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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!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Review of The Secret She Kept by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

In The Secret She Kept, ReShonda Tate Billingsley tackles the sensitive subject of mental illness within the African-American family. With fully developed characters and realistic dialogue, readers will walk away with a better understanding of what it means to be bipolar, being labeled “crazy” and how one can control this mental disease. In addition, readers will see how love, understanding, getting the appropriate help and devotion can all triumph in the end.  

In this novel, Tia Jiles is a beautiful, savvy and successful lawyer who catches the eye of Lance Kingston, a successful Houston magazine executive who recently broke up with his girlfriend who cheated on him. Lance and Tia have a whirlwind romance, they get married and then she starts acting “crazy” (bursting into violent spells, hearing voices, being disoriented, etc.). He didn’t see any of this coming because Tia never revealed to him that since the age of seventeen she had an illness that takes over her mind. Tia could manage her illness if she followed what the doctors say and take her medication. But she’s easily swayed by her mother who would try to pray the problem away.

So, when Tia tells Lance she is pregnant, he becomes fearful and starts calling everyone including Tia’s mother to tackle and find a solution to get his wife back on track. His love for Tia and his strength is what pulled him and his family through it all. I have to say I applaud him because there were times when I thought he was going to throw in the towel. But he stuck in there even when Tia called the police on him during one of her episodes. One thing I wasn’t thrilled about was Tia’s mother ignoring or rather making excuses for Tia’s mental issues when Tia clearly needed medical attention.  Nevertheless, it was a good read!

Of note, this was novel was made into a TV movie which debuted in July 2016 on TV One. I will definitely try to catch it when it airs again.

Some of my favorite lines:
Tia closed her eyes to drown out the voices warring in her head. Finally, she opened her eyes and said, “Are you sure you want to do this?
“I’ve never been more sure of anything. Why, you’re not?”
“No, I am. I…I just want to make sure. I mean, what…if you get with me and things aren’t everything that they seem?” She knew she was losing her nerve. She was being a coward.
“Oh, I’m expecting that. I know you women change when you get married,” he joked, finally smiling.
“I’m serious, Lance. What if you get with me and things aren’t everything that they seem?”
“I’m in it for the long haul, baby. I’m not going anywhere.”
I’m in it for the long haul. Those were the exact words Gavin said…right before she told him. But she also knew what they all said when they realized her aura of perfection was just an illusion.

Rating: 4 stars

Monday, September 26, 2016

Interview with Jacqueline Seewald, Author of THE INHERITANCE

Author’s Bio: Multiple award-winning author, Jacqueline Seewald, has taught creative, expository and technical writing at Rutgers University as well as high school English. She also worked as both an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. Sixteen of her books of fiction have previously been published to critical praise including books for adults, teens and children. Her short stories, poems, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in hundreds of diverse publications and numerous anthologies.
What inspired you to write your book?
I enjoy writing romantic mystery fiction. The idea for this particular novel just seemed to evolve organically from my imagination.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I would have to say reading the Bible was influential. As far as regular books go, I’m a big fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
This will be my 17th published book. It took me six months to write the complete first draft of this novel. However, I’ve rewritten and edited it several times. So I’d say it actually took a year to complete.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
A little of each. I always start with a flexible rough outline. Then I write a separate character study fleshing out names and traits of all main characters plus their back story. They become real people to me long before I sit down to write. When I actually start my first draft, I will be making changes as I work both in plot and character.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
I love many kinds of music but when I write I need to focus and concentrate. Music is a distraction for me when I’m writing. I need to hear the words in my head.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
One way is by exposure on blogs such as this one. I also maintain two blogs, one a personal blog, the other shared with fellow authors. I spend a bit of time on Facebook and Twitter as well although I’m not all that active.

What advice would you give to new authors?
Don’t let rejections discourage you. Keep writing, rewriting, reading. Writing is a commitment and requires effort. If you need to write, you’ll keep at it. Find a comfortable time to write each day even if you have a full time job.

How about sharing an excerpt from THE INHERITANCE?

First, here’s a brief synopsis:
Jennifer Stoddard, a thirty-five-year-old widow with an eight-year-old son, receives a surprising letter which will change her life. Jennifer’s grandmother has passed away and named Jen as sole heir to her estate. To claim her inheritance she must return to Bloomingvale, the town in the Midwest where she grew up. Jen is informed by her grandmother’s attorney that to inherit she must meet the condition of living in her grandmother’s house for two years. Since the estate is substantial, she agrees. However, there are those who will stop at nothing to make certain that Jennifer does not inherit.


Late that afternoon as Jen left the house and started to drive away, a strange sound whizzed across the open front car windows from the driver’s side through the passenger side. She was startled by the sound. Her heart began to pound. Jen glanced over at the thicket of overgrown shrubs and trees to the side of the grounds that led back into woodlands. Had the sound been a bullet? If so, it had nearly hit her. Her hands shook on the driver’s wheel as she took off at high speed.
One block away she heard the police siren and saw the flashing lights. She groaned. Not again! He signaled with his hand, pointing his index finger for her to pull over. It was all she could do not to burst into tears.
Grant Coleman approached the car like a gunfighter in a spaghetti western. “I thought you learned something the first time,” he said. “Guess I was wrong. License and registration.” He held out his hand with a bored, impatient gesture.
“I have a very good reason for speeding.”
The smile was more of a smirk. The man was infuriating! “I’ve heard them all, but you can try.”
“As I left my grandmother’s house, a bullet passed through my car. I had the windows rolled down. So they weren’t broken, but it just missed hitting me.”
He stared at her. “Maybe it was a kid with a Beebe gun. Are you certain it was a bullet breezing by you? How familiar are you with weapons?”
“Not familiar at all, but I know what I heard.” Jen swallowed hard. “I think someone might have intended to shoot me.”
He let out a loud laugh. “In Bloomingvale? I doubt that very much.”
“So you’re not taking this seriously?” She folded her arms over her chest.
“Admit it. You’re just looking for an excuse to keep me from writing you another ticket.” His intense gray eyes bore into her like the steel blade of a dagger.
Jen raised her chin and stiffened her spine. “You are so wrong. Why don’t you check the area near the house, just to see if you can find anything.”
“Waste of time.” He leaned toward her and she felt his breath on her cheek which caused her to shiver. “Tell you what I will do though. I won’t write you a ticket this time because that’s the most creative excuse I’ve ever heard.”
“So glad I managed to amuse you,” she said.
Jen watched him drive off. He was probably still laughing, the sexy jerk. Several people had come out of their houses and were staring at her. Jen managed to restart her car and drove off before others gathered. She certainly didn’t want to make a spectacle of herself. Letting out a shaky breath, Jen wasn’t certain now if she’d really heard what she thought she had. A professional law enforcement officer didn’t think anything of it. She supposed it might have been nothing at all. Maybe it was a child with a Beebe gun as he suggested. But try as hard as she might, Jen couldn’t convince herself.
What’s next for you?
I have a number of short stories that will be published in the coming months, one with SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY MAGAZINE which has published a number of my mystery stories and articles in the past, OVER MY DEAD BODY! as well, NEW ZENITH MAGAZINE which will publish one of my literary stories, FANTASY DIVINIA, and also the anthology BREWED AWAKENINGS.

At the moment, I’ve just completed a YA novel and an historical adult romance.

Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?
Its been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Where I Wanna Be!

Never did I imagine that I would stay away from finalizing my latest novel, Gotta Get It Back, for so long…yes, far too long. But I needed time away to gain insights into developing my characters’ motivations and strengthening the plotline all in an effort to produce a good product.

Some folks may not understand why I was gone for so long. But I would rather leave a story than hasten and be subpar. But the love I share for writing is very real. It’s the kind of love that smolders until it’s time to light a fire. And yes, the fire is lit. I’ve done the first read through of the draft and made my edits. Now it’s time to get down to business and get this project to the finish line…where I wanna be!

So, tell me where you wanna be with any of your projects (writing, non-writing, etc.)?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Interview with T. Michael, Author of Suga Cain

Author’s Bio: T. Michael started writing poetry in 1981, at the age of 15.  Writing mainly about love, God, family, and the challenges of growing up, he began experimenting with erotic poetry decades later, and these poems became very popular with audiences at live poetry readings.  This inspired him to begin writing short erotic fiction, and eventually erotic novels.  A freelance writer and editor, he is currently working on a sequel to his new book, which will be the second novel in a planned erotic romance trilogy.  He is also the creator and editor in chief of the website www.nerdictionary.com, a site dedicated to explaining terms that "nerdy" people might know, but the rest of the world may not be clear on.  It includes terms in the arenas of science, science fiction, mathematics, graphic novels/comics and lots more!

Married in 2016, he has a total of five children and stepchildren.

What inspired you to write your book?
I have written poetry for over 30 years, but in the last several years, I have found that there is quite an audience for erotic poetry.  After writing and recording several poems, I got the idea to write an erotic love story – what I call “romanterotica” – featuring a poet as the main character, so I could incorporate the poetry into the story.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I always loved Steinbeck for his characters and storytelling abilities.  I love Shakespeare for his language and romanticism, and in fact, I have written a few poems in that Shakespearean vein, as well.  Poetically, I always loved the words of Elton John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin.

Is this your first book? How long did it take to start and finish your book?
I have published a few books before this one: Two poetry collections (as “T. Michael Pender”) called “An Angel Chained” (2000) and “Colors … in Black and White” (2012); a collection of short true stories from my life (as “Thomas M. Pender”) called “Rubber Chicken Soup” (2013); and an erotic sci fi novel (as “T. Michael”) entitled “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Assault on Tkor” (2014).  “Angel,” “Horsemen,” “Tkor” and the new book “Suga Cain” are all available on Amazon for Kindle.  “Rubber Chicken Soup” is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle forms.

I started “Suga Cain” very shortly after getting the idea to write it.  It took me quite a long time to finish, however (almost two years), because I didn’t know where the story would go or end up, and I wanted to add an element of conflict in the middle.

Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
I’ve done both.  Some stories, like “Tkor” and “Suga Cain,” I only had the characters in mind, and I started typing.  For the new book I’m writing, which is the second book of a trilogy begun in “Suga Cain,” I have quite the detailed outline, which should help to make the writing flow a bit faster from my fingers.

Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
Rarely.  I do, however, listen to recorded sounds of ocean tides and thunderstorms.  I find it clears my mind and lets the story come out.

What are the keys to success in getting your book out to the public?
Word of mouth and a few friends and fans.  For this last book, I’ve attacked the Facebook groups in full force, and that’s boosted sales.

What advice would you give to new authors?
When writing your first draft, just … play!  Write absolutely anything you think of.  Follow your imagination, even if it takes you to dark or weird places.  You never know what you might discover about your story and characters that way!  The real work begins with the second draft, where you must sift through all the fun nonsense to find your true tale, then sculpt that tale out of the first draft.

How about sharing an excerpt from Suga Cain?
"This is more like it!" Aisha chimed as Cain pulled her chair out and she swiped her dress under her perfectly curved rump.

"I thought you might appreciate a place like this."

Cain sat across from her, and she took him in again.  He had cut his hair, shaved close, was wearing a completely different fedora (which he removed at the door and placed on an empty chair), and had on a black business shirt and black slacks, shiny loafers and ... a Dilbert tie!  Her eyes fell on the images of the character, along with Dogbert, Catbert and Dilbert's co-workers, and shook her head and smiled.  "How could you possibly know I love Dilbert?"

The dangerous half-smile.  "It's not that I knew, really.  I just figured, hey, you work in an office full of cubicles.  You have to at least identify with the guy!  Plus, it was a test."

"A test?"  She cocked an eyebrow.  That didn't sound good.

"Yeah!" he chimed.  "If you didn't like Dilbert, it was going to be drinks only.  If you didn't know who he was, I was going to suddenly remember an emergency, and you’d get a ride home."

She faked a gasp.  "Sir!  You would ditch me?"

He faked surprise.  "Madame, this is Dilbert we're talking about!"

And then, their stereo laughter again.  She was loving that sound much too much and much too soon.

She sipped her water from the stemmed glass.  "Okay," she said in her accounts-receivable tone. 

"Some business to get out of the way.  I don't like surprises, so let's get some info out on the table."

He touched the fingertips of his large hands together and raised a Spock eyebrow in return.  "Alright, madam."

"Madam?  Madam!  Sir, I am a Miss or a Ms., but I am certainly not old enough to be a Madam."  She chuckled.

"Okay ... Mssss."  He hung on the "z" sound, and again, they were singing their laughter together.

"What I wanted to say," she said soberly, trying to erase her grin, "was that I may not look it, but my mother is Native American, one half Shinnecock and one half Blackfoot, while my father is one half Bajan and one half African-American."

She paused for the response.

Cain blinked at her.  "Okay."

"You're cool with that?  'Cause I've known a lotta guys who freak at that 'A-A' label, especially if they find out after they've been inside me, so I get that out quick!"

"Well," he retorted, taking the large menu from the bow-tied waitress, "I'll have you know that I'm a mutt myself.  Mom was a Scot, and Dad was Irish!"

"Oh, big deal!" she said, swatting the air at him.  "Come on, you know some people think it's awful that blacks and whites mix, even today.  Now, some might not call me black, and I'm certainly paler than most, but I'm proud of my blood, and I can't be with anyone who can't handle it."

He smiled a half-smile (which she acknowledged to herself already turned her to butter!) and leaned in a bit before saying in a low, midnight DJ voice, "Darlin', I haven't been inside a white woman in over 20 years!  In fact, you’re the whitest girl I’ve been this close to in all that time."

They shared a good laugh, then proceeded to have a fine meal.  Cain had chosen his seduction site (as Aisha was calling it in her head) well, and she wasn't protesting one bit.  Wine, bread, some of the best lasagna she'd ever had in her life, and a little chocolate cake for them to split.  He fed them both the cake with the same fork, letting her taste first, then alternating mouths.  This is simply too cute, she thought.  She brushed a crumb from the corner of his mouth with her thumb, and the contact seemed to freeze time.  His skin was warm, his eyes hardly ever left hers, and he was either blessed with naturally perfect teeth or the world's finest orthodontist.

           She could see in his eyes he wanted to kiss her.  She sent out her best signals that it was the right thing to do.

First, there was that moment she would remember forever.  That pause in Life when she knew that what she wanted so hard was exactly what her passion's target wanted, too.  She knew she was wanted, as well.  That bright moment in the heart and brain and private parts occurs when you know -- between that first knowing look and that first sensational kiss -- you know that this is going to happen.  Those lips you have wanted so badly to taste and those hands you have imagined moving on your skin ... this fantasy is about to become delicious reality.

It lasted only a fraction of a second, but it also lasted decades.

It was he who moved first.  Only the tiniest lean toward her, and it was all the way on!

She mirrored his move, and they each recognized the want.  Their eyes dimmed lower as their faces neared.  It was as if they both wanted to keep looking at each other and see each other kiss, but at the same time, they wanted to swim in the heated emotional wave they had created all around themselves.

Their eyes shut, their lips touched.

And magic did occur.

Aisha heard Etta James and Elvis Presley at the same time.  Together, they sang "At last, I can't help falling in love."

There was nothing to disturb this romantic time.  Neither pushed in, nor moved their jaw, nor involved the tongue.

It was a kiss.

And it was a beginning.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on the second book in the Cain trilogy, after which, I’ll finish it up with the third book.  I have very lofty ideas for two novels in my future: One will be a retelling of the film “Citizen Kane,” and the other will reveal who was behind the John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinations!

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

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.