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Author | Blogger | Workshop Facilitator Visit my website at www.authordeelawrence.com to learn more about my romantic suspense novel, Gotta Let It Go, which is set in Baltimore. Connect with me online @authordeelawrence (Facebook). Thanks for visiting with me today!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Review of the Play, King of the Yees, at the Baltimore Center Stage

This was the second play of the Baltimore Center Stage's new season (2018/2019) that ran from October 25 - November 18, 2018. It was a delightfully funny play that took audiences on a ride through San Francisco’s Chinatown based on playwright’s Lauren Yee’s journey to connect to her family and her heritage. I learned quite a lot about the Chinese culture, the politics (corrupt politician, Leland Yee) and gang violence (Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow the Dragonhead of the Ghee Kung Tong).
In the play, the red doors represented a mythic entrance way that connected the audience to the Yee ancestors. The color red symbolizes luck in the Chinese culture and per the principles of feng shui, it means welcome. On the flip side, it’s a symbol of fame and exclusion which the play explores by showing the role that the Yee Fung Toy Family Association played in preserving the Chinese culture and protecting the community from racism.

Although I’ve been to Chinatown in Washington, D.C. and New York, it was interesting to get a peek into the Chinatown in San Francisco as told by Lauren Yee whose father was a member. All the actors were great in portraying the rich Chinese culture (e.g. the Yee Fung Toy Family Association, lion dance, traditional Chinese medicine, Sichuan face changer, fortune cookies, etc.). Overall, I felt the play was universal especially as it relates to different cultures living in America who try to maintain their heritage.
Great! Two thumbs up!

Here’s the synopsis:
For nearly 20 years, playwright Lauren Yee’s father Larry has been a driving force in the Yee Family Association, a seemingly obsolescent Chinese American men’s club formed 150 years ago in the wake of the Gold Rush. But when her father goes missing, Lauren must plunge into the rabbit hole of San Francisco Chinatown and confront a world both foreign and familiar. At once bitingly hilarious and heartbreakingly honest, King of the Yees is an epic joyride across cultural, national, and familial borders that explores what it truly means to be a Yee.

Here are some photos:

Enjoy this trailer from YouTube:

Monday, December 3, 2018

Interview with Michele Chynoweth, author of The Runaway Prophet (and The Faithful One and The Peace Maker)

Author’s Bio: Michele Chynoweth is the award-winning author of The Runaway Prophet, The Peace Maker and The Faithful One, contemporary, Bible-based novels full of suspense and romance. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she and her husband have five children and one grandchild and live in North East, Maryland.  Prior to becoming a full-time author Michele worked in marketing, publicity and journalism for 30 years. In addition to being an author, Michele is also a college instructor teaching writing, publishing and marketing your first book, an inspirational speaker and a book coach and has helped several writers become successful authors with her writing, editing, publishing and marketing services. Michele has a fourth book due out in June, 2019 titled The Jealous Son, a modern-day murder mystery based on the Bible story of Cain and Abel. For more visit her website, www.michelechynoweth.com

DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
MC: Looking back I see God called me to write my first book, The Faithful One based on the Bible’s Book of Job, because He was trying to bring me through a lot of Job-like stuff: I was losing my marriage through divorce, my advertising business through the recession, my kids (who were becoming teenagers and, it seemed, no longer needed their mom) and finally, my health through the disease of alcoholism.  Like my Job character, Seth Jacobs, I held onto that last shred of faith and through the grace of God got my health, family and life back in a richer, fuller way. I got remarried to a wonderful man, have a great relationship with all five kids in our blended coach. I was healed through my writing - and knew I could help give others hope too so I continued to heed the call to write modern day Bible stories.

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
MC: There are several but the book that most influenced me at a time when I was really frustrated in my author career was Deepak Chopra’s “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.” In it he talks about the “law of dharma” in which he states: “Everyone has a purpose in life . . . a unique gift or special talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal.” This helped me realize writing the books God has called me to write is my purpose and it will come to fruition because they are helping others through their message of faith and hope.

DL: How long did it take to write your book?
MC: It took me eight years to write and publish my first book; two years to write and publish the second, four years to write and publish my third, The Runaway Prophet, and it took me only six months to write and edit my latest novel, The Jealous Son, because I was working on it full-time. That makes a big difference – writing full-time vs. writing around a full-time job.

DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
MC: I always write with a chapter outline and encourage the writers I teach and coach to do the same. I believe it gives you a roadmap to go by…without it writers have a tendency to drift off course. I liken it to trying to climb Mount Everest without a plan. Even if you know where you’re going, a plan (or in this case, outline) makes it much easier to get there.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
MC: I don’t because I would become too distracted…I need total quiet. As far as a theme song for The Runaway Prophet, there’s a huge boxing match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the book and the intro song to it is “We Will Rock You” by Queen. (It’s a thriller in which the Jonah character, Rory Justice, tries to avoid God’s call to work with the FBI to help rescue the people in Vegas (the new Nineveh) from a radical Islamic State terrorist mafia building a nuclear bomb under one of the casinos.) Let’s go with that, I love classic rock!

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
MC: The number one marketing tool I’ve found helps you get exposure (and according to my publisher) is public speaking. If you have a fear of it or you feel like you’re not that good, don’t worry, join a local Toastmasters group (email me for more info); also doing a little bit of everything like having a good website, doing book trailers, building a good social media platform, email marketing, blogging and being on good host blogsites like this one, getting reviews (from readers on Amazon, testimonials from influential or prominent people and those from the media and publications like Kirkus), entering contests, networking…the list goes on. I have 30 years of experience in marketing and public relations so to me it comes easily, but if you need help, email me at michele@michelechynoweth.com

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
MC: Never give up, follow your heart (not the latest trend or the market) when it comes to what to write, learn the craft because it needs to be perfect before it’s published…and always get a professional editor and proofreader!

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from The Runaway Prophet?
MC: Here you go:

(end of Prologue): His trancelike state broken, Rory rushed toward the sound. He stopped still in the bedroom doorway. Lying barely covered with a gold-colored silk sheet on the king-sized bed was a gaunt woman of Asian descent. Her wrists were bound to the headboard with scarves, and her mouth was covered with a piece of duct tape.

Once she saw him, she became silent. Her black eyes gleamed with hatred, following Rory as he approached her. He first threw the bedspread over her, but she fought to kick it off, thrashing her legs like weapons, striking out at him like a wild animal. Rory untied her left wrist and she swung at him with her free hand. He darted out of her reach just in time and stood for a moment debating whether to free her other arm, but when she ripped the duct tape off her mouth, hurled loud screams and obscenities at him in a language he didn’t understand, and then spit at him, Rory suddenly recognized she was going to come at him full force if he freed her. He walked backward toward the bedroom door, averting his eyes from her half-naked body.

“I’m sorry,” he stammered, not knowing if she understood. As she frantically worked to free herself from her last binding, he rushed out of the room, shut the door, and ran to the anonymity of the crowded casino, leaving a still sleeping Jim behind.

DL: What’s next for you? 
MC: After my next novel, The Jealous Son, is launched next June and hopefully winds up on the New York Times Bestseller List, I’m hoping to follow that with my next book, The Wise One, based on Solomon, and to get my books produced into movies! In addition, I plan to take on more writers to help them become successfully published authors through my book coaching services in 2019…let me know if you need help! 

DL: Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)? 
MC: Here are my links:

·         Website: https://www.michelechynoweth.com/

·         Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Michele-Chynoweth/e/B005NWR5UI/ref

·         Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorMichele

·         Also available wherever books are sold, at your local library, or visit my website to purchase personalized, signed copies – still time to order for Christmas! 

DL: It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.
MC: My pleasure too, thank you! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Review of Three Ways to Love by Kimberly Posey Latimore

This novel is about three friends who met in high school but after graduating from college they went their separate ways until some unexpected news brought them back together. Kendall Porter, Rachel Donovan and Sasha Fairbanks are all trying to find their way in the professional world while maneuvering the game of love.

Kendall was caught up with Colton, a quintessential womanizer who wanted Kendall back into his life. Rachel was in search of the perfect job and trying to figure if Preston was the man for her. Sasha was a party girl who couldn’t seem to settle down. All three enjoy a great sisterhood of partying, making time to laugh and being there for each other.  
But they were tested once illness and other health scares placed them in a situation of mistrust. I enjoyed the story and the scenes with all three friends. The dialogue was realistic; however, the characters could have been a bit more developed. Also, there were plotlines that didn’t come full circle and I wanted to see closure to them.

Overall, it was a good read.
My favorite lines:

Kendall’s cell phone rang. The tears blurred her vision. “Who’s calling now? I can’t answer it.” She eyed the caller ID. “Oh, it’s Sasha. I better answer it.” She grabbed some Kleenex from the box on the table and then hit the send button on her phone.”

“Hello, Sasha!”

Colton stood at the door hanging on to her every word. He wondered if Sasha was going to tell Kendall about their secret.

            Hey, girl, you sound funny. Is everything okay?”

            “I’m okay.” She wiped her eyes again and glared at Colton.

            “Girl, I was just checking on you.” She paused.

            “Sasha, hold on.” She muted the phone. “Colton, why are you still here? Get out!” she yelled.

Rating: 3 stars

Monday, November 19, 2018

Interview with Brother Dash, author of Sweet Mojo: One Man’s Descent Through Danger & Delight

Author’s Bio: Brother Dash is an Amazon Bestselling author. He has been featured on BBC World Television, BBC Radio, Ebru TV, Pacifica Radio and a variety of other media outlets in the U.S., Canada, England, Africa, and The Middle East.

He is the author of the novel, The Donor: When Conception Meets Deception, Sweet Mojo: One Man’s Descent Through Danger & Delight and the stage play “Black Mirrors.” He is also an accomplished performance poet with three spoken word albums and has performed for over 100,000 people throughout the US, the UK and Canada. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in English and Sociology and resides in New Jersey.

DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
BD: I was interested in creating a Marvel Cinematic type universe with a touch of supernatural mystery, grounded in the everyday and featuring characters of color. I knew I wanted to create a series that readers could follow through several books.

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
BD: I was inspired by Shakespeare as far as command of language and cleverness. But there was no particular author or book that influenced me much until Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress.

DL: How long did it take to write your book?
BD: My first novel, The Donor, took 2 1/2 years and my second, Sweet Mojo, took about half that time.

DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
BD: My first novel was organic which is why it took so long. For my second novel I used an outline and that allowed me to be more efficient and stay on task.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
BD: I don’t usually listen to music when I write. I tend to prefer nature…or the natural sounds of the environment I am in—even a city. I don’t write well in coffee shops although I can edit what I’ve already written in those places. It’s funny you mention “Is there a theme song for the book?” because each chapter in Sweet Mojo is actually the title of a song.

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
BD: I’m still figuring that out! But the most important key to success is to write the damn book. So many people talk about book clubs and fairs and Internet marketing and TV, radio for their books and haven’t even written it yet. So that’s number one. After that I’d say book clubs, social media posts (if you have a decent sized network which I do) and Amazon ads. I think it also helps that I was able to capitalize on my brand as a spoken word poet. That helped with initial sales.

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
BD: #1 Write! #2 Write some more! #3 Be your own biggest cheerleader. #4 Believe in yourself. #5 Develop a thick skin. Not everyone is going to like your work, rightly or wrongly. Some people are just flat out miserable and mean but others actually have constructive criticism. Ignore the meanies but take criticism. One of the worst things you can do is to not be open to feedback. That’s how I improved my first novel so much. After I made some revisions based on constructive criticism—including an overhaul of the cover—my novel hit the Amazon bestsellers list in Contemporary Urban Fiction.

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from The Donor?
BD: Here you go.

Shauntelle? What are you doing here? Where’s your sister?” he says.

Shauntelle freezes on the top step of the stoop and screws her eyebrows down at him. She hoists a hefty bag on her shoulder and elbows past him toward an idling minivan.

“Shauntelle. Shauntelle, I’m talking to you. Where’s your sister?”

“I don’t got shit to say to you and neither does my sister.”

Her chocolate arms dump the heavy plastic bag in the backseat. A pair of her sister’s jeans flop out. His eyes pop. As he turns to bolt up the steps, a teary-eyed woman appears in the doorway.

“Babe, babe what are you doing?” he says.

The woman ignores him and clanks an overstuffed suitcase out of the Brooklyn brownstone.

“Babe, stop. I asked you a question.”

He grabs her arm. She glares back. Her hazel brown eyes are pink and puffy. She blinks with a sniffle and a trickle.

“Get your paws off of me,” she says.

“Babe, listen. I know you’re upset. Let me ex—,”

“Negro, please,” Shauntelle says. “Get out of my sister’s way.”

The woman snatches her arm from his grip. She rolls the suitcase to the curb. He fires a stiff finger at Shauntelle.

“Mind your damn business, Shauntelle. This is between us.”

Shauntelle looks him up and down. Then she gets up in his face.

“I always knew you was hiding something. Ain’t no man that damn perfect.”

Her sister stomps back toward the steps. He blocks her.

“Baby, please. What you heard isn’t the whole truth.”

“You’re in my way,” she says.

“Baby, at least let me try to—”

“Move,” she says.

The nosy neighbor from across the street bends her ear to the action. She continues to sweep her porch. It’s immaculate.

“Sweetheart, don’t act this way. That’s not how we do,” he says.

His lady shoots her arms to the sky.

“How we do? What we are you talking about? I don’t know you anymore. I never did. You were nothing but a lie. You played me for a fool. I wasted four years of my life on your lying ass. Four years.”

“Mmmhmm that’s right sis, you tell him. He ain’t shit [she turns to him]. You know you  ain’t shit right?”

DL: What’s next for you?
BD: I’m working on Mocha Mojo which is the sequel to Sweet Mojo and I’m also putting together something that takes advantage of my live storytelling skills.

DL: Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
BD: You can find me here:

·         Website: www.brotherdash.com

·         Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Brother-Dash/e/B01CB5JD1I

·         Facebook: facebook.com/brotherdash

·         Twitter: @brotherdash

·         Blog: www.brotherdash.com

·         Book Buy Links: www.getbook.at/thedonor www.getbook.at/sweetmojo

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, November 5, 2018

Interview with LaTasha Kibler, author of Coming Through The Storm

Author’s Bio: Latasha Kibler (Peacefulrose) is a freelance writer. She is aspiring to assist in the empowerment and uprising of women all over the country. She is originally from the Washington DC/Maryland area. She currently resides in Columbia, SC.

DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
LTK: Watching my daughter and seeing many other young ladies going through some of the same situations.  I want to bring unity to women to help bring us up and see our worth and I hope by sharing my truth it will encourage others to know they are not alone in this. 

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
LTK: Growing up in Washington DC and attending Malcolm X elementary they encouraged us to read poetry by Maya Angelou. She encouraged a child like me that needed a constant reminder “I am somebody.”

DL: How long did it take to write your book?
LTK: It took about 2 years because it didn’t originally start off as a book. I was just journaling about my life.

DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
LTK: I let it flow organically.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
LTK: No, I like to have silence, it helps me think clearly.

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
LTK: Establishing a social media presence is what I know to do for now. I am new to this so I am still striving to figure this out.

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
LTK: Follow your dreams.

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from Coming Through the Storm?
LTK: Here you go.

I believe a part of me left when he passed away. My mom had always said he died trying to defend his brother Rodney, who was trying to leave a restaurant without paying. The owner started hitting my uncle Rod with a bat or something, and my father pulled out a knife to scare off the owner. The police arrived around the same time, and the female officer yelled, “Drop your weapon!” My father did not drop it, so she shot him three times in the stomach. My father died at the hospital.

DL: What’s next for you?  
LTK: I am in the process of starting my brand “Peacefulrose” meaning “A women at peace with one’s self” and writing my next book.

DL: Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
LTK: They can find me at these sites.
·       Website: www.authorpeacefulrose.com
·       Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PeacefulRoses/
·       Twitter: https://twitter.com/peacefulrose
·       Book Buy Links:
o   https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/coming-through-the-storm-latasha-kibler/1129360324?ean=9781721277049

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

Sunday, November 4, 2018

A Review of the Play, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at Baltimore Center Stage

Back in September, Baltimore Center Stage opened its new season (2018/19) with a bang with the premiere of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. This Pulitzer Prize winning play by Tennessee Williams still sizzled even after 63 years. This time it was directed by Judith Ivey and the set was designed by Adam Koch who captured the setting of a Southern (Mississippi) plantation with precision and charm.
Once I settled into my seat, I was entertained by a superb cast who transported me to the Pollitt’s house on a hot Southern night where family members clashed in greed and desire. I thoroughly enjoyed the play – superbly acted and great dialogue. 
The main leading parts were played by real life husband and wife team: Andrew Pastides (Brick - an alcoholic ex-football player) and Stephanie Gibson (Maggie - his wife). Their chemistry on stage was hot despite Brick’s dismissal of his wife’s attempt at getting his attention. My other favorites were David Schramm who played the larger than life character – Big Daddy (who was dying from cancer) and Charlotte Booker who played his wife, Big Mama (who was kept in the dark about her husband's diagnosis).
What I really loved was that it tackled family issues of greed especially when family members learn that someone is dying and circle around like vultures to get their hands on the money. In the midst of it all was the exploration of a father and son relationship and the women who loved them. Great stuff!
Clap. Clap. Clap. Standing ovation. A must see if ever it comes through Baltimore again or if you are in a city where its playing. 
Side note - This makes me want to watch the 1958 namesake movie with Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor. 
Excellent! Two thumbs up! 
For those not familiar with this play, here’s the synopsis from Baltimore Center Stage's website:

In this enduring American classic, family ties and layers of lies collide over the course of one simmering Southern summer night. Themes of morality, greed, and desire play across the stage in this explosive drama about what can happen when illusions begin to unravel. Brick, racked with guilt over his best friend’s death, numbs his pain with drink. Maggie, his wife, is determined to win even fleeting attention from her neglectful husband. But when three generations come together to celebrate a birthday—and discuss a will—all of the players start to crack under the pressure and the heat. How long can tensions build in a house boiling over with uncertainty, secrets, and maybe even love?

Here are some photos:

Enjoy this trailer from YouTube:

players start to crack under the pressure and the heat. How long can tensions build in a house boiling over with uncertainty, secrets, and maybe even love?

Content Advisory: Themes of morality, greed, and desire make this steamy classic more suitable for high-school-aged audiences and up.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Review of The Long Fall by Walter Mosley

I’m a huge fan of the Easy Rawlins mystery series. However, I was very curious to get to know Leonid Trotter McGill (aka “LT”), the old-school PI working in New York City filled with many secrets some of which could get him killed.

In this first installment of the series, readers meet Leonid (aptly named by his Communist father), a former boxer, and a married man whose wife left him for a lover but came back to make amends. He’s the father to one out of three almost grown children. He’s had an affair with Aura who works in the building but must now cast her aside now that his wife whom he insists didn’t love him was back. But he stayed with his family because he “had a job to do, and more than one debt to pay.”
Leonid was contracted to find four men. One was dead, one in prison, and the third was awaiting trial. The fourth, Roger Brown was the one he couldn’t locate. The job seemed pretty straightforward until folks started dying and he was attacked and almost killed. That’s where the story sends readers all over NYC to back alleys, bars, in the homes of the wealthy and of course, under the watchful eyes of the police.

The plotline was at times somewhat complicated but then I’d come to expect that much from Walter who weaves a tale that calls for readers to pay full attention. The dialogue was snappy, and the characters were well-developed. I enjoyed watching LT’s complex character unfold: whether questioning where he belonged in the world, whom to trust, how much love to show, trying to walk a straight line, and plotting how to escape when circled by deadly sharks. The ensemble characters were well developed and stood out as well. I liked Hush who reminded me of Mouse’s character - the only difference was that Hush was white but just as deadly as Mouse.
Well, Mosley has got me hooked and I can’t wait to read the next installment.  

Great read! Two thumps way up!
My favorite lines:

Carson was looking into my eyes so he knew I was lying, but he couldn’t figure out about what exactly.
“Do I know you, Sergeant?” I asked the homicide cop, partly to avoid Carson’s stare.
“I used to be in vice,” she said, smiling enigmatically. “Had a snitch named Dolores Devine back then.”
Dolores Devine, one of my many guilty victims. She’d set up half a dozen prominent men for prostitution stings with the feds and the NYPD. The wife of one of those men wanted revenge and was willing to pay. I found out that Dolores smuggled H for a man in Newark now and then. All I did was drop a dime, or maybe it was a quarter.
“Never heard of her,” I said.
“Friend of yours?”
“We’ll check out your story, Mr. McGill,” she replied, getting to her feet. “Let’s hop that you’re more innocent than Dolores was.”
Rating: 5 Stars