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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

MAY07 EXCERPT - BLESSED TRINITY


Blessed Trinity
By Vanessa Davis Griggs

Prologue



Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Everybody wants to know how I, a nobody from nowhere, became a somebody about to sport the coveted last name of Landris. It just goes to show how people shouldn’t judge another without knowing what’s happening on the inside. And never, ever to underestimate the power of Faith!



Before I get ahead of myself, maybe I should begin at the beginning, since I’ve already told you the end. Don’t you just hate it when people flip to the back of a book and read the end before they even crack the beginning and middle just because they feel they have to know how it ends? Well, that won’t be the case here. The end is officially out, over and done with. Faith wins!
Now we can concentrate on the story, and how I managed to arrive here.



I am Faith. Not Hope—Hope is the timid one. You know, the one who crosses her fingers and wishes for the best. Not Charity. Sweet little Charity, the one who really believes love conquers all, and, if I’m truly honest, has been told she’s the greatest of the three of us. Both of them give up too easily. It’s like they’re not really sure what they want—a bit too wishy-washy for me.
But now me—I know what I want. And as a rule, I generally grab hold like a pit bull until I get it. Not by giving up at the first hint of opposition. Oh, no. You see, Faith recognizes the impossible, yet sees the invisible, and holds fast to the confession. I succeed because I stand by what I want as if I’m entitled to it.



And I am.



That’s why I claimed dear, charming Landris as mine the first time I laid eyes on him. God knows, it should be a sin for any man—let alone a man of God—to be so fine, smart, and good-looking, all swirled into one. Note to God: Needed—an 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not be so tempting.



So I “named it” and “claimed it,” right then and there. The man never stood a chance, not when it came to resisting me. Faith was at work; he was as good as mine.



“You can’t claim somebody else’s man,” Hope said to me when I shared my confession with her. I didn’t want to, but I had to tell someone. “You can’t impose your will over someone else’s. You just can’t!”



Dear Hope—always the practical one. She does have her own desires, but she chooses to live her life cautiously, always hoping. “Just in case it doesn’t work out,” she says, “at least I won’t be too disappointed.” She knows nothing about men, and if I’m honest here, even less about the power of Faith. That’s who I am: Faith Alexandria Morrell, and by tomorrow, the new Mrs. Landris.



From the beginning, it was the three of us: Faith, Hope, and Charity. Like water, steam, and ice—the same, but different. Water—easy and fluid, can flow anywhere, yet it’s strong enough to form a Grand Canyon. Steam—vapor like a spirit, practically invisible, yet leaves undeniable evidence of its existence. Dare I say, able to open, without detection, what some believe to be sealed for good, and create power never imagined probable, let alone possible. Ice—solid, steadfast and firm, can be grasped, handled, touched. Each the same, only a different form.



There’s one thing I would like to clear up here and now: Johnnie Mae Taylor Landris had her hands full even before she met me. There was her mother’s memory problem, and four siblings, three of whom were routinely uncooperative. She had a young daughter to raise within a brand-new marriage plus the demands of a writing career that required her to travel.



Her husband, the Right Reverend (and very handsome) Pastor George Landris, presided over a new ministry growing so fast it was making heads spin, especially for a church in Birmingham, Alabama. Now don’t get me wrong—I’m not putting down Birmingham. It’s just, who would have expected such a phenomenon to take place here? There were people who sold everything and moved from other states just to take part.



Can you blame them? Pastor Landris is a great teacher of the Bible. He definitely knows how to break down the Word of God. He’s unconventional and sure of himself. How else could he wear dreadlocks and get away with it? He’s the type who’ll rarely back down when he believes in something. Pastor Landris is the kind of man of God whom people will literally uproot their lives to follow.



Like Sapphire and Angela Gabriel. Although from what I heard, Miss Angel Gabriel (Angel is what she prefers being called) didn’t originally move from Asheville, North Carolina, to be part of this newfound ministry.



“Actually, I was supposed to be running a radio station,” Angel said with a smile. She and I worked closely on Johnnie Mae and Pastor’s marriage seminar material. We ended up talking, and that’s when I found out some interesting information. It turns out Pastor Landris had supposedly bought that same radio station in a deal that, incidentally, ended up blowing up in several folks’ faces. I’m talking big-time blowup! Of course, most people (including Miss Angel) quietly blame that costly misstep on Thomas, Pastor Landris’s older, yet equally good-looking and, might I add, talented brother.



So when Hope, Charity, and I showed up at the church in 2003 and inserted ourselves in these folks’ lives, things were already crazy. To our credit, we did try to help. And were you to ask Johnnie Mae, she would admit that I really was a blessing. And even if she were to deny it, I was—no ...I still am a blessing.



Don’t believe me? Okay, then you be the judge. Man can, and should, plan all he wants, but there are times when God has His own thoughts about the matter.



Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.”



Yes, for good to them who love God and who are called according to His purpose.



And I do love God.

Monday, May 28, 2007

MAY 07 FEATURED AUTHOR: Vanessa Davis Griggs


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

Vanessa Davis Griggs: My name is Vanessa Davis Griggs. I’m a motivational speaker, an author, married, the mother of three sons, and the grandmother of two little girls. A former employee of BellSouth, I left after 18 years of service to pursue my call to write and speak. My novels include: Destiny Unlimited (out of print), The Rose of Jericho, Promises Beyond Jordan, Wings of Grace, and my latest release, Blessed Trinity.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?


DAVIS: Blessed Trinity is Book 1 of a trilogy which actually picks up where Wings of Grace left off. There’s a lot going on in this book as we learn a little more of what has happened with familiar characters such as Pastor George Landris and Johnnie Mae Taylor from previous books, while meeting a host of new characters like Faith Alexandria Morrell and her sisters, Hope and Charity. Needing help as they guard a devastating secret, this mysterious trio of sisters joins Followers of Jesus Faith Worship Center led by Pastor Landris. Only there’s a lot going on with Pastor Landris, the church as well as members of his family. How can Faith and her sisters find comfort when others in a position to help are wrestling with so many issues of their own? When one sister suffers a crushing collapse, faith may be the only way to unravel the mystery shadowing all concerned.

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

DAVIS: Besides being entertained, I’d love for people to learn things they might not have known before they began reading the story. In Blessed Trinity, I deal with real life issues such as Bipolar Disorder, Alzheimer’s, the inner-workings of mega churches as well as family. I hope people take away the message of love—the things we’ll do for it or what we do because of it. It’s not a romance book though. So, if pure romance is your thing, this is not the book with it.

SORMAG: Tell us about your publishing experience?

DAVIS: Before I was published, I worked for BellSouth. When I left at the end of 1996, I didn’t have a book ready or a publisher waiting for me in the wings. After working on a book called Destiny Unlimited, I sought a traditional publisher, going through the normal rejection letters. But people kept asking for Destiny Unlimited so I decided to start my own publishing company (Free To Soar) and publish it myself. The truth is, I was really just trying to satisfy the few people who wanted copies so they would quit asking me about it. That was 1999. In 2000, I published my next novel: The Rose of Jericho. Unbeknownst to me then, this book would end up propelling me to places I never knew I’d go, namely, a sequel entitled: Promises Beyond Jordan (and to what has now become a series). That was 2001. At the end of 2002, I received a call from an editor at BET Books who wished to acquire the rights to Promises Beyond Jordan. I signed a two-book deal and Promises Beyond Jordan was republished in 2004 by BET Books/New Spirit followed by Wings of Grace in 2005. At the end of 2005, I was in talks with an editor at Kensington/Dafina. By the first of 2006, I signed a three-book deal with Dafina. Blessed Trinity, the first book in the trilogy, was released May 2007. It picks up where Wings of Grace left off. The second book in the trilogy will be released May 2008, with the third book slated for October 2008.

SORMAG: Do you think an agent is necessary?

DAVIS: I wouldn’t say an agent is necessary although I will say a person should do what’s right for them. When I say not necessary, there are several publishers who don’t require an agent for you to get a book deal. However, many people find an agent may be able to protect certain rights they would have normally signed away or an agent can possibly negotiate a better advance or overall deal. Also, there are a myriad of publishers who won’t allow a submission unless it’s from an agent. If you choose to go without an agent, then you need to hone your knowledge of publishing, publishing contracts specifically, and what’s involved to ensure that you end up with a good deal when it’s all said and done. I don’t have an agent, but I have been courted by one just recently in fact.

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

DAVIS: That writers like to do different things in and with their writing. We don’t like to write the same things over and over again (most of us don’t, anyway). We desire for it to be exciting…fresh, but sometimes non-writers don’t understand what’s going on and they lash out with negative and hurtful comments as though people who write don’t have feelings. Of course, I tell people if they’re going to be writer, they need to develop a thick skin right from the start.

SORMAG: In honor of Mother’s Day, what is a special moment you shared with your mother?

DAVIS: My mother was out of town attending a funeral on Mother’s Day. So I decided to visit her the day before Mother’s Day. We had a great time with a few of my other siblings talking and laughing with our mother. I’d planned something special for Mother’s Day, but it’s like my mother told me: When it comes to us, Mother’s Day is everyday for her. So my special moment this year was watching my mother laugh and me being thankful that I was blessed to hear that wonderful sound one more time.

SORMAG: What is a favorite book from your childhood?

DAVIS: There’s a book I read when I was in elementary school, but I can’t remember the name of it for the life of me. Nevertheless, I can recall the story and how it made me feel. It was wonderful. I remember reading that book and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines and thinking that making people feel a story like I felt when reading these two was exactly how I wished I could someday make people feel. Mind you, I didn’t have any tangible aspirations of being an author (just wishful thinking; when I was growing up, people didn’t look at being an author as a job to attain to). I just knew I wanted whatever I did to always feel real to others. Now that I write professionally, that’s what I strive to do with each and every book I pen. I want to make you feel like you’re right there; and that whatever is happening, you’re quietly sneaking a look and a listen into their world.

SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?

DAVIS: I’m appreciative of the various sites that promote and inform others about books. I also use Google to search my name. Many times, people may have something out there but didn’t tell me about it. Searching your own name is a great way to stay on top of what’s going on, especially if you’re an author. Of course, I have my own Web site which is a great asset. It allows people to check me and my books out or get photos of me and/or my books as needed without my having to send them. Recently, I’ve become active on MySpace.com which has been so much fun. I get to meet a lot of people, but what I found is that it’s given me yet another outlet to give back. I get messages all the time from aspiring writers or sometimes just people who need a little encouragement in life. Also, using MySpace.com has introduced people to my work who otherwise might not have ever known I existed. For certain, I’ve acquire new readers because of the net.

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

DAVIS: My Website: www.VanessaDavisGriggs.com
MySpace: www.MySpace.com/vanessadavisgriggs
My email address is: Vanessa@VanessaDavisGriggs.com
My snail mail: P. O. Box 101328, Birmingham, AL 35210

Saturday, May 26, 2007

MAY 07 EXCERPT: Once Is Never Enough



Excerpt of Once Is Never Enough by Margie Gosa Shivers

Chapter One
LESTER
1
Chicago, IL
December 18, 2000
Before the ink was even dry on the divorce papers, I’d begun the struggle to find balance in my life … to do the things I ought to do to make me feel good.
It was three weeks ago when I said goodbye to another unhappy marriage that had left me fatherless, still. Things that used to excite me no longer caused me to lift my eyebrows in wonderment, to form my mouth in a smile, or to tighten my stomach to laugh uncontrollably. It seemed as though everything and everybody around me moved at sixty miles per hour, like a cheetah, while I took the time to sit and think about what I was supposed to do that day. Perhaps I was medically or mentally ill and didn’t know it, I told myself. For sure, I was tired of chasing women.
Anyway, today, I stepped outside the main entrance to my high-rise condo building on South Shore Drive ready for another day of detective work. The air was cold enough to rapidly turn the bottle of water inside my gray wool coat into a “plastic stiff.”
My name is Lester Miller and I’m a homicide detective with the Chicago Police Department. Ordinarily I wouldn’t care if it was cloudy or snowing, unless it was a bright sunny day. Bare branches no longer displayed a rich green, but were now the color of fireplace ash, framing the rising sun as it tried to peek through a dark and foggy dawn. With any luck the temperature might hit 20°, more likely it would hit 20° below instead.
As I searched around inside my coat pockets for the second pair of gloves I’d bought in less than two weeks, I stepped on an icy spot and fell on my butt. “Damn!” I said, lifting my six-foot-tall body up from the pavement, not caring who saw me. I shook snow off of my coat and tilted my matching wool tam to the right side of my head, leaving my pride on the pavement.
My dark blue Aurora was in row one, stall three. I got in and cranked the engine. The matching gloves were on the seat. I put them on, pushed number 2 on the radio for 102.7 FM, and pulled out of the parking lot. A favorite Christmas tune, “Silent Night” by the Temptations, was playing on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” mellowing my heart as I drove in traffic that crawled along on slippery streets. If it did anything for me it put me in the mood for the holidays, woman or no woman in my life.
Halfway to my precinct station, my cell phone rang. The caller ID registered the name of a police sergeant friend who lived three doors down from the house my ex-wife bought many months before the divorce. It had surprised the hell out of me to learn from my attorney that she had done that. But I tossed that shock over my shoulder like a grain of salt. I answered the phone.
“Hey buddy, what’s up?”
“Hey, I just got off the phone with my wife,” he said. “There’s been a drive-by shooting at Brenda’s house.” After I realized what he’d said I became worried.
“Is she alright?”
“I don’t know, man.”
“What time did it happen?”
“My wife said the gunshots woke her up at six o’clock this morning.”
I gazed at the car’s digital clock and saw that was well over an hour ago. Although I wasn’t on good terms with my ex and the incident had occurred outside my jurisdiction, I immediately rolled down the window to throw the beacon light on top of my car and put my pedal to the medal.
“Thanks, I’m headed over there now.” From my memory of the address, I could get there within 15 minutes, but slowing my rush to get to her neighborhood were unplowed snow-covered side streets.
When I arrived at Brenda’s house, two police cars were parked in front of the cute little brick bungalow with the brown roof and white window trim. By the absence of other emergency vehicles (like an ambulance or police van) I couldn’t be certain if she was alright. An officer standing on the sidewalk was questioning two women. Several onlookers were gathered in small groups.
I parked directly behind the second squad car. Glancing at the house, I could immediately tell that two of the three-panel windows were completely blown out. Whoever did it had to have used a serious weapon to do that much damage.
I got out and slowly walked on the icy asphalt entrance where I greeted a uniformed officer. Showing him my badge, I said, “Brenda is my ex-wife. Is she alright?”
“Yes and we’re about to wrap things up here,” he said.
“At this time of the morning, I don’t suppose there were witnesses?”
“Right, however a neighbor heard the gunshots and called 911,” he said, and gave me a brief update. He described shattered glass on the living room floor and how the police had collected several bullets that had lodged in the walls and sofa.
I thanked him, walked to the front door, and knocked. I heard Brenda’s voice on the other side.
“Come in,” she said.
Upon entering the foyer and closing the door behind me, I saw Brenda, in the living room near the windows. She wore a leather jacket on top of a pink bath robe, and was sweeping broken glass into a dustpan. Her hair was longer and her figure was definitely trimmer than the last time I saw her. That had been two weeks ago in divorce court. “Hello, Brenda. How are you?”
Holding the dustpan and wearing thick-soled house shoes, she stepped forward to greet me. “Lester! Oh, how did you find out?” She asked blinking her eyes, her mouth twisted in a half smile, probably shocked that I knew what had happened and couldn’t believe that I cared enough to check on her.
“I’m okay, just scared to death,” she said, taking a deep breath. She excused herself and disposed of the pan full of glass in the kitchen trashcan and then rejoined me a minute or so later. I reached out and held her hands. They felt cold and she was shivering.
“Sit and relax. I’ll get the rest of it.” I took the broom and swept up the remaining glass and found my way into her kitchen to dispose it. I returned and sat down beside her on the sofa. Air hissed from the cushion. She had always preferred leather to fabric on a sofa. Now that she was the boss of her abode, she had what she wanted.
“Are you alone?” I asked.
“Yes.”
“You want some help with covering the windows?”
“I called someone before you came. Thanks.”
“Where were you in the house when this happened?”
“I was in the shower when the sound of the glass breaking and gunshots in the house scared me half of out of mind. It took some time to gather my nerves before coming out of the bathroom. Soon I heard police sirens and knocks at my door. That’s when I figured it was safe,” she explained.
“Thank God you were in there. It appears your house is the only one that got the bullets. Besides your family and friends, who else knows that you moved here?”
She merely shrugged.
“By the way, the house is nice.” It was hard not to notice the sand-colored varnished floors and the wide, open hallway. A six-foot Christmas tree amply decorated and with a few wrapped boxes underneath it, stood near a wooden staircase that soared all the way to the height of the house. There was African artwork on the walls, landscape scenes done in artificial oils, and the entire landing was given over to plate glass. As would be expected of Brenda, live plants were appropriately placed around the living room creating a neat little garden scene. However, two small green plants were turned over onto the floor and I could see a few bullet holes in the walls.
“I like it,” she said. Owning a house was something she had wanted more than anything, even more than she wanted me, I’d suspected. The subject had been a bone of contention between us during our marriage almost as much as my wanting a family.
“This is a good neighborhood,” she said. “You hear about drive-by shootings all the time. Never thought this could happen to me. Now, I regret moving here.”
“Someone might be trying to hurt you. Ever consider that?” I got up and walked to look out the damaged window. There was little activity on the streets. The onlookers had dwindled down to a few neighbors standing and talking among themselves. The police cars were gone, too.
She got up and stood beside me, breathing deeply. “As far as enemies are concerned, I’m not aware of any,” she said.
“I see. How’s that principal’s position coming along?” It had been her goal to become a high school principal. A woman educated in Chicago’s public school system and having earned college degrees from Chicago State University and the University of Illinois, respectively, Brenda dedicated herself to her profession and especially to educating children. She had a good shot at realizing her dream.
“I took the test again and I think I passed.”
“Good for you.”
Turning to face her again, I asked, “Sure you can’t think of who could’ve done this?”
“Don’t ask me for names because I can’t give you any. Besides, as I said, I’ve no enemies that I know of.”
“Apparently you have one now. Have you considered staying with your sister for a while until you feel safe?” Her older sister was a gynecologist who owned a loft in Chicago’s downtown area. They were close enough for Brenda to be welcomed there.
“I’ll be fine,” she said.
“I hope so. You own a gun?”
“No,” she exhaled deeply and looked away for a hot second. Then I caught her staring. Sounding upbeat, she asked, “How’ve you been doing lately?”
“Okay.”
“That’s all you got to say?”
“Well, if you really want to know, I’m leaving Chicago. I’ll be working for the FBI in their professional support division.” To my dismay I had missed the age requirement by one year to qualify as a special agent. “I look forward to doing something other than chasing murderers and dealing with people who have little or no regard for the safety of women and children.”
“That’s for sure,” she said, coming closer with a friendlier smile on her face. “Although we didn’t make it as a couple, you truly care about the welfare of others. But why do you want to leave? What’re you running away from? It can’t be me.”
I had to work at holding in my smile. Somehow hearing her say the words and watching her reaction brought a certain satisfaction to my insides.
I met her gaze and didn’t blink. “I need air. I need to get out of Chicago so bad. It’ll be a fresh start for me.”
“Who’s the new woman in your life? You’re never without one,” she said, smiling.
Not that it’s any of her concern, I told myself. “Why do you want to know that?” I remained calm. No reason not to be. “You set me free, remember?”
“Don’t get me wrong, I was just wondering,” she said in a cool tone. Brenda’s words made me remember how she, a proud, strong woman, could still show her suspicious side and maintain her poise.
Suddenly, the slam of a car door made me turn and peek out one of the broken windows. A man hurried out of a black luxury car and headed toward the front door. As the doorbell rang, awkwardness set in and I stepped a few feet to Brenda’s right. It was her house so I let her be in charge.
I turned to look at Brenda who suddenly flushed guiltily as I caught her checking the time. Perhaps she was wishing that I hadn’t shown up.
She twisted her lips and rushed to the door. She could be in danger and I wanted to ask more questions. But I realized I had overstayed my brief welcome, at the same time remembering the old private Brenda wanted to know my business but not tell me hers.
“Stay away from the windows,” I said and started to put on my coat. But before I could exit her house, she opened the door to a tall man, an inch shorter than me, with a boyish handsome, copper-toned face. He walked inside rubbing his gloved hands together. I recognized him and that alone, alarmed me.
He reached up and tipped his brown leather-bibbed cap, allowing his gaze to soak in everything about me, every angle of my face. Surely he remembers seeing me a few weeks ago at Mario and Cara Fleming’s wedding reception. Did he deliberately choose my ex-wife to hang out with and if so, why?
“Come in, Duncan,” she said.
“Hi, I got here as fast as I could,” he said, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek. “You okay?”
“Yes, thank goodness.” She glanced at me as if to check my reaction. I felt her embarrassment and headed to the door to leave, but Brenda raised an eyebrow and shook her head slightly, so I decided to hang around a little while longer.
“Lester, this is my friend, Duncan Tate. Duncan, this is my ex-husband, Lester. Lester heard what happened here and stopped by to check on me.”
“What’s up? I’ve seen you around but I don’t think we ever met,” he said, his voice chilly. “Good to meet you.” He shook my hand with a grip that was almost painfully firm.
I bowed my head slightly in greeting while my stomach churned, reminding me how the world had started to grow smaller by the day. Thankfully, he mumbled something in Brenda’s ear, moved swiftly past her and walked down the hallway and into one of the rooms, probably the bathroom. He slammed the door behind him.
I felt the need for an immediate dose of air, the kind that I knew was waiting outside, chilled. I again headed for the door. I found myself wondering how long it would take me to get used to seeing Brenda regard Duncan with the same open and friendly trusting look she’d once given me. Surely, this was only a fleeting thought given our marital history. She followed me through the front door, closing it after us.
“I appreciate your concern but it’s time to let go now,” she said, giving me her familiar “serious look”. “You don’t need to worry about me anymore. I’ll be alright,” she added glancing back at the door.
Ignoring what was on my mind to say, and finding her new attitude totally justified, I said, “Sure. I have no problems doing that. Just be careful around this guy.”
“I don’t understand,” she said drawing her lips into a thin line. “Do you know Duncan?”
“Somewhat. How long have you been seeing him?”
“Not long. A coworker invited us both to Thanksgiving dinner at her house. She has a knack for not wanting single people to be alone during the holidays. So, what’s wrong with me dating Duncan?” Her smile faded as she added, “Look, I’m not in any position right now to doubt you, Lester. C’mon and tell me.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I did,” I said, recalling the adage about never telling someone everything you know. This especially applied to this situation. She seemed to be Duncan’s kind of a woman, but he was definitely not her kind of man.
“His wife committed suicide a few months ago,” I decided to say in a whisper. “Listen, I know you haven’t known him for long, but I can’t believe he hasn’t told you some important things about his life.”
“Really?” Brenda said, hotly. “Well, maybe Duncan’s got his reasons and he might be planning to tell me when the time is right. Anyway, how do you know that? And, what business is it of yours?” She demanded, hands clutching her hips, skin around her eyes crinkling.
“Obviously, you have the wrong impression about me, but that’s cool. I was not trying to interfere in your life,” I paused for a few moments and then added, “You know what Brenda? Have yourself a nice day. Sorry to have disturbed you.”
By now, my attitude rated as downright unfriendly.
A muscle in her jaw twitched as I started to walk away.
“Alright, Lester I’m sorry. Please don’t walk away.” Her voice softened. I turned to face her and let her continue. “Don’t think hard of me, but as free as I am and feel at this moment, I’m the one with bullet holes in my walls. Perhaps this wasn’t some random shooting. Somebody might be trying to kill me,” she paused before continuing. “So, I’ll ask you again, why shouldn’t I date Duncan?”
“Does he mean that much to you?” I asked and started to think. Whether it’s you or your ex who gets involved with someone else first, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you both recognize the reality: that there’s no going back, only moving forward to what will be. Plainly, it was over between us.
“Yes, but why do you care?” Brenda asked.
“Oh, what the hell,” I said, resisting the urge to tell her that Duncan sleeps with a politically corrupt guy named Cecil Hawkins. “Maybe I shouldn’t be the one to tell you this. But, if you’re having sex with him, just make sure he shows you his recent HIV test results and never let him stick it in you again unless he’s wearing at least five condoms.
She looked at me like I was crazy.
I just walked away and headed straight to my car vowing never to return.
As I drove away from Brenda’s house heading to work, something snapped inside my head. Nearly 38 years old, recently divorced, no children to claim as my own - my life is screwed and tattooed. I must be doing something wrong. Some soul-searching had made me accept that as far as falling in love was concerned, I’d missed the boat.
I’d lost Cara Fleming, the woman of my dreams less than a month ago. Suddenly without warning, she dumped me. I even went to their wedding ceremony. Much to my surprise, her father offered to let me walk her down the aisle in his place, in honor of being her friend and keeping her safe. There was nothing honorable about it, nothing heinous either.
I felt truly appreciated at least by someone. But I turned the offer down. A man has to draw the line somewhere.
Yet, I still hold Cara Fleming inside me. I can’t have her; but knowing that doesn’t stop me from loving, needing, and wanting her. I still seek meaning to the feelings and an explanation for the heartache. At the same time, though, like all the women over the years, she’s my past and that’s how I am sure she will remain.
I can’t help asking myself: Where is the woman I’m destined to be with for the rest of my life? I know there are plenty of good women out there just waiting to meet a man who will love, respect and support them. They can’t all be married. Where is the woman for me?
Even two damn divorces haven’t given me peace of mind. Both were career-minded schoolteachers. Neither of them wanted children. The first wife (Jessica), aborted our baby without telling me that she was pregnant. That marriage ended seven years ago.
Brenda, the second wife, divorced me earlier this month. When I saw her at the municipal court building that day, she still looked good enough to catch and keep any man’s attention on her at first glance. No one could tell me that we didn’t have the ideal marriage or that we wouldn’t someday celebrate our golden anniversary! A six-figure combined income gave us a modest life in our lakefront condo on South Shore Drive. We put away a few bucks every payday. There was extra money to spend on clothes, on entertainment, and on an active social life.
Sex between us was frequent and nothing less than hot and steamy. Believe me, I knew how to please her. I also believed we were going to have a good life together built on mutual affection and trust, and that we would have the house and children we both wanted. I lived up to my end of the bargain... partially, that is.
Before the four-year marriage ended, Brenda and I had a lot of fun trying to make a baby: sex before going to work and again every night.
But as much as I enjoyed making love to Brenda, I soon became tired of trying. She put the blame on my sperm. So we had fertility tests done that proved nothing was wrong with either of us.
Then one day, she was careless. I’d come home early to get some shut-eye after working a double. She had arrived home a few minutes before me and left the opened pill case on the bathroom vanity. I saw it and suddenly realized why pregnancy had eluded us for so long. Our conversation is still hard to forget:
“You don’t seem to be gaining any weight,” I had said, holding down my anger and hurt.
“What do you mean by that? I thought you wanted me to stay slim and look nice for you?”
“Yeah, I do, but that’s not what I’m getting at. We’ve been married two years now. Quite frankly, I’ve been waiting to hear you me tell that you’re pregnant,” I had said snatching up the pill case and thrusting it close to her face.
She looked momentarily shocked. “I’m sorry to tell you this now,” she said. “But the truth is I don’t want to bring a child into this world until I’m ready. Why can’t the two of us just be happy together?”
Well, time went on and so did living together under the same roof. But we were stuck on cruise control; no highs, no lows, no passion. Unable to lose the pain, I lost myself in work. Brenda was always mad at me for it.
I’ve never had any problems attracting women and I’m ashamed to say, there were just too many of them too good to pass up. What’s worst, I didn’t know how to pass them up and didn’t care to know.
Believe it or not, I’d always prided myself on being a good judge of character, but was sure I had misjudged Brenda. If the woman I had protected from gangs (male and female) in high school and who had been a good friend for ten years could betray my trust, what woman could I trust? From that point on I resolved that female companions would join me at their own risk. So I dated a few and went out of my way to avoid misleading them about my being married.
Actually, neither Brenda nor I were angels, so to speak. She started to have affairs. I didn’t force the issue with her. Maybe I was afraid she’d leave me.
It didn’t take long for us to not like each other. Things between us just got worse. I didn’t have any answers and, as usual, couldn’t deal with anything that caused me pain. It took me until now to realize that I didn’t know how.
Believing it was “cheaper to keep her,” I pretended that all was well. I knew that I wasn’t going to win the battle, but knowing that never seemed to matter to me because I was willing to hang in there anyway. She would go off into an emotional tirade, making it difficult for me to have the responsible conversation I wanted to have with her. Man, was that an eye-opener? If the exciting and loving woman of my dreams existed, it was unlikely that I was ever going to find her. However, if I wanted a wife and children of my own I would simply have to be more realistic about what I expected in a wife.
What I didn’t know was that we were like two fools riding on a ship, battling an imperfect storm, yet somehow still going in different directions. Staying the rugged course could only make for a rough, unpleasant, and possibly dangerous ride.
The ride was over when she came to me one night in late February 2000 after a quiet dinner at home and said, “Neither of us is happy. Why hold onto a dead marriage? The way we’re living our lives is not good for you or me.”
“I’m sorry that you feel this way. Are you sure this is what you really want?”
“It’s too late, Lester. The things that really matter to both of us aren’t the same. You want children and I’m not ready. Actually, I never told you this, but I’m afraid to go through all the physical pain of having a baby. And, don’t forget that we aren’t upholding our vows either. Why do you feel it should be any different now?” Then she added, “But, I’m not leaving empty handed.”
“Why should I have to pay to end this farce of a marriage?” I screamed. Well, I lost that battle, too. In the end she got what she wanted: money. I retained ownership of my condo, which had been mine before I married her. Painfully, I share the culpability ---- always part of the problem, never the solution.
I regret that my police work kept me from spending more time with Brenda. Sometimes I wish I could do it over again, to make better choices, arrange my priorities and spend more time lavishing the attention she craved, and waiting until she was ready to give me a child. Maybe that would’ve worked to my advantage.
Ha! Who am I kidding? I thought, pulling into the lot at the Area One police station. Knowing me, the same mistakes would’ve been repeated simply because the thought of a childless marriage would make me realize I could never be happy. I wanted a child with my blood in his or her veins. Believing that I’d be so lucky to have a good woman and a family to make my life complete was a no-brainer. I wanted a child so badly that I would’ve accepted adopting one. Was I wrong to want Brenda to take a career vacation and have at least one child? I think not. Especially since I was willing to put aside time in my hectic career to not only bring home the bacon, but to help raise the child, too!
Oh yeah, professionally speaking, I’m at the top of my game. My 14 years on the Chicago police force have been my escape, my joy, my nourishment, the reason that I get up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed five days a week for work.
Recently I took a look at life; the people and things around me. Everything had changed. As far as I know, this is the only life I will have. Of course, there’s always the possibility of reincarnation, but hey, the thought that I might come back as a giraffe, a skunk, or a clawing lion haunts me!
Sometimes I feel as though I’m paddling through raging, icy cold, swirling water, like being sucked down a toilet drain. “Using what I got” seemingly hasn’t been enough.
Although blessed naturally to be good in some things yet a piss-poor chump in others, I’m a man who can’t hold a marriage together. That’s me. Blessed to have tasted success here and there in some areas of life, yet, I sucked in others, particularly in my personal life.
I suppose that’s what makes me human and imperfect like everyone else.
As my late mama, Bernice, would occasionally say during my growing up years on Chicago’s West Side, “Lester, if you keep doing the same old things the same old way, you’re going to keep getting the same old results.”
----------------------------------------

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MAY07 EXCERPT - Long Walk Up

Long Walk Up
By Denise Turney



Long Walk Up tells the poignant story of a young orphan girl from East Africa . The girl, a child named Mulukan, becomes Africa ’s first female president. Mulukan’s story takes an honest look at heart tugging coincidences that become the threads in the fabric of our lives. This child’s remarkable story searches its readers’ hearts and calls them to ascension. …

Web site address - www.chistell.com

Two miles later, Mulukan’s knees buckled; she fell into the dirt. Her arms went out, her legs back, the way a bird’s legs and wings go in different directions seconds before the bird takes flight. Mulukan’s heart spoke to the sky and told it to bring relief; the pain of being a motherless child in a big world made her feel like she was drowning. To six-year old Mulukan, the sky was Yhwh and she could not suffer another step. She lay against the earth for hours, long enough for the sky to turn white with heat.

When she raised her head, a raven, its thick, black beak closed and pointed away from her, stood at her side. Because she too was small, the bird looked huge to Mulukan. She hurried to her feet and ran from the bird, up a hill. Her heart pounded in her chest; it beat so fast Mulukan thought it was trying to beat its way out of her body. The raven crowded her thoughts with fear and dread; she kept looking over her shoulder while she ran. Her eyes had widened with the expanse of fright. Then, and as if the ground had opened beneath her, she lost her footing. Her shoulders ached, her knees felt like they would loosen from their sockets while she rolled to the bottom of the hill. She almost cursed the bird. Moments later, when her body stilled, she stretched out her hands and looked up in surprise when she touched wood.

“Come along, Abayomi. Come along.”

“But, Father.”

“Come along.”

“How much for these shoes?”

Voices. Mulukan listened from where she lay behind a tall, wood produce stand, the place where she landed after she rolled to the bottom of the hill. From where she lay behind the stand, she watched feet, some belonging to children, others belonging to adults, move back and forth in front of the small open space at the bottom of the stand. Behind her was only dirt and open sky. She appeared alone except for the hurrying feet and the rainbow voices – so many voices.

“How far along in school is the youngest one? She is growing so fast.”

“I know, like a vine. She just keeps going up-up-up.”

“Special! Special! Special! Come and take advantage of these many specials we have on all kinds of fruit and vegetables. You’ll be glad you did. Don’t go home without some of these delicious foods.”

Mulukan peered up. Her thoughts were on the energy in the rainbow voices. Her eyes widened. It was so close, a market. It brimmed with people, some fat, some thin, none starving.

Mulukan crawled to the edge of the stand and peered around the corner. She watched the people and searched for an opening, a time when she could mix in with them undetected. That time did not come until nightfall. Everyone, except for one man, was gone away from the market. The juice of squashed tomatoes, melons, greens and beets sprinkled the earth. The man packed up the last supplies of his fruit and vegetable stand. Mulukan ran up to him like she was his daughter, like he’d been looking for her.

Dirt filled her matted hair and covered her limbs. Dried snot clung to her lip. Flies circled her groin. Her knees and eyes were swollen. Her stomach, protruding like an empty bowl, went out to the man and asked for food. Mulukan – as if she’d always been happy, gave him her best smile. When he smiled back at her, her jaws fattened with mirth.

“Lost from your parents?” the man asked while he searched her face for answers, for clues that revealed the reason she was at the market at this late hour alone. Despite the clues, not once did he allow himself to believe she could be one of the millions of children death had pushed out into the street absent their parents. AIDS had been the dominant disease ripping parents from their children this time. But there had always been a vicious disease ravaging parts of Africa for as long as the man could recall. Once, to distance himself from the hurt, the insanity of tragedy, he ceased reading stories about countless children roaming Africa alone, unsure of which direction to move in, roaming through life as if just by walking, they would find safety, a place to lay their heads, a place devoid of heartache. For so long, he wouldn’t look at the children. He refused their large, brown eyes.

Two years ago he and his wife of thirty-eight years lived on a large farm. The earth always pushed up produce like goodness coming straight from Yhwh, the only source in the universe that flows, the source many call love. Abandoned children showed up at their front gate each morning. A year later, the circle of starvation and desperation still revealing itself on the children’s dirty, worn, tired faces, and his wife went insane. The desperation the children brought to the gate each morning cursed her with melancholy. It happened slowly, very slowly, as if it weren’t happening at all. At first his wife, her eyes having become sullen like the children’s, begged him with, “We have to do more for them.” Weeks later she fed the children from the harvest they had planned to sell at the market, currency with which they would pay their household expenses.

“We cannot do this,” the man would tell her while light from their bedroom lamp flickered across the room. But her guilt that they lived inside the comforts of a large farm, her guilt that they had plenty to eat and wear while hundreds of children outside their home had only what she handed them through the open space in the front gate - that guilt drove her insane.

Months after the children showed up, she took to staring into space, her gaze landing on nothing in particular. She mumbled to herself; the man saw her lips moving as if she were talking to someone, but when he looked about, there was no one else. As if it would halt the onslaught of insanity that was beginning to overtake his wife, that was beginning to drown her, he went into town and bought five acres of land. Deed in hand, he opened the gate and standing amid the children like a sergeant, asked, “Who knows how to farm?” Three hands, their ends badly chewed, their palms as brown as their backs, went up. “Who would like to learn how to farm?” his voice boomed. His gazed darted and searched their faces. Every hand sprang into the air. With a jerk of his head and a swing of his arm he called out, “Follow me.” At the edge of the five acres of land, he stopped. “This land is more than enough to feed all of you.”

His wife wasn’t alive to witness the first full harvest come in. By that time she had locked herself in their barn and slit her wrists. When he found her that evening she was already dead. While family and friends and the children, some of them fat, surrounded the large hole he was soon to place her body inside and cover with dirt, the bed of the earth, the substance that helped feed the children, he talked to his wife. “See what your desperation has done for the children?”



“And where are you from?” the man asked Mulukan.

With a twist of her ankle, she pulled her hands behind her back and looked up at him. There was enough dirt on her face and body to clog a narrow drainage pipe. While he looked at her he wondered if she was ill. Her hair though dry and brittle, was dark and healthy. Her eyes were clear.

“Mother,” he tried, Mulukan yet silent. He turned and grabbed a peach. “Here,” he told her with a smile on his face and his arm extended toward her.

She took the strange fruit inside her hand.

He watched her bite into the fruit then consume it recklessly. Finished eating the fruit’s flesh she bit at the seed. When the seed didn’t crack, she stuck it in her jaw and sucked it. She stared longingly at the row of peaches behind the man.

“Do you understand what I’m saying?” he asked Mulukan while he turned and started placing the last remaining pieces of fruit onto a wheeled cart. When his stand was empty and clean, he pushed the cart close to a blue and yellow truck.

When he turned, Mulukan was gone. He’d given her a bag of peaches, a bag of green beans, corn and a jug of water. He told her to put the vegetables over fire, but because he doubted she spoke the same tongue he did, he imagined she would eat the corn and green beans straight out of the bag. After he looked over the market to insure Mulukan wasn’t hiding, he climbed inside his truck and drove to the end of the road. At the end of the road, he turned left and drove around the corner.

Monday, May 21, 2007

MAY FEATURED AUTHOR: Linda Beed


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

Linda Beed:
Linda the person loves life. I enjoy being with my family and my friends. When I’m not reading (I am an admitted bookaholic), I enjoy sewing, crafts and gardening. If you came to my house today you would wonder why I would consider buying another piece of fabric or an item to use for a current or future craft.
As for Linda the writer I’ve found what fuels my passion for writing is the opportunity to give to others what God has given me. It is not always the easy or popular write, but I will follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?


BEED:
Business Unusual is a Contemporary Christian fiction novel that reaches beyond the superficial in order to deal with the heart of matters. Unbeknownst to them, the lives of five people cross at a very crucial time. Bernadette Lewis’ business endeavor is more than just a financial blessing. For Treva Scott, Falimah Meyer and Brian Chin, it will become the ministry that shapes their futures. In terms of Hayes Davis, his skewed views of women and life will be challenged beyond anything he could ever anticipate when he seeks the companionship of Bernadette. Each individual is faced with a choice and that choice will determine if they will walk the ordained path to fulfilling purpose or detour down the road of self-satisfaction.

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

BEED:
There are three things I want my readers to exit Business Unusual with. The first is for them to understand how valuable they are to God. Secondly, I want them to know that they do have the option of free will and along with that option comes responsibility and consequences (good and bad). Finally, I pray that each reader will come to understand that no mistake they may have made or obstacle thrown in their path will change His love or plans for their lives.

SORMAG: Tell us your publishing experience?

BEED:
Do you have a few weeks? Once we made the decision to independently publish there was much to learn and more I will need to learn. Overcoming negative comments and at times, seemingly overwhelming odds, was a challenge many days. The process actually made me grow up faster than I believe I would have had someone taken me by the hand. It is an experience that has matured me in the business and heightened my determination to help others through the process.

SORMAG: Do you ever have a hard time letting go of a character after the novel is finished?

BEED:
When I initially began this process I wrote a three novel series within an eighteen month period. All I knew were the characters in that trilogy and I struggled to create storylines for other books that were in my spirit without using a single one of the characters from the original series.

SORMAG: How do you introduce your book to a new reader?

BEED:
I introduce it as ‘not your ordinary read’.

SORMAG: Spring is here, what fun activity to you do in the spring time?

BEED:
Gardening. I’ve already decided how I will revamp my flower beds so that I will have a continuous flow of color throughout the spring, summer and early fall. My husband has a new idea for training our concord grapes. To that I will add strawberries to our annual crop of tomatoes, greens and peppers.

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

BEED:
I just finished Tavis Smiley’s ‘What I Know For Sure’. I recommend this book to anyone who believes their destiny lies in public service or entrepreneurship.

SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?

BEED:
I am a member of a very supportive online writing community. Real Sista Writers, Writer’s Hut, TWV2 and Kim’s Crew are just a few of the online groups I am a member of. I also use my blogspot and MySpace sites to learn and reach out to others.

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you.

BEED:
I can be contacted at: lindaonassignment@yahoo.com, www.blogspot.lindabeed.com and www.myspace.com/lindabeed

Friday, May 18, 2007

In Memory Of Katherine D. Jones


I’m in total shock today. I was visiting Monica’s Blog and I read the sad news of Katherine's passing.

Katherine was a good writer, a friend and an encourager. We met at the Slam Jam in Florida and kept in touch. I was truly excited to introduce her to SORMAG’s readers when her book debuted. I’ve watched her career blossom and looked forward to our emails. She would always send me one to pick up my spirits.

Being a writer is always a lonely business, but its always nice when you make a few writer friends. Most of my friends in this writing business I met online or at conferences.
When I met Katherine we clicked and it was nice to share about the struggles of writing. Since she made the publishing jump, I could ask her questions about what to expect and she was willing to share her ups and downs.

Katherine had ventured into different genres and wasn’t afraid to try something new. I admired that about her. I could tell she enjoyed telling her stories.

Seeing her career take off inspired me to keep up the writing dream. I’m so happy she was able to see her name in print and that she leaves a legacy for others to know her and her writing.
I had the pleasure of meeting her husband and boys at the Dallas Slam Jam. I thought it was great that her family supported her and her career.

I will truly miss Katherine and our emails.


I and SORMAG's staff send our deepest sympathy to her family.

The romance world has lost one of the good ones.
Visit Katherine's site and learn more about this kindred spirit
If you have memories of Katherine, please feel free to share them here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

In Memory Of - Yolanda King


Yolanda Denise King, daughter of the late Rev. Martin Luther King.



Here's an excellent interview

http://www.mitchhorowitz.com/yolanda-king.html



To the King Family,



I'm truly sorry for your loss. May the Lord be a comfort to you.

Monday, May 14, 2007

MAY07 FEATURED AUTHOR: Nathanial Portis


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

Nathanial Portis:
Thanks for the interview, I'm a native of Akron Ohio but I've lived all over the U.S. and right now I'm residing in the heated state of Arizona. In addition to writing I'm also a Systems Engineer and unlike a lot of other writers I meet, I actually enjoy my day job and right now I have no plans to give up being an engineer. I'm a pretty laid back guy, I enjoy outdoor activities and I'm very active in sports and since it always get’s asked, yes I am single ladies.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?


PORTIS:
My Current book is titled Married To a Married Man and its a story of two very successful people who meet by sheer accident and later find themselves in a serious love affair that goes on for ten years.

Being the other woman isn’t easy for Kayla Brown and the affair sends her on an emotional rollercoaster of up's and down's and when Dean wants to end the affair after ten years of living the double life, Kayla unleashes her own bag of tricks to compensate for her youth she gave up over the years as his mistress. This book is it's unlike any you will ever read and there is also a book club Q&A to follow and an alternate ending that will be posted on www.nathanialportis.com.

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

PORTIS:
With all my books I want readers to take away a good entertaining read. My books are aimed to keep the reader engaged AND provide for some good conversation after.

SORMAG: Tell us about your publishing experience?

PORTIS:
Well this is only my second novel so I’m still a rookie compared to most other writers, my books are published by a small publisher that I own a part of. I have learned a lot but still have tons to learn about the publishing industry but for the most part I can’t say it has been a bad experience for me.

SORMAG: Do you think an agent is necessary?

PORTIS:
Having a agent depends on how far you want to go with writing, if a writer wants to publish more than just a few books then I would suggest them searching for a agent otherwise they may want to think about self publishing, if they can afford it.

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

PORTIS:
Writing is a serious endeavor, if you truly want to be a competitive writer, be prepared for the good as well as the bad that comes along with it.

SORMAG: In honor of Mother’s Day, what is a special moment you shared with your mother?

PORTIS:
Well as indicated in the opening of my book... my mother is a three year cancer survivor so everyday is special with he, however the most special moments for us are when she has her three month follow-up's and the doctor comes back and tells us the magical words 'no cancer found'; we always go out and celebrate.

SORMAG: What is a favorite book from your childhood?

PORTIS:
As a child I liked the book titled 'The Giving Tree' it's a classic to me and it reminds me how sometimes we can give all of ourselves to our loved ones-- until we have nothing left to give them.

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

PORTIS:
I like James Patterson, the last book of his that kept me up was London Bridges.

SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?

PORTIS:
Google, Google, Google, oh and Myspace, so for those of you reading this make sure you add me as a friend if you have a myspace account myspace.com/nathanialportis

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

PORTIS:
I love to get email's from readers you can email me at service@nathanialportis.com and visit my website at www.nathanialportis.com also on myspace at www.myspace.com/nathanialportis.com

Friday, May 11, 2007

MAY ARE YOU READING THIS?


The Seduction of Mr. Bradley

by Minnie Miller


The Seduction of Mr. Bradley, is a love story about

a bisexual man and straight woman's struggle to understand each other.


ISBN-10: 0972201327

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

MAY eTOUR: Kathy J. Marsh



The Aura of Love by Kathy J. Marsh



An amazing new voice with a brilliant, otherworldly concept that takes you deep into the issues of race, class, and gender.
~L.A. Banks, author of The Vampire Huntress Legends series





http://www.kathyjmarsh.com/

Monday, May 07, 2007

MAY07 FEATURED AUTHOR: Sherri L. Lewis


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

Sherri L. Lewis:
Me, the person - first and foremost, I'm a woman who passionately loves God and loves to use creativity to express Him - whether it be through writing, singing, dancing, art, etc. I believe that writing novels is just the beginning for me. I currently "minister" as a physician in a women's prison. I'm looking forward to writing great books about that. As a writer, and specifically a Christian fiction author, I love keeping it real. I write edgy Christian fiction that deals with real life problems and issues - showing God's ability to make all things work together for good.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?


LEWIS:
My current book, My Soul Cries Out, will debut in July, 2007. It's the story of a woman who comes home to find her husband - the minister of music at their church - in bed with another man. The novel deals with her struggle to understand and forgive and his struggle to be delivered from the spirit of homosexuality and save his marriage. It's not a scandalous gay bashing novel, but seeks to deal with the taboo subject of homosexuality in the church from a compassionate Godly perspective.

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

LEWIS:
There's a segment of the body of Christ that suffers in silence, rejection and even hatred from the rest of the church. Even though I don't claim to be an expert in deliverance from homosexuality, I'd at least like people to talk about it rather than have it be the church's dirty little secret. It has to be dealt with from the heart of God and through the power of God rather than ridicule, avoidance, judgement and contempt. I also deal with issues such as recovering from betrayal, divorce, and health issues affecting black women.

SORMAG: Tell us about your publishing experience?

LEWIS:
It seems like it took me FOREVER to get a book deal - about four years to be exact. I think partly because I write edgy Christian fiction that's not easy to place in some houses. More likely I think it was just God's perfect timing. When I completed this novel, I was going through the worst storm of my entire life. I wouldn't have been in any position emotional, mentally, spiritually, or financially to properly market the book. God waited until He brought full restoration in my life before I got the deal with Urban. I can honestly say that my life is the best it's ever been now. In His infinite wisdom, He knew that's what I needed to wait on.

SORMAG: Do you think an agent is necessary?

LEWIS:
I got my deal without an agent but took one look at the contract and knew I needed one. She negotiated the contract for me and intrepreted all the legalese and was well worth her commission. In terms of getting a deal, I think it depends on the genre and the house. Sometimes it's just as hard to get an agent as it is to get a publisher.

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

LEWIS:
Writing is hard work but is a labor of love.

SORMAG: In honor of Mother’s Day, what is a special moment you shared with your mother?

LEWIS:
There are just too many to name. My mom is one of the most beautiful, talented, loving people to walk the face of the earth and every minute with her is perfectly golden. Some of the most special moments have been our therapy trips to the beach where we commune with God together and release our problems, fears and worries into the ocean. I could go on about her forever and even writing this almost has me crying at my computer.

SORMAG: What is a favorite book from your childhood?

LEWIS:
Childhood - my dad used to read Dr. Seuss books to us and bounce us on his knee and do all the crazy character voices. Later I was a big Judy Blume fan.

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

LEWIS:
Issues of the Heart by Rhonda Nain. Don't go out to the bookstore and look for it though. She's one of my critique partners and I'm reading over her manuscript before she sends it off to the publisher. Watch out for her name, though. She's destined to be one of the best Christian fiction writers.

SORMAG: What resources do you use on the net?

LEWIS:
Too many to name. I LIVE on the internet (especially myspace - it's my secret addiction).

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

LEWIS:
My website is www.sherrilewis.com, email - sherri@sherrilewis.com and address 3653-F Flakes Mill Rd #187, Decatur, GA 30034. The first chapter of My Soul Cries Out is on my website so I hope readers will stop by and check it out.

EXCERPT: My Soul Cries Out



MY SOUL CRIES OUT

The worst day of my life was the day I caught my husband cheating on me.

You know those movies where the wife forgets something important for work and comes home in the middle of the day to get it, only to find her husband in bed with her best friend?

I should have been so lucky.
I had forgotten my good Littman stethoscope and hated the flimsy plastic ones we kept at the nurses’ station. I didn’t know how any nurse could get a decent blood pressure with those things. Since I was home, I figured I might as well eat. I opened the fridge to get some leftover lasagna before going back to the office.
That’s when I heard it…the bumping.
Not a regular foot-shuffling bumping like someone walking around. This bumping had a rhythm to it. A beat.
I stepped into the dining room and stared at the ceiling. The noise came from the master bedroom, directly overhead. Women’s intuition rose from my belly to form a lump in my chest that ascended to my throat. The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention.
I tried to reason away the knowing in my head. My husband, Kevin, usually spent the one Saturday a month I worked playing basketball or writing music. Yeah, that was it. He was pounding out the beat to a new song with his size 13 feet…in the bedroom, instead of his studio down the hall where he usually wrote music.
I tiptoed toward the steps, hardly able to breathe. Movie clips of guilty husbands and shocked wives flashed through my mind. Which one of my friends would it be? Or I bet it was Janine, the cutesy little soprano who sang all the leads in the church choir. During every rehearsal, she batted her eyelashes at Kevin and always needed him to stay after to help her get her solo right. I knew she was a skank ho.
I dragged my feet up the steps, fighting to lift them as I got closer to the top. I wasn’t sure of the protocol for such a situation. Did I throw the door open and cry, “Aha, I caught you!”? Did I knock on the door and wait for them to get dressed and come out and admit their crime?
Nothing in my life could have ever prepared me for what I saw when I swung the door open and sang out, “Honey, I’m home.”
Imagine my surprise when I realized that the she I thought she would be was actually… a he.
I had never fainted before, but then again, I had never caught my husband of two years cheating with the guy who was supposed to be his closest “friend.” They were close all right. Closer than two men should ever be.
When I opened my eyes after a few minutes of unconsciousness, they were both scrambling to pull on some clothes – eyes wide, mouths hanging open. I took a deep breath, made sure I didn’t have any life threatening injuries, jumped up and went to swinging.
“Wait, let me explain!” Kevin held up his arms to ward off my blows.
“Explain? What could you possibly explain? I’ve seen enough to know there’s no explanation you could possibly come up with that could begin to explain what I just saw.”
I searched the room for something to swing or throw. Why hurt my hands? I threw books, hangers, a lamp – one of those big floor ones – anything I could get my hands on. I caught Kevin right above the eye with my alarm clock. I felt triumphant when blood trickled down his cheek.
“And you, Trey! You smile in my face, eat dinner at my house, talk about how happy you are for us and how happy I make Kevin, but all the while you were scheming on how to steal my man.”
“It wasn’t like that, Monica, I promise. I –”
“Wasn’t like that?” I threw one of my high heel shoes, aiming for his eyeball. “Obviously it was, Trey.”
I stomped out of the room and disappeared down the steps. They probably thought I had gotten tired or come to my senses. I wasn’t anywhere near coming to my senses. I just remembered Kevin’s golf clubs in the front closet.
When I came back, the look in Kevin’s eyes said he regretted the day he ever became obsessed with being the next Tiger Woods. Trey screamed like a girl and ran out of the room when he saw the driving iron in my hand.
I made a wild swing at Kevin and hit the wall instead. Paint and drywall crumbled to the floor. While I was prying the club out of the wall, Kevin grabbed my arm and wrestled me to the floor.
“Monica, please, calm down and let’s talk about this like rational adults.”
“Calm down? Rational adults?” I unleashed a spray of curse words – strung them together like a pro. Kevin’s eyes widened. He had never heard me curse before. By the time he met me, I’d gotten delivered of the cussing demon I had picked up my freshman year of college.
I twisted a hand free and slapped his face. Hard. Twice. He grabbed my hand again and tried to pin me down. He was forceful enough to stop my assault against him, but gentle enough not to hurt me.
“Monnie, please.” His eyes begged me. Those big, beautiful eyes I had fallen so deeply in love with. Seeing the tears forming in the corners of them took some of the fire out of me. I stopped struggling for a minute.
Kevin looked like he was trying to decide if I was faking him out or if he could trust me enough to loosen his grip. He stared, obviously not knowing what to say. What could he say?
I realized my dream life, my fantasy, had just fallen apart. I let out a wail. “Oh my Gaaaaaawwwwwddddd…”
“Monnie, I’m sorry. I –”
“You’re sorry all right. You sorry son of a…You mother-lovin’…” Forget it. It was too hard. I unleashed another spray of foul language, knowing no matter how much I cursed or how many times I hit him, I’d never be able to make him hurt as much as he had just made me hurt.
I sure could try, though.
He’d let his guard down, giving me perfect space and time to kick him in the groin. When he fell, I jumped up and kicked him in the side with all the force my leg could muster. I didn’t know such violence lived in me. I had to make myself calm down before I really hurt him. Even though he deserved it.
I paced around the bedroom. “Help me, Jesus. Help me not to kill him. Help me not to go down to the kitchen and get a knife and gut him. OhLawdJesus, help me. I want to take this golf club and beat him in the head ‘til his brains drip out his ears. Jesus, keep me. I need you, Lord, otherwise I’m gonna …” My eyes darted around the room, looking for other things I could murder my husband with.
Kevin stood up, holding his side, sheer terror in his eyes. He had only seen me this mad once before – the last time my mother caught my dad with one of his many women.
“Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus…” I called His name like I was on the tarrying bench, trying to get filled with the Holy Ghost. When Kevin heard me praying in tongues, he scrambled toward the door.
After I heard the front door slam, I screamed from somewhere deeper than I knew my soul went. What had just happened? How long had it been happening?

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