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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Story Sensei -- book doctoring

For a very affordable price, I pinpoint any structural issues that canbe fixed and offer suggestions to create a more cohesive, compellingstoryline. I can identify any weaknesses in story structure, characterarcs, writing style, and other aspects of a high-level structuralcritique. I can also analyze your manuscript for key writing and storyelements.

Check out my website for more information, pricing, and what otherclients have said about my services:
http://www.camytang.com/sensei.html

Monday, June 26, 2006

FEATURED AUTHOR: Anita Bunkley

SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

Anita Bunkley:
I live in Houston Texas, have been writing full-time for fifteen years and have had nine novels published. Before I began writing I worked in the fields of education as a foreign language teacher, and as a director with several non-profit organizations. In addition to writing, I work with aspiring authors, revising and editing their work to prepare their manuscripts for publication. I have been married for nineteen years and enjoy travel, gardening, craft sewing and was granted a U.S. Patent for one of my craft designs. Working with textiles in a creative way is very satisfying and inspiring. I have two grown daughters and two beautiful grand children.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

BUNKLEY:
SILENT WAGER - is a contemporary drama about a family in crisis. When my main character, Camille Granville, is suddenly widowed, she soon discovers secrets about her deceased husband that not only disappoint her and complicate her life, but put her in grave danger. And while trying to survive the aftermath of two life-changing disasters, she has to deal with a spoiled, self-centered daughter, who blames Camille for everything that has gone wrong in their lives. It's a romance, a mystery, and a family drama all rolled into one.

SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

BUNKLEY:
I hope that my readers have a good time with the characters, become engrossed in the story and leave the book feeling as if they have been on a wonderful journey with people they will remember after they close the book.

SORMAG: How did it feel to reach your publishing goal?

BUNKLEY:
As I complete each new novel, I am still amazed that I have made it to the end of another story and done it again. The writing process is always challenging, surprising, and rewarding. Each new book is different, each one has a life of its own. I am grateful for the support and feedback from my fans who have stuck with me over the years.

SORMAG: Any advice for those striving for the same goal?

BUNKLEY:
Just write the best story that you can, listen to the professionals, and stick to your goal. Study the markets and learn your craft. It is not an easy road, but it is one you can travel if you want to badly enough.

SORMAG: What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

BUNKLEY:
A good book takes time to produce. As soon as a new book comes out, I am often asked about the next one. Whew!! I work as fast as I can, but I refuse to put out a
product that I cannot feel proud of, and know that I have done the best that I can

SORMAG: Do you have any promotional tips for writers?

BUNKLEY:
Don't be shy! Tell everyone about your book and keep your antennae up for promotional opportunities. They are everywhere. You don't need to spend a lot of money, but you do need to spend a lot of time on promotion.

SORMAG: What is a favorite book from your childhood?

BUNKLEY:
While growing up, I had a set of books called WORLD'S CHILDREN SERIES, from Encyclopedia Britannica. There were twelve small books, with stories about children from Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, Europe, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii. I read them from cover to cover and knew them by heart. I am sure they influenced my deep love of international travel ( and I majored in foreign languages in college!) When I left home as an adult, I took them with me and they remain on my bookshelf today.

SORMAG: What was the last book to keep you up at night reading it?

BUNKLEY:
The DaVinci Code.

SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?

BUNKLEY:
Everything!!! I Google all the time and turn to the net for all of my research. I don't have a lot of time for chat rooms or blogs, as I am usually writing on a deadline, but I love the Internet and its ability to connect people so easily with the resources that they need.

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)\par}

BUNKLEY:
Readers can reach me at P.O. Box 821248 Houston, TX 77282-1248. Or http://www.anitabunkley.com/ or e-mail arbun@sbcglobal.net

EXCERPT: Silent Wager



SILENT WAGER A NOVEL BY Anita Bunkley

"Unexpected twists add excitement, danger, and shock -- elements of a true winner." Romantic Times magazine --4 ½ starred review

From the banks of Houston's Buffalo Bayou, to the blue waters of Hawaii, to the flashy, sexy world of Hollywood, SILENT WAGER is the story of one feisty woman's struggle to uncover a deadly truth, keep what is rightfully hers, and recapture the trust of her wayward daughter.

Sexy -- Risky -- Compelling to the end -- SILENT WAGER, captures the passion, danger, and emotional turmoil of a contemporary family in crisis. (Dafina Books/ www.kensingtonbooks.com )

Excerpt from SILENT WAGER

Ten years ago. The woman's sweet voice on the phone. Max's shameful admission that he had indulged in a one-night stand with an old college flame. The shock of his confession. The devastation that followed. Camille could still see Max's tear-stained face and frightened eyes, when she told him she was leaving. And what had hurt most was the dark shadow of Jaiden's face at her bedroom window as she watched her mother drive away. The image haunted Camille to this day, and she still felt a shiver of guilt whenever she thought of how selfish she had been during that painful time.

She had never told Jaiden the truth: that her father had committed adultery and that was why Camille walked out. Why burden her daughter with adult problems, Camille had thought, regretting having left Jaiden behind when she walked out on Max.

Camille had fled to her sister, Rochelle's house, only to be reminded that she had never been one to give up on anything and her commitment to her marriage had to take precedence over pride. Remember what their mother, Annie Ivors, had done? Rochelle prodded. Remember the sacrifice that Annie had made by taking Rochelle into her home to accept her as a daughter, knowing that the infant was her husband's illegitimate child? That ought to serve as an inspiration for Camille to try harder to patch things up at home. Annie had set aside her pride in order to give Rochelle a home, a loving mother, a sister, and a sense of belonging that she never would have found in a series of foster homes. If Annie Ivors could forgive an errant husband in order to hold her family together, so could Camille.

Camille's thoughts spun out in an uncertain path. What if Max did not get the loan? What if the bank foreclosed on Vendora? They could plunge into that frightening downward spiral that often led to bankruptcy. What about their custom built home, their cabin at the lake, and how could they send Jaiden to an Ivy League university? How would they manage? Their mortgage was a killer, and her salary and commissions from the travel agency were barely enough to support the family's current lifestyle. Holding her breath to keep from crying aloud, Camille squeezed her eyes tightly closed. A tear slipped out. She had once vowed never to allow Max to make her cry again, and she had managed to keep that promise for ten long years. She was not about to break down tonight.

Friday, June 23, 2006

EXCERPT: Second Chances


Excerpt from Novella, “Second Chances

By Maxine E. Thompson
http://www.maxinethompson.com/
http://www.maxineshow.com/


Capri

Autumn Equinox

Around ten-thirty this morning, Mica, who, in keeping with most small businesses’ unwritten protocol, has an amorphous job description, and acts as a salesperson/receptionist/accountant, rings my office and speaks in a hushed whisper. “He’s still calling, making threats and hanging up.”

I suck my teeth, bending my elbows over my head. “There’s nothing I can do,” I say. “Don’t worry about it. He’s just talking out the side of his neck. He’s harmless. Just a bunch of talk.”
A knock resounds at my office door and I glance up to see that Nadine and Mica have eased themselves into my cubicle.

“Mrs. Jordan, do you think you should’ve told your husband?” Mica’s
thirty-something bronze face looks uneasy. I can see the Mayan blood warring with the restrained Indian blood in her face.

Without any of us calling his name, I know she is talking about Ernest.

“Yes, perhaps you should get a restraining order.” Miss Nadine wrings her chubby hands.
We all shake our heads at the same time and suck in our breaths. Ernest has called and cursed me out twice in the past two weeks, but each time, I hung up in his face.

“Mica, Miss Nadine, I’m not worried about him.”
“Are you sure?”
“No, I can handle it.”
“Perhaps you should tell your husband.”
“For what? Ernest is not going to do anything.”
“Stop being so strong.”

I laugh inwardly. If they only knew. After they close my office door, I grab my first cup of mocha latte and settle into work. We will sing “Happy Birthday” to Mica at lunchtime. I put that at the top of my to-do list, which has twenty other things on it, most of which I will never get to. The main priority—how to pay my rent on the office this month and keep my employees on payroll—is penned in invisible ink.

I decide to start with collections—something that might bring in some money and keep my doors open. “Ms. Josephson, are you sure that you can’t make your payment today? Your invoices said ninety days. It has been 160 days. Does that make sense?”

“I’m sorry. I’ve been laid off. I don’t have it.”
“Ms. Josephson, I’m sorry that you’ve been laid off, but when I extended that credit, I gave it to you in good faith. Do you have a credit card I can put it on today?”
“I don’t have any credit left on any of my cards. I’ve been paying my bills on credit and they are all maxed out.”
“Can you make a partial payment?”

Finally, Ms. Josephson agrees to postdate a check. I place the receiver in the phone’s cradle and shake my head. Now I understand how my bill collectors, who I’m ducking and dodging feel. Lord, what a hypocrite I am. I’ve been making part of my payrolls out of my savings, but now I am getting down to the wire.

Why didn’t I incorporate and get some corporate credit to tide me through this cash flow crunch? But I started this business by the seat of my pants. For the past few months, I have been making payrolls out of my investments and stock from my first job, which I landed straight out of grad school when I worked for two years as an investment adviser at the bank. Let’s just say, the till is empty.

My marriage crosses my mind and I vaguely remember a Web site where a guy says he can stop divorces. Maybe I should look him up on Google, then contact Mr. Stop Divorce or whatever he’s called, but something makes me shrug it off. Marquise and I are just going through a phase. Our marriage is solvent. We’re going to be okay. I just need to spend more time with Marquise. Then, maybe I can get pregnant.

Around eleven-thirty in the morning, the sun dances across my desk and I look up, feeling my mood rise with the late morning sun. Suddenly my cell phone rings.

“Hey, Capri.” Talk about synchronicity. This time, Marquise’s voice sounds a little humble. A funny feeling quakes through me as opposed to the thrills he used to incite.
I grunt in reply.

“Yo. Still mad?”
“I can’t talk now.”
“Can you pick my uniforms up from the cleaner’s?”
“Sure.”

My business phone line rings. As the queen of multitasking, I often juggle two calls at once, but today, for some reason, I’m eager to terminate the conversation with Marquise. “Gotta run. We’ll pick this back up when I get home. I’ve got something I need to talk you about.” I will talk about us getting pregnant when I get home, I think.

“Peace. Out.”

I hang up and a thought occurs to me. Basically, my two employees and Marquise are my only contacts with the outside world. The rest are with suppliers, customers, and vendors. My business has consumed my whole life. I live and breathe my business. Sometimes, I even dream about my business.

As a rainbow team, Miss Nadine and Mica are part of the double whammy—minority females—African-American and Hispanic. I’d hired Ernest about a year ago because he had a background in computer programming and came highly recommended.

Five years ago, when I created a patented software for writers, (Capri’s Writer’s Software), during the Silicone Valley heyday and before the dotcom failure days, the on line and off-line sales had been modest, but at least the business was viable. With the down economy, I layed off Ernest since he was the least productive of all my employees. He always seemed like he was daydreaming and shooting off his mouth about what he used to do for his last software company in Silicone Valley. Not to mention, it did irk me that I sensed he resented taking orders from a black woman.


***

They often say that the craziest days of your life start out in the most normal way. I remember having my cup of latte with a dollop of French vanilla whipped cream as I usually do. By memory and rote, I go online and answer my e-mails. I make cold calls on other companies.

As soon as I settle back down with my second cup of latte, my business phone rings. A sultry voice hisses into my ear, “He doesn’t love you.”

“Pardon me?”
“Give him his freedom. He doesn’t want you. He’s planning to leave you.”
“Wait a minute. Who is this?” I screech, voice cracking like a broken guitar string.
“This is woman-to-woman.”
I put my left hand on my hips and raise my voice. “Take your tired,
Betty-White-line-stealing, skank—”

I am in the midst of my tirade when I hear, but don’t hear, the buzzer ring in the front office. In the backdrop of my rage, Mica must have buzzed someone into the building.

This anonymous woman’s call has disturbed me for another reason, too. Somehow, her voice sounds strangely familiar. Now where did I hear that voice before?

I am so disgruntled, though, I don’t pay any attention to the loud boom coming from the front office. I think it is a sonic boom or perhaps one of the construction teams working near our office, so I glance out the storeroom window behind my office. I don’t see any construction crew working on any buildings outside. Then I hear a staccato sound and the walls reverberate and shake like they do during earthquakes here in Los Angeles. I wonder what the commotion is.
At the second loud blast sound, I leave my phone jangling, the alleged home wrecker on the other line to be dealt with later after I deal with whatever new emergency has jumped off. I figure it’s an earthquake again. We’ve had an unseasonably warm September that tends to send us baking and shaking, as we call it in L.A.

“What is it—”

As I open my office door and sprint into the lobby, I cry, “What’s going on?” but this is as far as I get. My jaw drops wide open.

If time is ever said to have stopped, it does for me at this moment. I freeze in my tracks. For a fleeting moment, I remember the dream I’d had of drowning last night, and oddly, I think of all the things going wrong in my life right now.

What I see next turns my blood to sludge. There in the entrance lobby are my two trusted employees—Miss Nadine and Mica—sprawled like red-stained limp rag dolls on the floor. One has been shot in the head and one in the chest. Their eyes are wide open as if they met death in sheer terror. Their crimson blood forms two spiderweb splats on the wall and the German chocolate cake resembles something a dynamite stick had been set off in the middle. Blood drips through the brown and caramel icing and splattered bits of chocolate and coconut paint the wall. My only thought is, This can’t be happening.

Then, what I see is a bone-chilling glare I’ll never forget as long as I live. It is Ernest, brandishing what looks like a shotgun. I’ve heard of employees going “postal,” but good grief, I’m just a small business owner—I never thought this would happen to me.

For a moment, I digest the dirt ring around Ernest’s collar, taste the sweat of his brush haircut, and inhale the day-old musk on his body. A wild deranged look glints in his eye. My rapid heart beats to the rhythm of too little, too late, too little, too late. Why didn’t I recognize the signs? Too late, I realize Ernest is a loose cannon and now I know his threats have been real. Why hadn’t I taken him more seriously?

Speechless, I swallow a wad of spit. Finally I speak up with a bravado I don’t really feel.

“Ain’t this a trip? Ernest, put that gun down. Are you crazy?”

Ernest doesn’t answer as he holds me in the dead silence of his stare. I’m hoping to unnerve him or even intimidate him, but I recognize the emptiness in his eyes and suddenly I know beyond a doubt, he is going to shoot me. With nothing to lose, I am engulfed by fear and rage. I am going to die, but oh Lord, not like this. I think of Marquise—how will he take it? Will he mourn my loss? Will he feel sorry for how rotten he’s been acting lately?

I turn to flee but something knocks me to my feet. When the bullet first hits me below my waist, I don’t feel anything. Then a piercing fire explodes and radiates through my hips. It takes a moment for the pain to register. The next thing that runs through me is, “How dare him? If I live, I’m going to wring his scrawny little neck.”

When I come out of shock, I crawl to the phone.

And with my last millimeter of strength, I dial 911. Beads of sweat pop on my forehead. The smell of tarragon, basil and African lavender fill the room. The acrid taste of salty blood fills my mouth. Out of the corner of my eye, I stare as Ernest turns and puts the barrel of the gun in his mouth. Streaks of blood cover the phone as I dial and the last thing I notice is the German chocolate cake sticks to the wall and resembles a piñata. Just before I pass out, I called on a name I hadn’t mentioned in a longtime. “God, help me.”

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hot Summer Reads

What are you reading this summer?

Tell us for a chance to win a new book for your summer reading list.

Authors this is your chance to plug your book.

Tell us why we should add your book to our summer reading list.


Check back each Wednesday for a new book to win.

This week’s book to win



Diva Diaries by Janine A. Morris

Janine A. Morris bursts onto the fiction scene with a page-turning novel featuring three smart, sexy African American divas: Dakota, Chrasey, and Jordan. Best friends since college, these thirty-something native New Yorkers have seen it all—or so they think. Because as they’re discovering, their wild school days have nothing on the dramas of adulthood… Do the thrills of youth have to end after a certain age? With her thirty-first birthday around the corner, Dakota doesn’t think so. She’s a successful marketing executive who still believes in sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Tyreek, her on-and-off man, is successful in his own right, making his money in the music industry. The idea of settling down has come up once or twice between them, but Dakota isn’t sure Tyreek is quite ready for that—although she’s beginning to think that she finally is. The challenge will be getting her lifestyle to line up with her dreams…

Chrasey has been happily married to Keith for nine years. They have two children and a house in Queens, but lately Chrasey senses problems. Keith’s not himself, and she’s feeling neglected. Chrasey is a firm believer in upholding her wedding vows, but after months of temptation from a handsome younger man, she finds herself becoming something she never thought she’d be: married and unfaithful. As much as Chrasey wants her old life back, some messes are easier to get into than out of... Jordan, the most sensible of the trio, has adopted the mother role, although even good girls have their demons. Jordan lives with her husband and son on Long Island and has worked hard for her success as a lawyer. But with a husband who didn’t sign up for glitz and glamour, Jordan has to walk a fine line to balance her personal and professional lives…a line that’s blurred when she begins spending too much time with a male colleague. Ultimately, Jordan must decide what her priorities are—but the wrong choice could cost more than she wants to pay. From the sweet to the bittersweet, life’s dramas will play out one way or another. And one way or another, the secrets these women share will strengthen the bonds of sisterhood that help them survive it all…

Doesn't that sound like a hot book to read this summer? You could be the lucky winner.


Authors if you would like to donate a book contact me at – sormag@yahoo.com

Monday, June 19, 2006

FEATURED AUTHOR: V. Anthony Rivers

SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

V. Anthony Rivers:
I was born in Los Angeles many moons ago. Growing up I had two dreams as far as what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to either be a football player or my number one favorite, Zorro. Ha! What can I say! I grew up always wishing/wanting to be the rescuer and looking real cool at the same time. I've also always wanted a black horse. I guess that's why I've never had a car that wasn't black. I don’t think I ever imagined being an author until not too long ago, about two years before my first book, Daughter by Spirit, was published. At that time a friend of mine used to tell me that eventually I'd be writing novels because all my short stories and poetry seemed to be written in a way that made you want to know more. That person was right and soon after I would start making my short stories a little bit longer. I'd develop a love and fondness for dialogue which I could hear in my head as if someone were speaking to me. No, I wasn't going crazy!

I wrote my first novel called November Friend back in 1998 and self published it through 1st Books. Tee C. Royal of RAWSISTAZ found the book and loved the story. She spread the word instantly and caught the ear of bestselling author, Zane who signed me to her publishing company, Strebor Books International for which I am forever grateful to her. She's been a tremendous supporter and hero in my literary career thus far.

November Friend was too short to be an actual novel so it was Zane's idea to combine this with what I had written as the sequel. Born out of that was my first big-time release, Daughter By Spirit. Following my first release came various anthologies, Sistergirls.com and Chocolate Flava, and my second novel, Everybody Got Issues. Between my second and third novels, I penned stories for a couple more anthologies, Love Is Never Painless and Truth Be Told. Now, thanks once again to Zane and Strebor Books International I'm excited about the release of my third novel, My Life Is All I Have.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

RIVERS:
My Life Is All I Have is a coming of age story about a young woman (Leesha Tyler) looking back on her life as she contemplates a very drastic decision. This decision will have an impact not only on her life but the lives of others. The story also paints a portrait not only of her life but the influences that affect her decision such as her negative relationship with her mother and the rough neighborhood in which she grew up. This neighborhood actually exists in Los Angeles as it's often referred to as "The Jungle" located in the Crenshaw area of South LA, sitting directly below the more affluent Viewpark neighborhood.

SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

RIVERS:
I'd like for them to take away a few things. First, I'd like for them to enjoy this literary journey, if you will inside the mind of this young woman. I'd like for readers to hopefully connect with the characters on an emotional level so that it becomes an interesting escape all the way to the last page. And as this story relates to life in the real world, I hope that this story leaves the reader with some sort of understanding about the consequences of each decision we make on a day to day basis no matter how big or small. Everything matters from a decision to buy a new car to saying hello in passing to someone who might truly need it. Decisions are a powerful barometer with respect to the direction of our lives...

SORMAG: How did it feel to reach your publishing goal?

RIVERS:
It was a blessing that I remain very grateful for each and every day. It's something that I can always hold on to because it happened not only once but several times although my goal is more of a creative one now as I attempt every time to push the envelope a little further.

SORMAG: Any advice for those striving for the same goal?

RIVERS:
Learn the business, pay attention to those wonderful people who know what they're talking about and have paved the way, and always strive to push your own creative envelope to never before imagined heights! Everyone has many stories to tell regardless of how similar they might sound. There's always that extra twist that can make it unique.

SORMAG: What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

RIVERS:
It's not as easy as it looks! A lot of thought goes into this creativity and at the same time it's such an appreciated blessing to be able to do this and to have someone email or respond in some way about how the story has touched them. I get my biggest thrill when someone tells me my story made them cry or burst out laughing because those are two very real emotions that come to the forefront when you've truly struck a nerve, so to speak.

SORMAG: Do you have any promotional tips for writers?

RIVERS:
If you're not really great at doing it all yourself, find someone fabulous like Marlive Harris of TheGRITS.com to represent you from a publicist point of view. I definitely recommend finding people that can keep you pointed in the right direction and who can better spread the word for you in places you're not able to do on your own. Other than that I would say prepare to invest some hard earned money from your regular job so you can purchase bookmarks, postcards, flyers, etc, etc.. Whatever it takes but in the end it's worth it because as I said, when someone tells you how much your story or your characters touched them, you quickly learn that that sort of reward is priceless!

SORMAG: What is a favorite book from your childhood?

RIVERS:
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. I actually tried to make some green eggs when I was a kid after reading this book. I figured I could shoot some food coloring into my eggs, thus creating my culinary masterpiece. I added the food coloring in there but then left the eggs cooking on the stove because I was engrossed in some Saturday morning cartoon watching. My eggs came out black and if it wasn't so funny to my mother, my behind might've been bruised to match my eggs... Ha!

SORMAG: What was the last book to keep you up at night reading it?

RIVERS:
One of my favorites of all time that I recommend to everyone called A Woman's Worth by Tracy Price-Thompson. That one kept me up and had me reading every chance I got. Now thanks to my publicist, I have a feeling I'm gonna be up all night reading The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian.

SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?

RIVERS:
I'm constantly on the net, browsing all the various author sites, bookseller's sites, and Google for research necessary for stories that I'm working on. Seems like in this day and age the Internet goes hand in hand with anything literary, especially when it comes to promoting and/or finding out what's happening in the world, literary and otherwise..

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

RIVERS:
Readers should never hesitate to visit my website at www.vanthonyrivers.com. They'll be able to find my email information and other great stuff when dropping by for a visit. Thank you so much, Shades Of Romance Magazine.

EXCERPT: My Life Is All I Have

My Life Is All I Have
by V. Anthony Rivers
Reminisce Over Me


All my life I wanted to be free. When I got old enough to have attitude, I defined my idea of freedom in very simple terms. I wanted to be a bitch, a princess, and a queen all rolled up into one. Young ladies ain’t supposed to be all hard. I keep hearing that if you living in modern times you gotta be able to stand up to all the shit being thrown your way on a daily basis. You can’t worry about being courteous or being a fuckin “lady.” Shit. I never once put in my list of dreams to become a part of the “in-crowd” and wear all that designer stuff. I can find just as good or better at the Slauson Swapmeet. I ain’t stupid. I know what to do with my damn money. I learned how to shop from my mama. It was about the only thing she taught me that was worth knowing.

I started realizing mama knew what she was talking about when I went to the mall one day, by myself. The only thing I could afford up in there was a t-shirt and maybe a cute little belt. That’s what I bought, too. I felt so bad. I’d see other girls from my school hanging out and acting up. They was fast and I was just getting started. Teenage boys stepped to them left and right. I sat down in the food court area and just watched the show. I learned a lot from watching. I liked the idea that females could have so much control. That’s what I saw when I watched those girls from school. They had control over any male that tried to talk to them. That is, if they knew what control was all about. I noticed most of the girls just collected names until they found themselves face to face with the most popular boys in school. Even though I wasn’t a part of any clique, I took notes until it was my time.

Just about every Saturday I sat inside the Crenshaw Mall, watching. Mama thought I was either at the park or at some weekend school event. There was always something going on at my school so it was a good cover for me to be somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be at. What mama didn’t know didn’t matter. She hardly went anywhere on the weekends so I didn’t worry about bumping into her. Plus, people don’t watch each other’s kids no more so I was free and clear.

We lived over on Buckingham Road, not too far from the mall. I could walk there with no problem other than worrying about those men that hangout in front of the liquor store on Santa Rosalia Drive. I always walked on the other side to avoid hearing them talk shit to me. That wouldn’t stop them but at least it didn’t hurt as bad when I’d hear them say things that made it hard for me to swallow my own spit. They would say some really nasty stuff. I got used to it the more I walked by. I learned to turn a deaf ear to all that shit though I’d never become completely immune.

I’d breathe a sigh of relief once I’d step inside the mall. I’d start smiling as soon as the cold air and bright lights hit me. Plus, it’s always busy up inside there too. People be loud as hell. Kids run all over the place. They got a beauty supply store in there where ladies go buy the freshest weaves and yell at the Korean owner when she says how much it cost.
I went in there with mama one day and she was mouthing off cause she was mad about the price of synthetic hair.
She said “how these folks who never been to Africa before know so much about the texture of our hair?”

I looked at mama and asked her “you been to Africa before?”

The two ladies that were paying attention to her laughed. Mama was kind of embarrassed and didn’t talk to me in the car on the way home. I didn’t understand at the time but I figured it out soon after that.

One other thing that stood out at the mall was the Police station inside. That was a trip to see. I stopped sitting on that end of the mall because I got tired of watching them parade the latest criminal they caught. It gave me a bad feeling every time I’d see Police officers holding on to somebody with handcuffs. They’d walk them slowly through the mall and most people stopped what they were doing to look directly at the person in handcuffs. I guess I was sensitive about certain things until I learned how to control what I’d felt and not really care. I exposed myself to so much just from going to the mall on weekends. That place turned out to be my learning ground and my first taste of envy.

I was only fourteen years old and in the tenth grade at the time. I envied this girl named Janina Parrish. That was before I learned to call her a bitch and be done with her ass. She knew I was jealous of her. She could feel it. The look in my eyes was a dead giveaway and because we happened to be in the same grade, that gave her twice the pleasure of rubbing in her superiority over me.

Janina’s parents had money so she got all her clothes from the big department stores on the other side of town. She wouldn’t keep it a secret at all. She’d announce to the whole class whenever she went to the Beverly Center in Beverly Hills. Then she’d say some stupid shit like letting us know that she saw Keith Sweat or Da Brat up in there buying clothes too.

Places like the Beverly Center were foreign to me. A thirty minute drive to some store across town was like an international flight. Mama didn’t see the value in going so far unless you were going to work, had a job interview, or a doctor’s appointment. Her way of thinking just gave me another reason to look forward to independence. But in the meantime, I’d want what Janina had. I wanted to be the shit and even at her age, be able to walk around like it don’t stank.

I watched her with a different outfit on every single weekend. Guys approached her, demanding for her phone number and she played like it didn’t mean anything. That usually made them weak ‘cause she wouldn’t give it to them right away. It made them try harder to please her. Then, since she was only fourteen like me, the best way to make her stop and talk was to offer to buy her something or take her to see the latest, most popular movie. Janina needed to be seen going places where others could envy her just like I did. She wanted all of us to talk about how lucky she was and act like she some damn Queen Bee. After a while, I got pissed. Not so much at her but at myself for falling in too deep behind the rest of the crowd, waiting to get popular like her. She had a stranglehold on her status. I had to put a stop to that shit.

Funny thing though, I found myself one day getting advice from my Grandmother. I always called her “Grammy” and she was my heart. She didn’t live too far from me and mama so again, it didn’t take much to walk over and visit with her. She lived on the other side of Crenshaw in the Leimert Park area, over on 42nd Street. I liked her apartment a lot because it was so clean, which mean’t no graffiti. The neighborhood looked pretty much the same as ours but for some reason, people were nicer and you didn’t run into a lot of thugs or drug addicts. That was another thing I didn’t understand. Why life seemed so different depending on what street you lived on. Maybe deep down, I envied Grammy too but those feelings only came up when I was at home, listening to the muffled sounds of somebody getting their ass kicked. Or sometimes I’d all but jump out of my skin because we have this front gate outside that bangs really loud whenever somebody closes it. People go in and out all night long. It’s hard to sleep sometimes.
Mama seemed used to all the noise. I think she got to the point where she’d block out everything including the sound of my voice because most of what I’d say to her, she wouldn’t hear. That’s why I wouldn’t just walk to Grammy’s place; I would run. Yeah, even though I was a first year, high school student, I’d still run to see Grammy as if I were a little kid. I hadn’t built a reputation or was looked upon as being cool so nobody noticed me with my long hair trailing behind as I ran. They probably thought I was just trying to hurry my ass through those rough streets. And when I’d get to Grammy’s apartment, I’d be so happy. She’d open the door and instantly smile. Ain’t nothing like being greeted by a grandmother’s smile. That was something I never took for granted.
The day that I asked her for advice was when I confessed to my jealousy of Janina. Grammy was disappointed a little, but she tried not to show it too much. She just sighed heavily, shook her head and thought for a moment. I had to wait in her silence until she spoke. I sat nervously. I kept shaking my right leg and staring at Grammy with a puppy dog look on my face. Her silence grew deep. I could see she wasn’t pleased at all by my confession, but as she sat there thinking, she’d finally put aside her displeasure and talk to me as only a grandmother could.

She said “baby, you have nothing to be jealous of. Now whoever this other young lady is, I can’t see how she can even imagine being better than you. Nobody in this world is better than my grand baby, nobody. Don’t you ever forget that. I know I taught you better than to want to be like somebody else.”

I listened to Grammy as though my life depended on it and in my mind, it did. Her words were wise, of course, but more so than that, she cared about everything I did, say or thought about doing. I told her that what I felt wasn’t because I believed Janina was better than me. I just wanted for once to have some nice things too.

“Leesha, you have to be patient. If you were a little older I’d say to you, go out and get those things for yourself. But, since you’re still so very young, all I can say is that in time, you’ll have those things and more. But baby, you have to want for the right reasons.”

I tried my best to take what Grammy said and use it to squash what I’d felt about Janina but it wasn’t working. I basically had to lie to her because she’d suggest that I stop going to the mall. She said it would be good for me because that way I wouldn’t want what I don’t see.

“You’re right, Grammy” I’d said and she was beyond pleased to hear those words.
“I tell you what,” she said. “Pick out one thing that you really want and I’ll just go into my little retirement fund and get the money to pay for it. It’s not like I’m going on a cruise anytime soon.”

I was so excited when she said that and then I felt guilty. Grammy was gonna take out money from her bank account just to buy me something so I could feel good about myself. When I walked home that day, I got really mad. I even walked on the same side of the street as the liquor store where folks be hanging out at. My mind was on an island of guilt somewhere, far, faraway. One guy said something to me and I told him to go fuck himself. He just laughed. Maybe I was lucky that he didn’t take me serious but I was so mad that I didn’t care where I was or who I’d encounter. When I got home, I went straight to my room, closed the door and sat on my bed. I stayed there until nightfall, listening to the noise outside and thinking about everything Grammy had said to me. I didn’t like disappointing her and I really didn’t want to take her money.

That night as I stared out my bedroom window, I’d seen some guys standing around, drinking, messing with this girl and listening to music. They all looked like thugs, even the girl. I just watched for a while and listened. My concentration was so focused on them that I’d twitch a little whenever that noisy gate would close. Then simultaneously as the gate slammed shut, I saw one of the guys slap the girl in her face. She went down instantly and didn’t get up. She just stayed on the ground, holding her face. I could see her legs moving but she wasn’t trying to get back up. My heart was beating like crazy because I didn’t know what else to do besides watch. I thought about telling mama so she could call the police but it was late and she’d probably try to hit me if I woke her up.
Finally, one of the guys helped the girl up. I could see her bleeding from the nose and she could barely stand. They acted as if what happened was okay. Nobody seemed to care. The guy that helped her to stand up, opened the back door of the car that he and the rest stood around, and she got in. Another guy followed and got inside the car with her. Then they closed the door. I knew what they were doing because I’d heard about females who wanted to join gangs but I thought they’d just get beat up by other girls. I kept watching as one guy after the other got inside the back seat of that car. They were taking turns. And the more I watched, the less scared I became. I watched as though I understood. It was normal. It was a part of life in my neighborhood.

When it was over, the girl’s spirit seemed taken from her. She looked ashamed. She was so unlike how she was before. She got beat down in more ways than one and those guys controlled her like a dog on a leash. She walked away clutching her shirt with her head bowed. I didn’t like seeing that at all and never wanted to experience what that felt like, again. I say again because I felt like all my jealousy over Janina translated into a mental beat down of my very own and I was the one walking home with my tail between my legs. I was the one afraid to look up whenever men or anybody else talked shit to me. I was the one jumping out of my skin every time that damn gate would close. Things needed to change and I’d planned to take my first steps toward making that happen.
One day in English class, the teacher announced that she had a very special project for us to do. Nobody was excited and most of us sat there worried that whatever it was gonna be, it would probably mean that we had to stand in front of the class and read something. I hated that shit and most times nobody listened, they just looked at you. If I was gonna stand up there and do something that I hated, I at least wanted people to listen.
My English teacher was alright. Ms. Stafford was cool most of the time. She just didn’t tolerate anyone that sat and did nothing. You couldn’t just sit there and expect to pass her class. You had to speak up and speak clearly. She’d stop you in mid sentence if you said anything that sounded like slang to her. I actually learned a lot in her class. I hated that she kept on our asses all the time but at least you knew she was serious about teaching you something.

When she announced our special assignment, my mouth dropped open. She called herself doing something out of the ordinary in order to bring honesty to the classroom and get past any hidden feelings that might exist among students. Ms. Stafford was going to school herself during that time. She was taking child psychology. I think a lot of the assignments she’d give us were things she could use to satisfy her own educational requirements. In a funny way, I respected her for that because she was doing her thang. She was killing two birds with one stone, teaching us shit and doing her homework at the same time. She was yet another example of a woman in control and I loved that about her.

“Okay class!” she announced. “The assignment I have for you is to do a report on someone in the class that you don’t know and, or don’t like.”

When she said that, the class started buggin out. Chairs were moving around, students were moaning and as I said, my mouth dropped wide open. Ms Stafford had to keep telling everybody to be quiet so they could let her finish.

She said “in this assignment you’ll be able to express your true feelings and in the end perhaps you’ll find that this exercise will bridge the gap that exists between you and this person that you claim to dislike.”

Ms. Stafford went on to say that so many of us in this world tend to make up our minds about people without really taking the time to get to know one another. She felt that by teaching us to recognize this condition now will make us better people when we become adults and have to face the world each day. She had me thinking about Mama and all the shit she’d say about people she don’t even know. Mama be pre and post judging all the time. She can talk non-stop even about Grammy. I don’t like it when she does that and I guess that’s why I’m always asking her a question that belittles the comments she makes.
After the students in my English class settled down, Ms Stafford asked us all to write down on a piece of paper, which person we chose to write about and why. I couldn’t believe she put us on the spot like that, right away. I thought she would at least let us go home and write our reports. Funny thing though, it didn’t take me long to do what Ms Stafford requested. All I had to do was look toward the third seat in the second row from the door and find the subject of my report. That’s where Janina sat. I stared in her direction the whole time Ms Stafford was telling us to write down the name of our subject. I smiled and then while in mid air of my devious thoughts, she caught me looking. Janina had turned her head to the left and seen me staring. I sat in the fourth seat of the fifth row. She saw me and she looked at me like I was nothing. She’d never made eye contact with me long enough to even say hello before so this moment was a rarity. Then as she returned my stares with her what-the-fuck-you-lookin-at glare, she began to write something down on her paper. I kept my eyes on her all the while writing her name down. Janina Parrish, I wrote. And then I listed why I hated her.

“Okay class, make your answers honest. As I said before, I want an honest portrayal of your true feelings. Think out your answers people. Don’t just give me simple ones. You can do this!”

Ms. Stafford forced me to really think about what I was writing so I had to disconnect from the cold hard stares that I was locked into with Janina. I hated being the first one to look away. It felt like I’d let Janina get the best of me and even worse, she might’ve thought that she did too. Bitch.

I thought hard and began to list my feelings. I wrote about how I felt Janina looked down on others and anyone who called themselves her friend, really meant nothing more to her than her personal cheering squad. Then I let my bitterness show. I wrote “Janina is nothing more than a bitch. She acts like she’s all that but I bet when she gets home and is all by herself with no audience around, she don’t do shit but mop floors and take out the trash for her parents. They only send her to the mall all the time so she won’t be around and they have to look at her ass. Janina is nothing but a fake, wanna be hoe and I’ve got no love or respect for her. She ain’t earned shit and don’t deserve shit.”

That’s what I wrote as I sat for a moment, thinking to myself, what the hell? Then I started trying to write down something else to turn in but the school bell sounded. Ms Stafford was already in my row, collecting papers. She didn’t care what was on the page. She just snatched pieces of paper off of desks as she walked by. I tried to fold mine up so I could hide it but by the time I made the first crease, Ms Stafford was standing there with her hand out.

“I’ll take that from you, Leesha. Looks like you had plenty to say in such a short time” she said.

I just nodded. I felt so embarrassed and couldn’t believe how I’d gone into a whole-nother zone when thinking about how much I hated Janina. Ms Stafford glanced at my paper. I noticed her reaction as she read over what I wrote. I started to get up from my chair when she said my name.

“Leesha…”
I looked at her and began apologizing before she’d even questioned me.
“I’m sorry Ms Stafford, I just…”
She stopped me in mid-sentence.

“Leesha, I’m looking for honest feelings so I can’t fault you for what you wrote. However, I’ll have to really think about whether or not I can have you read this before the class. Words like these would get us both in trouble, don’t you think?”

“Yes ma’am…”
“When you bring in your paper tomorrow, I want to read it first. What I may do is simply have you and Janina meet with me in private. There seems to be some deep seated anger in your words, Leesha. Does Janina know how you feel about her?”
“I don’t know…”
“Hmm, I’m really curious…”

Ms Stafford had something serious on her mind. She turned toward the door and noticed Janina about to exit the classroom. She called out to her.

“Janina, can I see you for a moment?”
Janina turned and walked over to us. We made eye contact again, for a moment. She gave me that look, just like before. I can’t stand her either. She had me wanting to write down some more shit about her.

“Yes Ms Stafford?” Janina said.

She acted completely different when she approached the teacher. You could tell she’s one of them spoiled kids who know how to play the game and then once they’re out of their parent’s sight, they do all kind of shit to fuck up your life.

“Janina, I believe I picked up your paper, correct?” Ms Stafford asked.
“Yes, you have mine already.”

Ms Stafford thumbed through the papers she’d collected until she came to the one done by Janina. She smiled to herself and then began to nod her head as if she’d made some type of discovery.

“Thank you Janina. I want to have the two of you in class alone tomorrow. I’d like for the report that you write to be read to each other, rather than to the class.”

Janina and I both asked why, simultaneously. Then we looked at each other. She probably had the same I-hate-you thoughts going through her mind that I did.
“Just bear with me. You both appear to have issues with one another and I think if we recognize those feelings now, perhaps we can do something about them. So, I’ll see you both here tomorrow.”

Janina and I moaned with displeasure. She left the classroom first. Actually, Ms Stafford held me for a moment and waited until Janina was gone. Then she allowed me to leave. I guess she could feel the tension. She should have since she stood between Janina and I. Ms Stafford was good at recognizing potential problems but she had no clue that this one would never be solved. At least, not the way she’d want it to be.

I’d made it to Ms Stafford’s class early the next day, thinking that I’d beat Janina and be able to have the upper hand on her ass. But then, as soon as I walked in, there she was, waiting. I’d felt like I couldn’t win. Is she for real? I thought to myself. I couldn’t believe she had beaten me to class and to make matters worse, she was carrying a really big folder. Deep inside I’d reached the panic zone. The paper that I’d written was folded and stuck in my back pocket. Janina had her shit in what looked like a leather or vinyl organizer. I hated her even more and was mad at myself for letting her get the best of me in more ways than one.

When I stepped inside the classroom, Ms Stafford spotted me immediately.

“Come on over Leesha!” she said.
Only a few students were inside the class and Ms Stafford told them to leave. As they filed out the door with smiles on their faces, my eyes quickly focused upon Janina, standing with that look in her eyes again. She didn’t say a word to me and I didn’t say shit to her either.

“Okay, who’s first?” Ms Stafford asked.
“I will go first, if it’s alright with her?” Janina said with an air of conceit in her voice.
“She has a name Janina so I think we need to be more respectful of each other.”
“She does? And what is it because I forgot.”
“Ladies?” Ms Stafford warned as she’d seen the look in my eyes go from anger to boil in less than a second. I was about to kick Janina’s ass.
“I’m quite sure you know her name Janina so please, ask if there’s no problem with you going first.”

Ms Stafford was trying her hardest to keep things civilized. I couldn’t tell if she was in denial of how things were between Janina and I or if she really thought she could make us like one another. That wasn’t happening.

Janina glanced over at me briefly and then spoke after turning her head to look forward.

“Is it okay with you…um, Leesha, if I go first?” she struggled.
I responded without any hint of struggle in my voice.
“Yeah bitch, go head on!”
Ms Stafford was so shocked by my response that she’d froze in her tracks, giving me time to lunge at Janina. I knocked her to the ground with my open hand to the side of her face. I think her ass was shocked too but she tried to get up and defend herself. I kicked her ass, literally and figuratively before Ms Stafford got herself together and pulled me off of Janina. I kept on kicking my legs because I didn’t want Janina to think she could take advantage of me being held back by Ms Stafford. I quickly realized that wouldn’t be a problem because Janina was too busy checking her bloody lip and holding her stomach where I kicked her at a few times.

“Have you lost your mind, Leesha!” Ms Stafford repeated several times.

I never answered her, nor did I say very much at the Principal’s office either. They sent me home after about thirty minutes of interrogation. I was told that since it was my first time getting into trouble that I would be suspended for two weeks instead of being kicked out of school. I would also be responsible for making up any assignments that I missed. That didn’t bother me none because my classes weren’t that hard. I felt like they just gave me two week’s vacation and when I went home, I was celebrating. Mama was still at work and it was just me, the television and some leftover beef stroganoff.
My celebration lasted for about an hour. Mama came home early. She had this look on her face as if she knew something. Either that or somebody at work pissed her off so bad that she had to leave. She confirmed my first suspicion as soon as she shut the door behind her.

“Leesha have you lost your damn mind! Girl, I got a call at work saying my child was fighting and using all kind of foul language! Is you crazy? You aint learn to act that way in this damn house!”

Mama just went off. She threw her purse down and took off her shoes. There she stood in her blue polyester dress suit, screaming at the top of her lungs. One moment she had her hands on her hips and the next moment she was pointing so hard at me, I thought she was gonna stab me with that finger of hers. I never responded to her. I just sat there and listened. Her voice was so loud they could probably hear her down the block. I’m pretty sure everyone in the building knew I got suspended from school. Mama was giving me a verbal beat down but not once did I have feelings of regret. If Janina had been standing in my living room, I’d kick her ass again, right in front of mama.

I can’t even remember how long the verbal assault lasted. However, it did come to an abrupt ending when she’d tell me that I sickened her, which hurt my feelings and got my attention. I looked up at her, standing over me and breathing hard as if she were completely exhausted behind all the yelling. We both had eyes filled with tears.

Mama said “Leesha, it really hurts me what you did today. While you’re on suspension, I want you to go live with your grandmother. I called her from work already. I’m so ashamed that I don’t think I could look at you for these two weeks. You stay with her and do me a favor… Think about what you’ve done and see if maybe you realize how wrong you were.”
I never responded verbally to the things mama said but when she pointed for me to go to my room and pack some things, I had no hesitation in my step. As much as it hurt me to be yelled at, I was really happy to be going to stay with Grammy. My earlier thoughts of being on vacation had returned and the more clothes I grabbed from the closet, the more I’d felt like smiling again. I was gonna stay with Grammy and that was alright with me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

JUNE REVIEWS

RATINGS:

1 Star - POOR

1 ½ Star - FAIR

2 Stars - OK

2 ½ Stars - GOOD

3 Stars - VERY GOOD

31/2 Stars- GREAT

4 Stars - EXCELLENT

41/2 Stars - EXCEPTIONAL

5 Stars - SUPREME


Heated
Nobia Bryant
Kinsington Publishing – Dafina Books
ISBN: 0-7582-1460-X
Published: June 2006
Rating: 31/2 Stars- GREAT
Reviewed by: Eleanor S. Shields

Heated by Nobia Bryant is a very entertaining read about a strong willed young lady that is determined to set things right.

Dr. Bianca King, is a very talented and sought after veterinarian, that has a lucrative practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Bianca relocated to Georgia after finishing college and basically running away from the life that she was forced into after the death of her mother. That life included her alcoholic father and her young and “gold digging” step mother Trishon. Bianca returned to her hometown of Holtsville after receiving a call from her father, Hank, who told her that he needed her to come home because he was about to lose everything.

Upon return, Bianca discovers that her father’s business was being sabotaged and when she confronts the man that her father believes is behind his demise, she not only discovers the handsome man that she passed and admired on the road but she discovers that being close to him sets off fireworks within her that could rival any fourth of July display.

Kahron Strong, a wealthy and handsome business man that happens to be the neighbor to the Kings. Kahron finds that although he is interested in purchasing Hank Kings property, he is more interested in forming a different kind of takeover with Hanks daughter.

Ms. Bryant has put forth a very interesting tale. It is packed with Heated and steamy romance (just like I like) and you get a nice surprise with a “who done it” angle. Very well done.


Sex on the Side – A ScreenplayAuthor:
Jessie Jamie Coleman
Autumn Girl Press
ISBN: 0-9766964-3-6
Published: 2006
Reviewed By: Shelia Marie

Jessie Jamie Coleman flips the script in the screenplay “Sex On the Side.” The main character, Josh John, is on a quest to find a serious girlfriend and is willing to give up casual sex to do so. Unfortunately, the women he comes in contact with only seem to want him for one thing. Yes, you guessed it—sex.

This romantic comedy will have you cheering for Josh while laughing at some of the situations he finds himself in at the same time. When Josh thinks he’s found the ideal woman who is willing to commit and not just want him for his body, he runs into another obstacle. He only knows her initials.

I could visualize the scenes as I read “Sex On the Side.” Hopefully Jessie Jamie Coleman’s screenplay will be made into a movie soon.


The Well-Fed Self-Publisher
Subtitle: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living
By Peter Bowerman
Fanove Publishing, 2006
Nonfiction/Writers/How-To
ISBN: 0967059860
Reviewer: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Rating 5 - SUPREME

Practical Advice that Inspires

Peter Bowerman to a Writer's Rescue

So, you’re a writer. Those of us who are often listen to a voice that nags us into believing that we'll never make a living at it. Sometimes that voice comes from the Web, sometimes from our own heads, sometimes from the ether. We hear it in so many places it begins to affect us at a cellular level, may even affect our career choices and our writing.

Peter Bowerman to the rescue. He, the practical author of the Well-Fed series, tells it as it is; in the process, his down-to-earth advice becomes inspirational. There is a way to make a living writing. There's also a way to support a writing habit by -- you guessed it -- writing! So those of you who are discouraged today or likely to be tomorrow, listen up:

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher is a solid book that assures us not only that we writers can take control of our own careers but that, if we choose self-publishing, it is "a process," In other words it is not an aptitude that is out of our reach. That's good news for any writer who has considered self-publishing and been cowed by terms like formatting, ISBN, distributors, indexing and a thousand more.

If you're considering self-publishing for any one of a multitude of reasons that make good business sense and good sense for your creative self, this is the book for you. What if you're not?

This is a book that can save you from missteps and the accompanying pain anyway. Admittedly, sections on Why Self-Publishing? and Learning to Love S&M (Sales & Marketing) will appeal more to the writer who has already discovered that when the writing is done, the job has just begun. This book, however, is for every writer because there is something in it for every one.

I think the section called "When a POD Publisher Says This, Hold on to Your Wallet." will be one every writer will want to read. It's a "reality check" we all need and you'll want to load up on books about marketing your book instead of paying someone else to do it for you.

I found the Table of Contents a bit disconcerting because it lacked page cues; I suspect that's because my copy was a special run for reviewers. If that isn't the case, a minor difficulty like that should not be a deterrent. I don't know a single writer -- no matter how experienced -- who couldn't learn something from Peter Bowerman.


Silent Wager
Author: Anita Bunkley
Dafina Kensington
ISBN: 0-7582-1245-3
Published: May 2006
Rating: 5 Stars - SUPREME
Reviewed By: Shelia Marie

Silent Wager by Anita Bunkley is a fast paced read. It’s full of drama and deception. The main setting is Houston, Texas. When the story begins, Max and Camille Granville are fighting against nature—flooding resulting from Tropical Storm Allison—to save their antique home and restaurant.

The tropical storm passes, but the storms in the Granville’s life are just beginning. Peace and harmony is hard to come by in the Granville household due to Max’s lack in judgment on various issues. Max lets the flood insurance lapse and other things are revealed that causes a rift between him and Camille.

No matter what Camille does, her daughter Jaiden seems determined to defy her. Their relationship is rocky and goes from bad to worse throughout the course of the story.

Max ends up giving up ownership of his family business to a man who he thinks has his best interests at heart. During a vacation that Max and Camille take to get their relationship back on track, Max discovers that his business partner is not what he appears to be. He is determined to get controlling interest of his business back.

Tragedy strikes leaving Camille unsure of how to proceed on with her life. With encouragement from her sister, Camille pulls herself together and fights for her family and the legacy her husband built his life around.

Anita Bunkley has penned an energetic and suspenseful read that will have you cheering for some characters, while wanting to slap others. Silent Wager is a great book to add to your summer reading list.


The Father’s Voice
Joanna Mcgee-Bradford
Moody Publishers
Published: April 2006
Fiction Spiritual
Rating: 4 Stars - Excellent
Reviewed by: Camellia Johnson

Listening to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit is crucial today. “The Father’s Voice” is a tailspin of life choices that has to be made in Brenda‘s life. Brenda is confronted with her past time and time again. When her past meets up with her destiny, Brenda’s in a whirlwind of sudden life changes. What she thought was her future is no longer her future. Her heart felt desire of being a teacher is fulfilled and tied to Russell. Now, who would’ve thought the lawyer would fall for the janitor?

“The Father’s Voice” also shows how our steps are ordered by the Lord and how people are in our life for a purpose. Bob, Brenda’s boss filled the void in Brenda’s life as a father but as she begin to face her fears of her past and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit for her future, she was able to help and forgive Bob as well.

It was refreshing to see the author, Joanna Mcgee-Bradford show how love can happen at one meeting. It was good to see how powerful prayer is in life situations when faithfully seeking the Father. It’s at these intense moments in life that it’s good to know God loves you and hears your cry.


State’s Evidence
Author: R. Barri Flowers
Dorchester Publishing
ISBN: 0-8439-5571-6
Published: April 2006
Rating: 5 Stars - SUPREME
Reviewed By: Shelia Marie

For my first R. Barri Flowers novel, I was not disappointed. In fact after reading “State’s Evidence,” I will be going back to read some of Flowers others like “Justice Served” and “Persuasive Evidence.”

Assistant District Attorney, Beverly Mendoza, is accustomed to winning cases but when she’s faced with prosecuting the murderer of a judge, she begins to doubt herself.

Her life is turned upside down when she becomes face to face with a serial killer who has an ace up his sleeve. With this being a suspense novel, I don’t want to give away too much of the plot because if you’re like me, I like to figure stuff out myself when I’m reading suspense novels.

Know this however, that Beverly doesn’t have to go through her struggles alone. Grant Nunez, her former colleague, is there to support her every step of the way. Although at first Beverly struggles personally when he becomes the Judge on one of her high-profiled cases, she doesn’t allow it to interfere with their professional life.

This legal thriller will have you on the edge of your seats. The court room scenes are unforgettable and very believable. As a reader, you feel like you’re right there. The author gets into the mind of the criminals and you’ll feel privileged to information that the other characters don’t know. State’s Evidence by R. Barri Flowers is a must have for any fan of suspense books.

JUNE REVIEWS

RATINGS:

1 Star - POOR

1 ½ Star - FAIR

2 Stars - OK

2 ½ Stars - GOOD

3 Stars - VERY GOOD

31/2 Stars- GREAT

4 Stars - EXCELLENT

41/2 Stars - EXCEPTIONAL

5 Stars - SUPREME


Heated
Nobia Bryant
Kinsington Publishing – Dafina Books
ISBN: 0-7582-1460-X
Published: June 2006
Rating: 31/2 Stars- GREAT
Reviewed by: Eleanor S. Shields

Heated by Nobia Bryant is a very entertaining read about a strong willed young lady that is determined to set things right.

Dr. Bianca King, is a very talented and sought after veterinarian, that has a lucrative practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Bianca relocated to Georgia after finishing college and basically running away from the life that she was forced into after the death of her mother. That life included her alcoholic father and her young and “gold digging” step mother Trishon. Bianca returned to her hometown of Holtsville after receiving a call from her father, Hank, who told her that he needed her to come home because he was about to lose everything.

Upon return, Bianca discovers that her father’s business was being sabotaged and when she confronts the man that her father believes is behind his demise, she not only discovers the handsome man that she passed and admired on the road but she discovers that being close to him sets off fireworks within her that could rival any fourth of July display.

Kahron Strong, a wealthy and handsome business man that happens to be the neighbor to the Kings. Kahron finds that although he is interested in purchasing Hank Kings property, he is more interested in forming a different kind of takeover with Hanks daughter.

Ms. Bryant has put forth a very interesting tale. It is packed with Heated and steamy romance (just like I like) and you get a nice surprise with a “who done it” angle. Very well done.


Sex on the Side – A ScreenplayAuthor:
Jessie Jamie Coleman
Autumn Girl Press
ISBN: 0-9766964-3-6
Published: 2006
Reviewed By: Shelia Marie

Jessie Jamie Coleman flips the script in the screenplay “Sex On the Side.” The main character, Josh John, is on a quest to find a serious girlfriend and is willing to give up casual sex to do so. Unfortunately, the women he comes in contact with only seem to want him for one thing. Yes, you guessed it—sex.

This romantic comedy will have you cheering for Josh while laughing at some of the situations he finds himself in at the same time. When Josh thinks he’s found the ideal woman who is willing to commit and not just want him for his body, he runs into another obstacle. He only knows her initials.

I could visualize the scenes as I read “Sex On the Side.” Hopefully Jessie Jamie Coleman’s screenplay will be made into a movie soon.


The Well-Fed Self-Publisher
Subtitle: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living
By Peter Bowerman
Fanove Publishing, 2006
Nonfiction/Writers/How-To
ISBN: 0967059860
Reviewer: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Rating 5 - SUPREME

Practical Advice that Inspires

Peter Bowerman to a Writer's Rescue

So, you’re a writer. Those of us who are often listen to a voice that nags us into believing that we'll never make a living at it. Sometimes that voice comes from the Web, sometimes from our own heads, sometimes from the ether. We hear it in so many places it begins to affect us at a cellular level, may even affect our career choices and our writing.

Peter Bowerman to the rescue. He, the practical author of the Well-Fed series, tells it as it is; in the process, his down-to-earth advice becomes inspirational. There is a way to make a living writing. There's also a way to support a writing habit by -- you guessed it -- writing! So those of you who are discouraged today or likely to be tomorrow, listen up:

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher is a solid book that assures us not only that we writers can take control of our own careers but that, if we choose self-publishing, it is "a process," In other words it is not an aptitude that is out of our reach. That's good news for any writer who has considered self-publishing and been cowed by terms like formatting, ISBN, distributors, indexing and a thousand more.

If you're considering self-publishing for any one of a multitude of reasons that make good business sense and good sense for your creative self, this is the book for you. What if you're not?

This is a book that can save you from missteps and the accompanying pain anyway. Admittedly, sections on Why Self-Publishing? and Learning to Love S&M (Sales & Marketing) will appeal more to the writer who has already discovered that when the writing is done, the job has just begun. This book, however, is for every writer because there is something in it for every one.

I think the section called "When a POD Publisher Says This, Hold on to Your Wallet." will be one every writer will want to read. It's a "reality check" we all need and you'll want to load up on books about marketing your book instead of paying someone else to do it for you.

I found the Table of Contents a bit disconcerting because it lacked page cues; I suspect that's because my copy was a special run for reviewers. If that isn't the case, a minor difficulty like that should not be a deterrent. I don't know a single writer -- no matter how experienced -- who couldn't learn something from Peter Bowerman.


Silent Wager
Author: Anita Bunkley
Dafina Kensington
ISBN: 0-7582-1245-3
Published: May 2006
Rating: 5 Stars - SUPREME
Reviewed By: Shelia Marie

Silent Wager by Anita Bunkley is a fast paced read. It’s full of drama and deception. The main setting is Houston, Texas. When the story begins, Max and Camille Granville are fighting against nature—flooding resulting from Tropical Storm Allison—to save their antique home and restaurant.

The tropical storm passes, but the storms in the Granville’s life are just beginning. Peace and harmony is hard to come by in the Granville household due to Max’s lack in judgment on various issues. Max lets the flood insurance lapse and other things are revealed that causes a rift between him and Camille.

No matter what Camille does, her daughter Jaiden seems determined to defy her. Their relationship is rocky and goes from bad to worse throughout the course of the story.

Max ends up giving up ownership of his family business to a man who he thinks has his best interests at heart. During a vacation that Max and Camille take to get their relationship back on track, Max discovers that his business partner is not what he appears to be. He is determined to get controlling interest of his business back.

Tragedy strikes leaving Camille unsure of how to proceed on with her life. With encouragement from her sister, Camille pulls herself together and fights for her family and the legacy her husband built his life around.

Anita Bunkley has penned an energetic and suspenseful read that will have you cheering for some characters, while wanting to slap others. Silent Wager is a great book to add to your summer reading list.


The Father’s Voice
Joanna Mcgee-Bradford
Moody Publishers
Published: April 2006
Fiction Spiritual
Rating: 4 Stars - Excellent
Reviewed by: Camellia Johnson

Listening to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit is crucial today. “The Father’s Voice” is a tailspin of life choices that has to be made in Brenda‘s life. Brenda is confronted with her past time and time again. When her past meets up with her destiny, Brenda’s in a whirlwind of sudden life changes. What she thought was her future is no longer her future. Her heart felt desire of being a teacher is fulfilled and tied to Russell. Now, who would’ve thought the lawyer would fall for the janitor?

“The Father’s Voice” also shows how our steps are ordered by the Lord and how people are in our life for a purpose. Bob, Brenda’s boss filled the void in Brenda’s life as a father but as she begin to face her fears of her past and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit for her future, she was able to help and forgive Bob as well.

It was refreshing to see the author, Joanna Mcgee-Bradford show how love can happen at one meeting. It was good to see how powerful prayer is in life situations when faithfully seeking the Father. It’s at these intense moments in life that it’s good to know God loves you and hears your cry.


State’s Evidence
Author: R. Barri Flowers
Dorchester Publishing
ISBN: 0-8439-5571-6
Published: April 2006
Rating: 5 Stars - SUPREME
Reviewed By: Shelia Marie

For my first R. Barri Flowers novel, I was not disappointed. In fact after reading “State’s Evidence,” I will be going back to read some of Flowers others like “Justice Served” and “Persuasive Evidence.”

Assistant District Attorney, Beverly Mendoza, is accustomed to winning cases but when she’s faced with prosecuting the murderer of a judge, she begins to doubt herself.

Her life is turned upside down when she becomes face to face with a serial killer who has an ace up his sleeve. With this being a suspense novel, I don’t want to give away too much of the plot because if you’re like me, I like to figure stuff out myself when I’m reading suspense novels.

Know this however, that Beverly doesn’t have to go through her struggles alone. Grant Nunez, her former colleague, is there to support her every step of the way. Although at first Beverly struggles personally when he becomes the Judge on one of her high-profiled cases, she doesn’t allow it to interfere with their professional life.

This legal thriller will have you on the edge of your seats. The court room scenes are unforgettable and very believable. As a reader, you feel like you’re right there. The author gets into the mind of the criminals and you’ll feel privileged to information that the other characters don’t know. State’s Evidence by R. Barri Flowers is a must have for any fan of suspense books.

Monday, June 12, 2006

FEATURED AUTHOR: Dyanne Davis

SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

Dyanne Davis:
Award winning author, Dyanne Davis lives in a Chicago suburb with her husband Bill, and their son Bill Jr. She retired from nursing several years ago to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a published author. She was able to accomplish this with her husband's blessing and financial support.

Her first novel, The Color of Trouble, was released July of 2003. The novel was received with high praise and several awards. Dyanne won an Emma for favorite New Author of the year and was presented with the award in NYC in April of 2004.

Her second novel, The Wedding Gown was released in February 2004 and has also received much praise. The book was chosen by Blackexpressions, a subsidiary of Doubleday Book club as a monthly club pick. The book was an Emma finalist in March 2005 for Steamiest Romance and for Book of the year. Wedding Gown was also a finalist for Affaire de Coeur Reader’s poll.

Dyanne’s newest release, Misty Blue is a sequel to The Wedding Gown and hit the bookstores May 6th. In December of this year, Let’s Get It On will be released. Besides Genesis Press, she is currently writing for Parker Publishing with Forever And A Day Hitting the shelves January 2007. Dyanne will have two vampire novels released next year under the name, F. D. Davis.

When not writing you can find me with a book in my hands. My greatest passion next to spending time with my husband Bill and son Bill Jr. Whenever possible I loves getting together with friends and family.

A member of Romance Writers of America, a professional organization with over ten thousands members and chapters worldwide. I now serves as chapter president for Windy City, a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. I REALLY love to hear feedback from readers. You can reach me at my website. www.dyannedavis.com I also have an on-line blog where readers can post questions and photos. http://dyannedavis.blogspot.com I also started a romance reader and writers on line book club with more than a dozen authors and would love to have you join them. http://bookmarked.Target.com./bookclub The group is called, Romancing the book. Any problems getting in send me an email and I will send you a personal invitation

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

DAVIS:
My new book is Misty Blue and it's really special to me. The characters captured my heart and emotion in the last book, The Wedding Gown. Beneath the romance of Mia and Damien is the deeper issues of childhood and the impact that both set of parents had on the lives of this couple. the book shows how they come to grip with the issue in order to make their marriage work. I felt so sorry for Mia and Damien when I was writing their story and every time I read it I still felt their pain.

SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

DAVIS:
In the Wedding Gown one of my friends complained to me that Keefe had called his mother a bit of a slut to Mia, his sister. SHE WAS A SLUT. So in Misty Blue I would like for the reader to come away knowing that it takes more than having a baby to be a parent. And I would like for them to believe that love can help to repair the hurts of childhood pain.

SORMAG: How did it feel to reach your publishing goal?

DAVIS:
It didn't feel real. And sometimes even now it still doesn't.

SORMAG: Any advice for those striving for the same goal?

DAVIS:
Keep trying because if you give up today you will never know what tomorrow would have brought.

SORMAG: What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

DAVIS:
I really wish non-writers would understand that all writers strive to bring them the best story possible. Sometimes they might not resonate with each reader. But they're attempting to tell the story that the characters are whispering to them. they are emotionally involved with the characters and aren't writing it for the money. Believe me they aren't writing for the money but for the readers.

SORMAG: Do you have any promotional tips for writers?

DAVIS:
Spend your money wisely. Look for the best value and stock up when you find something that delivers. And lastly try to get things that you can use regardless of the title of your book so you can use it from book to book to book.

SORMAG: What is a favorite book from your childhood?

DAVIS:
Wow LaShaunda, at first I had thought this was a hard question because I loved so many books. Then it hit me the book that traveled with me from childhood to adulthood and the one I've put in countless hours studying. The Bible.

SORMAG: What was the last book to keep you up at night reading it?

DAVIS:
The Kite Runner

SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?

DAVIS:
Besides belonging to several on-line book clubs I guess the search engine. I will just type in something that I need and I'm thrilled every single time when something pops up. I think that's the coolest thing.

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

DAVIS:
Readers can get in touch with me at davisdyanne@aol.com or www.dyannedavis.com My website. http://dyannedavis.blogspot.com or they can join my recently started book club Http://bookmarked.target.com/bookclub. Readers can leave messages start a discussion, leave a book review or anything they want. Writers can post their comings and goings and their books. This is an open invitation to anyone that wants to join. If you can't get through that way email me and I will send you a personal invitation.

LaShaunda thank you for this opportunity to connect with readers and writers.

EXCERPT: Misty Blue


Misty Blue
By Dyanne Davis

CHAPTER ONE

Mia heart stopped. A tiny shiver began at her toes and traveled upward. Damien, she whispered. She reluctantly accompanied Keefe and Ashleigh to the nightclub and had not really been paying attention when the emcee called his name. Nothing could have prepared her for seeing the man she loved living out his dream. And to think she’d almost missed it.

She turned to look at her brother and Ashleigh. You knew he’d be here, didn’t you, Keefe? For an answer her brother kissed her forehead and held his hand out to Ashleigh, leaving Mia to deal with Damien on her on. He was right to do that. It was about time. A surge of pride filled her as she listened to Damien singing.

“I told you he was good,” she murmured as her brother and Ashleigh walked away. Though she spoke to them, her eyes remained fastened on the stage. On Damien.

As the background music played on, Damien began crossing the stage toward her, his eyes never leaving her face. She held her breath. It had been so long, and his face was unreadable. He was giving no indication that he was happy to see her.

Then it happened. On the stage he stopped directly in front of her and smiled, first a tiny little smile that could have been missed. Then the smile took over his entire face until he was grinning broadly. His eyes closed briefly and when they opened, the look he gave her was the same as the one he’d given her the first time she’d seen him and had fallen in love with him just from the look in his eyes.

As it had been the first time, the look mesmerized her, embraced her, and filled her with things she’d felt for only one man in her entire life-him. Her love was for him. Passion, lust and love tumbled through Mia and again her breath caught in her throat.

Right in front of her, suddenly Damien stopped singing and simply stared at her. Soon the entire audience was looking in her direction, no doubt wondering why the entertainer had stopped singing even though the music continued to play.



“Mia,” Damien whispered, for the first time admitting to himself that he’d been afraid she wouldn’t come. He’d almost called a dozen times to ask her, but hadn’t. He’d been determined not to give in to his feelings for her. Yet he had hoped that she would be there to witness his success. And now she was. And all he wanted in the world was to climb
down off that stage, take her in his arms and kiss her, and never let her out of his sight.

As he continued to stare at her, wanting to tell her those things, it finally registered that he wasn’t singing. He smiled again at Mia and waited for an answering smile before he resumed singing and turned to walk toward the other end of the stage.

This was it his moment in the sun. He glanced into the crowd of smiling faces, listened to the women screaming his name. Though it was just as he’d always imagined, the truth of the situation hit him as he sang two more numbers.

None of the attention meant what he’d thought it would. As much as he’d dreamed of a singing career, he wanted something else more. He wanted Mia in his arms. Now, not when the show was over. Now. He smiled at the audience, hoping they would forgive him for what he was about to do. If they didn’t well so be it.

Damien walked back toward Mia, hardly able to continue singing over the sudden lump constricting his vocal cords.

Mia’s attention was riveted on Damien. She didn’t want to miss a note. As he sang, her heart soared with love for him. Conflicted, she both wanted the show to go on forever and also to end-so that she could throw herself into his arms, beg him to forgive her, and assure him that she would trust him forever.

When Damien turned and smiled at her again, her heart fluttered erratically and a sudden, intense heat speared her and pooled in her belly. She wanted nothing more than to be in Damien’s arms. She needed to warn him not to come any closer but it was too late. He was coming closer and closer, and she was doing everything in her power to remain seated. She didn’t want to ruin Damien’s opening but God how she wanted to kiss him. He must have had the same thought because a moment before she could whisper, “No,” he walked off the stage and stood directly in front of her. In his eyes she saw a question.

“Mia, I love you.” Damien said hoarsely. “Can we try again?”

Her eyes shifted automatically to the door her brother had exited through and Damien shifted his body to block her view.

“I don’t want Keefe, Mia, I want you.”

Her heart soared. She didn’t need Keefe’s opinion on this one. She’d been given a second chance at loving Damien and she was darn well going to take it.



She flung herself into Damien’s arms. “I love you,” she murmured into his ear. “Can you ever forgive me?”

He pulled back a little to look at her. “I will if you’ll answer my question. You didn’t say,” he smiled. “Can we start over?” He held her tighter, not wanting to let her go.

“Yes, yes, and yes!” she answered and gave him her entire heart in that moment, without hesitation, without reservation. His lips claimed hers and as the kiss deepened, loud clapping exploded, bringing both of them back to planet Earth. Damien smiled down at her.


“Come on,” he urged, taking her hand and pulling her onstage with him. His arm firmly around her, he whispered directions to the band.

He began singing a ballad with music so sweet that each note wrapped around Mia like a warm hug. Then she heard the words, “Mia, I love you.” In that instant she realized he’d written the song for her and about her. She was holding back tears as he sang to her as if no one else in the world existed. When he was done, he pulled her to the center of the stage.

“This is Mia,” Damien said by way of introduction. “Isn’t she beautiful?” Everyone clapped and Damien grinned. “I guess you can all tell that I’m in love with her.” Again, the audience went wild.





As much as she wanted to be in Damien’ arms, Mia wasn’t keen about doing it with an audience. She gave his hand a squeeze and started to walk away, a little afraid that he wouldn’t let her off the stage.

He followed, kissed her one last time, and released her to return to his singing. She couldn’t believe it. She’d almost ruined things, but somehow it had all turned out fine. She smiled as she listened to Damien’s deep sultry voice belting out song after song. He’d made it.


“Hi, honey, mind if we join you?”

“Introduce yourself to the girl. She doesn’t know us.”



Startled, Mia pulled herself together enough to smile at the woman and man who’d just approached her table. She knew instantly who they were. Damien’s parents.

“Sure,’ she answered. She stuck her hand out. “I’m Mia,” she said and immediately felt like an idiot. There was not one person in the club that didn’t know her name.

“Yes, we know that, Mia,” the man answered. “My name’s Charles. Charles Terrell. Most everyone calls me Chuck. I’m Damien’s old man and this is Kathy, Damien’s old lady.”

“Damien’s mother,” Kathy corrected.

“So you’re the little piece of,”

“Chuck,”Kathy warned.


“That wasn’t what I was going to say. So, Mia, you’re the little piece of fluff that’s been driving Damien crazy all these months? I’d sure like to know what you’ve got. My son’s nose is wide open. And honestly, you don’t look at all like what I expected.”

Mia felt the smile slipping from her face. Instant compassion for Damien flooded her. For months he’d put up with crap from her brother who until recently had despised him and had done everything in his power to keep her away from him, and at the same time he must have been taking crap at home.


“I beg your pardon,” Mia said. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t listen to Chuck. He’s just trying to start trouble. He’s only playing with you. Don’t take him seriously.”

Mia studied them both as she listened to the lilting notes of Damien’s song, praying that he would be at her side soon to deal with his parents. She smiled at Kathy but didn’t answer.

“Damien told me that you thought you were better than him.”Charles continued his attack.

“I never said that, and I never thought it,’ Mia defended. “There were other things going on in my life that had nothing to do with Damien.”

“Yeah, we heard. While you were stringing our son along, you were engaged. We know all of that.”



Mia’s head snapped toward Charles and she wondered why she was being attacked. This man was almost an exact replica of the man she loved, broad shoulders, beautiful chestnut complexion, a mouth full of white teeth and a killer smile. He didn’t, however, have Damien’s deep sexy voice, though his own wasn’t bad. And he definitely didn’t inspire love in her the way his son did. No, on the contrary, what she was feeling for the older man was distaste. There was something slimy about him. While his mouth spoke of her hurting Damien, he’d used his eyes to undress her. She’d felt it as surely as if he’d used his hands and she was disgusted.

“Leave her alone, Chuck.”

“I’m just saying I don’t see what all the fuss is about. She’s just a little slip of a thing. I don’t see how she got the boy all twisted up like she did. I want to know her secret. What’s the harm in asking her that?”

“It’s none of your business.”

Mia turned grateful eyes to Kathy before scanning the stage for Damien, praying he would hurry. The show was over but there were still three or four women hanging around him, wanting his autograph, and he was obliging.

“Damien,” she whispered, knowing he couldn’t possibly hear her. But at that instant he turned and caught her eye and his eyes widened in alarm. She could tell he was rushing through the next autograph.

Then he literally jumped from the stage and came toward her. A sigh of relief escaped Mia. This was one time she was grateful to be rescued. She stood and so did Kathy and Charles.

“Hey, you came. I didn’t see you,” Damien said to his parents.

“No, I suppose you didn’t. Not when you kept looking over this way, at this little girl here.”


Again Mia felt dirty. There wasn’t anything wrong with the man’s words, not even with the way he’d said them. But her skin was crawling all the same.

Damien’s arm slid around her and she could almost swear that he was trying to push her behind him. Damien answered his father’s unasked question. “I didn’t know Mia was going to be here.”

“Then how did she rate a special seat right here in the front while your mother and I were stuck in some funky little corner? And by the way, hot shot, we had to pay to get in.” Charles was poking Damien in the chest with his finger as he punctuated each word. Kathy was biting her lip and Damien looked extremely uncomfortable. Mia was embarrassed for him. She could understand family humiliation. It was her specialty. Her mother had given her a lifetime’s worth. Suddenly she noticed something she should have noticed before. Charles was feeling no pain. It was obvious he’d had more than a few drinks.

“How come she rates and we don’t? We’ve been the ones supporting you. She had her ass off somewhere doing God knows what, with whoever. But we know it wasn’t you. So why did you reserve a front row seat for her and not us?”

Now it was definitely not her imagination. Damien was positioning his body in front of hers. He was trying to protect her. Instead of feeling the intense annoyance and aversion for his father she had felt a moment before, Mia felt a surge of love for Damien.

“I’ll pay for your admission and your drinks. Just tell me what you spent.”

The emotion in Damien’s voice was pure exasperation. Mia was extremely familiar with that tone.

“Fifty dollars, admission and drinks.” Kathy looked at her son and smiled weakly.

Mia watched as Damien’s hand went to his pocket.

“How the hell would you know? Did you pay for anything?” Charles interrupted. “It was a hundred.”


Observing this family situation from behind Damien, Mia saw Damien tighten his jaw. She also saw as he counted out the money and handed it to his father that he didn’t have anything left in his wallet.

“Now that you have your money, can I please give the two of you a proper introduction? Mia, my parents, my mother, Kathy Morrison, and my father, Charles Terrell.” He continued before anyone else got the chance to speak, “No, they’re not divorced. They were never married. Sorry, Pop, I just thought I’d beat you to it.”

He kissed his mother’s cheek and Mia watched the woman’s eyes as they became veiled. Damien had never spoken a lot about his parents, just that he’d moved back home with his mother. His father, he hadn’t mentioned.

“I told her to call me Chuck.”

“You hate it when anyone calls you Chuck.” For a moment Damien stared at his father in disbelief, then recovered. “Come on, everyone, let’s sit down,” Damien said.



“I still want to know how she rates a front row table,” Charles said as he crumpled Damien’s money and put it in his pocket.

“Ashleigh asked me to reserve a table. I did.”

“You’re banging them both?”

Damien leaned over and whispered to his father and when he pulled away, the man looked Mia over, a slight sneer on his face.

“I’m sorry, Mia. It seems my son thinks I’ve offended you. Perhaps I was wrong in my assessment of you. Maybe you didn’t think you were too good for Damien.”

He turned from Mia to glare at his son. “Maybe it’s my son who’s gotten weak since he moved back home with his mama.” A huge scowl

replaced the sneer. “Man, this woman’s got you whipped. I warned you about that.” He then turned his glare on Kathy. “So you finally got your way. You managed to turn my son into a freaking mama’s boy. Well, if I have any say about it and you know I always have,” he laughed crudely, “I’m going to see to it that he changes back.”



Charles laughed at Mia. “Enjoy this while you can because I’m going to go find my son’s balls. And when I do, I’m going to give them back to him and he’s going to start acting like a man again, no more pulling some woman on the stage and singing to her, telling the whole damn audience that he’s in love with her.” He glared at Damien. “Do you think I ever did that with your mother? Hell, no!”

Mia watched as Kathy winced noticeably, as though she’d been hit.

“I don’t. I agree with Mia,” Damien said, interrupting her, turning to look at her, pleading with his eyes. “I don’t think now’s the time for this.”

“Makes me no never mind,” Charles retorted. “I’m outta here.”

“Chuck,” Kathy stood. “How am I supposed to get home?”

The look he gave her turned what before had been only dislike into something worse for Mia.

“Don’t worry, Kathy, I’ll take you home,” Mia volunteered, ignoring the fact that her brother Keefe had brought her and she was herself without a ride home. Still, Damien’s father needed someone to wipe that look off his face and Damien’s mother needed an ally.



“Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll take you home.” Damien kissed his Mother’s cheek and pulled Mia into his arms. “I’m so sorry. My pops had a few drinks. Will you please wait for me? I have another show.”

“I’ll wait.” Mia smiled at his look of doubt. “I don’t have a ride home either.” She watched as he grinned, then retook the stage.

She sat down, barely glancing at Kathy. “Would you like something to eat,” she asked, changing her mind about asking the woman if she could buy her a drink. She didn’t think she wanted to talk to anyone else tonight who’d been drinking.

“Thanks, Mia, but I’m fine.”

Mia looked up and found Kathy studying her, a strange look on her face. “Is something wrong?” she asked, praying she was not opening herself up to attack by another of Damien’s parents.

“I love my son,” Kathy began, “but I’m wondering why you’re with him. I can understand why you broke it off but to do it again,” She asked. “He’s going to hurt you, Mia. He can’t help it. He’s just like his father.”

Like father like son. Like mother like daughter. Mia had more in common with Damien than she’d ever realized. It was in that moment that her heart broke for him and it was also in that moment that she determined that she would mend both their hearts, attend their hurts. Damien was nothing like his father and she was nothing like her mother.

“Kathy, don’t worry. Damien is not Charles. He loves me.”

“He’s my son, but he’s a dog just like his father. He couldn’t be true to you if you paid him.”

“But he has been.”

“That’s because he didn’t have you. You confused him. He didn’t know how to react.”

“Why are you saying this?” Mia asked, puzzled.

“Because I don’t want you to get hurt.” Kathy’s eyes wandered toward the door. “I’m not doing this to be mean.”

“You don’t believe Damien loves me?”


“He does for now, until he gets what he wants, then.” She shrugged her shoulders. “I think his love will fade and you’ll be all alone and heartsick. With luck maybe you’ll have one thing to remember him by. A baby, a blessing and a curse.”

Mia took Kathy’s hand. “It’s not going to happen, not to us.

Damien loves me and I love him. You have no idea of the obstacles we’ve overcome to get here.”

“I know.”

Mia watched as Kathy laughed softly. She was getting a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach and wished that the woman would just stop talking. But by the intense look on her face, Mia knew that wasn’t likely to happen.



“I know him a hell of a lot better than you and I’ve known him for a whole lot longer. I birthed him. When he gets what he wants, I promise you he will throw you to the side. The two of them are just alike. They’re two peas in a pod. That might be a cliché, but it’s true,” She nodded again toward the door.

“That’s Damien in twenty more years. Look at me and you’ll see yourself in twenty years if you stay with him.”

Mia stared at Kathy, then shook her head and looked toward the stage. Kathy was wrong. Ignore her, she ordered her mind. Her future with Damien would be whatever they made it.

About Me

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I believe in promoting authors and their books. Let me introduce you and your books to online readers.

I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.

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