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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Monday, October 30, 2006

OCT 06 FEATURED AUTHOR: Clarence Nero


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

Clarence Nero:
I’m originally from New Orleans lower 9th Ward that was demolished in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Most of my family is from this community, and I grew up in the Desire Project--one of the worst projects in the city where drugs, violence, and homicides were an everyday happening. I began writing out of my personal desire to deal with the pain and suffering I experienced in my childhood. Growing up in a place like the 9th Ward, I had seen so much poverty and decay that I had to get it out of me so I could heal and move on. Therefore, I’m very aware of the problems and issues threatening the black community when I put pen to paper and I hope to not only entertain my readers but educate them as well.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

NERO:
Three Sides to Every Story is a love a triangle that unfolds in the voices of Tonya, Johnny, and James. It’s set in the 9th Ward, pre-Hurricane Katrina, and tackles many timely issues from black men in prison, sex and sexuality in urban America, HIV and AIDS, just to touch on a few. The story revolves around Johnny, the son of a popular preacher in New Orleans, who falls in love with Tonya all the while concealing his attractions for men. After getting into some trouble with the law, Johnny goes to prison where he meets James, an openly gay man and the two of them fall in love behind bars. Once Johnny comes home, both Tonya and James are waiting for him and thus begins the drama. But don’t get it twisted, this is not your everyday down-low brotha scenario. Three Sides goes deeper into the lives of three people struggling on the fringes of life who must face the consequences of their actions to find hope, forgiveness, salvation and ultimately redemption.

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

NERO:
I would like my readers to understand that we, black people, are facing some serious issues in our communities that we can no longer afford to turn the other way and just pretend that our children aren’t dying and suffering. AIDS is a serious threat to black people and we must have open, honest, and positive dialogue about sex and sexuality, and stop pointing the finger. We have to eradicate homophobia so that men and women, too, can feel comfortable coming out of the closet and living authentic lives. Until we accept people without condemnation and hatred, we will continue to have men marrying women and taking up with men on the side. That type of scenario poses a real threat to black women, and I’m really concerned when black women are the target because they have always been the backbone of our community.

SORMAG: What led you to the idea of writing this book, and then to the actual writing of it?

NERO:
I actually started writing the book many years before J. L. King made the topic of “down-low” men popular in the news. But I finished the final draft right after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The situation in the 9th Ward really inspired me to finish the novel. So many of our people were trapped long before the Hurricane held them captive, and I wanted to tell their story with honesty and integrity--to set the record straight once and for all.

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

NERO:
It’s a lonely business being a writer and a very hard career to try and make a living on. You spend hours alone at your computer creating work that you hope will change, inspire, empower, and entertain people. And the last thing you want is to receive any type of negativity. You want people to appreciate your book and to go out and buy it, too. That’s most important. Black writers have a hard time convincing mainstream publishers that our stories deserved to be told, and it‘s important for “us“ to support each other.

SORMAG: How are you marketing your book and what are your thoughts about the importance of marketing for authors?

NERO:
I think it’s very important for authors to market their books. You can’t rely on the publisher to do everything. Some of them just don’t understand how to promote a book to our people, anyway. Most black people, particularly in the inner city, won’t read the newspaper for a book review. You have to get on the radio and walk the streets and tell people about your book. That’s what I’ve been doing. I go to beauty salons, hair shows, college football games to tell folks about my book. I also do a lot of internet marketing on popular websites that have a high traffic of African American consumers. Getting published is only half the battle. I’ve spent so much time and money marketing my book that I can only pray and hope that people go out and buy it and enjoy the read. From the positive feedback and sales so far, I’m doing pretty good though.

SORMAG: Name your top five favorite writing books of all time.

NERO:
Wow. That’s hard. I have so many books that I like. I love The Color Purple, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Invisible Life, and Go Tell It On the Mountain.

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

NERO:
For What I Hate I Do, by M. W. Moore. He’s a self-published author who I had the pleasure of meeting in Dallas, TX. We served on a panel together. His true story of being an Olympic champion, to falling to drugs and robbing banks, to going to jail and getting involve with men to finding out he’s HIV positive. I was like wow! I thought I had been through a lot of pain. But the beauty and blessing out this story is that M.W. Moore finds redemption and now has a story to tell that might help empower other people. I just love stories that have a lesson at the end that rings loud and clear.

SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?

NERO:
There are a couple of sites I love to visit that I now advertise on. Keithboykin.com has a ton of information on politics, books, movies, gay/lesbian issues and popular culture in general. I also love popular blogger Rod 2.0. I often frequent African American Literary Book Club website (AALBC.com), Cushcity.com, and MosaicBooks.com. I’m always on Essence.com and Bet.com, as well.

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you?

NERO:
My website at WWW.CLARENCENERO.COM! Register to be on my email list so I can send you updates on the book. My email address and telephone number are also on my website. Thank you for your time and consideration.

OCT 06 EXCERPT: Three Sides to Every Story


Three Sides to Every Story
by Clarence Nero


Three Sides To Every Story is a love triangle that unfolds in the voices of Tonya, James, and Johnny. Set in the 9th Ward of New Orleans, Nero tells a wrenching story of desire and survival with a BIG message about sex and sexuality in urban America.

EXCERPT

1 Tonya

I don't know where to begin with this nightmare, so I'm just gone start right around the time Johnny got his get-out-of-jail card, because that was when all the goddamn drama started going down between us. And I know everybody probably gone have something to say about the situation, but nobody knows what happened like I know.

To begin with, I loved Johnny with my whole heart, so whoever tried to say I was using him or that I was some gold digger, they can kiss my black you know what for real. All the sistahs out there who've ever had a brother on lockdown will be able to relate to what I was going through back then: that sometimes it gets hard for a girl when your man is miles away in some jail and you still got needs.

Don't misunderstand me. While Johnny was away in jail I was committed to him, but just not completely faithful. But the hard-core fact was, he was the one who got sent upstate for five years, not me. I still had shit I had to take care of on the outside, although Johnny was deep inside my heart and forever on my mind. Everyone knows that a sistah from the hood gotta get hers for herself, because ain't nobody really trying to give you a damn thing out here in these streets but the blues.

So, yeah, I'll straight-up admit that I was laying the pussy down on Rico, an NO rapper who held down the dirty South like Lil' Wayne and Juvenile.

If I don't say nothing else good about that lying, cheating nigga, I have to give Rico his props. He had mad skills on the mic and wasn't like some of those fake-ass rappers out there who talk about living the game and coming up from the cut because it helps them sell more records. Rico lived every bit of the street life. The shit he rapped about, I felt it deep down in my bones like a cold fucking breeze on a zero-degree day.

I came from nothing, y'all, for real. My mama raised me and my two brothers in the Florida Project off of Desire Street without nobody's help but the good Lord's. Not to sound all broke-down or try to get some kind of sympathy either, but I have seen some shit out there in the world that could last me a lifetime. Although nothing beats seeing my own brother Eric get shot down like an animal in the streets by some crazy-ass nigga who was jealous over the fact that his woman had lust in her eyes for my brother.

Niggas know they be killing one another for nothing. Took my brother's life for simply looking at his woman, but that ain't even half the shit me and my family been through in that lower Nine. I'm talking about the Ninth Ward, that is. And I for damn sure have a lot to say and to get off my chest, but some things you just gotta take your time with.

Like I was saying, Rico was rapping about life in the projects, which I could relate to, so that's one of the reasons our friendship was so special. The other reason was the fact that we was both artists. Where Rico was a rapper, I could work a goddamn stage and dance a nigga right out of his drawers.

Yeah, I was a stripper. Babee, ain't no shame in my game. And I ain't even trying to hide or deny it either. You see, I'm not ashamed of my past at all, because the past has only made me the strong woman I am today.

I was stripping down at this spot called Club Circus in the French Quarter, right off of Bourbon Street when Rico first saw me doing my thing, shaking and clapping my ass for dollars. My stage name was Booty. You know that song "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child? It was like they were singing about me.

"Oh baby, you so hot, girl, you sizzle!" some corny nigga with a played-out Jheri curl and a mouthful of gold teeth hollered. Jheri Curl--what I would come to call him--was a regular at Club Circus who got on my last fucking nerve. "And, girl, you got the kind of ass that a make a nigga go bankrupt. Just booty on top of booty!"

Jheri Curl would show up every night, sit up front near the stage, and say the exact same line to me until him and all of his li'l podnuhs started joking around and calling me Booty, which I didn't have any problem with. Them niggas were breaking me off with a li'l change every night and every li'l bit helps when you broke. It was my booty that attracted Rico to me in the first place.

After I got offstage one night, Rico informed the manager that he wanted to meet the girl with the big, sexy booty, but I quickly shut him down. I passed the word along that I was not interested in anything he was offering. Rico was a player, and every woman from the Third to the Ninth wards knew he was the biggest whore this side of the Mississippi, so I was not even about to set myself up to take a hard fall like some trick with no goddamn sense.

Besides, I had Johnny--a real soldier--and I knew one day he was coming home to love me again. We was once high school sweethearts and so in love with each other that everyone just knew we would be together forever. No man had ever loved or been committed to me the way Johnny had. He made me feel safe and secure in those strong-ass muscly arms of his. So, nobody can't say it wasn't true love. Me and Johnny had that kind of strong love that people wrote songs and made movies about. Damn, y'all got me thinking way back. It was no fairy-tale meeting, but I fell for that nigga the first time I looked into his eyes.

Me and my girls was walking home from school when we heard these dudes behind us cracking jokes. One of them, Johnny, was talking about my sexy ass, but I was trying to ignore him. Sometimes I liked the attention niggas showed me over my body, but other times I just wanted to be left alone. Johnny caught me on one of my off days when I just wasn't feeling it.

"Girl, you got the kinda ass that make a nigga fall down on his knees and thank Jesus!" His strong and deep voice blended in with a laughing crowd of kids from around the old neighborhood. Latisha and Tamika, my girls for real, grabbed hold of my arms. They wasn't about to let some niggas disrespect me. Latisha and Tamika always did have my back, which they've proved time and time again since middle school.

"Come on, nah, baby," another dude shouted. "Why y'all gon' be like dat? My man just tryin' to holler at the one with the big booty." More laughter.

"Girl, just ignore them," Latisha said, dragging me by the arm.

"They so damn ignorant," Tamika added, flipping her long hair out of her face and pulling at me, too. She was the prim and proper one in the crew. Tamika was also conceited, stuck-up, and didn't take crap from nobody. We was walking as fast as we could, but them fools stayed behind us the entire way home. I don't know why niggas think we love this kind of shit, anyway. We don't want nobody whistling, honking, and shouting at us like we some stray dogs or runaway cats. Step up to us like men and maybe we might take your asses seriously.

"Hey, li'l mama, why don't you do like Juvy," Johnny called out, "and back that ass up fa' me."

"You know what?" I pulled away from Tamika and Latisha, swung around to face the crowd, and went off. "Y'all are so fucking immature!"

"Oh, so you feisty and hot." Johnny made his way to the front of the crowd and stared me in my face. I noticed he was wearing a football jersey with a big number thirty-two on his right sleeve, which was the winning number that year. Johnny was our school's football star, and he had broken more records than any athlete in Higgins High's history. But I didn't give a damn who he was.

"You got something to say?" I got right up in Johnny's face and gave him a piece of my mind, sister style: hands on my hips, neck twirling, and everything. His boys was cheering, roaring, and trying to get some shit started. Latisha and Tamika stepped to my side and got into kick-ass mode.

"Then be a man and say it to my face," I said.

After which, Johnny did something that shocked the entire crowd, including me. He got down on one knee like he was about to propose. All of a sudden you couldn't hear nothing, and everyone stopped dead in their tracks.

"What I was tryin' to say was . . ." Johnny took hold of my hand. He was staring me in my face with those dark brown eyes of his that made a bitch like me melt. But I was holding on with a tight face and trying my best not to give in to his charm and good looks. Johnny had done pissed me completely off, and I wanted him to know it, too.

"I was wonderin'"--he cleared his throat, like what he had to say was really hard to get out--"if you would go to the homecoming dance with a nigga."

"Girl, forget him," Tamika said, nudging me in the back. "Tonya, didn't you hear me?"

"Yeah, I heard you." I looked into Johnny's eyes. It was like he had a hold on me or something. For a brief moment I couldn't think, move, or speak.

"So, what's up?" Johnny asked with the widest grin on his face. He had me eating out of the palm of his hand, but I tried to keep it together. "You gon' let a nigga take you to the dance or what?"

"Okay," I heard myself say, cracking a smile and shaking my head from side to side. You know every woman wants to be swept off her feet, and Johnny had done just that. It was the perfect sunny day for falling in love.

You see, Johnny's charm got him what he wanted, but his anger often kept him in a whole lot of trouble on the other hand. Now, that brings me back to the story.

Johnny waited until our senior year of high school to do something completely stupid, even though I admit that my ex-boyfriend Greg was a jerk and deserved to get his ass kicked for trying to manhandle me.

It all went down one night after a high school football game, and I was waiting at the front gate for Johnny. Greg drove up in his daddy's BMW, trying to impress me and claiming how badly he wanted me to be his girlfriend again. I told him to get lost, and that was when one thing led to another. Greg tried to force me inside the car. Said he just wanted to take me somewhere so we could talk. I was kicking and screaming when Johnny came flying out of the school gate like Superman. It must have looked like Greg was attacking me or trying to rape me or something. Johnny went too far, although I understand how it may have looked from his perspective. He fucked Greg up so bad, the boy ended up in the hospital for weeks with multiple bruises on his chest and face. Doctors didn't think he would make it, which totally freaked me out. Our high school romance turned into a nightmare overnight. Johnny wound up in jail for almost killing Greg.

Whatever the case, I didn't turn my back on Johnny or look at him any different. Part of me understood that he was only trying to look out for my best interests. So, you damn right, I stood by my man, despite what other people thought: taking three-hour bus rides to visit him in Sierra Leone, Louisiana, and writing love letters to him into the early morning, until my fingers would ache. Although it was hard, and sometimes a sistah got lonely, I wasn't out there looking for someone to take his place. Even though Rico slowly made his move on me by showing up at the club night after night and showering me with expensive gifts, I continued to remain faithful to Johnny.

I stripped at the club every chance I got and tried to make ends meet every which way I could. But the shit wasn't easy, y'all. That li'l change them niggas was giving me at the club wasn't enough to buy a Happy Meal at McDonald's. It seemed like the more I stripped and shook my ass, the farther I seemed from getting anywhere. Here I was, living with my mama in a run-down two-bedroom house off of Louisa Street and trying to help her pay the bills, but every month it seemed like we never had enough--like we could never get ahead of the game.

Although stripping at Club Circus paid some of the bills, I had this one dream of dancing in music videos on BET and touring the country with some famous rapper like P. Diddy or Jay-Z. I was just as talented as some of those dancers on TV in Diddy's and Jay-Z's videos, but unlike me, they wasn't shaking and clapping their asses for some li'l change in some smoky, dark club, but getting top dollar for their skills.

Well, the big dream did come true for this girl from the lower Nine who a lot of people probably thought wasn't gone be nothing in life because I was poor and black from the projects. But I showed all of their hating asses. One day Rico introduced me to a lifestyle and made me an offer that I could no longer resist, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to become a music video dancer and tour the world with him. I know some folks would try to say I was only with Rico for the fame and money, but it wasn't even like that.

Dancing for Rico's company was a chance for me to be somebody in life. Sometimes you gotta rewrite your own story and not live the one that was written for you at birth. My grandma had it hard in life, raising five girls and six boys on the strength of her back without nobody's help, including this shameless-ass government or that low-line handout they call welfare. And some of my aunties, uncles, and cousins also had it hard, burying sons and daughters before the age of twenty-two, but I was gone be damned if I was gone struggle all my life, too. I had seen my mama work all of her life to keep food on the table with minimum wages that was like a goddamn slap in the face. I knew that was not the life I wanted for myself. God had something better in store for me. I just thought that better life was with Rico, especially since he was lavishing me with all the material things I had always wanted.

Who wouldn't get caught up in that kind of fantasy?

The best part about dancing in music videos was the thrill and high it gave me. I felt special, wanted and needed. You know, like I was making a difference and connecting to something big that the whole world would see.

Excerpted from Three Sides to Every Story by Clarence Nero Copyright © 2006 by Clarence Nero. Excerpted by permission of Harlem Moon, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission

Friday, October 27, 2006

OCT O6 EXCERPT: Daylight Coming


Daylight Coming
By Sheila Peele-Miller

ISBN: 0-9771927-2-5

Short blurb:
Engaging to the bitter end, ‘Daylight Coming’ is a real-to-life story for any woman who knows what it means to crave her mother’s love. And for any woman who is trapped in a personal struggle of choosing between hating and forgiving. And trying to find something about herself to love.

Chapter 17
At least once a week Alex and I had lunch at Ming’s, a tiny Chinese restaurant, we just happened to stumble upon, not far from his job. I couldn’t get enough of their shrimp with lobster sauce, and he always had their General Tso’s chicken with vegetable fried rice. We always ate in the same corner, farthest from the door, smiling at each other and sampling from each other’s plates. The mother of Jeff’s firstborn son walked in with four other women while he was paying our check and helping himself to the complimentary chocolate mints on the counter.
She rushed over to him. “Alex Knight? Is that you? I ain’t seen you in years. Where in the world have you been?”

Stunned that he was recognized, he held a brief conversation with her while I slipped out the door. I had already been dreading what would happen once Jeff found out who I was seeing, but not as much as Mother’s birthday celebration, which ─ as some would say ― was just around the corner.

Mother was already laying into me as hard and as often as she could and I had been avoiding her as much as possible. If her party hadn’t been planned six months in advance, with me responsible for all of the cooking, I wouldn’t have gone. Not one to often break my promises, I had to make myself get up on her special day since I never wanted to leave Alex. And he always made sure I had a reason to come back.
He rolled out of bed behind me and followed me into the shower. Streams of water ran down his back, flowed over his abs, biceps, and triceps, forcing me into pulling him into my arms and kissing him as if it would be our last. Aching for me just as bad as I was dying to have him, he picked me up. And I wrapped my legs around his waist. With my back against the shower wall, he left me barely able to catch my breath after our love came down. I pushed him out of the bathroom, knowing if I was one second later than Mother thought I was supposed to be, I would be accused of ruining her birthday.

I threw on the black A-line skirt and leotard and a white crochet-knit sweater he had picked out for me. Then I ran to the Factory Card Outlet and purchased everything in gold: the balloons, cups, napkins, plates and banner, she told me I needed to bring and drove to Evanston. Jeff was already there, but in a mood so lively, it was shocking. Still, I watched him with a suspicious eye as I placed everything for the cornbread stuffing I was going to make on the kitchen table. I was close to having all of the onions, bell peppers, and celery diced and sliced when the doorbell rang. Mother went to answer it with him directly behind her.

She said, “Thank you,” to whomever had come in a cheerful voice. I kept chopping away, hoping we could get through the day without somebody jumping on my case and me having to snap. I was already somewhat pissed that RudyAnn was once again nowhere to be seen when work needed to be done. And Mother was acting as if I had as many hands and feet as an octopus. She and Jeff charged back into the kitchen. Her complexion was bright red and he was huffing and puffing like he was going to blow the house down.

“How dare you!” she snapped, slamming a vase full of red roses on the table. “If I haven’t taught you anything, I have taught you to respect yourself, your marriage, and your family. And I don’t appreciate whoever he is sendin’ these things ─ ” she slapped across the top of the flowers ─ “to my house.” Four petals flew off and fell on the table.

“What are you talkin’ about?”
She threw the gift card at me. I picked it out of the bowl. I knew Jeff was the sender before I even read, “Happy Birthday, from your future son-in-law, Alex” scribbled on it.
Jeff fell in the chair closest to him. “Oh why, Nicole, why-y-y? “ He dropped his head on his arm. “How could you do me like this?”

Mother stood over him. She patted his back while he howled. “Now what do you have to say for yourself?”

Jeff looked up at her. “Mother Borge, he used to wash our cars.” He dabbed his crocodile tears with a paper towel she handed him. “He spent nights in our house. You remember him, don’t you? That skinny little kid with the big Afro. He used to be with Nicole all the time. I pray to God…” He wailed. “That she wasn’t sleepin’ with him way back then.”

Mother’s mouth dropped into a perfect “O” and her eyes got extremely big. I grabbed my purse and ran out the door, desperate to be anywhere other than near Jeff because I almost went Freddie Krueger on his ass!

By me having a full-blown affair, I refused to step a foot inside Holy Hill. I had seen too many hypocrites to set myself out like them. Alex had taken an interest in Islam just before moving back to Evanston, so we studied and meditated together. My motto was regardless of how bleak your life may seem, there is still something to thank God for. Mother didn’t want me to even have that satisfaction. She was constantly calling me, threatening me with the fires of hell, as if she would be the first one to enter The Pearly Gates, the way she judged and belittled people.
After having labeled me a Jezebel and an adulteress, she left a message stating, “It’s very important, Nicole.” Unaccustomed to anything distressing coming from her, I anxiously dialed her office number. “This is Nicole. What’s wrong?”

“How you doin’?”
“O-o-kay. I guess. What’s the matter?”
“What are your plans for lunch today?”
“Meanin’?”
“Do you have any plans for lunch?”
“Not at the moment. Why?”
“I wanna go to Dixie Kitchen.”
“O-o-kay. And?”
“I want you to join me?”
“What’s goin’ on, Mother?”
“I just wanna talk to you.”
“Why? You ain’t damned my soul enough?”
“No, I just wanna talk.”

Over jerk chicken, hot cakes, red beans and rice, we discussed the weather, and her up-and-coming retirement. She made most of the conversation, because I was waiting for her to slap me upside my head with an insult. Anything. She just chitchatted about nothing until she found a way to orchestrate what she really wanted into our conversation. By the time our plates were collected and she had a final cup of black coffee and paid the check, I had promised I would chair, Dreams and Wishes, an annual Christmas charity event I had founded and coordinated for Holy Hill for the past ten years.

We always had three nights of families signing up for toys, food baskets, and whatever else our many supporters donated. Jeff, knowing most of my days were being spent at the church, would stop by, trying to talk to me. I was standing in the recreation room showing several volunteers how I wanted gloves and the matching skull caps sorted. He approached me with the same ole, “Nicole, when are you gonna stop all this foolishness and come home?”
Mother was passing by. She stuck her head in the door. “Jeff, come here.” A smile slithered across his face. He hurried over to her.

“Yes, ma’am.”
“I’m sure things are gonna get better for you two, but right now let Nicole do what she has to do. I’m sure all of the work she’s been doin’ in the name of the Lord is makin’ her tired enough. ”
Shocked and embarrassed, he sat a few chairs away from me, helping the volunteers while gawking at me. I rolled my eyes and left the room. He followed me out the door to Pastor Dorthea’s office.

“Nicole, the lease is gonna be up soon over on Benson. What am I supposed to do about relocatin’, since you controllin’ all the money?

Knowing his landlord would probably try to commit us to another year, I mailed him a notarized and certified letter the same day he dropped the keys off. It stated any lease signed by Jeffrey Kingston for NCS Management Company, would be Jeff’s sole responsibility and that I refused to be held financially or any way responsible for any deals made without my knowledge or consent.

Mother said, coming from who knows where, “Jeff, can’t you see Nicole is handlin’ church business and don’t have time to discuss where you’re gonna move your office? I asked you to let her be.”

“Yes ma’am,” he said, but sat in the parking lot waiting for me to leave. Alex had warned me many times, “Nikki, you need to stay away from him, because you don’t know what this dude might try to do to you. I wish you would quit bein’ so stubborn and let me take you wherever you need to go because you never know when this dude may snap. At least if I’m with you, I can defend you. But half the time, I don’t know where you at.”
“Alex, the last thing on my mind is what Jeff is gonna do.”

I pulled onto the street from the church parking lot. He zoomed behind me, flashing his lights from low to high beam, then sped up next to me, shouting, “YOU BRINGIN’ YO ASS HOME TONIGHT!”

I gave him the finger and hit the gas. He rode my bumper until I threw on brakes. He swerved around me and almost collided with another car. I took advantage of his near miss and made a quick right up a one-way street. He managed to catch up with me. He honked his horn and shook his fist at me. I drove to our house on Sheridan Road.

He pulled in behind me and barreled out of his car. “I’M TIRED OF YOU…” I gave him the finger again, made a U-turn across the lawn, and sped away.

Since things seemed to be working out just fine between Mother and me, I contemplated asking her to speak to him about his steady streams of telephone calls and always trying to follow me. But I figured, why ruin what was turning out to be a very pleasant experience?

Two days before Christmas, the families on our wish list came to pick up their gifts and food baskets. We also put together toy bags for the children who had missed our deadline, using what we had left over. By Christmas Eve, all we had to do was pass out the turkeys and hams and keep smiling for the many reporters who dropped by to interview and get pictures of the two hundred families. I always laid low and let Mother and Pastor Dorthea have their minutes of fame.

By eight forty-four in the evening, except for the garbage that had to be taken out, the gym was clean. We passed out every donation, down to the last package of dinner rolls. A homeless man, who volunteered to help with cleaning up, asked if he could have it.

I said, “Sure,” giving him thirty dollars and wishing him, “Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.”
“Thank you kindly sister, but can I bother you for a ride to Chicago?”
“You surely can. Where you goin’?” I had seen him around the neighborhood so I knew he was harmless.
“Over on Paulina and Howard by the El station.”
“Let me get my coat.”
Mother said, “Let Jeff do it.”
The _expression on his face clearly showed he was against it, but he said, “Okay,” just to appease her. I was anxious to be spending my first Christmas with Alex, although he didn’t celebrate it, because of his Muslim beliefs. I was glad she made the suggestion, until she said, “Nicole, I need to see you before you leave.”
“I’m tryin’ to get home, Mother. I’m tired.”
“I know. But this’ll only take a minute.”
I walked slowly behind Mother to Pastor Dorthea’s office. The moment she opened the door, my heart sank because I knew she had played me. Still I silently prayed, God, bless me not to say or do anything I may regret. Please, Lord. Hold my tongue and protect my heart. Please, God!
Pastor walked over to me. She wrapped her arm around mine, pulling me to the center of the room. I tried to resist her, but she wouldn’t let me go.

She said, trying to force me to sit down, “You know, Nicole, you’re such a beautiful woman and God has blessed you with so many talents. Not too many people can coordinate such an awesome event for the needy. You have truly been a blessin’ to this church.

“Not just tonight, though. Because your help with the Teen Ministry and the Youth Choir has been tremendous as well. And God is lookin’ down on you. He’s got so many plans for you. And I hate to bring this up, but you can’t keep livin’ like you livin’ and expect Him not to bring damnation upon you and that boy you layin’ up with.”

I turned to the picture of The Baptism, painted by some unknown artist that hung on the wall to the right of her desk.

“Now don’t get upset with me because I know the devil comes to us in all kinds of ways, disguisin’ himself in the form of a man you may think you love. But if a man truly loves you, he ain’t gonna make you leave your home, honey. Or steal from your husband.”
My blood pressure shot up a couple of notches, but I kept my eyes on the young girl being emerged in the blue waters even after Mother hummed, “A-a-men.”
Pastor continued, still holding on to my arm, although I was trying to ease away from her as gently as possible. “Nicole, I know you and Jeff have had your share of ups and downs and a lot of them weren’t your fault. But you know as well as I do that he’s overall a good man and a great provider.”

Mother added, “Jeff has taken excellent care of you over the years. You’ve got a beautiful house with beautiful things. And look how he helped me get my car last year.” It was my first time hearing it. “But that boy, who you think you’re in love with, is he worth you walkin’ out on a man of God? Will he ever be worth your salvation and your soul? Because look at where he came from. Look at his mother and her brothers. They’re disgustin’! All they’ve ever been are alcoholics, drug addicts, and trouble and that’s exactly what that boy is. Trouble. He’s no good and just after whatever change you got.”

“How is Alex trouble, Mother? And what makes him no good? Because you say so?” I stared at her, waiting for her to answer. She just kept her nose in the air.

“You know, Mother, you and Pastor…” I snatched my arm away from her. She jumped back like I had pulled a gun on her. “Stand here praisin’ Jeff like he’s God. Well, what about all of those children he has? All born while we were married. Ain’t that adultery, too? Or are y’all readin’ from a different Bible than me? And you’re talkin’ about me stealin’ from him. I don’t have to steal from Jeff or anybody else.

“Because I. Yes, I, Mother, own…” I didn’t want to go into details for fear of her repeating every word I said to him. “A buildin’ or two. He doesn’t have a job, so what money does he have to steal? He’s got you all fooled, but you know what, that’s your problem. Because I don’t have to explain myself or the decisions I make to you or anybody else. I’ve been out of your house for twenty years so I think you tellin’ me what to do is long over.”

Pastor shook her head. “Leola, you just can’t talk to them when they’re like this. They start lustin’ after these young devils and lose their minds.”

“You don’t know what a devil is until you’ve lived with a man like Jeff. You know as well as I do that he’s slept with just about every woman in this church. But I’m wrong to have left him. I can’t say movin’ in with another man was the right choice, but my life with Jeff was hell! And Mother, you’ve seen me beat up too many times to even pretend he’s the kind of husband God wants him to be.”

“I also see that you’re a slut!”

Monday, October 23, 2006

OCT 06 AUTHOR INTRO: Dynah Zale


Dynah Zale

Jersey girl Dynah Zale was born and raised in Deptford, New Jersey. Dynah's first novel depicts her personal experiences growing up in the church. Dynah’s love for books and the admiration she holds for the writings of Terry McMillan, Connie Briscoe, and Victoria Christopher Murray is what encouraged her to embark on her own professional writing career.

She hopes her unique writing style combined with an inspirational flair will not only tell a story, but deliver a message; a message of hope to the hopeless and tranquility to all troubled hearts.






Drama in the Church

DRAMA ENSUES WHEN THE CHAOS OF THE WORLD ENTERS THE DOORS OF FIRST NAZARETH A.M.E. CHURCH

Tressie faithfully prayed every night that God would send her a thug. It wasn't long before her prayers were answered and she met a handsome ex-convict named Payce Boyd. Payce is a fine ruffneck and everything Tressie ever imagined and more. That is until Tressie experiences first hand the reality of being a thug's girl. Seeking solace and comfort in the sanctuary, Tressie soon learns valuable lessons and shocking truths about herself and others.

Share in Tressie's journey through love, lust, self-doubt, and Drama in the Church.

“Mrs. Lewis, this is Nurse Frazier from Albert Einstein Hospital. Your husband was brought in here a little over an hour ago.”

“Is he alright?” she asked.

“Yes, he’s going to be fine. He apparently called 9-1-1 and told the operator he dismembered his own penis.”

Visit Dynah at:

http://www.creativesoulcards.com/images/cardfordynah3.swf

Friday, October 20, 2006

EXCERPT: FeMALE TRAITS


FeMALE TRAITS
By Lurea Mcfadden.com

FeMALE TRAITS - the story of Grace Trufant and her playa lifestyle. She is married to a successful, loving husband but somehow she requires more attention than this foine upstanding man can offer. She plays hard; in fact she is a playa in her own right. But Grace forgets that Game recognizes Game when she runs into Sonia, her husband’s best friend. This is the tale of the triangle love affair, love and support of good friends, and lessons learned along the way.

Website: www.lureamcfadden.com

Coulda


BUT DIDN’T WANT TO

Too much of a good thing

Looking around the familiar room brought mixed feelings. She knew it felt good to be here because of all the passion that has occurred in this room. He lay next to her sleeping with his back to her. That was his natural position after lovemaking. The curve of his back and the contour of his hands were all too familiar to her. She scooted over to avoid that spot on the bed that held the nectar of their lovemaking. She positioned herself in the spoon position and gently caressed his strong thigh. He did not stir. She moved her hand higher as she searched for his member. It lay limp and still wet with her essence. She stroked it slowly, but there was no response. She smiled and conceded the fact that he was done for today. She would have to leave soon. She closed her eyes and tried to recall the details before her. She knew his body well. She knew also where the tracks in his heart led. The sad part was that the tracks of her heart had a different destination.

She tried not to arouse him as she moved out of bed. If she could make it to the bathroom without disturbing him, then the rest was easy. She would leave a note with an apology for her disappearance but he would understand. He always understood.

Where is she, Edwin thought as he changed out of his work clothes? It was getting late. She always seemed to get in later and later. His stomach growled. He decided to venture down to the kitchen and fend for himself. Just as he opened the door to the fridge, the front door opened.

“I’m home” she called, more to the house than to him.

“I’m in here,” He responded.

She breezed into the kitchen with a bag of Boston Market. He knew the contents before they were unpacked. It was their “running late but must eat” meal. They lightly passed lips in a gesture that could be mistaken for a kiss.

“So, hey you! Where you been?” he asked.

“Stopped to chat with the girls and work out at the gym.” She added the gym part to cover the new smell of the shower she just took at Brian’s house. “How was your day?”

Inside her head, she thought of how automatic it was becoming to lie. She had even covered being tired later that night with the excuse of the workout.

As he told her about his day, her mind drifted down the tracks to Brian and the lies she upheld on a regular basis. She asked herself what she was doing and why. She really did love her husband. She threw in a “Yeah” or “I know” to fringe attention. Edwin Douglas Trufant was a good man in every way. He was a devoted husband and she loved his company. He worked out regularly and his body was cut like a statue. Truth be told, the brother was FOINE. He was her partner, her friend and yet.

She brought herself back into the conversation and they talked easily as they ate dinner.

It was their favorite TV night and they were curled up on the couch, watching back to back Law and Orders. As their toes touched, Edwin started to caress her breast. He reached for her and she repositioned herself to the point she was laying in his lap. They settled in to watch the show. Lenny Briscoe had found his suspect. Edwin’s hands roamed the familiar contours of his wife’s body. She responded automatically. Their lips met in a passionate kiss and his hands started to undress her.

“Behave and watch the show” She said in a light voice.

His response was to ignore her and continue. The funny thing was she enjoyed his touch. She had always enjoyed his touch. The events of this afternoon came to mind and she felt like a HEEL. Maybe the correct term is an ASS. Either way there was no way she was denying the feeling that was running through her as he caressed and suckled her breast. By the time District Attorney Jack McCoy drilled his first witness, the show was even more intense at Sunset Blvd. As Edwin slowly entered his wife, she smiled a wicked smile which he mistook for pleasure.

The next morning as she drove to work, her cell phone chimed. “Morning Darling” Brian’s deep sexy voice said as she flipped open the phone. “I forgive you.” He continued.

She had asked him many times to be more careful when he called; to make sure it was actually her before he offered their usually greeting. She sighed the sigh of the helpless. What could she say she was feeling this man!

“Morning Darling” was her reply. “I am glad I am forgiven.”

“What is on the plate for today?”

“Not sure yet,” She replied. She thought about the day she had yesterday and knew that that pace would definitely put her in an early retirement. She also knew that, if he knew of her night with Edwin that this conversation would end in an argument.

As she sat at a light and watched the passersby, she noticed a tall dark cutie in crème pants with a black shirt strut pass her Beamer. She eased her Police Sunshades down on her nose and took in the ease of his stride. They made eye contact. She ran her hands through her flip hairstyle and smiled. The brother was definitely hot. Sometimes it’s the car they saw and sometimes it her. This time she passed it off as the car. “So many men so little time!” she thought to herself. Too many things on her plate as it was.

“Want to do lunch?” Brian said into the phone.

“Not sure I can yet; can I call you back sweetie?” She replied

“No problem, I love to hear from you. Hey running late; talk to you later.” He signed off.

Thoughts of Brian caused her to smile as the light changed and she pulled away from the corner. She held the phone in her hand a moment longer and once again wondered at this relationship. Theirs was a sexual relationship. She had never promised anything to Brian. She thought aloud “I am definitely not leaving my husband” and although they didn’t discuss it she hoped Brian was clear on that thought. She slipped her cell phone into her purse. Well, this promised to be another special day she thought as she headed to work.



As Brian entered the Bennett Building in which he worked, he also contemplated the day ahead and the night he planned to spend with Grace. There was something about Grace that made him want more. Yes, he knew one day she would leave her husband and settle down with him. They were soul mates. His body still held the warmth of their lovemaking from the night before. She would find a way to stay the entire night just to make it up to him. This is why he never pushed. Grace Antoinette Trufant was worth waiting for.

“Man you look, what’s the word. Oh, I know! Like a man who is getting taken care of if you know what I mean.” Steve caught up to Brian who tried to pass his desk without having to stop and talk.

“Now who is the lucky woman this week?” Steve inquired as he strode next to Brian. Steve, who has been married for fourteen years, always liked to hear about Brian’s conquest but lately he was closed mouth, which was kind of strange. Steve had lived those days before he settled down with Shelia and sometimes he longed to be a Playa again.

“Man, I keep telling you there is no woman.” Brian lied. “I have had enough of the gold-diggers to last a lifetime. I am on holiday from the ladies”

“Well, if not getting any looks like that then I may have to leave my wife!” Steve joked. He did not believe Brian but he knew the part about being fed up with half-ass women was without a doubt true. He and Brian had often talked over drinks after work and from all the horror stories Brian told about dating he sensed Brian was ready to settle down. Not wanting to tread where he was not invited, he eased back into his role as Director and asked Brian how he was coming with the budget reports.

Monday, October 16, 2006

OCT AUTHOR INTRO: Dwan Abrams


Dwan Abrams:
Ms. Abrams is a full-time writer and publisher. She was inspired to write Only True Love Waits by her mentee, Jasmine. Ms. Abrams was a mentor at Shamrock Middle School where she met Jasmine. After realizing the pressure the young girls faced when dealing with boys, she decided to write an inspirational romance novel that would encourage young women to maintain their virginity or abstain from sex until marriage.

Ms. Abrams resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her family. Her next project is a Christian anthology titled The Midnight Clear: Stories of Love, Hope and Inspiration, scheduled for release in November 2006.



ONLY TRUE LOVE WAITS:

Xavier Roberts is engaged to be married to Summer Love. When diagnosed with testicular cancer, rather than lean on his fiancée for strength, Xavier called off the wedding. Summer begins dating Ryan, who reveals a dark side of himself, which results in deadly consequences.

Visit Dwan at: www.dwanabrams.com

OCT EXCERPT: Only True Love Waits


Only True Love Waits

Dwan Abrams

ISBN# 1-4241-5067-1

Publisher Publish America
Genre General Fiction

Copyright 2006

Published date Official Release Date October 16, 2006

Where it can be purchased www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, www.publishamerica.com or ask for it at your favorite bookseller.

Website www.dwanabrams.com

Blurb about the book Xavier Robert's life seems to be coming together. He's engaged to be married to an incredible woman, Summer Love, and he's an aspiring rapper who recently signed a record deal. When Xavier was diagnosed with testicular cancer, rather than lean on his fiancée for strength, he called off the wedding. Leaving Summer feeling alone and rejected. In an effort to move on with her life, Summer pours her energy into running her company, Spa Nevaeh. Ryan Kennedy, CEO of the record label that signed Xavier, begins to pursue Summer romantically. After learning about Ryan's troubled past, he intrigues Summer, and they begin to date. Once completing medical treatment for his condition, Xavier comes back into Summer's life. When Summer breaks up with Ryan to be with Xavier, Ryan reveals a dark side of himself, which results in deadly consequences.





ONE - It’s Over

Atlanta, Georgia

“You have testicular cancer,” the doctor told Xavier Roberts.

“W-what?”

“I’m sorry, but…”

“No! Run the test again,” Xavier interjected, silently praying that he hadn’t heard what he just thought he had.

Xavier’s six-foot-two frame slumped over as tears welled in his eyes.

“I understand how you feel.”

“No, doctor, you don’t understand how I feel,” he snarled.

Xavier felt as if the air was being sucked from the room and right out of his lungs. Oblivious to the suffocating effects, the doctor handed him some informational pamphlets from his clipboard.

“I don’t want any damn pamphlets! I want a cure.”

Xavier threw the papers on the ground and sobbed in his hands. The doctor hesitated to offer any gesture of comfort, as he knew Xavier would shrug him off.

“Why me?” Xavier demanded. “Why now? This should be the happiest time of my life. I’m twenty-five years old, engaged to be married to an incredible woman, and, on top of everything, I just signed a record deal.”

Seizing the brief moment of silence during Xavier’s lament, Dr. Cherry offered a wan smile, trying to console him.

“How serious is it? How long do I have to live?”

Looking Xavier in the eyes, the doctor said, “This is the most common form of cancer in men between the ages of 20-35. The good news is that we caught it early and it’s curable.”

Xavier felt as if his mind were on overload. In the cascade of medical terms, the only thing he heard was the big C – Cancer - the same disease that killed his grandfather.

“We need to schedule you for an orchiectomy right away.”

Looking at the doctor as if he were speaking French Xavier said, “A what?”

“A radical inguinal orchiectomy is the surgical removal of the testicle and spermatic cord through an endoscopic incision.”

“What about kids? Will I still be able to have them?”

“In the majority of cases, orchiectomy doesn’t result in long-term sexual side effects or infertility. As long as you have one healthy testicle, you shouldn’t notice any negative changes in your quality of life.”

“How long is the recovery?”

“The procedure can be done as an outpatient procedure or with a short hospital stay. You can usually resume regular activities within 1 to 2 weeks, and a full recovery can be expected within 2 to 4 weeks.”

Xavier did not want to hear anymore. He briskly walked out feeling shocked, ignoring Dr. Cherry as he yelled behind him. He sat in his car for an hour without leaving the parking lot, all the while crying and wondering what he was going to do. He was in a daze until his cell phone rang. He cleared his throat before answering. It was his fiancée, Summer Love. She wanted to see him. He said a prayer and drove off.

Xavier sat in front of Summer’s two-story brick house for nearly ten minutes trying to muster the courage to go inside. Finally, he knocked twice to let her know he was there and walked in. She seemed happy to see him and kissed him on the lips. Summer -a few months younger than Xavier, was five-foot-six and curvaceous.

“Are you all right?” she probed.

He did not answer. He went into the living room and she followed. Summer could tell Xavier was uneasy even before he sat down beside her on the dark chocolate colored couch – he was jittery and his smile disappeared almost instantly. He stared at a cobweb breezily dancing in the corner for a moment.

“I have something to tell you, and it’s not easy for me,” he said, holding her hand.

“You’re scaring me.”

“I’m sorry.” He felt like crying again. No, screaming. His emotions were a chaotic jumble of nerves and agony.

She sat quietly.

“I can’t marry you,” he continued.

“What do you mean you can’t marry me?” She snatched her hand away.

“Please.”

“Please?” she repeated incredulously.

“Calm down.”

“I’m calm, now what?”

He lowered his head in frustration.

She gripped his chin with her thumb and first finger, tilted his head towards her and said, “Why are you doing this?”

“You deserve better.” Unable to look her in the eyes, he turned his head away, forcing her hand to release its grasp.

“Are you seeing someone else?” Her voice trembled as she tried to be strong and hold back the tears. Her mother always told her to never let a man see you cry. Especially if he’s not your husband.

“No, no.”

“I thought you loved me.”

“I do love you, more than anything else in this world.”

He hugged her, and she could feel his heart racing.

“What’s wrong?”

“I know that you deserve some answers, but I can’t deal with this right now. Trust me, it’s for the best.”

She looked into Xavier’s emerald green eyes, hoping that the _expression “the eyes are the windows to the soul” was true, because she needed answers. Xavier’s dazzling green eyes that usually sparkled, and made her fall in love with him time and time again seemed devoid of any happiness. In addition to the painful sadness they revealed, they were horribly bloodshot. She could see that he was upset.

“Here.” She took off her nearly two-carat diamond and platinum engagement ring and handed it to him.

Breaking eye contact with her, he looked down at the floor and said, “You can keep the ring.”

Her jaw dropped. That’s it? she thought. She felt angry. Her eyes narrowed, and giving him a scathing look, she hissed, “Why won’t you talk to me? Something is wrong! I can feel it.”

He stood up, turned his back to her, and paused as if he had something else to say. She waited, hoping he would turn around and tell her he didn’t mean it.

When he didn’t say anything she said, “What am I supposed to tell my family?”

At a loss, he raised his hands in the air and sighed. “I don’t know.”

Then he dropped his head and headed toward the door.

“Wait! Did I do something?”

“No. You didn’t do anything. I never meant to hurt you.”

She was tempted to beg him to stay, but she remembered hearing Oprah talk about the man she pleaded with God to bring back, and in the end she thanked God for letting him go. Although she doubted that she would ever be thankful for losing Xavier, she didn’t stop him from leaving.

She locked the door behind him and allowed the tears that had been hovering around the borders of her eyes to escape. She felt hurt, betrayed and angry. So many questions resonated in her mind, and she wondered if he ever loved her at all. How could he be so insensitive? she wondered. Why did he tell her that the wedding was off the day before the grand opening of her day spa? Did he have such little regard for her that he didn’t care about ruining her celebration? Thinking about his inconsideration made her more furious. She had been very vocal about her enthusiasm for starting her own company. Many nights she stayed up late sharing her business goals and long term plans with him. He knew better than anyone how excited she was about this venture.

She tried hard to silence the questions that plagued her mind as exasperation engulfed her. The insanity of it all! she fumed. She hated having more questions than answers. It made her feel vulnerable, which was something she tried not to do.

She wiped away her tears and continued to try and quell the questions that gnawed at her psyche. Xavier’s behavior today was totally inconsistent with the man she thought she knew and loved. Then she thought about the first time they met. Both were freshmen at Clark Atlanta University. They had an English class together and he was such a clown always cracking jokes and trying to make her laugh.

To her, he was the most handsome man she had ever met. She had never seen eyes as green as his. His eyes had the same effect on her that Kryptonite must have had on Superman. Coupled with his smooth bronze colored skin, high cheekbones, full lips, and white, even teeth, he exceeded her wildest dreams.

His sense of humor attracted her even more than his good looks. They swiftly became friends and were inseparable. Whenever they were out together and a woman disrespected her by flirting with him, Summer never had to say a word. He would straighten the woman out by letting her know that Summer was his woman, and disrespecting her was not an option.

One of the many things she really liked about Xavier was his street credibility. He was from Detroit and had never been stabbed or shot. When they went out, she felt safe and shielded from any peril that was common in big cities. She enjoyed talking to him because he was easy to talk to. She felt as though she could tell him anything, and he seemed interested in whatever she had to say.

When she confided in him that she was a virgin and planned to stay that way until she got married, he ended up giving her a hug and kissing her on the forehead. Then he thanked the Lord for her. His thoughtfulness at that moment convinced her that he was the man for her.

“Snap out of it,” she said aloud. She forced herself to stop thinking about Xavier because she was making herself more depressed. Even though she felt like crawling into bed and never getting out, she knew that she couldn’t do that. She needed a pep talk, and her best friend, Nina Dexter, was just the person to do it.

Nina had been Summer’s best friend ever since the fifth grade when Summer’s family moved into the same subdivision where Nina lived in Stone Mountain. They met when Summer’s mom was in the kitchen and saw Nina walking by. She thought about the first time they met.

“Summer, come here,” her mom called to her. “There’s a cute little girl out there who I think you should meet.”

Summer was nervous and didn’t want to do it.

“Don’t be shy. Just go up to her and ask her if she wants to be your friend,” her mom continued.

With her mother spying through the window, Summer skipped to catch up with the brown skinned, round face little girl wearing two pigtails and a plaid dress. Without making eye contact she said, “Do you want to be my friend?”

At the time it never occurred to Summer that Nina could’ve said no. Even though Nina responded favorably, that still does not stop her from occasionally poking fun at Summer about the proposal of friendship.

She called Nina who answered on the second ring sounding bubbly and upbeat.

“The wedding’s off.”

“What? What happened?”

Summer could not even get the words out without bursting into tears.

“I’m on my way,” Nina assured her before hanging up the phone.

Nina lived in Conyers, which was a relatively short commute from Summer’s house in Lithonia. Less than thirty minutes later, she was knocking on Summer’s door with a bag filled with Butter Pecan ice cream and a box of Kleenex. Summer looked at her five-foot-two, twenty pounds overweight friend through puffy eyes. Nina seemed to carry most of her extra pounds in her butt. Summer put the ice cream in the freezer, and carried the box of Kleenex into the living room where she cried and recapped her conversation with Xavier.

“If you ask me, Xavier’s a punk and a coward,” Nina said. “What’s his number? I’m about to call him!”

“Don’t do that. It won’t do any good.”

“Somebody needs to talk some sense into that Negro.”

Summer flopped on the sofa simply broken.

“Do you want me to have Jeff talk to him?”

Jeff, Nina’s husband, was somewhat of a hothead. Although Summer was highly upset with Xavier, she didn’t want to risk an altercation between the two of them.

“No,” she said.

“What about all the money you’ve spent on this wedding, is he going to pay you back?”

“No, I’m not going to ask him to.”

“That’s crazy. Don’t let him off the hook that easy.”

“If he doesn’t want to be with me, then I’m not going to be vindictive.”

“That’s so you, but if it were me, I wouldn’t let it go that easy.”

Unable to take anymore of Nina’s lecturing, Summer went into the kitchen and fixed them each a bowl of ice cream. Knowing the severity of the situation, she ignored the dainty, and appropriate, dessert bowls and took out the mega-sized ones.

“I’m sorry this happened. I know how much Xavier means to you.”

Summer nodded in agreement and ate a spoonful of ice cream.

“This is one time that I wish I were a guy,” Nina said, “because I’d kick his ass myself.”

“I appreciate that.” Summer giggled. On the surface, she could make light of the threat, but deep inside the very core of her person, tiny bits of her heart kept being chipped away.

“Do you want me to spend the night?”

“No, you’ve only been married six months. I don’t want to come between you and your husband.”

Nina wrapped her arm around Summer’s shoulders. “You’re my girl, and I knew you long before I ever had a man. You know that I love Jeff to death, but true girlfriends are hard to find. If you want me to stay, just say the word.”

Summer offered a faint smile and again declined the offer.

“On a more positive note, let’s talk about the opening of Spa Nevaeh tomorrow,” Nina suggested.

Summer listened attentively as Nina went on and on about the outfit she was going to wear, the prominent people who were expected to be in attendance, and the media coverage that was guaranteed to make television, radio and the local papers.

Summer was glad that she had chosen Nina to be her PR Director. That way Nina could do most of the talking. Because based on how Summer was feeling at that moment, she did not think she could handle it herself.

In a tiny spot below her shattered soul, Summer was also excited; she had to admit, because this was her dream come true. While in college she majored in Marketing, and during one of her core courses, she did a marketing analysis for a day spa in Atlanta. Her professor was so impressed with her findings and business plan that he suggested she implement the plan. She agreed and shared her ideas with her father, a successful real estate developer and investor, regarding her business.

Nina interrupted Summer and said, “I just remembered that Jeff and I are supposed to go out to dinner tonight. Let me call him and tell him I can’t make it.” She grabbed her cell phone.

Before she could flip the phone open, Summer said, “No, but I do appreciate your willingness to cancel your plans for me. I want you to go and have a good time. No sense in both of us sitting around being miserable. Don’t worry about me.”

“I can’t help it. You’re the closest thing I have to a sister. I love you and I don’t want you moping around acting all depressed.”

Summer forced a smile and said, “I love you, too. Honestly, I’ll be fine. I’m starting to feel better already.”

Nina kissed her on the cheek and said, “Liar. You don’t have to put on a brave face for me.”

“I know. I’ll call you if I feel like slitting my wrists or popping pills.”

“Don’t joke about stuff like that, because I’d have to take you to the Pet Sematary.”

They both laughed, because Pet Sematary was one of their favorite horror movies. Summer walked Nina to the door. They hugged and Nina said, “Everything’s going to be all right.”

Summer closed the door behind her and asked of no one, “Can you assure me of that?”

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

e-Tours - Kevin Wayne Johnson


Give God the Glory! Your Role in Your Family

This book continues in the tradition of the Give God the Glory! book series by multi-award winning author Kevin Wayne Johnson, 2006 Gospel Publisher of the Year, Book Expo America, African-American Book Pavilion.

The Godly Family Life provided a detailed analysis of what the Bible teaches and instructs concerning the roles of the father, mother and children despite man’s intention to alter God’s plan for the family.



Website Link: http://www.writingforthelord.com

Don't forget to visit the other eTours stops:
http://sormag.blogspot.com/2006/10/e-tours.html

e-Tours

Marguerite Press bringing to the forefront those issues of concern in the literary world since 1996!

Marguerite Press presents the opportunity for all authors to go on tour with "Marguerite Press Author eTours." This concept allows authors to visit different sites which provides an eTour/Virtual Book Tour.

Author Delores "Queen of Promotion" Thornton, Founder/CEO of Marguerite Press traveled to places like Atlanta, Baltimore, New York, Peoria, Cherry Hill, Hartfort, San Francisco, Dublin, Ohio; Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Birmingham, Pensacola, Fort Wayne, Bloomington, Wilmington, Fort Pierce, Orlando, Muncie, Richmond, IN, South Bend, Chicago, Mobile, Milwaukee, Richmond, VA, Philadelphia, Tampa, Hopkinsville, Detroit, Lansing, Jackson, Ann Arbor, Bellevue, Freeport, Bahamas; Fort Worth, Sacramento, Cincinnati, Queens, Oakland, Springfield, Durham, Columbus, St. Louis, Beaumont, and Cancun, Mexico, promoting literary works. During the tours Thornton encountered fabulous book clubs; participated in fantastic book events, and met wonderful people, some of whom ultimately became fans and friends!

Now every author can go on tour with "Marguerite Press Author eTours" which features a photo, book cover, link to author's site and 35 words of text high profile Internet sites!!

This venture will provide mega exposure via press releases, email notices and ads in local and national media! Marguerite Press Author eTours last for thirty days. For more details please send email to info@margueritepress.com.

The high profile sites are listed below:

eTour Stop #1:

Marguerite Press website where avid readers, writers, event planners, and literary organizations will find the Speakers Bureau, and the ever-popular, Around2It Talk Show with host, Delores "Queen of Promotion" Thornton.

eTours

eTour Stop #2:

Let's Talk Honestly, a site of African American opinion, poetry, news, and literature all hosted by George Cook host of his weekly online talk show LTH WEEKLY. Join us to check out great poetry and author interviews.

George L. Cook III author of Let's Talk Honestly Vol. 2 A book of poetry and essays on African American Issues Read ebook for free here:

Lets Talk Honestly

eTour Stop #3:

Sexy Ebony BBW African American Book Club is dedicated to reading and discussing literature by black authors. Our goal is to create a forum where readers can explore African American authors and the books they are creating for our reading pleasure. We also want to create a community of readers ready and willing to share their love for reading and just a bit of themselves with like-minded individuals.

Anyone interested in joining can visit our website.

Sexy Ebony BBW Book Club

eTour Stop #4:

SORMAG is the blog to click on to meet the hottest multi-cultural authors hitting the book shelves. We have reviews of their latest book releases and we keep you current on what’s happening in the literary world. The best part, it’s interactive. You can leave a comment for a chance to win a SORMAG goody bag. Click on our link and tell us what you think.

SORMAG

eTour Stop #5:

LeRue Press, LLC is committed to helping writers publish and promote their work. Writers benefit from both Internet and traditional publishing and promotion including Marguerite Press Author eTours. With a variety of poetry, children's books like "Pick Me, Pick Me!" by Elizabeth Horton, and opportunities to write and be published in the "History of", we invite you to join LeRue Press, and find your voice and your chance to be published.

We here at LeRue Press are thrilled to be a part of eTours with Marguerite Press! And, we would like to offer the eTours authors' books for sale on our site. Our listing service is free. If the author's book sells, we handle the entire process. All they need to do is read and sign our agreement at:www.leruepress.com/bookagreement.html and forward a copy of the book.
The agreement lists the terms of sale. We only ask 9% of the sale price (less the Pay Pal fees). Our agreement clearly outlines what we expect. We hope this is a win-win for the author and for us. We hope by including the book along with the eTour, the authors will sell more books!

LeRue Press

eTour stop #6:

C&B Books caters to aspiring and self-published authors who tend to have limited capital and resources. We researched and discovered others who shared our mission. More than just promoting and supporting, C&B is a resourceful research center as well. We refer authors to our network of contacts, such as book clubs, publishers, editors, reviewers, radio stations, public access television, book fairs and expos. Our primary goal includes, organizing book signings, delivering press kits, promotional materials to bookstores, and agents.

C&B Books

eTour stop #7:

Nevaeh Publishing Dwan Abrams is a full-time novelist/publisher/speaker. She's the author of Only True Love Waits, The Scream Within and Favor (short story appearing in The Midnight Clear: Stories of Love, Hope and Inspiration anthology). Dwan is the founder, publisher and executive director of the newly formed Nevaeh Publishing, LLC. Nevaeh Publishing is a small press independent publishing house. Nevaeh Publishing was established to assist aspiring African-American Christian/Inspirational writers with getting published. Our goal is to become the premier literary Web site for Christian readers and writers.

Nevaeh Publishing

eTour stop #8:

Book Nibbler Reader's Community So how do you read a good book? One “nibble” at a time! Book Nibbler is a targeted reader’s community currently covering ten genres. You choose what type(s) of book you would like to read and Monday through Friday, we’ll send you a preview—no longer than five minutes out of your day—to “nibble” on. It IS that easy.
Founder/ Cassandra Vaughn

Book Nibbler

eTour stop # 9

Delores Thornton The home of Delores "Queen of Promotion" Thornton

Delores Thornton

eTour stop # 10

Margie Gosa-Shivers, author of, "Once Is Never Enough"If you had a whimper of a chance to win back the love of your life, would you grab it? Against all expectations, a Chicago homicide detective who's ready to move for a career with the FBI finds himself wrestling with the notion when he agrees to face danger once more to prove a suicide was really a homicide.

Margie Gosa Shivers

eTour stop # 11

At APOOO our mission is to expose readers of all ages to a good book in any genre; to support African American authors, books, literary events and bookclubs; and, to promote literacy within the African American community.

APOOO

eStop # 12

Mocha Readers

http://www.mochareaders.com/

eStop #13

Roux in the Gumbo Blogspot

http://therouxinthegumbo.blogspot.com/

2006 eTours

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

OCT 06 FEATURED AUTHOR: Lyn Cote


Editor’s note: Lyn was the winning bid for an auction SORMAG participated in this year. As a fan of hers, I’m more than happy to introduce our readers to her and her books. As a Christian fiction writer, her site is the first site I visit each year to see what the market looks like. She does a comprehensive listing of the Christian market that every Christian fiction writer should read.

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

Lyn Cote: I'm an empty nester with two grown children. My husband and I will celebrate our 32 anniversary this week (I was only 10 when we married. ) I love to write light contemporary romance, contemporary romantic suspense, but my true love is writing historical family sagas.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

COTE:
Right now I'm working on the first in my new Love Inspired Historical, VERITY, the first in my Gabriel Sisters series, which will be released sometime late in 2007 or early 2008. Verity is one of three Quaker sisters who are up to any challenge God sets before them.In 1866, Verity for travels to Virginia to open a new Freedman school and collides head-on with the infant KKK.

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

COTE:
I write for three reasons. To encourage, to entertain, and to enlighten.

SORMAG: What led you to the idea of writing this book, and then to the actual writing of it?

COTE:
I always look for historical settings that are rife with conflict and I also see American history as the one of many different races and ethnicities and I try to portray this in my stories. We don't have a monochromatic history.

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

COTE:
People who are not storytellers always want to know how hard it is to come up with ideas.For most writers, coming up with ideas is not the hard part. The hard part is taking what is in my mind and finding the words to put on the page so that my reader gets the complete package of what I am imagining. That's the hard part.

SORMAG: How are you marketing your book and what are your thoughts about the importance of marketing for authors?

COTE:
Marketing is absolutely necessary. While the author cannot do as much as her publisher can, she must make herself available to readers and to reviewers, get noticed. Readers can't buy a book they are unaware of.

SORMAG: Name your top five favorite writing books of all time.

COTE:
I always use D. Swain's The Techniques of the Selling Writer, Tammy Cowden's Hero and Heroine Archetypes, D. Maas's Writing the Breakout Novel, James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure, and C. Vogler. The Writer's Journey.

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

COTE:
Sharon Dunn's Murder of A Garage Sale Newbie.

SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?

COTE:
I use the Internet for agreat deal of research. In fact the Internet has revolutionized the writer's life. We are no longer lonely creatures sitting back in the stacks of a library.

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

COTE:
I can be reached at l.cote@Juno.com and www.LynCote.net.

OCT EXCERPT: Leigh


Leigh
By Lyn Cote

The women of Ivy Manor—four generations of women who forged a dynasty amid the tapestry of the twentieth century . . .

LEIGH

Linda Leigh Sinclair is born in the aftermath of WW II. Raised near Ivy Manor, enveloped in the love of her family, Leigh has everything she could possibly need—but not everything she wants. Her overwhelming need for freedom for herself and for others leads her into the modern civil rights movement.

At eighteen, Leigh watches the powers that be collide with the radical causes of the 1960's. Choosing the dangerous path of a journalist, Leigh witnesses and writes about the protests and riots against segregation and the war in Vietnam. While caught up in the winds of change, she falls in love. Joy turns to pain when Leigh discovers that some men lie.

To survive, Leigh must mature quickly and call on God’s forgiveness and power.
Will she become the strong and capable woman
her child—and the world—needs?

Prologue

New York City, November 1983
Through two horrific days and one long night, Leigh Sinclair had held it together. Until an hour after she hugged her little girl and watched a doctor give the child a sedative at the hospital, and finally, thankfully brought her here—home to her own bed. Then Leigh had flown apart.
All her self-control dissolved in an instant and she'd started shaking and couldn't stop. Nate had led her from her sleeping child into the dark living room. He'd nudged her down onto her sofa. Murmuring, he'd sat down and laid her head in his lap. And slowly the trembling had ebbed.
Just a few weeks ago, Leigh had only known Nate Gallagher, NYPD detective, professionally. He'd made it clear she interested him, but she'd kept him at arm's length as she did every other man. Then she'd needed him and he'd come through for her. Now he stroked her long hair with steady hands, giving her wordless comfort.
"It's all my fault," the words flowed out of Leigh's mouth a second time. Through the crisis, she'd fought voicing this admission, knowing it wouldn't help, knowing that guilt was natural and unavoidable; yet all the while--fearful that someone else, everyone else would point accusing fingers at her.
Nate said nothing in reply, just continued stroking her hair. In her weakness, she felt the latent strength in his large rough hands.
"I've always carried so much guilt about Carly," she whispered. "Not just now. But always." And I always will.
Little Carly's face glowed in Leigh's mind. Grandma Chloe always said that Leigh's little girl got her looks from Leigh's grandfather who'd died in World War I. That was because Grandma Chloe had never seen Carly's father. Carly was the image of her own father with his fair skin, black hair and gray eyes. But Carly had never seen her father either.
This fact never stopped gnawing Leigh and somehow it had created an invisible barrier between Leigh and Carly. Her daughter's sober little face, her silent little mouth, those somber eyes that hid every thought haunted Leigh.
"Everything will be okay," Nate said at last.
She gazed up at him, his face in shadow, but the moonlight illuminating the warmth of his auburn hair. She couldn't form words, her mouth paralyzed.
I've stood apart from my daughter since she was born. Secrets separate us. Secrets I can't divulge. Will I never break through to her, connect with her heart-to-heart?






Part I

Chapter One

Maryland, August 24, 1963
"I know why you're doing this," Leigh muttered, beside her mother Bette in their Chevy Impala. Leigh kept her voice low, not wanting to upset her five-year-old sister, Dory, who sat in the backseat with a coloring book. "You think if you get me out of D. C. that I won't be able to get to Dr. King's March."
Her mother made no reply.
Leigh snapped on the radio, knowing it would annoy her mother. The car radio between them vibrated with the top of the chart song, "Heat Wave," the words hushed by the hot wind rushing through the wide open windows.
Still her mother made no response. "I don't know why you have to act like this," Leigh muttered louder.
"This is not open for discussion," Bette said. "You have no idea what may happen this Wednesday. Have you forgotten mobs in Alabama clubbing Freedom Riders with baseball bats? I haven't."
"This isn't Alabama," Leigh snapped. "And Mr. Pitney, the advisor to the school paper, doesn't think there'll be any violence."
"Mr. Pitney is very young and should show better sense, Linda Leigh," Bette answered back fierce but low.
"Don't call me that name. I hate it." Hate you. "I go by Leigh now."
Bette gave a sound of irritation. "Linda Leigh is a perfectly good name. You'll spend the last week before school starts at your grandmother's. And tomorrow, I'm going to call the school and tell the principal what I think of a teacher urging his students—my daughter—into harm's way."
"I will get back to Washington if I have to hitchhike there." Leigh stared straight ahead.
"Why can't I make you see sense? The march will be dangerous."
Martha and the Vandellas sang out husky and loud, "Heat Wave!" The raucous song evidently finally got to Mother. She snapped off the radio. "Why are we listening to that trash?"
"It's not trash, Mother. It's rock and roll."
Looking out the window at the lush green tobacco fields rolling by, Leigh realized they were almost there, almost to Ivy Manor. She folded her bare arms on the open window and set her chin on them, frustration roiling inside her.
"There it is," Dory piped up from the backseat, sounding the usual joy of coming to grandmother's house. "There's Ivy Manor!"
Leigh felt a lift in spite of her frustration with her mother. Her mother drove up the lane to the large house with white pillars and green ivy. "Maybe Grandmother can make you see sense."
"No one--not even Grandma Chloe--is going to change my mind," Leigh kept her voice low as her little sister climbed out of the backseat.
Mother ignored her, as usual. Now that they'd stopped and the wind no longer evaporated their perspiration, the humid heat wrapped around Leigh, smothering her. Her insides still churning at highway speed, she got out and slammed the car door, eliciting a world-weary sigh from her mother.
Of course, even going to the country her oh-so-proper mother wore a stylish red sundress and under a chiffon scarf, her bouffant style had every hair in place. In contrast, Leigh and Dory had dressed sensibly in one of their matching outfits that Dory loved so--blue shorts and white sleeveless blouses with blue collars.
Her mother scolded her with another look for slamming the door.
Leigh felt like going back and slamming it again. But she couldn't give in to childish anger. Instead, her pony tail swishing against her shoulders, she ran ahead, overtaking her sister, calling for her grandmother. Then Leigh heard the voice she loved best, summoning them to the shaded and screened summer house on the back lawn.
With Dory right at her heels, Leigh whipped inside the summer house and went straight into Grandma Chloe's arms. Dory was right beside her and they hugged Chloe together. Chloe wasn't overweight like other grandmothers and she didn't rinse her gray hair blue or tease it like other grandmothers did. And she always smelled subtly of roses. The fragrance enveloped Leigh, giving her a sudden feeling of ease. Grandma Chloe would set everything right.
"Leigh, Dory, how wonderful to see you." Chloe kissed their foreheads and cheeks before releasing them. She rose then and reached for their mother. The two older women hugged. "Bette, honey, of course I'm happy to see you but what's come up so suddenly?" Dressed in a cool sleeveless lavender print sundress, Chloe eased back onto the wicker rocker. Dory took her usual place, perching on one of its wide curved arms.
With another sigh, Bette sat down on a white Adirondack chair. "I hope you can put up with these two girls for the rest of the week."
"No!" Leigh fired up. Last Friday, the returning staff from last year's Scribe had gathered to get organized so their first issue would coincide with the first week of high school, just days away. "Grandma, Mr. Pitney, my journalism teacher, said that the one of us who writes the best first person account of the March on Washington will be the new editor of the Scribe this year."
"You're safety is more important than an article in a school paper," Bette snapped.
"Grandma, she's treating me like a baby again." Leigh pictured Mr. Pitney's face in her mind. He'd said the newspaper staff could call him Lance when they were working on the school paper. Mr. Pitney looked like a Lance, tall, young with golden hair and a cool mustache. "I'm old enough to go to a public place alone. I've been to Lincoln's Memorial a zillion times."
"Mother," Bette raised her voice, "would you please talk some sense into this girl's head? President Kennedy tried to persuade Martin Luther King, Jr. to cancel—"
"Nothing's going to happen!" Leigh's hands tightened into fists. A faint breeze stirred in the heavy air. Mother never took her seriously. Lance did. He didn't treat her like she was just another teenager. "It's going to be a peaceful demonstration. Dr. King believes in non-violent protest—"
"Well, the KKK doesn't," Bette declared flatly. "The police in Washington and surrounding counties in Virginia have had all leaves cancelled. The Justice Department and the army are practicing riot control—"
"Stop it," Leigh snapped, imagining the appreciative look on Lance's face when he read her account of the March.
"Nothing's going to happen."
Dory hid her face against Chloe's slender shoulder.
"Sorry, Ladybug," Leigh apologized to her little sister.
"Don't speak disrespectfully to your mother, Leigh," Chloe scolded gently, rocking while patting Dory's head.
Leigh flushed, feeling the warmth suffuse her face and neck. "Sorry." Her little sister looked distressed, but their mother had involved her in this. Leigh hadn't.
"The KKK will not let this go by without reacting," Bette continued. "They gunned Medgar Evers down on his own front porch just two months ago. What if one of them decides to shoot Dr. King right in the middle of the march? It would be chaos. Leigh could be trampled--"
"This is Washington D. C., not Mississippi." Leigh felt her frayed temper about to break. She'd died if Mary Beth Hunninger got the editor's job. Mary Beth was "the girl" on Campus at St. Agnes' Girls Academy—runner on the track team, National Honor Society president last year and now she wanted to horn in on the Scribe.
"Why does everybody got to be so mad?" Dory's small voice asked. "Make them stop fighting, Grandma." Again, Dory buried her face in their grandmother's shoulder.
"I'll do what I can, Ladybug." Chloe smoothed back Dory's dark bangs and then tightened the little girl's pony tail. "Now, if I have this correct, Bette, you want me to keep your girls here at Ivy Manor this last week before school starts so that they will be out of Washington for Dr. King's March, right? And Leigh, you want to go to the March and write an article about it for school?"
Leigh stood in the center of the screened octagonal roam, tension zinging through her.
Chloe sighed. "I hate being put into the middle like this, Bette."
Leigh stood her ground. Surely Grandma Chloe wouldn't side with her mother. She couldn't.
Bette rubbed her forehead. "I know but for some reason whatever I say my daughter must always do the opposite."
That wasn't true. Leigh folded her arms in front of herself and glared at her mother.
"What does Ted say?" Chloe asked.
Bette humphed. "He says he won't get into it."
Chloe nodded and continued to stroke Dory's hair. "Well, only because you asked me, I'll tell you what I think. You're both right. Dr. King plans this to be a non-violent protest. But there's always a possibility of violence whenever any very large group of people get together."
Bette nodded and murmured a satisfied, "I know."
Leigh frowned at her grandmother.
"They're preparing for at least one hundred thousand," Bette declared. "Apart from the KKK barging in with baseball bats, just a crowd of that size—anything could happen to Leigh."
Sensing defeat, Leigh flung herself down into a wicker chair with a sound of disgust.
"Why is reporting on this march so important to you, Leigh?" Chloe asked.
Leigh frowned. That was easy. She couldn't bear to think of having to take direction from Mary Beth, her rival ever since Leigh had started at St. Agnes in ninth grade. "Grandma, I've worked hard on the Scribe the last two years. I can't let…someone else get the editor job." I'm going no matter what you say or do, Mother.
"Your mother's fears about possible violence aren't exaggerated." Chloe rocked back and forth gently. She picked up one of Dory's braids and tickled the little girl's nose with its end, making her smile. "Even Dr. King is afraid that they may be met with resistance from white supremacists."
Leigh looked down at her lap, fisting her hands. No. No.
Bette sat up, looking relieved. "So you'll keep Dory and Leigh for me for the rest of the week?"
Leigh could defy her mother, but not her grandmother. She recognized this, but couldn't explain it. She blinked back frustrated tears. Defeat tasted bitter. This can't be happening.
"Bette, while I agree to some extent with what you've said," Chloe continued, "I can't do what you want me to."
Leigh's head snapped up to see her grandmother's face.
Bette leaned forward. "Why not?"
Chloe met their eyes. "Because I'm going to attend the March myself."

Saturday, October 07, 2006

06 EXCERPT: Falling For Lies


Falling for Lies
By
Barbara Joe Williams


After ten years of praying for Mr. Right, Pastor Karema Wright believes that her prayers have finally been answered when she falls in love with Deacon Mitchell Pye, the most eligible bachelor in the church. He proposes marriage to her after dating for almost a year. Will she finally have it all: a new church, a new home, and a new husband?

Chapter 1

“All right, gentlemen, unless someone has something else to add, this will conclude our deacon board’s business meeting for this evening on the first Tuesday of December,” Pastor Karema Wright announced.

“I’d also like to thank our newest member of the board, Deacon Mitchell Pye, for joining us here at Noah’s Ark Missionary Baptist Church. After six months of dedicated membership and an impressive letter of recommendation from his previous pastor in Mobile, Alabama, it is clear that we are very fortunate to have him as a member of our small family. We’re not the largest church in Jacksonville, but we have some of the most devoted members that you’ll find anywhere in Florida.” Wearing a warm smile, she glanced down at her forest green suit, and checked her gold band Citizen’s watch for the exact time that they were closing the meeting.

“Thank you, Pastor Wright,” Deacon Pye replied. “I feel blessed and honored to serve with such an established board of deacons under your directorship. I look forward to being a part of this distinguished congregation for many years to come. I want you all to know that as one of the single men in the church, I’m available to each of you at any time. Please don’t hesitate to call upon me in your time of need.”

Deacon Pye made eye contact with each of the other five members sitting at the round table. Resting his eyes on Pastor Wright, they stayed with her for several seconds before he looked away. In those few moments, Karema felt that his words might have been directed more to her than they were to the older men at the meeting.

All evening she’d felt his eyes on her, following her every movement, and listening intently to her every word. Now as she looked away from the gaze of his deep set brown eyes, she noticed the moisture on her palms. Vigorously rubbing her hands together, she tried to retain her composure by sitting up straight in her chair, but the pounding of her heart and head was getting in the way.

Seconds later, Karema could still feel Mitchell’s presence throughout her being as if he was right under her skin, touching every single thread in her nervous body. Silently telling herself to calm down, she tried harder to concentrate on closing the meeting.

Each of the elders took turns shaking Deacon Pye’s hand as they walked out of the boardroom in single file. Finally, Karema was the last one to leave. Mitchell took her extended hand, pulling her in closer for a warm embrace which he gently held until he felt her starting to pull away. Being reluctant to let her go, he held on to her upper arms as he spoke. “Pastor Wright, if you don’t mind, I’d be happy to walk with you to your car. I know that the parking lot is lit, but it’s still pretty dark out there.” He smiled, patiently waiting for her reply.

“That’s fine, Deacon Pye, I’ll be ready to leave in two minutes. Let me put these papers in my office, make sure everything is locked up, and I’ll be right out,” she replied, turning away from his embrace.

When Karema made it out to the front steps, Mitchell was there waiting for her just like he’d promised. She was grateful that she’d taken a few seconds to stop by the ladies room and freshen up before meeting him in the cool night air. As they made it to Karema’s mineral green Toyota Camry parked at the front of the church, Mitchell took her keys and unlocked the car door for her. Holding the door open for the pastor like a true gentleman, he handed the keys back to her, making sure that his hand lightly grazed hers. Sensing the pastor’s nervousness, he took her left hand into his, stroking it gently with his right hand as he spoke softly. “Pastor Wright, I admire you as the leader of this church, and I am a saved man. However, as a single man, I would like to be your escort for the Christmas Extravaganza next week. That is, unless you have a better offer.”
“Well, Deacon Pye, I don’t know if that would be appropriate or not.”

“Why wouldn’t it be?” he asked, cutting off the apprehensive statement he’d already anticipated would follow. “I mean—we’re two saved and single people. We don’t have anything to hide, so why can’t we go to the ball together? Even a pastor should have an escort for social events, especially those sponsored by her own church,” he added, flashing a smile for good measure.

“You know, you’re right. There’s no reason why we can’t go to the gala together. Why don’t you call me tomorrow and we’ll work out the details.” Karema returned his broad smile and flashed her own pearly whites. Her life would be changed forever after this night.

Deacon Pye made it his business to call her the next afternoon. They chatted for several minutes that day and the day after that, and the day after that until the night of the Christmas Extravaganza. They had truly enjoyed each other’s company the entire evening. Engrossed in a stimulating conversation over dinner, they only had eyes for each other. With both of them wearing navy blue outfits, they looked like the perfect pair. Karema wore a long evening gown with a long sheer jacket covering the top, and Mitchell wore a navy suit with satin trim on the jacket collar. They couldn’t have looked better together even if they had planned it.

The Christmas gala turned out perfectly. Every local choir that was invited to the program had shown up on time. Karema and Mitchell clapped together and happily sang the Christmas tunes as they smiled at each other from ear to ear. Feeling the holiday spirit until almost midnight, they were the last couple to leave the church.

When he walked Karema to the door of her condominium on Meridian Court after the gala, Mitchell made the fact known that he wanted to be more than a member of the adored congregation. Cupping her face in his masculine builder’s hands, he whispered, “You’re the most beautiful woman that I’ve ever seen. I respect you, and I want you to know that I have deep feelings for you inside my heart. I want you to be my Nubian Queen.”

Karema didn’t know how to respond to that. It felt like centuries since a man had held her that close to his face or spoken to her in such a romantic tone. Being a full-time pastor, she hadn’t found much time for love or encountered anyone that she’d felt the least bit attracted to. Of course, she’d had her share of propositions, but until now, she was never interested. The trembling of her body gave away her true feelings, making it impossible to keep them hidden. Placing his heated arms around her shaky frame, Mitchell held Karema for almost a full minute before releasing her. As soon as he softened his grip on her body, she opened the door and quickly entered her home. Holding the door slightly ajar with jittery hands, she managed to speak in an audible whisper, “Good night, Mitchell.”

Deacon Pye returned the sentiment with a straight face and an inward smile. Knowing that he’d accomplished his goal for the evening, he strutted to his pearlescent white Cadillac Seville feeling proud of himself. Whether Pastor Karema Wright was ready for him or not, he was going to be the love of her sanctified life.

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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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