common goal. Imagine if we did that in our personal family life! The bond that is created in book clubs is one I would like to see not only throughout the literary community, but in our society. That is what I hope this event will inspire.

Urban Christian Fiction Today was very pleased to be on the ballot. How was the ballot determined? Well initially I had planned to compile a list of nominees for each category and then have my book club decide who would be the winner based on some criteria I had come up with, but frankly that was too much work. For every book club I found there were 10 more I missed, so I decided to make it a public vote.

I sent out a request for nominations and after the cut-off date we reviewed each one to determine the top 5 best nominees per category. It was rather successful considering this is only our first event.
Urban Christian Fiction Today appreciates the nomination, especially since we're so young. You also have a radio show. Tell us about it? Sistah Confessions Radio Show just celebrated its one year anniversary in February 2009. We host authors whose work inspire change and are centered on Christian and Inspirational fiction. We like to have fun and every guest is asked to confess something their readers and our listeners would be surprised to know. We’ve gotten some really good confessions!

Currently, the show airs every Tuesday at 9pm/EST. We also host a Sistah Chat the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month at 9pm/EST as a way to discuss broader topics affecting women. If anyone is interested in learning more or want to be a guest they can visit the show’s page at www.blogtalkradio.com/sistahconfessions.

Any parting words?
I just want to personally thank you for the tireless work you do to support and promote Christian fiction. Your blog is wonderful and a valued resource. No matter what, don’t quit because your labor is not in vain and is very much appreciated. Thank you for allowing me to be featured on your site. This was a great opportunity!

How can readers contact you to learn more about the awards and Tifany Jones?
I am virtually everywhere! Myspace, Twitter, Blogger, Facebook… It might be best to Google me! But to keep it simple the best way to contact me is through my personal website http://www.tifanyinternational.com/ and don’t forget to sign the guestbook.
Those interested in attending the Black Book Clubs Rock Awards or wish to donate to the event please log on to http://www.blackbookclubsrock.blogspot.com/ or email bbcrawards@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Coming Soon...Lady Jasmine

Coming June 2, 2009 - Available for Pre-order

In Temptation, A Sin and A Shame, and most recently, Too Little, Too Late, Jasmine Larson Bush - a scheming, manipulative, man-stealing diva who was "saved" just in time to become a preacher's wife - entertained fans with her conniving ways and acts of redemption. In Lady Jasmine, a desperate time from Jasmine's past threatens the family and the future she worked so hard to build.

Here's an excerpt:

Jasmine closed her eyes and remembered the question Hosea had asked her just five months before when they were in Los Angeles.
"Are there any other secrets, Jasmine? Any other lies?"
She'd told him then every truth she could remember, revealed every lie that she'd ever told--how she was forty-three and not thirty-eight. How she'd been married before. She'd even told him how much weight she'd really gained since she'd had her baby. She'd told her husband everything she could think of.
But she hadn't told him this.

Ah, I had the pleasure of getting an advance reader copy, and it did not disappoint. Page turner with more intensity and drama than Murray's ever delivered before. Lady Jasmine is sure to keep you up all night. Pre-order today at http://www.amazon.com/

About the Author

Victoria Christopher Murray is the Essence bestselling author of the novels Truth Be Told, Joy, Temptation, and Blessed Assurance, a collection of inspirational short stories. She lives with her family in Inglewood, California. Visit her at http://www.victoriachristophermurray.com/