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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!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Review of Little Green by Walter Mosley

Just when you thought Easy Rawlins was down and out, Walter Mosley finds a way to resurrect him yet again. And in the quintessential Mosley’s mystery style of writing, there’s always an offbeat crime or two that intertwines and overlaps each other with colorful characters you’ll come to love and feel their angst and pain.

In Little Green, the reader finds Easy Rawlins on the brink of death having driven himself off a cliff. He’s saved by Mouse, his best friend in crime only to be tasked to find a young man, Evander “Little Green” Noon who disappeared during an acid trip while exploring the Sunset Strip in L.A. Still not out of the woods, Easy agrees to help out Mouse but he's also intrigued why Mouse is so keen on finding Little Green. So, after taking Gator’s Blood one of Mama Jo’s concoctions Easy becomes a man who could stomp you into the ground and fall into a deep sleep just as quick.

What happens during those waking hours will have readers wondering who will test Easy’s resolve as he cruises the seedy side of town searching for answers. Through Easy’s eyes, readers will get to experience the hippie culture that’s full of love, greed, and murder. A place where Easy’s interests are piqued if not for the change that he sees that it could bring in the world, but for the danger it also possesses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this ride of a mystery as only Mosley can tell it. I can't wait to put my hands on the next Easy Rawlins installment (Charcoal Joe - coming soon)! Two thumbs way up by an Easy Rawlins fan!

Rating: 5 stars

Product Details 

Friday, January 22, 2016

So, this HAPPENED!

Now this is a GREAT way to start my New Year! #covergirl #writerslife

Monday, January 18, 2016

Interview with Cerece Rennie Murphy, Author of the Order of the Seers Sci-Fi Trilogy, Ellis and The Magic Mirror and the upcoming historical romance, To Find You

Author’s Bio: Cerece Rennie Murphy first fell in love with science fiction watching Empire Strikes Back at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC with her sister and mother.  It’s a love affair that has grown ever since.

In addition to working on the 2nd book in the Ellis and The Magic Mirror children’s book series with her son, Mrs. Murphy is currently developing a time-bending romance and a 2-part science fiction thriller set in outer space.  Ms. Murphy lives and writes in her hometown of Washington, DC with her husband, two children and the family dog, Yoda.  To learn more about the author and her upcoming projects, please visit her website at www.cerecerenniemurphy.com.

What inspired you to write your book?
What inspires me to write is having a story to tell.  I’m someone who NEVER thought I could write a book much less publish it on my own, so to have a book idea is nothing short of a miracle to me.  Each of my story ideas have came to me, either while washing the dishes or in a dream or, in the case of Ellis and the Magic Mirror, by my son telling me what he wanted in a book.  To me, each story that I’ve been given is a blessing and a blessing is not complete until it is shared, so it is my duty and my privilege to write. 

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I loved reading poetry growing up.  I was a big John Donne, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Dr. Suess, Alexander Pope, and Prince (‘cause music is poetry, too) fan. I didn’t discover Octavia Butler until I was in my early 20s, but her novel Wild Seed was the first book that ever blew my mind.  Reading Frank Herbert’s Dune was another life-affirming experience.  While I can’t point to one book or writer who has influenced me the most, I will say that all the artists and authors that I love have one thing in common, they all challenge the status quo and my writing is very much influenced by that same desire to develop my own understanding of the world and encourage readers to do the same. 

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book? 
My first book was Order of the Seers and it took me about a year to write.  This past August, I published my 4th book, Ellis and The Magic Mirror, with our son, Aryeh.  It took me a little less than a month to write, but the edits and illustrations took almost a year.  I can’t seem to put out anything fast.  LOL!

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
I always start with a story outline, that way I know where I’m going before I start.  I have very limited time to write and my outline gives me a road map to follow which keeps me focused and efficient.  I usually do a chapter outline as well and I write each chapter in order, but with my latest book, To Find You, I seem to be all over the map.  It’s a very different process. 

The story is about two souls trying to find each other through time and takes place in four different time periods.  Though I’ve written a detailed story outline, I don’t have a chapter outline because the story will not be structured that way.  Each time period will be it’s own immersive experience.  I’m also writing the time periods out of sequence, though they will be in chronological order in the final book.  For example, one day, I’m writing about an American secret agent during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the next, I’m in the last days of pre-colonial India.  Once, my writing moved back and forth from mid 1800s Ghana to present day US in the same session! I normally don’t write like this, but that’s the way the story is coming to me, so I’m along for the ride. It’s scary for me, letting the story dictate the process, but every time I let go and trust the story, it comes out better than I ever could have imagined. 

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
Usually, I don’t listen to music, but if I do, it’s something very soft and unintrusive, like mediation music. But, if this book had a theme song, it would be “Meet Me On the Moon” by Phyllis Hyman.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
That’s a great question!  I wish I knew, LOL!  So far, I would say that my greatest success has come from meeting readers face-to-face at conventions.  Making that connection has really helped me build a readership and get positive reviews for my work.  Another thing that has helped is working with book bloggers who read and support the genres that I write in.  When I started out, they gave me my first reviews and helped me find my audience.

What advice would you give to new authors?
When I started out as a Black, female, sci-fi writer, there was a lot of negatively around what I could expect.  The general consensus seemed to be that Black people don’t read science fiction; White People don’t read Black authors; and no one buys science fiction written by a woman.  So, in effect, there was literally no audience for my books.  But I didn’t believe them and so I did what I could and tried, until I learned more and did more. Less than a month after I published Order of the Seers, I went to New York Comic Con as an exhibitor in the small press section, it was my first major sci-fi convention and my first time exhibiting ANYWHERE.  I was the only female selling a book she had written in the ENTIRE small press section.  Everyone said I was crazy. No one expected that I would sell over 100 books to every age, gender and race of person.  Looking back, 
I’m so glad that I was too naïve to listen to all the naysayers.  That experience taught me the 2nd most valuable lesson that I have learned so far on this journey.  That lesson is: Only take advice on HOW to do something. Never take advice on IF you can do something.  No one but God knows what you can do.  You must have the courage to find the answer to that question for yourself. 

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned on this journey is a piece of advice that I got from my dear friend, Trice Hickman.  When I first decided to publish my book, she told me, “Cerece, you have to BELIEVE in your story, no matter what.”  At the time when she said it to me, it seemed simple enough, but little did I know how deep the meaning of her words would be.  Over the years, through my own doubts and fears, the rejection from others, the skepticism and judgment of my peers, and countless struggles, I have come back to her words for strength over and over again.  Believing in your story is the foundation upon which you build everything else you do as a writer.  You need it to nurture, write, edit, produce, market, promote and sell the work you want to create.  If you don’t have that, nothing you do will stand.  

How about sharing an excerpt from To Find You?
Part I: In The Beginning
I wait for him here, at the place where the night sky and the earth become lovers.  In the tall grass of our homeland, between two kingdoms, we meet. 

Getting here first is easier than slipping away late, especially now when life in my village is bustling with the preparations for our wedding ceremony in just three days. 

But as the reeds lick the backs of my calves, I know that this is only one part of the reason I wait. 
The truth is that I like to feel him coming.  At this hour, when my imagination reigns over every shape and whisper, I can almost see him walking on limbs taller and stronger than mine will ever be. 

He cuts through the blue-black night, which hides his only slightly lighter shade and stalks his prey. I cannot hear his approach, but I feel him drawing near, compelled by the same force that holds me where I stand – the scent of my desire in the air.

I close my eyes and breathe deeply, imagining I can taste him, too.  The flavor is salt, sweet grass and home.  It fills my senses and makes me thirsty.

On the outside my knees shake and my heart pounds, impatient for her mate, while the deepest part of me grows calm and still – stretching towards the peace that only his presence brings.

And he’s close now, so close. 
When we were children, he was such a scrawny thing. I used to like to wrestle him just to beat him, just to prove that I could.  I was young and determined and more than a little jealous of the prowess of my older brothers.  Secretly, I wanted to be like them. My youngest brother was 10 years my senior.  In Ekow, I could finally prove that no boy could match me.

My laughter rumbles in the stillness as I think of it.  Oh, how mad he would be every time I beat him! And in the beginning, there were many, many times when I did.   He would get so angry that his ears would twitch. He would stomp away from his defeat with his hands balled up in knobby little fists – eyes glaring, ears twitching while one of our elders cackled nearby and me sticking out my tongue. We didn’t see each other often enough for me to beat him everyday, but I looked forward to it whenever I could.  I was always stronger than I looked and even when he grew a little taller than me, his limbs seemed to flail awkwardly about him, so that he was never quite coordinated.  And in my delicious reign as his tormentor, time seemed to stretch on forever, until one day it stopped. 
I remember the sun burned low in the sky that day as the dust and amber light conspired against me in swirling fits that stung my eyes.  Rolling around on the ground, I was shocked to find myself panting for air.  Suddenly, his legs overpowered me.  I couldn’t throw him the way I had been able to before.  His grip was a vice that I had to sweat to free myself from and even then, he would catch me again, quickly - too quickly for my liking. 

Unable to break free, I grunted and cursed as he pinned me down on my back.  At first, I refused to meet his gaze.  Beneath my eyelashes, I could swear I saw my own taunting smirk, the same one I had given him, year after year, curling the corners of his lips. Enraged, I shut my eyes to avoid my fears and kicked my legs furiously, all to no avail.  I could feel the muscles of his powerful thighs holding me in place without the slightest indication of strain and I couldn’t stand it.  

As if sensing the scream that would send my brothers flying to my aid and gotten us both into a world of trouble, he suddenly lifted his body from mine, then leaned over to adjust his grip so that our hands were stretched out above my head, palm to palm, fingers intertwined in the grass and the dirt beneath us.

How did I not know, even then…

Something about the gesture was so strange that it distracted me from my fury.  The feel of his hands pressed gently, firmly into mine made my stomach flutter and clench in a way that was startling, but not unpleasant.

“Ama,” he called. “Ama, don’t scream.  Ama, please, surrender.”

It must have been the “surrender” that made my eyes fly up to meet his in absolute indignation.
Sometimes, I like to think that if I’d never opened my eyes, it never would have happened, but this is, of course, foolish. I was meant to see.

When I opened my eyes, I found him staring down at me.  The smirk I’d feared was nowhere in sight.
Instead, his eyes wore the same wariness I felt as I looked back at him, then quickly dissolved into something I’d never seen in him before.

He eyed my mouth with what I understand now as a mixture of surprise and captivation.  Back then, I still had no idea what was happening, but as his gaze continued to linger over me, I became aware that I felt like someone was seeing me truly for the first time in my life.  I remember fighting the nameless emotion that closed my throat and pricked my eyes.

“Ama, surrender,” he whispered, “Please.”

And that’s when I understood that I held him in place as much as he held me.  Neither one of us could leave without the other.

“Please,” he said again and I finally realized what I needed to do all along.

Seeing the answer there in my eyes, he released my hands and rose to his feet.  I remember averting my eyes against the sudden rush of loneliness that came as he left.  But at the corner of my vision I saw it, his hand extended out to help me up.  He’d done it before, even as I beat him and he’d risen in defeat while I remained holding my belly in victorious laughter on the ground. I’d always ignored the gesture until that moment, when suddenly it felt like the most natural thing in the world to accept his help.

When I finally stood up, I noticed for the first time that he was a full foot taller than me.

Despite my daze, I frowned. “You’re taller than me,” I said in dismay.
“No, Ama,” he replied.  Ekow’s voice was deep and heavy as he stepped forward to take my other hand in his.  “We are now exactly the same height.”

I was 11 years old; Ekow was 13 and, after that, nothing between us was ever the same.

What’s next for you?
Well, this year I plan to release 2 books (a first for me), To Find You, which I am writing now and the 2nd book in the Ellis and The Magic Mirror series.  It’s pretty ambitious for a slow writer like me, but I’m grateful and excited. 

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
·         Website: www.cerecerenniemurphy.com
·         Twitter: @cerecermurphy

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

Thanks for having me, Dee! It’s been a wonderful experience.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Let's Embrace Being the BOSS!

Be the B.O.S.S. (B – be a leader; O - own your stuff; S – settle only for the best; S – sky’s the limit to your success).

So you’ve decided that writing or even speaking is not a hobby and you are engaging in it for profit, then be the BOSS and treat it like a business (see, https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Checklist-for-Starting-a-Business). This means you should:
  1. Develop a business plan.
  2. Obtain a separate Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), a seller’s or resale certificate, and any business licenses required in your local community (if selling a product like your book).
  3. Promote and brand yourself and your book or services on social media and other outlets. This includes maintaining a website, printing business cards, etc.
  4. Collect and pay your sales tax (don’t forget to keep good records).
  5. Separate your personal and business finances.
  6. Network (join professional organizations, attend writing related conferences, be a speaker on the business of writing, etc.).
Note: Let’s embrace being the BOSS!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Let's Ignite Your Creativity!

Do you have a story to tell but the words aren’t coming fast enough or not at all? Well, you may be suffering from writer’s block (the inability to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing). Writers including myself use this phrase a lot. But to be honest, there were times when I was simply being too lazy to write. Anyway, here are some tips to ignite your creativity juices and get them flowing:
  1. Do freewriting (forget about punctuation and write whatever comes to the top of your head).
  2. Eliminate distractions.
  3. Change your environment.
  4. Listen to music to inspire you.
  5. Read a book.
  6. Clear your head (go for a drive, run, walk and commune with nature, etc.).
  7. Brainstorm ideas.
  8. Develop a productivity rewards system. For instance, for every 1,000 you write, give yourself a reward (chocolate, watch 30 minutes of your favorite TV show, buy yourself a notebook, chat with a friend, etc.).
Note: Let’s ignite your creativity by forcing yourself to write every day. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate as long as you write!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Let's Get Together and Read, Write and Speak! (And Feel Alright)

Community. Network. Group. Association. Club. Call it whatever you like as long as you become a member (online or in person). And whether you’re a reader, writer or speaker, here are some of the benefits you will enjoy:
  1. Socialization and collaboration.
  2. Commitment and accountability.
  3. Opportunity to expand your knowledge.
  4. Evaluation and critique of your work.
  5. Motivation, encouragement and inspiration.
  6. A valuable network.
  7. Increased visibility.
  8. Shared tips and information about writing, marketing, publishing, contests, workshops, conferences, speaking opportunities, etc.
Note: A sense of belonging is always better than flying solo!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The RWS (Read. Write. Speak) System to Help You Grow Big in 2016

This week I'm the featured expert in the Trailblazer Entrepreneur Nation (TENation, a closed group on Facebook). On Monday, I answered several questions related to the business of writing, publishing and speaking and was tasked to provide a business tip for the remainder of the week, So, here's the business tip I posted today in the group. 

Read. Read. Read. Write. Write. Write. Speak. Speak. Speak. If you’re serious about being a writer and branding yourself as a speaker as well in 2016 and beyond, you must do a few things: 1) read books within your genre (and sometimes outside your genre) and about the craft of writing, 2) write every day if you can and don’t be afraid to try a new writing style every now and then, and 3) start aligning yourself with others to obtain speaking engagements.

Furthermore, to sharpen your skills you may want to take a non-credit or credit writing class as well as join your local Toastmasters club to learn from the experts.

Note: No one becomes a professional without learning their craft and sharpening the skills of their craft.

R – read for the adventure; E – explore new worlds; A – always stretch your creativity; D – develop interesting characters that leap from the page.

W – write to express yourself; R – reach for the stars; I – ignite a fire that fuels your art; T – teach what you know; E – excite your readers with a page turner.

S – speak and share what you know; P – perfect your speaking style; E – earn the trust of others; A – attend networking events; K – keep learning. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Interview with Michelle Morgan Spady, Author of Enough Was Never Enough (A Novella)

Author’s Bio: Michelle Morgan Spady, writer of diverse genres, collaborates most of her writing projects with her twenty-two year old son, Bradford. He is an artist and visual storyteller. Michelle has worked in corporate America, taught English, Business and Computer Technology in schools, and has owned and operated her own state licensed childcare center. To date, she has written and co-authored four self-published books and one comic book. The titles include: An Artist and His Obsession, 7 Days 2 Tell, ShoozyQ and the AB Crew in Bully on the Playground and her debut novella, Enough was Never Enough. Newly released is Kiana S.M.A.R.T. for Class President. Michelle and her son are Principals of B’Artful LLC. B’Artful is a company that offers book signings, workshops, and classes to empower, inspire, and promote emerging and seasoned authors and visual artists.

Michelle is featured in the 2015 release of LEGENDARY LOCALS OF MCLEAN by Carole Herrick, and penned two reflections in THE SIDS SURVIVAL GUIDE by Joani Horchler.

What inspired you to write your book?
Actually, the inspiration came from my own life, and my personal declaration to become more transparent, and truthful about myself and my past.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or
as an adult?
As an adult, I have always admired and loved the writings of Terry McMillan. Her female
protagonists are always relatable. Being an English major, I was privileged to have had the
opportunity to experience many great authors and stories.

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
Enough Was Never Enough was my first “adult” book as I refer to it. The story line didn’t
take long to write, because the main character Jade has always resided in me, and it was very
easy to develop her personal profile. Possibly four months total.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
Depends, I probably should; however, I do frame the story, not necessarily a formal outline
per se. Many times when I think of a story, I visualize the beginning, middle and end before I
even start the first draft. Often times I craft the beginning and ending and then work the

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
Yes, sometimes I do like to listen to jazz, or as I call it ‘music with no words’. Most often
though, I work better in silence. I like to hear my thoughts.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
Word of mouth and public events. I find that I market better face-t-to face. I like talking to
people about my books; describing the characters, talking about the plot, getting them excited
about wanting to read them.

What advice would you give to new authors?
If you’ve always wanted to write and publish you should do so. Just know your strengths and
weaknesses throughout the project, and be smart enough to solicit the support of others so
that your project will be successful. Writing is an art. Everyone has a story. Fedrico Fellini
once said, “Art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography-what is yours?”

How about sharing an excerpt from Enough Was Never Enough?
The Donda woman motioned me to take a seat next to a twenty-something-year-old tapping away on an iPad. The clicking sound of the keypad was irritating and distracting. I took the lead, but I clearly wasn’t in control.

Clearing her throat before speaking, Jade looked over at me, as composed as possible and said, “Lynn, this is my PR team. You’ve met Donda who is a crisis manager. She, well, we have come up with a plan to fix the mess you’ve gotten me into –”

“Let’s not rehash old business, Ms. Baxter,” interrupted Donda, which was good, because I didn’t like Jade’s tone.

She continued, “My team and I have come up with a solution to, um, heal this problem. Ms. Baxter will be launching a new business model and motivational brand based on authenticity, accepting and telling our truths. In fact, the new brand is titled, ‘Own Your Truth’. Today’s event was perfect for that launch in that she, well, you introduced the most important aspect of the brand, and that is Ms. Baxter owning her own truth and sharing it with her beloved international audience. So thank you for making it easier for us.” Did this Olivia Pope wannabe just thank me and smile at me in a nice nasty way? I positioned my body in Jade’s direction, waiting for her to chime in, but she was busy
sending out text messages. She wasn’t paying attention.

“Well, you’re welcome, Donda. Glad to do my part, I think. So, when did you come up with this new ‘brand’?” Inquiring minds needed to know, even if the plan worked for me.

“It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you will not be implicated or associated with today’s, ahem, activities,” Donda replied to my query.

That’s all I needed to hear. “Great. If you good people don’t mind, this is where I make my exit. Jade, I’m sorry for what I’ve done, glad it works for you, and I’m out.”

Donda stood up to meet me face-to-face as I tried to bolt for the door.

“Not so fast, Ms. Baxter. Please have a seat.” I backed up and sat back down, never taking my eyes off her. That’s when Jade stopped texting and looked at me with a huge grin on her face. The entire PR team scooted to the edge of their seats and leaned in towards me. It made me feel like I was going to have to fight. Donda extended her body in my direction and spoke in a low tone.

“There’s a condition to you not being implicated, Ms. Baxter. You will have to seek psychiatric care, which we’ve already arranged.”

“I’m sorry. Psychiatric care? Why?”

“You don’t think what you did to your sister was normal, do you? It was not normal. After all, who without provocation tries to sabotage a reputation without consequence? Who, after all, tries to impersonate their own twin sister with the objective to do some type of harm? Please don’t answer. Your sister is willing to take the blame for something you did, which was against the law, by the way. That said; you will receive the psychiatric counseling to avoid her pressing charges and exposing you publicly.”

I looked around the room, which was spinning in my head. It never occurred to me that my own sister thought I was crazy. I admit that what I’d done was nutsy, but I’m not crazy. “No. I won’t do it,” rolled out of my mouth.

“That’s fine, Ms. Baxter. You don’t have to do it. Just be warned that the minute you leave here, we will contact the authorities. That trick you pulled today will cost you much, and you have more to lose than your sister.”

I turned to Jade, pleading, “You can’t let this happen to me. Tell them to stop.”

What’s next for you?
I am working on the second book in the “Own Your Truth” series. It is my plan to release two more books for 2016 and offer writing and publishing classes in our art/writing studio.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
• Website: www.michellespady.com
• Twitter: @msspady

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

Friday, January 1, 2016

“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”

I love the sounds of Annie Lenox (Eurythmics), especially “Sweet Dreams.” However, my dreams of 2015 weren’t always sweet. For the most part, they were filled with challenges that stretched me both personally and professionally. But in the midst of these trials, I stood steadfast knowing that I had to make some choices. The choice to stand still and work them out.  The choice to be grateful for the love and support of my family and friends. And the choice to press on and look forward to brighter days.

So, I bid adieu to 2015 with the hopes of sweeter dreams to come in the New Year. Yes, sweeter dreams made of fresher ideas, new collaborations, continued celebration of my friendships, and new ways to expand my horizons. Oh, what joy it will be to have these dreams fulfilled!

And while I’m keeping my head up and moving on, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your love and support.  Shouting from the top of my lungs: Happy New Year and Sweet Dreams too!

In 2016, what will your dreams be made of? Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!