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Author | Blogger | Workshop Facilitator Visit my website at www.authordeelawrence.com to learn more about my romantic suspense novels, Gotta Let It Go and Gotta Get It Back, the sequel. Connect with me online @authordeelawrence (Facebook). Thanks for visiting with me today!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Review of Singin' And Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou

Yes, Maya Angelou was indeed a phenomenal woman.  We are reminded of this throughout all her biographies where she exposes herself to us through her religious beliefs, her politics, her struggles to find success, her love for the arts, her son and her family. In this third installment of her seven autobiographies, readers are introduced to Maya, the singer, dancer, and all round performer. We learn how her name came to be (Maya from her brother and Angelou a derivative from her married name, Angelos). Hence Maya Angelou was born.  

She had me cheering for her throughout the book especially when she walked through her marital woes, showing her son how to be a good boy, and trying out for parts in clubs and on Broadway to make ends meet.  When she got her big break to go on tour with Porgy and Bess, she transported me to many places (Egypt, Italy, Yugoslavia, Paris, etc.). Her descriptions of the people, the sights, the sounds and the smells were very vivid and I could imagine myself walking the streets alongside her.

I took a front row seat when she performed either dancing or singing Calypso songs in the night clubs (the Casbah, the Purple Onion, the Mars Club, etc.). She had me laughing out loud because of her brash conversations with the other showgirls, the musicians, and some of her suitors.  Who can forget the unrequited love from men like Mr. Julian in Yugoslavia crying out, “It’s that I’m loving you. It’s that I am dying because of you. It’s that I’m falling in front of a train.”

She had a passion for life and a yearning to learn (she made sure she had a dictionary of every language spoken in every country she visited). She had guts and it showed. I loved the adventure she took me on and for that I bow to this phenomenal woman. This is a definite must read!

Rating: 5 stars

Monday, December 21, 2015

Interview with Maxine Bigby Cunningham, Author of Power Walking, A Journey to Wholeness

Author’s Bio: Maxine Bigby Cunningham is an engaging, inspiring, and empowering speaker, workshop facilitator, writer, and mental health advocate.  She is the creator of The Empowered Walking Steps to Wellnessä, a proprietary system for overcoming impediments to mental and emotional wellbeing.  Her audiences learn novel tools and “inside-out” strategies for optimal wellbeing - body, mind and spirit.  Cunningham is the author of POWER WALKING, A Journey to Wholeness, a metaphorical recounting of her recovery from a chronic mental illness, and a contributing author of Surviving Shocking Situations, Finding the Courage to Succeed in spite of Painful Moments.

Cunningham completed studies at Goucher College, Syracuse University, George Washington University, the Federal Executive Institute and Baltimore School of the Bible. 
She is a member of the Black Writers’ Guild of Maryland, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), City Temple of Baltimore (Baptist), and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

What inspired you to write your book?  
Friends and family encouraged me to write a book.  I began writing poems and short stories during a period of recovery from a major illness and some major life losses. As I shared selections with family and close friends, I received requests to write poems for special occasions and to read my poetry. 

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?  
Several authors and books have been influential. I have always loved to read. A few of the influential authors are: Iyanla Vanzant, Bebe Moore Campbell, James Redfield, Portia Nelson and Carter G. Woodson.  Growing up, my favorite author was poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Is this your first book?
Yes, this is my first book.  It covers a period of 11 years; it was written in four years.  Sometimes months passed without me writing a word; I wrote some selections that did not “find their way” into the book. 

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?  
This book flowed organically.  I am currently working on two more books.  This time I am following a broad outline.

Do you listen to music when you write?  
I usually write in silence.  I wrote portions of my book while sitting outside on a bench in my yard, portions at my desk in my home office, and portions at my kitchen table where I would gaze out the window every now and then.  If asked about a theme song, I would cite the hymn “Lead Me, Guide Me”.

What are the keys to success in getting your book published? 
The keys were research of my publishing options, hiring an excellent content editor, and receiving support of family and friends.

What advice would you give to new authors? 
Know why you are writing; execute your craft (writing) with excellence; present your story and ideas with boldness.

How about sharing an excerpt from Power Walking, A Journey to Wholeness? 
In the spirit of this Season, I share the poem “Holy Days”

Let’s embrace the Blessings of this Season of Holy - Days
Peace, Joy and Love

Peace upon Birth: the New Born,
The Now Re-born; the Not Yet Born

Joy of Connection: Creator, Community, Cousins.

Love of the Lord, Light, Life

I think that I will live as if each day is HOLY.

What’s next for you?
I am considering publishing a new, limited edition of PWJW.  The re-publication would have different dimensions and a new cover, large print, color art designs, a Reader’s Guide and other special features.  In addition, I am now drafting two books, increasing the reach through my blogs and newsletters and collaborating with other authors, businesses and organizations to reach women and others who and

Where may readers find out more about you and your book?
LinkedIn, Good Reads, Amazon, FB, CAOT (Christian Authors on Tour). Information about me and my books can be found at the following:

a.       Website:www.mentalemotionalwellness.com
b.      Twitter:    @maxine_empower
f.       Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/98541

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, December 7, 2015

Interview with Leonard Anderson, Jr., Author of Love Won't Let Me Wait

Author’s Bio: Leonard Anderson Jr. is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Leonard obtained his Master’s Degree in Health Administration from St. Joseph’s University in 2012 and is currently a manager at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Leonard writes in multiple genres including Fiction, Poetry, Children’s Books and Romance/Suspense. Leonard’s works can be found at www.leonardandersonjr.com, www.leonardandersonjrkids.com, Amazon and other online retailers.

What inspired you to write your book?
I became intrigued with Romance/Suspense after reading a novel called “Gotta Let It Go. Primarily a fiction writer, I wanted to go outside of my box and create in this genre.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Langston Hughes

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
This is my 8th novel and 6th children’s book. The amount of time varied with each project. Love Won’t Let Me Wait took about a year.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
Love Won’t Let Me Wait took on a life of its own and I just flowed with it.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
Yes, I do listen to music but there’s currently no theme song. I’m talking to my son to collaborate on a book trailer with a mild rap to appeal to a younger demographic.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
The keys for me have been social media, networking, word of mouth, book giveaways and book signings.

What advice would you give to new authors?
The best advice I could give to new authors would be to read books on how to write a book. I’d also suggest learning about the business, advertising, strategic planning and creating budgets to pay for your projects.

How about sharing an excerpt from Love Won’t Let Me Wait.
Charmaine, still weaving through traffic, experiences a million emotions while making her way to the site. She runs a series of red lights almost striking a couple of pedestrians and vehicles. Love, hate, guilt, anxiety and a barrage of other dark feelings rifle through her mind, but fear is most prevalent. The fear that Devon may be dead is just too overwhelming. She vividly recalls the knock-down, drag-out fight she and Devon had before he departed. He came home after being MIA for three days. She waited a couple of hours for him to offer some type of explanation which he usually fabricated on the spot.  But on this occasion, he paid her no mind. He didn't give a damn about her feelings and his actions bore witness to that fact.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on a TV Pilot.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
·         Website: www.leonardandersonjr.com
·         Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Leonard-Anderson-Jr/e/B00JYM74OK
·         Twitter: https://twitter.com/LAJPhillyAuthor
·         Blog: http://www.laphillyauthor.blogspot.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.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

"Greenbelt Festival of Lights"

On Sunday, December 6, 2015, I exhibited with the Maryland Writers' Association (Montgomery chapter) at the Greenbelt Festival of Lights in Greenbelt, MD. The place was chock full of artisans, authors, etc. and lots of folks milling around looking for the perfect Christmas gift. I had a great time hanging out with my table mates.

Here are some photos from the event.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Black Writers' Guild Meeting - Getting Unstuck and Writing Again

On Saturday, December 5, 2015 I attended the Black Writers' Guild Meeting at the Enoch Pratt Library - Penn North in Baltimore, MD. Wilma Brockington-Parker presented a workshop titled: I'm Coming Out: How to Get Unstuck and Start Writing." She discussed the following objectives:

  • Self-discover what hinders you from writing
  • Participate in exercises to help spark your creativity
  • Learn strategies to get your thoughts on paper
  • Jumpstart your writing towards finishing a project
This workshop was very interactive. It included some writing exercises which we did individually and as a group. To tell you the truth, these exercises really got my writing juices flowing. So, I'm ready to get my writing on!

Here are some photos from the workshop.