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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, December 31, 2018

A Review of Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston

In this book, Zora Neale Hurston told the story of Cudjo Lewis (Oluale Kossola), who was  brought over to the United States via the Clotilda as “cargo.” He was held in the barracoon a tight space where he and one hundred other slaves were confined and then sold to work in the fields.
Over a three month, Hurston made the trip to see Cudjo, bringing him fruit and other foods while building his trust. Some days they would talk and some days he would turn her away. Although his story was told in his vernacular, I didn’t have a problem with it. Actually, I felt I understood his story on a deeper level as a slave then a freed man, a husband, father and finally a sexton at his church in Africatown (Plateau Alabama).

I found his story heart wrenching especially when he talked about how his village was attached by female warriors who slaughtered his family and friends. He didn’t get the chance to train to be a warrior, get married and start a family before he was snatched away as “cargo.”
I tried not to be angry as I read how he was treated after he was freed as a slave. He had no money to buy passage back to Africa, he had no land to build a home and he no place to call home. But somehow, through all his struggles he was able to build a life be a founder of Africatown (Alabama). A place where some of his customs could be preserved.

By all regards, he had a good family but they were plagued by death. He and his wife had six children and all died except one who took off and we the readers have no idea what happened. Also, I would have loved to know what happened to Cudjo at the time he was interviewed by Hurston, he was eight-six years old.
Overall, it was good book that gave a different perspective of the slave trade and how vicious and complicit some of the tribes were in Africa. Very informative read!

My favorite lines:
On the Tuesday after the New Year, I found Cudjo in a backward-looking mood.  He was with his departed family in the land to the west.  He talked about his boys, he grew tearful over his wife.

“I so lonely.  I los’ my wife de 15 November 1908.  We been together long time.  I marry her Chris’mas day, 1865.  She a good wife to me.”

There was a long, feeling silence, then he turned to and spoke, “Ole Charlie, he de oldest one come from Afficky, came one Sunday after my wife lef’ me and say, ‘Uncle Cudjo, make us a parable.’

“Den I axed dem, ‘How many limbs God give de body so it kin be active?’

“Dey say six; two arms two feet two eyes.

“I say dey cut off de feet, he got hands to ‘fend hisself.  Dey cut off de hands he wiggle out de way when he see danger come.  But when he lose de eye, den he can’t see nothin’ come upon him.  He finish.  My boys is my feet.  My daughter is my hands.  My wife she my eye.  She left, Cudjo finish.”

Rating: 4 stars

Why Joining A Writing Group Makes You a Star!

November 18, 2018 marked 10 wonderful years with my writers’ critique group members (L. Trovillion, M. Paris and S. Yanguas) aka “The Talented Scribes.”  We celebrated by having dinner at a nice restaurant and reminisced about how we started and how far we have grown as writers.

Although we write in different genres of fiction (e.g. romantic suspense, young adult, chick lit) and non-fiction, we have garnered collective strength through our love of writing. We support and cheer each other on throughout the highs and lows of our writing while still having fun.

So, when I recently taught the workshop “Why Joining a Writing Group Makes You a Star!” at the Black Authors and Readers Rock Weekend in Oxon Hill, MD (September 14 – 15, 2018), I didn’t have to look too far for inspiration.

Here are the 7 reasons I shared with the audience why joining a writing group makes you a star:

1.      Motivation 
a.       As writers we tend to want to stay in our comfort zone until we get motivated to see that magic happens in our creative projects.

2.      Inspiration
a.       Sometimes we get stuck and we can’t put our pens to paper. It helps to be in a group that inspires us to generate or spark an idea to get our creative juices flowing again.  

3.      Support & Encouragement
a.       Writing is a very solo thing to do. However, when we get together we support and encourage each other in a collective way. 

4.      Achieve our writing goals
a.       We all have writing goals to finish the next project, to start a creative work, etc. However, when you are in a group you can get ideas how to accomplish these goals via organizing ideas, reviewing details, etc. 

5.      Hone new skills
a.       Nothing beats when collectively you learn about creating a rough draft, proof reading, editing, etc. to get us on the way to publishing. Sometimes, these are things that folks didn’t think they can do.

6.      Networking
a.       This has to be my favorite part as I enjoy going on road trips with my group to various writing conferences/events and networking with other creative folks.

7.      Constructive Criticism
a.       Providing valuable feedback is a great thing. And one thing for sure, we come through for each other every single time to polish and make our work sing.

I am blessed to have a group of ladies that gel so well and I look forward to many more years of writing, inspiring, and supporting each other. 

Here are a few photos from our Christmas gathering on December 18, 2018. We were missing a member who was delayed due to a volunteer commitment but we’ll get her next time! 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

So You Want to Write!

On Tuesday, December 4, 2018, I was a guest speaker at Professor Kathleen Hellen’s creative writing class at Coppin State University. We met at the Baltimore Book Festival (September 30, 2018) where I was exhibiting at the Black Writers’ Guild tent. She told me that she would love to have writers come to her class and talk about any aspect of the craft of writing. 

When I took her up on her offer, I decided that I would discuss the five elements of a fiction novel. Here’s what I covered during the class:

1.      Plot & Structure

a.       Beginning, middle and end.
b.      Having action, conflict and resolution.

2.      Setting & Description

a.       Where does the story take place?
b.      Weave in details to add depth to the story.
c.       Use the 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch).

3.      Point of View (POV)

a.       Whose character’s eyes are you looking though?
b.      1st person (you’re with the character throughout the entire novel)
c.       3rd person (gives you more flexibility).

4.      Character

a.       Identify your protagonist and antagonist.
b.      Make them lovable, menacing, etc.
c.       Interview them.

5.      Dialogue

a.       Make it believable.
b.      Show conflict, mood, etc.

I gave the students handouts (e.g. story planning worksheet, character questionnaire, etc.) to get them to explore and expand their writing. They had tons of questions and we even did an exercising crafting a story based on a picture of the Inner Harbor. 
We had a fantastic time!


Monday, December 17, 2018

Interview with Dr. Bruce Dunams, author of Making Dough: A Young Entrepreneur's Tale

Author's Bio: Dr. Bruce D. Dunams is a serial entrepreneur and an expert business strategist who works with hundreds of entrepreneurs every year. His management consulting firm works with hundreds of entrepreneurs and business leaders each year to help improve their effectiveness. Dr. Dunams holds a Doctor of Business Administration focused in Strategic Management and has practical knowledge in business strategy, product development, and project management. He has been an inspiring entrepreneur, and, through this book, he is playing his role in shaping the future generation of entrepreneurs.

Making Dough: A Young Entrepreneur's Tale is a tale of young Maya Santiago, a 12-year-old Latina, who struggles to find her financial independence. She lives in a single-family home with an ill brother. With encouragement from her best friend, Sasha, Maya decides to start her own cookie business to help support her family and gain the financial independence she craves. Each chapter of the book introduces a new challenge that is common in small businesses, including product development, marketing strategies, and raising capital. The book details the journey to overcoming these challenges.

DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
BD: As a management consultant, I work with so many entrepreneurs who are really great at what they do. Whether making furniture or selling jars of salsa, they are usually focused on their craft and are often really good at it. However, they often lack the business acumen needed to run an organization. I wanted to try and catch that aspiring entrepreneur earlier in the business start-up process, so I wrote this book on entrepreneurship targeting young people.

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
BD: Interestingly enough, I was never a child that read much. I just didn’t like to read. I loved math and science, and despised language arts.

DL:  How long did it take to write your book?
BD: It was off and on for about 4 months. This is really a short read. And that was done on purpose. I wanted to produce a book that could fit into anyone’s schedule, so it took several iterations where I was cutting and condensing content. 

DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
BD:  I definitely like to organize my thoughts before I write. I have a methodical approach to writing to ensure that I can actually get to the end and hit all of my objectives.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
BD: Entrepreneurship is all about being motivated to work harder than your competition and it’s easy to get tired and demotivated. So I do have a song that gets me going. I love the song "Old San Juan" by Spyro Gyro.  It always gets me hyped.

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book?
BD: I have found that the key to marketing any book is simply getting out there and sharing your book with as many people as possible. Hitting book fairs, using social media to share with your network, and even writing potential influencers to share your book.

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
BD: I don’t know if I have a lot advice. But like anything, remember that no one will care about your product like you. Don’t be discouraged if you hit a wall writing (it happens) or if publishers ignore you (it happens) or if people don’t understand your product (it happens).  There will be many obstacles that will make it easy for you to give up. However, if you make your dreams bigger than your excuses, success will be within reach.

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from Making Dough: A Young Entrepreneurs Tale
BD: Here you go:

Maya sighed, “This isn’t fun, Sasha” she said looking down.
 She explained to Sasha how her mother struggled to pay bills again. Making rent each month had been hard lately. If that wasn’t enough, her little brother George went to the hospital again because of problems with his weak immune system. 
“I don’t want to be another burden to her, Sasha. I want to help her, but I can’t even get a job!” Maya blurted all in one breath.
Sasha nodded and said, “Girl, I get it. You are a strong and hardworking lady.  Have you thought about being an entrepreneur? Have you ever thought of owning your own business?” 
Maya looked at her as if she’d grown two heads, four eyes and sprouted green hair. “I don’t have money to invest in a business, let alone any money to risk,” Maya said sadly.
Sasha placed a hand on Maya’s arm and explained that being a business tycoon wasn’t about just investing and risking money. “An entrepreneur is someone who can take any idea, a product, or service and have the skills, will, and courage to turn those ideas into a successful business,” she explained. “And you have these qualities,” she continued.
Now Maya was intrigued and wanted to know how.
DL: What’s next for you? 
BD: My firm has been using the book as a basis to introduce entrepreneurial skills to students in grade school. We are hoping to facilitate a movement that encourages young people to participate in the economy as business owners.

DL: Where can readers find out more about you and your book? 
BD: The book is available on Amazon and Kindle right now. Its also available on the Book Patch.

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 16, 2018

A Review of the Play, A Wonder in My Soul, at the Baltimore Center Stage

I recently saw A Wonder in My Soul, the third play of Baltimore Center Stage’s new season (2018/2019) and loved it. It’s currently playing through December 23, 2018 and you can still get tickets to see this fun and roaringly hilarious play written by Marcus Gardley and directed by Daniel Bryant. 

Anyway, this play represented true slices of Baltimore: neighborhood beauty shops, fried lake trout, half and half, gentrification, politics, and crime. But in the midst of it all it’s a story about family and friendships.
So welcome to Gwynn and Swann’s Beauty Palace of Cosmetology, a neighborhood beauty shop owned by two childhood friends (Swann Park Sinclair and Gwynn Oak Falls) where the hair is on fleek and the gossip is on tap. The characters were well-rounded, their dialogue was realistic, and the way they navigated family issues and friendships was spot on.  I could feel the pain when things went wrong and the joy when things went right.

I really enjoyed how Marcus Gardley did a play on the characters names by tying them to places in Baltimore: Swann Park Sinclair, Gwynn Oak Falls, Cherry Hill, Andre Hill, Pen Lucy, and First Lady Cedonia Mosher.  I also loved how he gave the audience snapshots into the Swann’s and Gwynn’s relationship to show how they have grown throughout the years as young girls, young women chasing their dreams, reeling from a marriage, making sacrifices: 1959, 1968, 1980, 2008, etc.
In addition, I loved how the set design paid homage to black women by displaying photos of singers (e.g. Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, etc.), movie stars (Della Reese, Halle Berry, etc.), political activists (e.g. Harriet Tubman, Angela Davis, etc.), writers (e.g. Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, etc.).  

Awesome! Two thumbs up! And YES, go get your tickets today!!
Here’s the synopsis:


In a Baltimore beauty shop, two longtime co-owners and best friends grapple with a major decision: remain as the anchor of their beloved neighborhood, or relocate under the pressures of gentrification and crime? In dialogue that resonates with everyday poetry, and underscored with music both profound and stirring, A Wonder in My Soul looks at the evolution of one family, the history of Baltimore, and a whole community. https://www.centerstage.org/plays-and-events/mainstage/a-wonder-in-my-soul

Here are some photos:

 Enjoy this trailer from YouTube: 

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.