About Me

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Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Lawyer | Romantic Suspense Author | Speaker | TV Junkie | Foodie | Sweet Wine Addict | Savvy Shopper You can visit my website at www.authordeelawrence.com to learn more about my romantic suspense novel, Gotta Let It Go, which is set in Baltimore. You can also connect with me online @ thewritepen (Twitter and Facebook). Thanks for visiting with me today!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Review of Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley never disappoints especially when it comes to writing about one of my favorite detectives…Ezekiel “Easy” Porterhouse Rawlins. Mosley has a way of taking readers along for some very dangerous rides with Easy Rawlins as he navigates the streets in the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles.

In this novel (14th in the Easy Rawlins series), Easy and two of other detectives – Saul Lynx and Tinsford “Whisper” Natly are partners in a private detective agency named WRENS-L. Together they can solve any case, find anyone anywhere with brute force or with a few smooth words.
And when Easy is approached by his longtime friend Raymond “Mouse” Alexander to do Charcoal Joe a favor (get Seymour Brathwaite off a murder rap), all hell breaks loose.

Although this story was peppered with a lot of characters, Mosley did an excellent job of weaving in great descriptions and dialogue that placed the reader in the heart of the investigation. Each character brought a different element and added flavor to the story and if you are an avid fan of the Easy series it was great to see some of them. One of my favorites being Mama Joe and her potions like the tea she gave Easy to achieve a certain level of clarity after having his heart broken by Bonnie Shay.

I also enjoyed watching Easy charm and outsmart some of his captors as well as working alongside his partners to solve the case. The twists and turns were great from start to finish.
Great read! Two thumbs up!

 Some of my favorite lines:

            I didn’t need to ask why Mouse hadn’t come to me with this information. For him killing was simply a tool of the trade, hardly worth discussing. And we were friends. Where we came from this was the kind of thing that one friend did for the other.
            “And what can I do for Mr. Joe?” I asked
            “Last night a white man named Peter Boughman and some other guy named Ducky were shot dead in a house down on the beach in Malibu. Ducky was killed outright and Boughman was tortured before they shot him in the eye and the heart.”
            “And Joe is involved?”
            “Not directly. But he has a friend who has a son who went to that house, by accident, and fount the body. His bad luck was that somebody heard the shot and called the police, who got there before Seymour, Joe’s friend’s son, could call them himself.”
            “Seymour what?”
            “Brathwaite.  Dr. Seymour Brathwaite.”
            “I thought you said he was a kid.”
            “Twenty-two-year-old doctor of physics. Doin’ what they call postgraduate work at UCLA.”
            “White guy?”
            “Not unless Sidney Poitier’s a white guy.”

Rating: 5 stars

Monday, July 17, 2017

Interview with Arketa Williams, Author of A Sinner’s Circle: Church Is Where I Learned to Sin Professionally

Author’s Bio: Arketa Williams has been writing and performing r over 15 years. She’s received numerous awards and recognitions throughout the years for her creativity. She has published 4 books, released a CD of poetry, and a poetry DVD. She is currently working on her next series of books of poetry and novels. Alongside her writing career, Arketa developed Pen2Pad Ink Writing Consultants as a way of helping others find their voice on paper and Co-Founded Infinity Empowerment & Development Corporation (IEDC), a community development and outreach organization. Arketa uses creativity to shine a light on the devastations in her life so that she can help others gain a mental freedom over the pains that bind them. She uses her escape from trials and tribulations as a ray of hope for those stranded where she used to be. She strives to let the world know that there is sunshine after the storm.

What inspired you to write your book?
AW:  I’ve gone through a lot of tragedy and heartache throughout the years and began my journey towards healing. Therapy and writing helped save my life. As I conquered both physical and emotional challenges I began writing my story in hopes that it would help others heal, grow, face their truth, encourage them to tell their stories, and to show people that no matter how challenging life maybe you can overcome it.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
AW: I fell in love with books by Maya Angelou and Kimberla Lawson Roby. The creative way in which their characters consume you amazed and intrigued me. As a teenager, I aspired to be as great of a writer as they were.  

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
AW: No, this is my fourth published book. I had the project for about a year and a half only working on it here and there. I had a lot of things I had to emotionally heal from before I could really get into writing this book. However, once I was at a point to where I could consistently work on it I was able to complete it in 6 months.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
AW: I do a little of both. My outlines though are more of a check list for me. They consist of a list of all the situations, stories, and subjects that I am comfortable with writing about and details with how far into the stories I am willing to go. From there I just let everything else flow naturally. 

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
AW: No, I do not listen to music. I get too caught up in what I’m listening to. I have to have it completely quiet when I write.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
AW:  Marketing is very important in getting your book out to the public. I use social media to spread the word about my book. I also joined a lot of author groups on Facebook and Meetup. I do actual and virtual book signings as well as book fairs. Word of mouth and giveaways are also great options that help draw attention to your book. 

What advice would you give to new authors?
AW: I would tell new authors to make sure you schedule time with yourself to write and write every day, even if it’s only a sentence or a paragraph or two. Even when it seems like it’s too difficult to write push past what you’re feeling and write. Don’t try to edit while you’re writing just write and get it all out then go back and edit. I would also tell them to make sure you thoroughly read through everything you’ve written. Don’t assume you’re ready to go to print after the first draft.

How about sharing an excerpt from A Sinner’s Circle: Church Is Where I Learned to Sin Professionally?

“We are here to serve the Lord and not to feed into petty insecurities. I’m the judge of my children’s wardrobe and will decide what is appropriate and what isn’t. Maybe the problem doesn’t lie with the young girls that are developing beautifully in God’s image. Maybe it lies in the lustful eyes of those who need to focus more on the word instead of acting like pedophiles glaring at young children”.

I was so proud she attended church with me that day. Some of the other women were not happy with my mom’s comments but did not dare come back at her or the others in her corner. But, of course, there was one who just wouldn’t let it go. Sister Bigsby named off several of us girls whom she thought were too well endowed for our ages… as if we could control how our bodies grew. I remember how nasty the tone of her voice was when she spoke.

“They should be ashamed and should feel convicted enough to want to wear oversized clothes so that their features aren’t so noticeable.” Before I knew it all hell broke loose! Sister Bigsby, Sister Jones, and Sister Smith were standing up and calling names with fists swinging, hair pulling, weave flying...

What’s next for you?
AW: Well, part 2 of A Sinner’s Circle will be released this fall along with an anthology and another book of poetry.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
·         Website: www.pen2padink.org
·         Email: pen2padink@gmail.org
·         Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/arketa.williams
·         Twitter: https://twitter.com/Pen2PadInk
·         Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pen2pad_ink/

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Interview with Leon Thornton, Jr., Author of The Shadows of My Soul

Author’s Bio:  Leon Thornton Jr.’s exposure to poetry began at the age of 12, when a teacher recommended his mother enroll him in a reading club to improve his comprehension.  His subsequent love of poetry became his outlet to cope with pain in his life, including witnessing his father’s alcoholism, his uncle’s drug addiction and resulting death, and his near death experience after his body almost succumbed to diabetes.  Thornton’s writings about these dark times in his life as well as the darkness in world events, friends’ lives, and his general observations of everyday circumstances are shared in his first book, The Shadows of My Soul.  He credits his sports and writing poetry as the catharses that helped him release and move past his emotional pain.  Thornton lives with his wife, two sons, and mother-in-law in Maryland.

What inspired you to write your book?
LT: My son, Jabari.  Before he went off to college, I told him to never give up on the pursuit of his goals and dreams.  I started thinking about myself and how I cast aside my poems for so many years.  I really felt like a hypocrite.  At that moment, I said “Son, there is something I haven’t told anyone but you, but I was thinking about publishing my poems…and now I will.”

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult? 
LT: Great question!  Aside from poetry by Langston Hughes, it would probably be Native Son by Richard Wright.  In my opinion, Native Son is one of the greatest novels I ever read. Similar to Bigger Thomas, at times I felt like I was looking through a knothole in a fence at others who fully embraced, enjoyed and were proudly apart of the fabric of American Society.

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?  
LT: Yes, this is my first book.  It only took a few weeks to arrange the poetry in the book, because I had written many of the poems years ago.  What took a while was contracting with a non-traditional publisher, designing a cover, editing, and getting the book into production.  Overall it took about 6 to 7 months (August 2015 to February 2016) to release the book.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically? 
LT: No, I do not write with an outline.  Thoughts and ideas come to me anytime and anywhere.  Normally, I write based on what or how I feel and try to put my finger on the impulse of the moment.  If my poems are left unfinished, I’ll go back and attempt to correct the structure, rhyming pattern, line breaks, etc.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book? 
LT: No, not usually.  But, sometimes I listen to music and sing along while in the shower. Uhh, for better acoustics, of course!  Sometimes I’ll sing the song, forget the words, and then substitute my own words.  I use the melody or mood of the song as background noise to help motivate me to create my own lyrics/poems.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
LT: First, having something meaningful and profound to share.  Second, connecting with the right people who have the experience and knowledge about the literary industry.  Third, getting exposure on radio and promoting my poetry book and talent in various literary and artistic events.

What advice would you give to new authors?  
LT: If you decide to use a non-traditional book publisher, please make sure you do your own “background” check on the publishing company.  If however, you decide to self-publish, there are resources and self-help books like Cherrie Woods’s book, Where Do I Start? 10 PR Questions and Answers to Guide Self-Published Authors.  And my last advice would be to trust your instincts, stay positive, and always remain your biggest supporter! 

How about sharing an excerpt from The Shadows of My Soul.

I was born not out of love
but of…
Purple pain and pure pleasure
Tossed into an obscure
Pot of hot Cajun despair.
Lonely nights hunger
Company of any kind.
Meek eyes are destined
To stare into bloodstained eyes
And intermingle for
One night, for one kiss of bliss
Beneath the naked stars…
(Poem by Leon Thornton, Jr., July 12, 1998)

What’s next for you?  
LT: Well, on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 7:00pm I will be a featured performer at the RL Hotel Inner Harbor for C3: Create, Connect & Conquer presented by Liberated Muse and the Artists Compound, LLC.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book?
·         Website: www.Thorntonspoetry.com
·         Email: Thorntonpoetry@gmail.com
·         Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheShadowsofMySoul
·         Book buy Links: visit www.Thorntonspoetry.com

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Review of True Confessions by Electa Rome Parks

Meet Kennedy Logan, a twenty-eight-year-old educated and gorgeous woman who is in love with the wrong man (side bar – no surprise, we have all been here at some point). Anyway, she has a confession to make which she unravels slowly through writing in her diary (and yes, it’s filled with sexual escapes) after a failed suicide attempt.

As I read this novel, I got to know more about the man (Drake Collins) who led Kennedy to the brink of her destruction. He had a high sexual appetite that Kennedy tried to live up to. He was a control freak who demanded that she change to suit him from the clothes she wore, not drinking sodas, changing her hair, etc. Putting back the pieces would take some time and her overbearing mother, Dorothy Logan would make sure she broke free of Drake. This was no easy task as Drake worked in the same department as Kennedy and with every turn she made he was right there to taunt and try to control her.

If this pressure wasn’t enough, Kennedy wanted to find her birth mother because she had tons of questions as to why she was abandoned. With the help of Taylor, her best friend, and her absentee father dealing with his own breakup with his younger girlfriend and her mother, Kennedy would soon have better days.   

Overall this novel was a good read. The characters were realistic although at times I felt Kennedy was too weak and should have confronted Drake (he got off really light). But after her true confession was revealed I understood the reasoning behind her resolve. In the end Kennedy found her answers and removed herself from the ever controlling Drake in pursuit of a better life. Good for her!

Some of my favorite lines:

Snippet from Kennedy’s diary – After each breakup, I really psyched myself up in order to rationalize him being back in my life. And, of course, Drake came back with every desire to please me. He knew the right words to speak, the correct gifts to buy and the right places to take me. All to make me fall swiftly back under his spell. That didn’t last long. When all was said and done, it was always about Drake. Always Drake. Whatever lies and misdeeds he had to tell and do to achieve his happiness, he did it. The truth was boring and his motives were always the ultimate goal.  

Rating: 4 stars

Monday, June 19, 2017

Interview with Loree Lough, Author of THE MAN SHE KNEW

Author’s Bio: Bestselling author Loree Lough once sang for her supper, performing across the U.S. and Canada. Now and then, she blows the dust from her 6-string to croon a tune or two, but mostly, she writes novels that have earned hundreds of industry and "Readers' Choice" awards, 4- and 5-star reviews, and 7 book-to-movie options. Her 110th book, The Man She Knew, #1 in Harlequin Heartwarming’s “By Way of the Lighthouse” series, releases this June. By year-end 2017, Loree will have a total of 115 books on the shelves…and nearly 7,000,000 copies in print. She loves to hear from her readers and answers every letter personally!

What inspired you to write your book?
LL: Before I respond to your questions, I’d like to take a moment to thank you, Dee, for sharing your blog with me! The invitation is quite an honor!

The inspiration for this book… Hmm… Well, these days, it seems everyone feels obliged to share their opinions on everything from politics to pelicans. Sadly, those opinions often border on hurtful and harmful judgmentalism…and it ticks me off! One often maligned group: Ex-cons. Are some of them deserving of doubt and suspicion? Well, of course. But many return to society 100% changed for the better. Those are the individuals that inspired this novel. Like Ian, the main character, they have spent countless hours improving themselves and, upon their release, hope only to become contributing members of the community. And they deserve a chance to prove themselves!

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
LL: I fell in love with the stories of Jack London, and the music of his words developed in me an appreciation for craft and story. (It didn’t hurt that he was kinda cute, either. )

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
LL: The Man She Knew is my 110th published book. It took me a little longer than usual to complete it thanks to a bout with Multiple Myeloma (incurable bone/marrow cancer) that required a year’s worth of chemo and a stem cell transplant. Understanding and patient editors at Harlequin erased all stress and guilt from the process!

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
LL: From my very first book to the last, I’ve used what I call a “timeline.” It’s more a guide than a ‘carved in stone’ outline, and without it, I could never have written 5 or 6 books a year during my 20+ year career.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
LL: Nope, no music as I write. But if there was a theme song for the book, I’d choose Tennessee Waltz, because as Ian and Maleah danced to this old classic, both are reminded of the love they’d shared before his incarceration put ten years between them.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
LL: I rely heavily on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, etc. Daily interaction with readers—many of whom have become personal friends—is not only enjoyable, but guarantees they will help promote the books. (Because they like me…they really like me! ) I believe in book tours, video book trailers, and giveaways allow me to share tidbits about the stories that, hopefully, generate interest in the books.

What advice would you give to new authors?
LL: Sign up for how-to classes. Read how-to books. Join a critique group. Attend local writers organizations’ workshops, seminars, and conferences. Write every day, even if it’s only a paragraph or two. Read, read, read. And above all, never, ever quit: It’s the only way to guarantee your work won’t see print!

How about sharing an excerpt from The Man She Knew?
It had been a mistake, asking Andy to drop him this far from her grandparents’ drive. Walking on flat ground had been a challenge with crutches, and the cane was hardly an improvement. He took his time, but tromping through the deep snow made him wince with every step. If you put yourself back in the hospital, you’ll only have yourself to—
            “Ian? Ian Sylvestry?”
            He’d hoped for a few minutes to catch his breath, to pull his thoughts together, and find a way to mask his pain. It lessened some when he took stock of the woman who stood before him, snow-dampened blonde curls clinging to her cheeks and forehead, cheeks as rosy as those on the painted cherubic faces of his aunt’s Hummel figurines. If she’d ever looked more beautiful, he couldn’t remember when.
            “What’re you doing out in this mess?” he asked.
            “Trying to stay half a step ahead of this beastly storm.” She followed the narrow path she’d shoveled and met him at the mailbox. “The better question is, what are you doing here? No…” She held up an ice-encrusted mitten. “The better question is, how did you get here?”
            Ian pointed to the plow just up the street, lifting buckets of snow from the road and emptying them onto neighbors’ lawns.
            “Hitched a ride with a friend.”
            “From Fells Point to Ellicott City. In a snowplow.”
            He shrugged. “Uh, yeah.”
            “So I could see for myself that you’re all right.”
            “And put your own life on the line in the process?”
             Ian hadn’t realized until that moment that he’d been massaging his aching thigh. He grinned, trying to make light of it. “I’d hardly call the ride over here life threatening…”
            She snorted. “I wonder if your surgeon would agree.”
            “Good question.” He snickered. “I have a feeling if I show up at next week’s checkup without a reasonable explanation for this insanity, he might just send me straight to Shephard Pratt…with a prescription for a padded cell and a hug-myself jacket.”
            “You look awful,” she said. “Pale, and dark circles under your eyes… You arranged for that plow, didn’t you.”
            He shrugged one shoulder. “I, ah, I might’ve influenced the driver. A little.”
            “You’re shivering.” She jammed the shovel into the slip-sliding mound of crumpled snow she’d piled beside the driveway. “You’re coming inside.”
            She punctuated the order with a smile, and linked her arm through his. His heart beat hard. That oughta warm you up, he thought. “But…your grandparents…”
            “They’re fast asleep. Have been for hours.”
            “So,” he said as she led him to the back steps, “they have no idea you’re out here, alone in the dark, in the middle of a major blizzard.”
            “And if you slipped, clunked your head on something—”
            “It’s snow, Ian. Snow.
            “With a half inch of frozen stuff on top of it.”
            She paused at the bottom of the back steps. “Says the man who traveled miles, on a snowplow, to earn a few brownie points by having my grandparents’ driveway cleared.”
            Ian groaned quietly. “I’m that obvious?”
            She blinked up at him through snowflake-dusted lashes, blue eyes glittering in the golden glow of the porch light. Once upon a time, a look like that might precede a passionate kiss. At the very least, a loving hug. Maleah took a step closer. Licked her lips. Exhaled a sweet sigh. Those minutes on the dance floor, holding her close enough to feel her heart thrumming against his chest, had been wondrous and memorable…and woke a yearning in him as nothing before it had. Would she actually take another step forward, and bridge the gap that had separated them for so long?
            Rattled, hopeful, and more than a little scared, Ian decided to take that step, instead…
            …and lost his balance.
            He landed on his back in a deep drift, taking her with him, a warm and petite, parka’d blanket that covered him from chin to shins. Instinct made him wrap his arms around her. Instinct…and an aching desire to hold onto the moment for as long as he could.
             He’d heard people say “Time froze,” but until now, hadn’t experienced it. What seemed a full minute passed as those incredible eyes bored into his, searched his face, then squeezed shut. When she opened them again, Maleah whispered, “Are you all right?”
             “No. I’m not.”
            Both eyebrows disappeared under wet bangs. “I’ll get your snowplow friend to help get you up.”
            She started to get up, but Ian tightened his arms around her. “The only thing wrong with me,” he grated, “is…is…”
            Where to start? By telling her about the self-loathing he’d experienced every hour since that night at the convenience store? With regrets he’d recited like a litany when sleep eluded him? Or the list of “if onlys” he’d tried so hard to bury in his mind?
            Maleah lay her head on his chest and patted his shoulder.
            “Maybe Shephard Pratt isn’t such a bad idea.”
            “I, ah—”
            “Because you are a little crazy.”
            Her lyrical voice, soft as the falling snow, touched a long-forgotten place in his heart. Ian didn’t trust himself to speak. Last time she’d brought tears to his eyes had been the day her letter arrived, unopened like the others, demanding that he leave her alone, forever. Eyes burning, he struggled for self-control, and the courage to tell her what he’d come here to say.
            “Guess I am a little crazy. Crazy about you,” he ground out. “Still. Always.”
            Hands pressed into the snow on either side of his head, she raised up, repeated the mind-numbing, mesmerizing study of his face. The pale yellow glow of the porch light haloed her head, making it impossible to tell if her lashes were still damp from the snow…or if the dream-like mood had moved her to tears, too.
            “I know.”
            She knew? He held his breath, waiting for her to follow up with “Me, too.” Or “That’s how I feel.” When she didn’t, another old saying came to mind: No one ever died of a broken heart…
            Right here, in this moment, he wasn’t so sure about that. Eyes closed, overwhelming sadness washed over him. He was entitled to that, wasn’t he, now that he’d finally accepted the futility of believing they could ever be us, or we again?
            Her lips touched his, softly, gently, slowly at first.
            But only at first. Where he ended and she began, Ian couldn’t say. Did she realize that as her kisses slid from his mouth to his cheeks, from his forehead to his chin, she’d awakened every hope and dream he’d secreted away, that she’d roused every manly urge he thought had died long ago? It seemed she was reaching into his soul. How would she respond after reading years of unanswered love he’d written there?
            Had he thumped his head hard when he flopped onto his back? Open your eyes; it’s the only way to know for sure. He hesitated, because if this was some sort of weird dream, Ian didn’t want to wake up. Ever.
What’s next for you?
LL: Next up, a novel titled 50 Hours, based on a screenplay by my talented pal Kevin O’Neill. It’s shorter than most of my stories, and it isn’t a romance. It’s a poignant tale that I believe will touch many hearts: A dying woman. A broken man. A friendship that changes them both.

After that, book #2 in Harlequin Heartwarming’s “By Way of the Lighthouse” series, REMEMBERING ROSIE (the story of a married couple that, unable to cope with the kidnapping of their 3-year old daughter, separates. When she’s found, they’re forced together again in the hope of providing her a stable home life…).

And after that, book #3 in the series, THE REFORMATION OF LILLIE ROURKE, doing her best to prove her trustworthiness to family and friends—and the love of her life—that the year she’d been away (including a stint in rehab) had changed her.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?

·         Website: http://www.loreelough.com
·         Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Loree-Lough/e/B000APRS7S
·         Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoreeLough
·         Twitter: https://twitter.com/LoreeLoughAutho
·         Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/loreelough/
·         Blog: http://theloughdown.blogspot.com/
·         Book buy Links:

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.

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