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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!

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