Sunday, August 30, 2009

Interivew with Tracey Michae’l Lewis

Today I welcome author, Tracey Michae'l Lewis, to UCFT. Tracey has an exciting new project that I personally can't wait to get a book light over.

Welcome, Tracey. Introduce yourself to my readers.

Hi readers! My name is Tracey Michae’l Lewis. I am an author, entrepreneur, consultant, educator, speaker, wife, daughter, sister, soror, cousin, and friend. I say all of that to say that I carry many titles but at the core of who I am lays a scribe: a writer for the Kingdom of God.

Tell us about your latest novel.

I’m so excited about this one! Interruption: The Gospel According to Crystal Justine is the second book in my “Gospel” trilogy. The Gospel series itself explores the lives of three generations of women in one family and their struggles with their faith as it relates to issues of insecurity, fear, and low-self worth; issues that have manifested negatively in their relationships. The first book in the series was The Gospel According to Sasha Renee. Sasha is this super fly-girl from the South side of Chicago who tries to live on a borrowed faith. She’s okay with her mother and friends praying for her as long as she didn’t have to acknowledge the Holy Spirit for herself. And of course, she makes the worse choices because of that even in the midst of God sending her the most wonderful man (Langston). This book really is about redemption because the reader gets to watch the process of salvation play itself out.

In the new book, Interruption: The Gospel According to Crystal Justine (CJ), it is 25 years later and CJ is Sasha’s daughter. In spite of actually having a relationship with God, CJ finds herself repeating some of the same mistakes that her mother and grandmother made in their lives. It is in this book that the reader learns that the issues of the women in this family is not just the result of poor choices but of a demonic, spiritual attack that was set in motion several generations back to keep the women in this family from fulfilling their God-ordained destiny. CJ goes through her own share of relationship fumbles and ultimately has to figure out whether she will be the interruption in her family’s bloodline? Will she get free of the generational curses that have pursued her, her mother, her grandmother, and all of the other women in her family?

What is the main theme of the novel?

When I think of “theme,” I think about a thread that holds every piece of the story together. In that case, the theme of this book is deliverance. We hear the word said in church all the time but I’m not sure if we always know what that means or what “deliverance” looks like. By the end of this book, it is clear.

Interesting, share why you decided to deal with this particular topic? I think my writing not only inspires but causes reflection. These stories come to me out of my own struggles and the struggles of those that I’ve observed. No, I’m not Sasha or CJ nor is the book based on anyone that I know. However, the issues that come up in the book have touched me in some way or another. My main goal was not to just expose the issue of sexual abuse or low self-esteem or abuse but to show, through my characters, what the process of deliverance from the effects of those things looks like. If I just said “CJ did this” or “they did this to Sasha” then I’m preaching to my reader and I have certainly not been called to preach. But if I show you how, in spite of the bumps in the road, these women managed their journey and how their faith, eventual or otherwise, along with God’s grace helped them get free, then hopefully I can help readers examine their own lives and do the same.

I also know that many of us can find ourselves in these cycles where our families are dealing with the same issues generation after generation. Great-grandmom, grandmom, mom, daughter, grand-daughter, and great-granddaughter have all divorced or all have had children out of wedlock, or all were talented cooks but never pursued it as a career, etc. etc. This book helped me explore the concept of “generational curses” from a spiritual perspective which I’d never seen done before in Christian fiction.

What has been the reaction from readers?

It's funny because there is a degree of identification that I didn't expect. People see themselves in my protagonist. I’d like to think that I stretched myself when it came to developing this character but it seems as though I stretched myself right into the lives of so many women out there. (laughing) Which of course is not a bad thing at all. I've had readers say that they heard the Lord speak to them through the characters in this book. That they've gotten direction and peace from the book. Or that they now see their lives three dimensionally and understand that there is a spiritual realm and some of the things we deal with are a result of attacks at that level or, at the very least, our choices as a result of those attacks.

All of that is very good feedback. Still, when I hear this, I'm usually thinking, "Wow. It must be God." I mean, I'm just writing fiction, right? And yet the main response I still hear from readers is that the story seems so real. They identify with it.

Most people believe Christian Fiction needs to either be inspiring or have a message of redemption. Which would you say your novel has? I think my novel does both and more. You see, I don’t know if Christian Fiction as a genre needs to do any one of these things specifically. It only needs to accomplish what God has destined for it accomplish. I don’t mean to oversimplify it but I think we, as Christ Followers, think too much of ourselves sometimes. For one reader, the only purpose God may have for book is to entertain them, to give them rest from an otherwise hectic life. For another reader, it may be to inspire them, to give them those warm and fuzzies that they may not get anywhere else. For others, it could get deeper. It may motivate some readers to change their entire lives or to accept Christ. I don’t think we really know how God is going to use our work. That’s why I consider myself more than I writer. I am a scribe. I have to be careful that I’m hearing what the King (God) wants to say through these characters and write accordingly. Otherwise, I might get in the way. When that happens, no one is inspired, redeemed, or anything else.

Boy do I agree with you. I think my recent post on Kim Roby and the comments thereafter speak to this. Ministry comes in many forms and it's certainly not for any of us to say what is God's will for is people. Thank you for being so transparent on this point.

Share a little about your publishing journey? I’ve been writing for most of my life. I started with poetry and plays and then later moved to fiction, screenwriting, and nonfiction. In 2002, I decided to independently publish my own poetry. Although back then, I didn’t know what a “platform” was in the publishing sense, I did know that I was doing quite a bit on the spoken word circuit and was told that my work had a more literary feel to it. So I went to work on getting my poetry in print. The first collection was “Collapsed on the Wings of a Sigh” and following that, I published “Divine Nepotism,” “Write the Vision: A Collection of Essays,” and “No Greater Love.” In 2004, I began studying the craft of writing more and ultimately published the first edition of my first novel, “The Gospel According to Sasha Renee.” Since then, I’ve published articles in various magazines and newspapers including the Philadelphia Weekly, the Montclair Times, Circuit Rider, Workplace Diversity, and Equal Opportunity.

Now, after five long but educational years since my last novel, I’ve finally published the sequel, Interruption: The Gospel According to Crystal Justine, and have signed a book deal for another book (mentioned below).

How difficult was it to navigate the process of independent publishing? What if anything would you do differently, or suggest to others who would like to go the same route? Well, this is my sixth time around so I can honestly say that I’ve learned from many of the mistakes that I made the first few times around. Things like poor design and editing or trying to do book signings in California and Texas instead of branding myself right where I was living. If I could have done anything differently this time I would have made sure all of my hundreds of millionaire friends donated at least 100K to my marketing plan and certainly would have accurately prophesied at least 5 additional hours into my day (laughing). No, seriously, I think this is an awesome time to independently publish your own work given that you can a) write well, b) target/establish a market and reach it, and c) be willing to give up all of your spare time to promote, promote, and promote some more. Easy enough, right?

What's next for Tracey? Well, I’ve recently signed a book deal with Beacon Hill Press for a non-fiction book on Multicultural ministry so I’m currently wrapping that up. I’ve also begun working on another fiction work that takes my writing in an entirely new (and challenging) direction. Then it’s back to finish the Gospel trilogy with “The Gospel According to Vivian Grace” (that’s CJ’s grandmother and Sasha’s mother) And of course, I’m still blogging, writing articles, speaking, and running my business.

On another note...what I REALLY hope is next for Tracey is motherhood. Hubbie and I are still working on that, though.

Where can readers find you on the Internet? I’m all over the place. You can purchase books or catch me blogging at I’m on facebook at and Twitter at I also own a business and educational consulting firm (which also provides some business writing services to organizations) and that website is

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pastor Brown

Reposted from All That's Noir

Sunday, August 23, 2009
"Find Your Shoes," Grab Your Keys and Make Your Way to See "Pastor Brown!"

I just returned from a screening of "Pastor Brown" in Oakland today.

Sherri James, Vice President of Rock Capital Studios, is touring the country screening this movie to select audiences. I was lucky to get a seat at the event held at Bebe Memorial Church.

Finally, an African American family movie with great acting and a great message.

I don't want to spoil it for the rest of you, but imagine Salli Richardson as "the prodigal daughter." And if that doesn't get your attention - can you say "Angie Stone is a lady pimp?" And it's rated PG!

Seriously, this is not only a movie that you won't want to miss in the theater, you will want to own it when it comes out on DVD.

The cast includes:

Salli Richardson-Whitfield
Nicole Ari Parker
Keith David
Michael B. Jordan
Ernie Hudson
Rockmond Dunbar
Michael Beach
Tasha Smith
Tisha Campbell-Martin
Dondre Whitfield
Angie Stone

Directed by Rockmond Dunbar

For more information visit

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sins of the Father Blog Tour - Day One

Angela Benson’s numerous novels include the Christy Award-nominated Awakening Mercy, the Essence-bestselling The Amen Sisters, and Up Pops The Devil. Currently an associate professor at the University of Alabama, she lives in Northport, AL.

Angela stops by Urban Christian Fiction Today during her Sins of the Father Blog Tour to share a bit of encouragement.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11, New International Version

The verse comes from a letter the prophet Jeremiah wrote to the Jewish exiles in Babylon. In the letter, Jeremiah passes along a message from the Lord telling the exiles that they will be in Babylon for seventy years. While there though, he gives them hope in the form of the verse above. It’s as though God is saying, “Times may be tough now but now is not the end. I have other, better plans for you. Just hold on.”

A few weeks ago, I was talking to an unemployed young man about thirty years old who was a high school dropout. During our conversation, he shared with me that he had been raised in a single parent home and never knew his father. He went on to talk about his life without a dad. As he spoke, it was clear that he felt his absent father had determined the trajectory of his life.

Jeremiah 29:11 speaks to that young man and others like him, and like me, who grew up without a father. The circumstances of our birth only determine our future to the extent that we allow them. I knew the poverty that young man experienced in a single parent home because I lived it as well. But what I had that he didn’t have was hope. I had the hope that my future would be better than my current circumstances.

We all face circumstances that challenge us in life, some of our own doing and others resulting from the decisions of others. Either way, we should take comfort in knowing God has a hopeful future planned for us. It’s this hope in God that allows us to meet the challenges we face and to look expectantly for a tomorrow that is better than today, whether here or in heaven.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for hope you have placed in my heart. I know that you are bigger than my circumstances and that my future is in your hands. In times of trial and challenge, I will cling to the hope I have in you. Amen.

About the Book

Successful media mogul Abraham Martin has great wealth, an elegant wife, Saralyn, and a rebellious son, Isaac. He also has a secret: a second family that no one knows about. Now, after thirty years—driven by the urging of his long dormant conscience

—Abraham is determined to do the right thing by finally bringing his illegitimate children into

the light…and into the family fold.

But beautiful, manipulative Saralyn will never accept the

proof of her husband’s indiscretions. Isaac the heir, shaken by his father’s revelations, will fight mercilessly when his world is threatened, and may lose everything that matters as a result. And while Abraham’s forgotten daughter Deborah is open to the undreamed-of possibilities suddenly awaiting her, son Michael cannot forgive the man who cruelly abandoned

them to near poverty. And he’s driven by only one desire: revenge!

Angela Benson’s Sins of the Father is a powerful story of a house bitterly divided—a rich, multilayered family saga of betrayal and redemption, rage and compassion, faith, forgiveness, and ultimately, of love.

Follow the blog tour at

For more information about Angela, visit her at

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Author Kimberla Lawson Roby has "The Best of Everything"

Today I’m reposting an interview with author, Kimberla Lawson Roby. I will interview Roby personally about the release of her new book this fall, but I felt compelled to post this interview today because of a conversation I had with an author friend this earlier in the week.

There is much debate about what is Christian Fiction and what is not. It’s the age old argument that we have in the church – who’s church is more holier, who’s denomination has it all right, who’s going to heaven and who’s not. In my opinion, all a bunch of stuff that really and truly gets in the way of effective ministry. While there certainly is a need to separate the wheat from the chaff, there’s too much of it, and with it has come the spirit of condemnation and judgment.

I’m a Kim Roby fan. Always have been since she self-published her first novel, Behind Closed Doors. Would I ever classify Kim as a Christian Fiction author? Up until about a year ago, absolutely not. Her books contained sex and cursing. That immediately eliminated her novels from what I deem to be Christian Fiction. But Roby has made a shift in her writing, certainly one that her fans and critics should take note of. I noticed it when I read her 2008 release Sin No More. I kept waiting for the big sex scene I would have to skip over (because I don’t read them) and it never happened. Then there was One In A Million and The Best Kept Secret and I thought well isn’t that something, she’s trending in a different direction. Like I said, I'm a fan, but I was pleased.

Back to the conversation I had with my author friend. We were discussing the National Book Club Conference and she talked about the Christian Fiction authors or those who in her opinion aren’t really writing Christian Fiction that are exploiting the genre for sales. Roby was one of them. (First of all I thought it was hysterical that she would think any of the authors she listed would exploit this genre for sales. Everyone knows that outside of a Karen Kingsbury or Ted Dekker and a few others if anyone is making less money in publishing it would be Christian Fiction authors. So she was quite misinformed on the money aspect.) I asked her if she had read Ms. Roby’s work lately and she said no. I told her that her work had moved in a different direction and she said “Well, it’s too late now, she has all those books out there.” I was saddened, not because I need to have Ms. Roby accepted as a Christian Fiction author. She's a NY Times Bestselling author, her books are in a class by themselves. I was saddened because this person was so narrow minded, and unwilling to move past what she considered to be unforgivable sin. I decided to leave that between her and her God, but I do recall a scripture in the Bible that says “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

The thing that is most disturbing about this all and we’ll remove Ms. Roby from this point of discussion, is what if an author had a collection of erotica books. This person became saved and began writing the books she felt the Lord had called her to write. Is she not acceptable to us in the genre because she started out writing something else? The bigger question is “Can the lost come back home to the church?”Think about it? Are we deciding who’s good enough for ministry? Who’s good enough for Jesus? Not this girl.I look forward to watching Ms. Roby's work evolve into all that God has called it to be. I listened to an interview she did on Urban Reviews when "The Best of Everything" was released where she talked about her spiritual growth and it's impression on her writing. Ms. Roby is blessed. When any of us can get up every day and do what we know we are called to do, then we truly have the best of everything.


Rhonda McKnight

Enjoy Patricia Woodside’s interview with Ms. Roby and leave and a comment and tell me what you think:

Reposted from

Today's featured author in Black Christian Fiction on Parade brings a little controversy with her, even before I posted her feature.

Today's featured author is Kimberla Lawson Roby.

As with some other very popular AA Christian Fiction authors, there's some debate as to whether Ms. Roby's books qualify as Christian fiction. Well, that's not for me to say. Although there's always been a faith thread in her stories, I suspect the controversy stems from some of the literary choices Ms. Roby made. Here's what she has to say, first in an interview with SORMAG earlier this year and before that, in a 2008 interview with author Connie Briscoe.
"If I had it to do over again, I never would have used any words of profanity in my work just because it is sometimes used by people in real life---especially since I don't use words like that myself. In my first nine novels, I didn't use profanity on every page and not even in every chapter, but on occasion, if a character was angry, hurt or had been betrayed in some way, I did have the character say a select word here and there. But as I began writing my tenth novel, SIN NO MORE, I wasn't comfortable with using even one curse word in my work and haven't done so with any book since then. The other good news, too, is that I have felt very relieved about the change I made, and I am excited to be doing what I believe God wants me to do."
"...actually, as of Sin No More, I stopped writing detailed sex scenes of any kind. Even in my past novels, I never wrote erotica and worked hard not to write anything offensive, but I finally realized it just wasn’t necessary to include all the details unless the story is somehow centered on sex."
To date, I've only read Casting The First Stone, back when it was first published. I'm honestly not sure why, although perhaps these issues struck a nerve at that time. However, I can appreciate an author who grows in outlook as well as writing ability.

Enough about that.

Ms. Roby's success speaks for itself. Her books consistently make the NY Times and Essence Magazine bestseller lists among many others. Her first novel, Behind Closed Doors was originally self-published and was the #1 Blackboard Best-selling book for paperback fiction in 1997.
Regina Moore and Karen Jackson have been best friends since they were six. And now at age thirty, they've obtained what most women only dream of-wonderful careers, gorgeous homes in an upper-echelon Chicago suburb, and loving husbands to complete the package. Of course, all good things must and usually do come to an end. Regina's husband, Larry has been working too much overtime, and Karen's husband John has started donating his paycheck to the local horse track on a regular basis.

What happens when a husband and wife appear to have the perfect life on the outside, when in reality, their marriage is practically falling apart behind closed doors?
Her second novel, Casting the First Stone, the one I had the pleasure to read, introduced the Rev. Curtis Black, who was so popular that he has since appeared in six other books.
Tanya Black has everything a woman could want: a fulfilling career, a beautiful daughter, an elegant home and a handsome, charismatic husband who pastors a prominent Baptist church. And yet, Tanya can no longer deny that the calm surface of her life hides a growing turbulence. Her husband Curtis, once a supportive partner and passionate lover, has grown remote, and Tanya has the uneasy feeling that her comfortable life is about to change forever.

When Tanya uncovers disturbing truths about Curtis, she is plunged into a bittersweet journey of discovery. For while she learns painful new lessons about love, betrayal and sensual temptation, she also discovers, within herself, the wisdom to celebrate the victories that are hers alone.
Now author of twelve books, Ms. Roby's most recent book, The Best of Everything, was published this past January.
World-renowned Reverend Curtis Black’s daughter Alicia is all grown up and even more trouble than her father.

Alicia Black Sullivan swore to never repeat her father’s mistakes: she would never break any promises, she would never be unfaithful. And most important of all, when she got married, it would be for good.

And she really does love Philip, the assistant pastor of her father’s church. She just happens to love money – and the things it can buy – as well. Alicia was born to the good life, she’s entitled to the best, and she’ll do anything to get it. Even if it means piling up thousands of dollars in debt. Even if it means denying to everyone—even herself—that her love of shopping has gotten way out of control.

Before long, Philip begins to wonder if marrying the woman of his dreams was a huge mistake. Alicia has the same thoughts, too. Deep down, though, she knows a whopper of an emotional bill is coming due. And all the regrets in the world won’t change the fact that she may be more like her infamous father than she could have imagined—or feared.
You can learn more about Kimberla Lawson Roby and her books at her website,