Sunday, May 31, 2009

Summer Reading with Anointed Authors Blog Tour

Anointed Authors on Tour consists of seven award-winning, bestselling authors of Christian fiction and non-fiction publications with a commitment to write and/or publish integrity-based literature, touring as a testament to the power of using gifts and talents for God's glory. Over the next two weeks, plan to meet Kendra Norman Bellamy, Tia McCollors, Vanessa Miller, Michelle Stimpson, Shewanda Riley, and Dr. Vivi Monroe Congress. Each of these authors have current and upcoming book releases that are must-reads for your summer reading list.

Today, let's take a peek at Michelle, Vivi and Shewanda's personal summer reading list.

Michelle Stimpson


Bestselling author Michelle Stimpson also walks in the roles as an accomplished speaker and educator. Her novels include Boaz Brown, Divas of Damascus Road (Essence Bestseller), Breaking Bondage to Biscuits, The Good Stuff and Trouble In My Way. Michelle serves in the Creative Tyme Ministry at her home church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, and Michelle is also currently pursing her ministerial license. She ministers to women through her online newsletter: Michelle lives near Dallas with her husband and their two teenage children.

Who are your favorite authors?

J.California Cooper, Jennifer Weiner, Chuck Swindoll

What books are on your summer reading list?

Same Kind of Different as Me, A Piece of Cake

Dr. Vivi Monroe Congress

CURRENT BOOK RELEASE: Manna for Mamma: Wisdom for Women in the Wilderness

Vivi Monroe Congress, D.Min. is the founder of The Grand Prairie African American AUTHOR SHOWCASE and a trademarked columnist, The Voice of Inspiration™. She has earned and Masters and Doctor of Ministry in Christian Counseling and as a self-proclaimed Literary Servant, her works include: The Bankrupt Spirit: Principles for Turning Setbacks Into Comebacks, The McMillon Family Cookbook: Something to Shout About! and Manna for Mamma: Wisdom for Women in the Wilderness. She lives in Dallas, TX with her family.

Who are your favorite authors?
J. California Cooper, Michelle Stimpson, Tia McCollors, J.D. Mason and Lori Bryant-Woolridge.
What books are on your summer reading list?
J. California Cooper's entire body of works.

Shewanda Riley
CURRENT BOOK RELEASE: Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends
Shewanda Riley is a Dallas-based author whose debut book, Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends, was named a best seller by Essence Magazine and featured in Jet Magazine. Shewanda has also been featured on ABC Radio Networks and The Potter’s Touch Television show. She has an MA in English and a BA in English-Communication Arts. She is currently working on her 2nd book, Loving in the Red Zone: Doing Right in a Do Wrong World.

Who are your favorite authors?

I like all of the Anointed Authors(lol). Plus the classics like Alice Walker, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen.

What books are on your summer reading list?

The Shack, Passing by Samaria – Foster, The Things They Carried – Obrien, Letters to a Young Sister – Harper, The Scene Book – Scofield

Follow the rest of the Summer Reading with Anointed Authors Blog Tour at

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stephanie Perry Moore Two New Teen Series

Stephanie Perry Moore has to have two days in this feature, because she has so many books. This year she released two new series; one for the younger and older teens. Here's a little about the second books in both series:

Yasmin Peace Series

It all Begins with Faith

In this second book of the Yasmin Peace series, family tensions and school unrest soar to a fever pitch. A school counselor begins the LIGHT club, a club dedicated to helping eighth grade girls deal with issues like gangs, depression, teen suicide, and self esteem. Yasmin discovers that there is hope on the other side of every obstacle—if she holds on to her faith.

The Beta Gamma Pi Series

Pledging wasn't in Malloy Murray's plans, but it might be exactly what she needs...

Malloy Murray has never had any close girlfriends, so she wasn't really feeling the whole "sorority" thing, but Malloy has to pledge?her mother, the National President of Beta Gamma Pi, is counting on it. After meeting some of the sisters at a party, the idea of becoming a Beta isn't actually so bad. And when Malloy runs into Kade, the guy she's been crushing on, things heat up fast, especially when Sharon—a Beta sister and Kade's girlfriend—vows to do everything to keep Malloy away from Kade and out of the sorority. Now to survive the school year, Malloy’s got to look deep into her heart to find the real meaning of sisterhood.

STEPHANIE PERRY MOORE is the author of many Young Adult Christian fiction titles, including the Payton Skky series, the Laurel Shadrach series, the Perry Skky Jr. series, the Faith Thomas Novelzine series, the Carmen Browne series, and the Beta Gamma Pi series. She is also the co-editor for the impactful BibleZine, REAL. Mrs. Moore speaks with young people across the country, showing them how they can live life fully and do it God's way. Stephanie currently lives in the greater Atlanta area with her husband, Derrick, a former NFL player and author, and their three children. Visit her website at

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A selection for older teens - Zora and Nicky

I'm reposting Dee Stewart's April 2008 review of Zora and Nicky below:

A Review Inspired

by Dee Stewart

I love to read, but lately all I've been doing is reviewing and editing books. These tasks somehow drain my love for reading until this month. My friend, Claudia Mair Burney, who write the hot pants off me sent me three of her latest novels, all divine, but this one--Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black and White--it did something I rarely get, something that justifies my reasoning for writing inspired fiction...illumination.Zora & Nicky in short is an interracial/interdenominational love story. How do people of different races build a world together? How do people of different ideas of sound doctrine live a life together? How do people love through Christ? A not so simple love story written with simple, elegant, honest, passionate prose. Best book of the year so far.

My favorite passage:
Because I have broken into a million pieces. Click here to read more.

I have to agree with Dee. It's a masterpiece. I recommend it for the older teens. 17 and up I'd say.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nikki Carter's A So For Real Novels

Fifteen-year-old Gia Stokes knows exactly what she needs to make her life fantabulous:

Get her mother Gwendolyn to let her relax her hair

Find a boy to ask her out

Get on the Hi-Steppers dance squad

Gia doesn't have the hair or the clothes, but she's got the moves and the attitude to make her sophomore year at Longfellow High unforgettable. But not everyone agrees, so Gia decides it's time for a makeover. With her stylish new look, she scores a date with hottie football player, Romeo, snags a spot on the Hi-Steppers dance squad, and makes a ton of new friends. Gia's on top of the world?until things go horribly wrong. Now Gia feels like all she has left is her mom and her faith. That's not going to stop Gia, she's just got to convince the Hi-Steppers and everyone else at school, to follow her lead and step to her beat.

Gia and the Longfellow High gang are back in full effect! Ricky – Gia’s BFF and almost-crush - is now the starting quarterback of the Longfellow Spartans. Along with that comes not one but two crushes from Hi-Stepper Valerie and Gia’s cousin Hope, leaving Gia scrambling as the middle man. Valerie’s on a mission to win the Homecoming Queen title and will stop at nothing to get her crown. In the middle of all the drama, Gia now has to contend with a new stepfather and sticky-fingered stepsister. Will Ricky choose Hope or Valerie? Or will Ricky and Gia get past their fear of the crush unknown and lay it all on the line? You’ll have to read and find out!

It Is What It Is coming June 30th. Click here to pre-order.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Interview with YA author, Michelle Stimpson

Today I welcome author, Michelle Stimpson to Urban Christian Fiction Today. Michelle is one of several women's fiction authors who also writes for the young adult market.

Michelle, introduce yourself to my readers. Hi, Rhonda’s readers! I’m Michelle Stimpson – a wife, a mother, an educator, and a writer. I live and worship in the Dallas area. I’m a native Texan and I enjoy getting together with my girlfriends for fun and relaxation. I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old, when I started keeping a regular diary to deal with the sudden absence of my mother, who was severely injured in an auto accident. During her recovery, I started journaling to deal with the stress of suddenly being the “little mother” of the family. I’m so thankful that God kept me with the gift of writing and the Holy Spirit protected me from all the other harm the enemy intended for me while my parents were busy dealing with my mother’s recovery. I just Bless Him for being a fence all around me!

Tell us about your debut young adult novel, Trouble In My Way. Trouble In My Way is a novel about 16-year-old Karis Reed who wants to the right thing, but sometimes trouble does get in the way – especially when her mother (a women’s minister) reads her diary! Karis’s mother finds out that Karis went to a young man’s house, unauthorized, and that’s where the trouble begins. The funny thing about Karis is that she really doesn’t see the problem with doing things her way. In fact, maybe if her mother’s rules weren’t so strict, Karis wouldn’t have to lie and sneak around! I think it’s a fun, poignant read for both mothers and daughters.

I’m laughing because I remember my mother would question me about things in my life and I assumed she was psychic. It never occurred to me that she was reading my diary. LOL. Tell me what inspired you to throw your hat into the young adult market. Actually, I’ve always write something for teens. In fact, my first fiction pieces (short stories) were written for young adults when I was teaching high school. I had been toying around with the idea when I sat down with ReShonda Tate-Billingsley in late 2006, shortly after the release of her first young adult novel. She encouraged me to give it a try and even referred me to her agent. (Thanks, ReShonda!) Once I got started on the manuscript, the rest was history.

Tell us about the main character, Karis. What sets her apart from her peers and why do teens need to know her story? Karis is a good girl at heart. She knows right from wrong and she’s been raised in the church, so she knows what God has to say about being obedient to her parents. But according to Karis, the problem with her parents (who are divorced) is that her mother is too strict, and her father is dating a woman who isn’t much older than Karis. Add drama with boys, friends, and driver’s-ed – and you’ve got the wild and crazy life of Karis Reed! The thing about Karis is that she knows better. Knowing better makes all the difference.

Teens need to read this book to take a peek into the life of another young person who is facing some of the same struggles and know that God is concerned about teens’ lives as much as adults. My hope is that readers will journey through Karis’s crazy tale and discover the importance of integrity right along with her.

I’m impressed that with adult fiction writers who are able to capture the young adult voice. I’ve tried with no success to find my inner teen. :o) Tell me how you do it, Michelle. One of the things that helps me is to go back and review all of those diaries I kept as a teen. When I read them, I recall the voice, the logic, the intense emotions, the newness of experiences and situations that I now recognize almost immediately as an adult. It’s a very refreshing perspective and it helps to get into the mindset of a teenager.

Ha, ha, ha - I go back and read my diaries and wonder why I wasn't medicated. Drama!

Anything else you’d like to share? Just want to encourage readers to pick up a copy and share it with a blessed young lady with a wonderful, bright future ahead of her!

Tell readers how they may find you on the Internet.

Make sure to also check out Michelle's adult novels. She weaves a compelling tale with lots of great plot twist and awesome character development. I highly recommend her novels. As a matter of fact I did in my list of the best Christian Fiction authors at the beginning of 2009.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bluford Series for male "tweens"- Grades 6 to 8

Someone asked me about books for males in that tween age. I don't know of anything in Christian fiction, but I do know about the Bluford Series. I purchased the first 13 for my son years ago. Lots of educators use these books in the classroom, and they really are good values based literature. There are 15 books in the series and get this? If you order from the publisher's website it's only $1 per book. I'm not kidding. $15 plus minimal shipping.

Here's a little about the series:

The Bluford Series is a collection of FIFTEEN young adult novels that focus on the lives of a group of high school students and their families. The series draws its name from the school which many of the characters attend: Bluford High, named after Guion "Guy" Bluford, America's first black astronaut.

Set in contemporary urban America, each novel addresses complex topics relevant to the lives of today's students: family, friendship, trust, isolation, violence, and peer pressure, to name a few.
In addition, the books feature male and female characters and include elements from many literary genres, such as mystery, suspense, romance, and a touch of the supernatural. In other words, the Bluford Series offers something for almost every reader.

Check it out by clicking here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Journey to Publication Part V

Now I have a book deal and an agent. What’s next – the contract? Well yes and no. I was told by Ms. Jossell during the “call” that I wouldn’t receive my contract until March because of something or other. I don’t recall, but I knew it wasn’t coming right away. However, in the meantime, I had an assignment. I had to write a Tip Sheet. A tip sheet is a sales thing. It’s something you complete about your novel so the sales team (who won’t read the book) can pretend that they did when they’re standing in front of B&N, Borders, and all the other many book buyers. I was like “Oh you mean someone’s going to sell my book?” Oh joy! I was thrilled. I’m not sure if all houses ask the authors to do this. I do know other authors with other houses who provide some input into the Tip Sheet, so I’m thinking yes it’s something you do. Well no matter, I was glad to do anything to get this book train out of the station. Ms. Jossell asked me to do the tip sheet right away just in case my book got moved up in the roster. “Moved up?” I thought. “That’s cool. Up from what?" It’s almost March and nobody has told me when my book coming out. I knew Urban Christian (UC) had a lot of authors. I was given an invitation to join a Yahoo Group for UC where we authors meet and chat and share and receive directives from the editor. When I joined in early March the first thing I did was count how many people were on it, but even with the many names (near 25 I would say) I didn’t expect her to tell me February 2010. I mean, for goodness sakes, it’s March 2008, but so it was. I did end up getting moved up to December 2009 obviously, but I was still quite disappointed. I wanted my book out! Now! Or at least in a year. It was not to be. And this is common in publishing. Many houses are 18 months to 2 years out. I was just hoping…

Lesson #11 - It's not all writing. Be prepared to do things for sales early on in your book deal. The tip sheet instructs you to think about the book from the salesman's point of view. You have to figure out how to make it stand out from amongst the many, many books the buyers are hearing about or reading about in the sales catalogue. Make it what I call sexy. Christian fiction can be sexy. Sexy just means alluring, attractive, magnetic.

The next post will be the last and I'm just going to kind of go through a list of things that happened next and wrap this series up. Thanks for reading. Don't forget to click to pre-order Secrets and Lies

Many Blessings,

Rhonda McKnight

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Books For Our Male Teens

Stephanie Perry Moore penned a captivating series for our young men. Last year my 17 year old read each new release of this series in one day flat. This is the kid I used to bribe or threaten to read, so they had to be good. The series includes five books that focus on a young man named Perry Skky, Jr. Here's a little about the first book:

Prime Choice

Torn between his desire for sex and his desire to please God, Perry Skky Jr. needs some guidance—before he lets down both himself and the Lord…

It’s Perry’s senior year—and he has every reason to feel good about himself. One of the most popular kids in his class, he’s not only the best football player in the state, he’s also acing every one of his AP classes. College recruiters are beating down his door to sign him. He even has such a good thing with his girlfriend, Tori, that he finally feels ready to take their relationship to the next level.

There’s only one problem. Tori isn’t ready. Her Christian beliefs tell her she needs to save herself. And with plenty of girls to choose from, Perry is tempted to break up with Tori and start spending time with someone who is ready for something more. The choice is his: to do what feels good—or to do right by God.

Learn more about the series at Stephanie's website by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Unrealistic Expectations

Today I'm reposting a great post I read yesterday at one of the blogs I follow.

Unrealistic Expectations
Deatri King-Bey

The other evening I was at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff minding my own self’s business while waiting in line to see Saturn through their HUGE telescope. I’ve lived in Phoenix two years now, and we rarely have cloudy days or nights. It’s great for star gazing if you can get away from the light pollution of the city. Anywhoooo, it just happened to be one of Flagstaff’s partially cloudy nights when I was standing in the block-plus long line to see the ringed planet. When we’d entered the observatory, we’d been told of the cloud situation, but I held out hope. I’d come to see Saturn, so I’d see Saturn. No cloud would stop me!

So an hour into the line, I’m about twenty people from the entrance and getting excited because I’ve only seen pictures of Saturn and now I would be seeing the real thing. Then it happened. The clouds moved over this area of stars. I wasn’t worried. With the billions of stars out there, what were the chances this bunch of clouds had covered my view of the planet Saturn? One of the astronomers came out and said something on the lines of, “We didn’t want you all in line expecting to see Saturn, and not see Saturn. The clouds are moving and may be covering Saturn when you go inside, so let me give you a tour of what you’re seeing now.”

was disappointed. I came to see Saturn and those dang blasted clouds were trying to stop me. I was disappointed because my expectations weren’t being met. He proceeded to whip out this way coooool laser pointer that seemed to reach all the way to the stars. He pointed to different constellations and even Saturn. I was like, wow, I thought Saturn was another star.

By the time it was my turn to look through the telescope, I’d resigned myself to possibly not being able to see the rings of Saturn. Why set unrealistic expectations and then be disappointed? So I’ll give you one guess what I saw when I looked through the telescope—SATURN! Yeah baby, no stinking clouds could stop me. LOL. Seriously though, if I hadn’t of been able to see Saturn, I would have been slightly disappointed, but fine because I’d dropped my unrealistic expectations of seeing Saturn through the clouds.

How many times have you set yourself up for disappointment by having unrealistic expectations? Click here to read more.

Monday, May 18, 2009


What does that spell? DIVA!!

The Divine Divas. They're fifteen and they're fine, and they want to be the hottest, hippest new girl group to hit gospel music. First they'll have to win the team talent competition. But with looks, energy, and voices like theirs, they are sure they'll go right to the top.

Diamond Winters is the one who formed the Divas. With her wealthy, loving parents and an endless supply of charm, she's always been able to sweet-talk her way into anything. But this time, has Diamond talked her way right into trouble? Diamond has support for her group from her family and church, but she has a lot going on. She's made it onto the school's varsity cheerleading squad, and she's caught the eye of the totally cool senior Jason Xavier. Jax is sweeping her off her feet, but Diamond is starting to feel as if she's in over her head.
Diamond has always been so sure she's in control. Will she have the courage to ask for help and guidance when she needs it? And will the Divas even manage to stay together long enough for the first round of the talent competition?

While India Morrow is happy her BFFs included her in the Divas, she knows she's not cute like Diamond, cool like Veronique, or smart like Aaliyah. Maybe if she were supermodel-thin, like her mom, she'd stand out in a crowd, but dieting never seems to work for her. The Divas are poised to win the next level of the competition and India is scared she'll let her friends down. With only fifty-eight days to get it all right, her cousin Jill tells her the secret -- how to lose weight while still eating.

The pounds start falling away; India is finally getting lots of attention. If only she didn't feel bad about keeping a secret. She's scared of what her friends, parents, and Pastor Ford would say. What she's doing isn't so wrong, is it? All she wants is to be a star...but will the price be too great for her, body and soul?

Veronique wants to be a star just as much as her fellow Divas do, but there's more to it than just fame for her. Unlike her middle-class friends at Holy Cross Prep, Veronique is there on scholarship, and if she wins a recording contract, she can move her mother and brothers out of their crummy apartment.

But Veronique has another dream that's hers alone. She longs to meet her dad, who disappeared to New York when she was just a baby. Could going to the Big A with the other Divas be Veronique's big chance to find him? Veronique knows she'll have to do some legwork on her own, though, so she turns to the internet for help. While it seems like a miracle when she gets a response, her friends aren't so sure. Is Veronique putting herself in danger, just when the Divas are on the brink of really making it big? And will her faith and her friends be enough to keep her safe?

To learn more about Victoria or the the DIVINE DIVAS, visit and/or

Look for the last installment of the series, Aaliyah coming October 2009.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Interview with author, Jacquelin Thomas

Today, I welcome author, Jacquelin Thomas, to Urban Christian Fiction Today. Any of you who read Christian Fiction probably know who Jacquelin is. Having stepped out on faith to write the novels the Lord called her to write even though she had a very successful career established in mainstream romance, Jacquelin is one of the early pioneers in this genre. I can still remember reading Jacquelin's first Christian fiction novel, Singsation and crying. Then almost eight years later, reading her novel, Redemption and being moved to tears again. She's way over due as a guest on this blog. For those who aren't familiar with her work, you've been missing out, but as you know, it's never too late to discover a great author. Today we're going to talk about Jacquelin's young adult fiction.

Welcome, Jacquelin. Introduce yourself to my readers.
Hi, I’m Jacquelin Thomas and I am published in romance, women’s fiction and young adult. I have over thirty books in print and have enjoyed a successful career that’s lasted 12 years. The highlight of my career has been seeing one of my books adapted into a television movie and being nominated for a 2008 NAACP Image Award.

Tell us about the Divine Series.
The series features Divine Matthews Hardison, the teenage daughter of two celebrity parents and sheds light on what it’s like to be a Hollywood princess who has been transplanted to a small town in Georgia, surrounded by ‘normal’ teens and away from the media spotlight. It is in Temple, GA that Divine learns some of life’s greatest lessons.

The books deal with real issues such as Internet dangers, teen domestic violence, teen pregnancy, virtual marriages and challenges faced by blended families.

Jacquelin, you've written four books about Divine. Tell us what makes this character standout from amongst her peers? Divine is a typical teenager, although she comes with a hefty trust fund. She’s a total fashionista and diva, but is fiercely loyal when it comes to family and friends. She’s not perfect and gets in trouble from time to time, but Divine is pretty good about learning from her mistakes.

Learning from their mistakes is something all parents desire for the children. Tell me what have you enjoyed most about interacting with young adults as a result of these books? I’ve always interacted with young adults in one form or the other. I enjoy their zest for life and their honesty refreshing. I’ve found that most teens just want a listening ear, but without judgment.

Share a special email or comment you received from a reader that touched your heart. I love the letters from teens who write to tell me that they are members of the Big ‘V’ Club just like Divine or that they read my books and that they’ve helped them make better decisions.

What’s next for Divine?
Readers have asked for stories about some of Divine’s friends, so coming this month is the first book in the Divine & Friends series: It’s A Curl Thing, which features Rhyann. Divine, Mimi & Alyssa will all put in appearances.

Rhyann Hamilton could not be more jazzed for her sophomore prom. The big event is one day away, and getting prepped is a family affair: thanks to her aunt's designing magic, she's got a dreamy Valentino look-alike gown, and her sister Tameka's doing her hair. But something goes terribly wrong -- and Rhyann's hair color is a total disaster! An emergency trip to a luxury salon saves the day, but how will Rhyann pay for the high-priced appointment? Thanks to the kindhearted owner, working at the salon becomes more than just a way to pay a debt -- for Rhyann is about to discover how beautiful things can happen when your heart is open, and how one bad hair day can be a blessing in disguise.

Sounds "divine", Jacquelin. How can readers learn more about the books on the Internet? They can visit my website: or
I’m also on MySpace & Facebook.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Jacquelin. I look forward to having you back when your next women's fiction title The Ideal Wife is released in October.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Teen Fiction Showcase - May 17th - May 29th

I can't believe it's almost June. The kids are going to be out school in a few weeks. Time to find them some reading material to keep them busy during those lazy summer days. How about some Christian Fiction? Good choice. Christian fiction will speak for you when you're not there.
Don't have kids of your own - what about neices and nephews, little cousins or some kids in your neighborhood or church. It doesn't really matter who plants a seed. As long as it falls on good soil, it'll grow.
Look for titles by these authors:
Jacquelin Thomas, Victoria Christopher Murray, Stephanie Perry Moore, Nikki Carter and more...

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Journey to Publication - Part IV

Agents – Who can find a virtuous one?
Rhonda McKnight

I’m a silly person. Everyone who knows me well learns that pretty quickly, and I find humor in just about any situation that doesn’t involve sickness or death. I can also readily find a scripture that matches up with whatever the drama may be; sometimes that’s done in a serious vein, sometimes to flesh out the irony. When I began my hunt for an agent the one that immediately came to mind was Proverbs 31:10. You know it ladies, The Virtuous Woman. How did I equate Proverbs 31 to finding an agent? Like a good woman, agents seem to have great value if you have one, but as the word in Proverbs says, “Who can find one?” And who can find one who’ll work with a newbie author? Dare I throw in an African-American newbie in a niche genre? (I just guffawed). I could do a disscertation on the agent thing using chapter 31 of Proverbs, maybe another day. Maybe when I've been published longer and know more.

Agents are an enigma to me. In the whole big US of A where 300K plus books are published every year by nearly as many authors, there’s a very small list of people who are considered reputable agents. If that’s not a job that needs to be on the Bureau of Labor Statistics list of “Most Needed” I don’t know what is. Suffice to say the agents’ low supply and high demand lead to this little thing that bugs people like me crazy: the ability to be picky.

I began my search for an agent on January 1st after I left my parents house. I had done some preliminary reading about what to look for, so I created a short list of about ten agents that I was interested in. I had a few “yeah right” choices in the mix, but it was largely comprised of agents who specialized in Christian or Inspirational fiction that had at least one African-American client. (I hate being alone at a party.) I email queried them all and two responded. Both said thanks, but no thanks, and good luck looking. I quickly made a list of five more. Emailed them. None responded. Five more. Not one answer. I waited and waited. Checked my email every fifteen minutes for three weeks and no one answered me. No one wanted to represent me.

From the agents perspective I kinda understand the rejection. Newbie author – they're thinking what are you going to sell – 5,000 copies if you hustle a little. That’s a buck a book if you average gross and net sales royalties. They get 15% commission. Earnings of $750 a year on the high end for them. Not a mint, but come on my book was sold. They didn't even have to shop it. $750 to make a few phone calls, negotiate a “standard” contract and send a few emails a year asking me how I’m doing and how’s the 2nd book coming. We’re talking maybe 5 hours of work all year; $150 an hour isn't bad money, but then again my day job isn’t on the BLS list of jobs most needed, so what do I know about money.

Despite what I considered good agent bait (easy money), I couldn’t bag one to save my life. I’ll always think highly of the few that took the time to respond in the “negative” to my query. If I’m ever in the market for a new agent, I’d come begging at their inbox again. So now you’re wondering – did I ever get an agent? And if yes, how? More crazy faith? Not quite. I asked an author friend to refer me to hers.

Lesson #10 – You’ve already learned this one, but I can't say it enough: network and make friends. People will help you.

My best-est author friend in the world, Sherri Lewis, gave me a referral to Crichton & Associates. Ms. Crichton, who I now call by her first name, telephoned me and conducted a quick 1-2-3 interview. She asked my about my goals, my future projects, my plans for marketing – yada, yada, yada. She didn’t hear anything crazy or unrealistic, so she offered to represent me. I asked her a few questions, but at this point I was pretty desperate. Sherri and some of the other authors I knew whom she represented had good things to say. Then there was the added benefit of her being an attorney who specializes in contracts. I learned from attending writers' conferences that the best agents are lawyers because they understand the legalese. By the beginning of February, I want to say February 13, 2007, I had an agent. There was much ((((((clapping))))))) and wiping of my brow.

So what's next? "Ummm, can somebody tell me when my book is coming out?"

See you on Tuesday.

Thanks to all of you who are following this story. I'm loving the comments and questions.

For those of you who have just started today, scroll down and start at the beginning.

Remember, I'm available for pre-order on Amazon, so pre-order Secrets and Lies. They don't charge you until it ships, and you'll get the pre-order price once it goes down. Click here... and thanks for your support.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mom's the Word - Blog Tour - Day 5

Getting to Know the fun side of Marilynn Griffith, author of Mom's The Word

Marilynn Griffith is the author of eight novels, mother to seven children, wife to a deacon and proof of God’s enduring mercy. One of her novels, If the Shoe Fits, served as a prop in Tyler Perry’s box office hit Why Did I Get Married? She has served as national Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers and has served on faculty at several national writers conferences. When she’s not writing about friendship, family and faith, Marilynn blogs and speaks to women and writers.

Would you say you are an extrovert or introvert?A little of both. Extrovert for the most part.
Do you like to cook? If so, what are your favorite dishes to cook? I like to cook, but usually when I don't have to do it. My favorite time and dishes to cook are holidays, specifically Thanksgiving. I don't know what happens to me, but I just start cooking and can't stop!

What movie(s) have you watched recently that you would recommend? This is sad, but many of the movies I watch are kids movies. I haven't loved anything lately. Bolt and Madagascar 2 were probably the last movies I really cracked up laughing for.
Do you like books being turned into a movie? If so, what is your favorite book-to-movie? I'm weird. I usually like the book better than the movie. My favorite book-to-movie is probably Robert Ludlum's Bourne Identity.

If Mom's the Word was turned into a movie who would you cast to play your characters? Dyanne Thornton would be played by Gabrielle Union. Karol Simon would be played by Tisha Campbell (the curly version).
Which social networks do you enjoy the most? Facebook, Sistahfaith

What's next for you?I just finished the sequel Songs of Deliverance and am working on my first nonfiction project, SistahFaith and the community and events that go with that as well as a novella for Kensington with Angela Benson and Tia McCollors. I'm very excited about that.
About the Book
When her tall, dark, delicious husband joins their three kids in calling her “Mom,” Karol Simons has an identity crisis. Sure she loves the pint-size trio, but what’s happened to her dreams of writing a novel? Determined to have it all, she turns to her neighbor for help.

Dyanne Thornton is thrilled to stand in as Mom for three weeks so Karol can write. Bursting with baby fever, the career-woman trades her glamorous clothes and four-inch heels for the playground and potty training. She hopes to convince her reluctant husband they should start a family of their own, right away.

Everyone’s in for some big surprises…

Order your copy of Mom's the Word from .
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Join Marilynn's social network at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Journey to Publication - Part III

Rhonda McKnight

I begin working on the rewrite. I immediately realize why I sent the manuscript off with a bad chapter one; because I couldn’t figure out how to make it better. Really, I couldn’t and now I can’t. I try a few things, submit them to my writers' group and everyone kind of has the same comments: "Nah, it’s not working.", "No, that feels like you just dropped it in the front of the story.", "Hmmm…that’s good writing, but it belongs someplace else in the story." By mid-December I’m beyond stressed. I email my final effort, the only one I think is any good to my buddy, Dee Stewart and she emails me back that the writing is episodic; I’m telling the story in vinettes, blah, blah, blah. It sucks. I burst into tears. Wah! I email her that I’m freaking out. I can’t execute this change, and I’m running out of time. Dee feels so bad for me that she calls, and we talk it through. She makes one little suggestion and completely changes the opening of the book. Thank you, Jesus.

Lesson#5 – When you’re in trouble, ask for help. Sometimes people are mad busy or they think you’re working it out or assume someone else in the group is helping. Don’t be afraid to send out a distress signal. Let somebody know you’re drowning. They’ll jump in the water to save you. Never, ever, ever let an important deadline or opportunity pass you by without tapping all your resources.

Lesson #6 – Two heads are better than one.

On December 24th (yes, Christmas Eve) I head to Federal Express with my package and send it overnight to the publisher. I feel good. It’s so much better, definitely publishable. I’m in. My novel, Issue of the Heart (at the time) has a home. I’m just waiting for the phone call.

It’s Friday, December 28th and I arrive at my parent’s home in South Carolina. I’d literally just gotten off the road; just gotten a signal back on my cell phone, because I was driving in the woods. My phone rings. I seriously almost don't get it, because I've got a one year old on my hip and luggage in my hand. But I know my husband should be checking on us, so I decide to answer. I look at the phone. I notice the area code. It looks familiar, like publisher familiar. Not publisher #2 that I just mailed my package to, but publisher #1. I answer and the woman on the other end says, “Hello, Rhonda. It’s Joylynn Jossell with Urban Books, I’m calling to tell you we’d like to acquire Issues of the Heart for the Urban Christian line.” It’s “the call”, it’s “the call”, and I’m stunned, so stunned I don’t say anything. She tells me about money, and then asks me if I would like to accept the offer. This is a no brainer, right? But I hesitate; after all I just mailed my revised masterpiece to publisher #2. I’ve moved on in my heart, in my mind, in my pocket (that Fedex package was $32). So she asks me again and this time I release the “stupid button” and say, “Yes!” after I get off the phone I tell my mother and son. I call my husband and my writer friends with the news that I am going to be a published author.

Guess what ya’ll… I sold the novel before the end of the year. Now was that God, or was that God? Crazy faith...I'm telling you. Works every time. I found out some months later that my manuscript was actually rejected by a reader in the Joylynn's office back in the summer. It was in a pile waiting to be shred. When the reader left Urban, Joylynn decided to go back through all the manuscripts to make sure the woman hadn't said something was a "no" that should have been a "yes". Her exact words were "I saved yours for last because it was 400 pages, but it was 400 pages that blessed my soul." Can you imagine? The devil tried to get in the way of crazy faith.

Lesson #7 – It's a spiritual one, what God has for me, it is for me.
Lesson #8 - It's a spiritual one also, delayed is not denied.
Lesson #9 - The post office would have been cheaper than Fed Ex, but the post office closes at noon on Christmas Eve.

To be continued on Friday, May 15th. Getting an agent: Should be easy, I’ve already done the hard work - right?
Great news - my book is available for pre-order on Amazon. As of today the cover is not there. The discount on the price is not there either, but it's there. (LOL) Click here...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Victorious Magazine - Blog Tour - Day 1

Victorious Magazine Launch Celebration

VICTORIOUS Magazine is the cornerstone of our public communication, providing access to articles representing our victorious message! By reaching out directly to each woman and touching on the concerns that are on her heart we are able to encourage her to press on toward her dreams to live victoriously, taking control of her own destiny and achieving her true purpose. Our editorial content is designed to validate the importance of the things that appeal to her on all levels - personally, professionally, spiritually, and mentally - in a way that only women can understand.Our article categories include Destiny & Purpose, Inspiration & Empowerment, Stewardship, Victorious Living, Victorious Wellness, and Style & Grace. The publication launched its digital version March 30, 2009. The first print issue of VICTORIOUS MAGAZINE will hit the newsstands September 2009, with an initial circulation of 25,000.

Meet Brooks J. Young, The Founder of Victorious Magazine

It’s been nine months since I conceived Victorious Magazine – a long nine months. I’ve gained 60 pounds, midnight manna cravings, tears of joy and out-of-control hormones. I was ready to see my baby. I was ready to see what the Holy Spirit had implanted in me. See, I was a “teenage mother”. I knew nothing about birthing a magazine. My family and friends told me I was crazy to want to keep the vision that God had gave me. It’s not like this pregnancy was planned. Victorious just “happened”. It was a late night and I was out seeking to become intimate with God. I wanted to know what true love was and boy did He show me. I finally understood what intimacy was in a way that was never shown to me…this was true love and in the end I was pregnant. What would I name her? Destiny? Purpose?

Did I ever think about aborting my baby? No. Not once. Even when family and friends walked away and told me that my baby would not live in this economy, I knew she would thrive! When the neighbors and “online buddies” were whispering about how I was alone - an unwed mother - with no staff and no money… I kept going. I was determined to give birth to my baby. My baby was not an illegitimate child - her father’s name is Yahweh; she is not a mistake and I refused to allow anyone to call her that. She was one of the best gifts that God has given me - and He named her Victorious!

Victorious is just a baby now and in a couple of months she will be a toddler. Standing on racks across the country¸ in the hands of women who need to realize the conception of their own spiritual gift in God. While everyone else was talking, I was giving my baby the proper nutrients to grow: prayers, love, and support. I kept my eyes on the Father and not on the world. I trusted Him to provide child support… and He never let me down! I closed out all the naysayers and those who are dream killers because I know what God said. There were plenty of days I rocked myself to sleep because of hurt and pain. There were days where my heart was so heavy from the “nosey neighbors” but I had to give birth.

This was not an easy pregnancy; there were several complications and tests run. I was at a point where I thought I was going to lose her but God stepped in and declared that “Victorious shall live and not die.” So, I prayed for clarity and help – I was given wisdom and midwives. I was blessed with awesome women of God to tell me to keep pushing when labor got so hard that I just wanted to give up. They assured me that I could and would deliver a healthy baby. They were right – she’s perfect.

We as visionaries have to remember that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. We have to look at the true enemy and understand that if he can get us to abort our spiritual babies then he has won and we are not victorious people. There will be labor pains, lack of sleep, and cravings (tests of our will power to resist things that we cannot feed our baby!) God always makes provision for the vision. He always has a Master plan. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Every trial and test is NOT for us but for someone else - and for GOD’s glory. I may not be an expert but God has given me an assignment and I must complete it. God knew I would protect my baby. He knew what kind of mother I would be even when I had some doubts. He knew what was inside of me. He knows exactly what we need to reach our destiny. Here’s a secret: Everything you need to reach your destiny is inside of you .

Check out the digital issue at
For the full Blog Tour schedule visit,

Friday, May 08, 2009

My Journey to Publication - Part II


Rhonda McKnight

Before I continue this story, I need to step back a bit and clarify something, particularly for those of you who know nothing about publishing and then for those of you who do. It was pretty bold – insane – downright silly for me to say at the end of the 2006 that I was going to sell a book that wouldn’t actually be ready until April. Selling a manuscript to a publishing house is not easy. Even the best manuscripts are rejected. Then there's the waiting. Publishing has got to have the slowest response time of any business on the planet. I've had friends wait a year to hear from a publisher. Editors receive hundreds of queries every month. Wading through the good, bad and ugly is time-consuming. I knew this when I made my declaration, but I’ve got this crazy faith thing going and honestly, it’s been working for a sistah, so it was my faith talking…not my lack of knowledge about the industry.

So, here I am, it’s the end of August. I only have four months to sell my manuscript. I set my sights on another publisher. A small house that does a real quality job with their line. I send two emails; one to an author buddy who is already with the line and one to the acquisitions editor. I ask both to advise the submission process. The editor responded first. I’d just missed the quarterly submission deadline by two days. They wouldn’t be taking new submissions until January. Then my author buddy emailed me and said the same, but guess what? She called her editor and requested an extension for me. I had a week.

Lesson #3 – Network. Develop relationships with other writers and authors. People will help you.

I’m excited now, but I have this huge packet of stuff to do. They want a competitive analysis, a marketing plan, a longer synopsis, egads, another synopsis. I wanted to give up then. But I’m no quitter. I hunker down for the weekend, get it all done, mail my package (I don’t think I took a picture that time) and then I do what? You guessed it…wait.

Now, I’m a proactive girl, I know where my editors live, or at least work, so I’ve already found out the area code this publishing house is in. I always give my cell phone number. Heaven forbid I should get "the call" and it goes to voicemail at my house, or better yet, my husband or son take a bad message. No way. I know what I’m looking for, so when my phone rings on November 1st at 2:15 in the afternoon my heart nearly comes out of my chest. It’s “the call”, “the call”! I slow down because I’m doing about 80 miles an hour on I-85. (Getting dead before they print the book would be like an Afro-Greek tragedy.) I push the talk button, and try to contain my excitement which instantly becomes easy to do when I realize the person on the other end of the phone is NOT the acquisitions editor. Surely she makes "the calls". If I was in charge, I’d make "the calls". It’s an editorial assistant, and she’s calling to tell me they thought my manuscript was strong, but they’d like me to rewrite the first chapter. (No surprise there, I’d always hated the first chapter). Her exact words were “African-American readers like drama and we just need a little more of it in the first chapter.” My tongue’s hanging out, because I mean who can’t rewrite one chapter. I’ve heard of writers having to rewrite a quarter of a book. This is it, it’s my big chance! They want me! Almost. She gives me more instructions and follows up with an email. I’ve got until December 28th to get it to them. The only disappointment is I won’t sell by the end of the year, but by golly I’ll sell – so I think…

To be continued on Tuesday!

Lesson #4 – I’m a real stinker to leave you guys hanging this way. No seriously, the lesson is if you don’t like a chapter, why would you think anyone else would? I knew chapter one had issues, but I could not, would not dig in and get creative enough to fix it. The entire manuscript could have been rejected on a bad chapter one. I should have made it perfect.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Deliver Me From My Enemies by Sharon Oliver

In this much anticipated sequel to Keep Your Enemies Closer, Charlotte Morley is still in South Carolina waiting to learn the fate of a relative. In the meantime, there is another loved one caught up in some serious scandal. Charlotte had assumed that her Aunt Ramiyah's motive for killing her husband was due to an abusive marriage. However, in a series of letters written to Charlotte by Ramiyah it is revealed that the true motive springs deep from beneath the family tree and is steep in secret sins. Also joining the eclectic and sometimes eccentric cast of characters is the effervescent Hiawatha Jones, the son of the tart-tongued-tell-it-like-it-is Miss Sista. Hiawatha needs to be delivered from a few issues of his own.This delicious slice of life story is filled with suspense, humor and insight. Deliver Me From My Enemies deftly demonstrates how God can use or heal anybody from anything.
I had Sharon pull up a "virtual" chair and answer a few questions about the new novel:

Who is your favorite character and why? Miss Sista is still a favorite. I love her boldness. But they are all favorites for various reasons, which is partially why this is a sequel.

What did you learn while writing this novel? Well, I learned how to balance and schedule time for writing a little better while working a 9 to 5.

What is the spiritual takeway? Sometimes in life our tests for forgiveness can be extremely difficult so it takes God's help. This story delves into a couple of areas that is not often talked about, but does go on behind closed doors. I want the reader(s) to know that while God does allow certain circumstances to happen, He is able to bring about deliverance, vindication, etc., Plus, use you for His glory because of it.

Well said, Sharon. Thanks for stopping by.

Readers may contact Sharon at the following:
Email:; website:;
Please also see a full interview with Sharon by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

My Journey to Publication - Part I


Rhonda McKnight

I wrote my first manuscript over a period of years. I began it in June of 2004 and finished it in April of 2007. There were long gaps of time when I did not touch it. Like an entire pregnancy and postpartum period, during my time in grad school (which was most of the time), and during a six month period of time when I decided I wasn’t going to finish it. The original draft was 115,000 words and if I was honest with myself I probably wrote the first draft in less than six months.

Secrets and Lies started as Torn Asunder and then became Issues of the Heart. It was Issues of the Heart for a long time. I was married to that title, and it was the perfect title for the book, that is until I learned a little about marketing. My mentor suggested that the title sounded like a non-fiction book title. I said, "Well, I'll put "a novel" on it, but then I realized if an author had to put “a novel” on their book just to make sure readers knew it was fiction, that meant it had the wrong title. So, I dug deep in the manuscript and pulled out one of the main recurring themes. Just about everybody in the story had a secret and most of those secrets have led to lies.

Lesson #1: Your title is a marketing tool. It should absolutely capture the essence of what your story is about, but make sure it grabs the reader.
On New Year’s Eve 2006 I decided 2007 was going to be my year. I was going to sell my novel. I made a plan to take the first week of April off from work, clean it up and put it in the mail to publishers who were taking unsolicited submissions (unsolicited means unagented). I followed the plan, took the week off, worked twelve hours a day on the rewriting and edits and by the end of the week put a query letter and the first four chapters in the mail to the publisher I thought would be a good fit for it. I still had some work to do on the manuscript, but I figured I had a couple of months before I’d hear from them with the request for full. Well to my surprise the next week – I mean in exactly seven days I had a letter in my box from the publisher requesting the full manuscript. I seriously assumed it was a rejection letter,so I was pleasantly surprised that they had requested the full and so quickly. There was one teeny little problem, right? The book wasn't done!

Lesson #2: Don’t do what I did. Make sure the book is finished.

I worked like a maniac to get the manuscript completely finished and read by a few people. I took pictures of the package and put it in the mail on May 16th. I waited, and waited and waited. By August I started thinking, “What happened?” Didn’t they love it? All 99,900 words of it. I sent a follow up letter and received one back that said “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” So then I decided it was time to send my masterpiece to someone else. Rememeber, I was selling a book this year. Time was a wasting.

To be continued on Friday…

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Interview with author T.N. Williams

Today I welcome back one of my label-mates at Urban Christian Books, author T.N. Williams. T.N. wrote an inspiring post last December in honor of Christmas.

Welcome back T.N. Introduce yourself. Mother, writer, poet, employee, etc… I carry so many titles, that I couldn’t explain them all. I can for sure say that I love people and am excited at the readership that I’ve experienced since becoming an author. This is my second novel. The first was called Something On The Inside and touched a lot of lives. I didn’t realize what God was doing by putting a pen in my hand, but once I saw the evidence, I was moved beyond words. It inspired me to keep writing.

Tell us about your new release After The Feeling.
After The Feeling is a story written from the perspective of Germani and Scott, a couple dealing with porn addiction and how women think differently than men. It is about finding a common ground and allowing God to work through a difficult situation. It is also about the distractions of work and family that may hinder resolution.

Who was your favorite character and why? I can’t really say that I had a favorite character. I will admit that Scott probably stands out to me, just because of his never-ending commitment to his extended family and wayward friends despite his own struggles. I loved his realness and feel that people will have a better grasp of the men behind porn addiction once they meet Scott.

Any scripture in particular that stuck with you when you were writing the story?
Proverbs 15:14 "The heart of him that has understanding seeks knowledge; but the mouth of the fool feedth on foolishness."

That scripture stands out because it is easy to let emotions and words dictate a situation. A couple of the characters were destructive because they didn’t understand how to deal with their life events. It is easy to lash out when the heat gets to boiling and understanding feels non-existent. But if we allow God to bring understanding to the situation, life can be so much more manageable.

Tell us about your writing process. I write whenever I have time and can focus because I have a household to run and a daytime job. It can get difficult to set aside time for my thought process. Usually I sit in my bedroom by myself and just start writing or I may get a thought in the middle of something else and immediately write it down and then extend the thought later.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned about this business after the release of your first novel, Something on the Inside? That what you put into marketing, is exactly what you get out of it. The passion to tell the story will only get you so far. Once it is in print the real work begins.

Who are other Christian Fiction authors that you read, and why do you like their work? I love ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Ryan Phillips and Jacquelin Thomas, they probably rank at the top of the list. They all have different writing styles, but the authentic nature of the characters draw me in. They each bring real reactions to real situations without it sounding preachy. I think they are able to reach a broad audience that may not normally read Christian fiction. I read a lot though so my list of gifted authors would probably extend a mile.

T.N., what do you know that you know?
That we are all flawed and imperfect, but God loves us still. He gave me a purpose despite my obstacles and a gift despite my worthiness. I am thankful everyday for his movement in my life.

How can readers get in touch with you?
They can reach me on my webpage  and at social networks like Myspace and Facebook. I also have an email account: I love to hear from readers so look me up!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Online Reader and Writer Conference

I tell you. Don't you just love the Internet. Two weeks ago my writers' group had an awesome online conference, and now Shades of Romance Magazine is hosting their biennial conference this August.

The cool thing about her conference is that it's for readers and writers and it's FREE!

The dates are August 23 – August 29th. Registration is open. Stop and learn more by clicking here.