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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, April 30, 2018

A Review of A Devil for O’Shaugnessy by Gil Brewer

This was my first time reading a novel by Gil Brewer and I was not disappointed. Although there were two mysteries and a few short stories in between, this review is solely based on A Devil for O’Shaugnessy.

Meet Tolbert O’Shaugnessy, a con artist who uses the brandy bottle to ease his pain and who chews Tums like it is candy. Tolbert meets Miriam who cooks up a plan (The Big Con) to kill her Grandma and get a large payday of over a million dollars. Here’s the catch…he would have to pose as her cousin, Joseph Lancaster who has been declared dead in England but Grandma doesn’t know about his death.   
Brewer weaves a very interesting noir story filled with colorful characters and even a rambunctious monkey named Gargantua who Grandma is convinced is her deceased husband, Desmond sending messages and protecting her. The dialogue was spot on and the mystery unfolded nicely in the midst of Tolbert/Joseph falling in love with Ann Elliot, Grandma’s companion-secretary and realizing that he couldn’t go through with the con.

Although there were a few typographical errors, I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline and would definitely read other novels by this author.
Two thumbs up!

My favorite lines:

“Grandma,” I said, feeling suddenly worse than ever about the entire thing.

She moved toward me, hands still out, beginning to snuffle now.  Then she ran to me, flung her arms around my shoulders, sobbing.  The sobbing began to alter, changing into laughter; and I could smell lavender perfume.  Pressed against me, I could feel her bones; she was like loosely stretched cloth strung over sticks.  It was as if I could feel the sticks, her bones, move brokenly about.

“Joseph, Joseph,” she said, laughing around the words.  “I knew you’d come home, I knew it.  Desmond tells me it’s only a question of time, and here you are.”  She gagged a little, snuffling, and turned her face up to me, smiling.  She was feeling my arms now, pressing, grabbing with her fingers, checking to make sure I wasn’t a mirage.  “My little boy,” she said, “My boy’s come home.”

“Yes, Grandma.”

“Isn’t it wonderful?” Miriam said absently.

Rating: 4 stars

Monday, April 23, 2018

Interview with J. Hawki, Author of Elephants and Chopping Blocks Retain Their Natural Color and Catch an Elephant by the Tail

Author’s Bio: Author J. Hawki was born in Baltimore.  Inspired by her love for books, thrillers in particular, she began writing more than twenty years ago.  She published her first book, Elephants and Chopping Blocks Retain Their Natural Color in 2012, and released its sequel, Catch an Elephant by the Tail, in April of 2018.  Retired after an extensive career in Health Care Administration, she lives with her family in Maryland. 

DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
JH: I love to read a good book that captures my imagination and carries me into another world. Thrillers in particular provide the type of adrenaline rush I crave most.

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult? 
JH: Three books and seven writers influenced me more than any others. The books are Durango Street, The Other Side of Midnight, and Trinity, and the authors whose style I most desire to emulate are Walter Mosley, James Patterson, Stephen King, J. California –Cooper, Dean Koontz, Ken Follett, and Diane McKinney-Whetstone.

DL: How long did it take to write your book? 
JH: My first book took much too long, almost twenty years.  When I began writing, cell phones were not commonly used devices, but by the time I completed Elephants and Chopping Blocks, they were, so I had to go back and add instances where my protagonist, Kirsten, used her cell phone.

DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
JH: My stories are usually developed in my head and reside there for some time until I have time to write.  When I do, the stories pour out of me easily and flow quite naturally, but on rare occasions I may use an outline to carry me through difficult segments when I get stuck.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
JH: No, I do not listen to music, in fact, I prefer silence when I’m writing, and tend to write at times when my house is quiet.

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)? 
JH: Soliciting the help of experts.  Most new authors make the mistake of thinking we know what we are doing relative to every aspect of our book.  We do not.  Experts at editing and proof-reading and marketing are invaluable in guiding writers to marketing in a more professional way.

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
JH: The first thing I would advise aspiring writers to do is to learn as much as you can about the craft of writing first. Know sentence structure, grammar, descriptive writing, hooks, plots, character development and pacing.  Read books and notice what good writers do to hold your interest, and then try to use what you’ve learned when you start to write. Have a plot in mind or story line in mind, know your characters, and know how your story ends before you begin.

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from Catch and Elephant by the Tail?   
The old man splashed and struggled to no avail. He wasn’t strong enough now to impose his will on anyone, but he had been once. He was the cause of so many heartaches, this ignorant, weak-willed, simple-minded man who enjoyed passing himself off as a kindly old doting grandpa. Later, Malcolm would remember him with disdain. Now he was drowning him to death.

Magda would not have approved, and neither would Benita, which was why he had to make it look like an accident. He held the old man under the water until he stopped struggling, until the fight and spirit had left him. Then he pulled him out, wrapped his arms around his grandfather’s saturated, limp remains, and wept uncontrollably.

He carried the old man back to the house and pushed open the screen door. Benita shrieked when recognition of the dire situation eclipsed her usually joyful mood, the one that always infected her when she was surrounded by family.

The house had been lively with nonstop music and dancing just before Juan entered. All of her sons and their families were there, plus his mother and him, and he had ruined it for them all. They surrounded him, removed the body of his grandfather from his arms, and wailed as they worked in vain to revive him. As they did, Magda stood off by herself and watched.

DL: What’s next for you?  
JH: I intend to continue promoting and selling my first two books but have started two other projects that I hope to devote some time and attention to.  One is a biography of my son, Michael, and his struggle with a rare and debilitating illness, Metachromatic Leukodystrophy, which he was born with, but which wasn’t diagnosed until he was twelve years old.  I am also working on a new novel tentatively called, In a Green Tree, and have plans to write the third installment of Elephants and Chopping Blocks series tentatively called, Foxes Have Holes.

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

·       Website: http://www.authorjhawki.com/

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

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center - Worth the Visit!

Last month I took a trip to Church Creek, MD with some friends to visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Visitor Center in celebration of its one year anniversary. We attended the celebration on March 10 - 11, 2018 (Saturday and Sunday) to soak up this occasion and to learn more about this phenomenal woman who risked her life and limb in her quest for freedom for herself and others.

After sitting through the following enactments and talks from the various speakers, I checked out the Visitor Center. It drew me in with its interactive displays and informative exhibits. When I left I the Visitor Center and upon reflection I asked myself was it really worth the price? A resounding YES.

Here are some of the events that marked the occasion:

Re-enactor by Millicent Sparks did a fantastic job tracing Harriet's journey while engaging and answering questions from the audience. Her interpretation was spot on!

She was followed by Chris Elcock, Senior Associate at GWWO, Inc. He is part of the architectural team that designed the visitor center. He talked about the design and the landscape of the park. Very interesting.

There was a musical performance by the University of Maryland Easter Shore Concert Choir. They did an encore performance of the concert they performed for the Grand Opening of the Visitor Center. Very moving!

Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, the Visitor Center's historical consultant talked about the research she did  for her book, Bound for the Promised Land: Portrait of an American Hero, which included new facts about Harriet.

Tony Cohen of the Menare Foundation engaged the audience with a simulated Underground Railroad journey. He shared his experience walking some of the paths that Harriet took in hiding and helping slaves escape.

This was a great experience and one that I think is definitely worth the trip to the Visitor Center. Here's the link for more information: https://www.nps.gov/hatu/planyourvisit/index.htm

Here are some photos:

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Review of the Play, Animal Farm (Baltimore Center Stage)

A few weeks ago, I saw George Orwell’s "Animal Farm" adapted as a stage play by Ian Wooldridge and directed by May Adrales. Although I read the novel many years ago, seeing the story unfold on stage brought back the imagery of a powerful, revolutionary and political struggle of this satirical tale.

It was interesting to watch the pigs who initially joined a struggle as one voice turned on each other as soon as they got a taste of power. The world as we know it today is filled with such hate, strife, poverty, political smoke screens, harsh labor conditions, etc. and the director did a great job of bringing this to the stage. This story is as powerful and relevant as it was in 1945.

The actors did an excellent job in breathing life into this story! Two thumbs up!

Cast members:

·                     Melvin Abston – Napoleon/Ensemble

·                     Francis Cabatac – Ensemble

·                     Jonathan Gillard Daly – Benjamin/Pilkington/Ensemble

·                     Surasree Das – Ensemble

·                     Deborah Staples – Clover/Ensemble

·                     Tiffany Rachelle Stewart – Squealer/Mollie/Ensemble

·                     Brendon Titley – Snowball/Minimus/Ensemble

·                     Stephanie Weeks – Major/Boxer/Ensemble

Check out the trailer and a photo of the actual set below:

Monday, April 9, 2018

Interview with Min Carenda Deonne (Lady C), Author of Perfect Patty Messed Up Devotional

Author’s Bio:  Min Carenda Deonne (Lady C) was born and raised in Baltimore, MD.  She received her Marketing Degree from The Fashion Institute of Technology.  Lady C received her license to preach in August of 2007.  Min. Carenda is a vibrant and pulsating speaker who has a heart for women.  Her motto is, “Don’t live life on the premise of impression, but live life on the promise of impact!” Min Carenda not only enjoys encouraging others through the word of God, but is an author of three books. (Soul of a Poet, The Wait to Success (Contributing Author) and Perfect Patty Messed Up Devotional).  Lady C also owns a Christian women’s magazine entitled FAR (Far Above Rubies).  Min Carenda does a weekly Podcast (the Lady C Show) Tuesdays at 8:30pm EST and also has a weekly prayer call Wednesdays at 8:30pm EST.  In addition, Min Carenda does a yearly women’s conference that brings a message of hope and a ministry of deliverance.  Lady C is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  Above all, Lady C is committed and devoted to her love for Christ and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Michael Anthony McCray Sr.

DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
MCD: There are so many of us as women who put unnecessary pressure on our lives. We appear to have it all together, but struggle with real life issues.  This devotional searches the heart of women who are hard on themselves, especially if and when they make mistakes.  If Perfect Patty could forgive and be honest with herself, she would find wisdom to move forward gracefully, even through her flaws.  This 40-day devotional challenges you to STOP crying over spilled milk!  Put your pride aside Perfect Patty and let healing begin.

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
MCD: I honestly don’t have a particular author or book that influenced me.  I personally read an array of subjects from self-help, spiritual and even political genres. 

DL: How long did it take to write your book?
MCD: It only took one year for me to write Perfect Patty Messed Up.  This book is a refection of myself and life experiences. 

DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
MCD: I did not write an outline.  I truly flowed organically.  I have something they call “stream of consciousness.” I could be driving to the grocery store or watching something on TV and suddenly words, thoughts and ideas just began to flow like a running faucet.  Therefore, I must keep a note pad and pen and the smart recorder app close by always.  If I don’t capture it at that exact moment, I will lose it.  I am also a creative person so having an outline would give me extreme writer’s block.  I would also tape myself and play it back later.  This not only allows me to tweak my writing but put thought into my content to challenge my readers but also give clarity.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
MCD: I do not listen to music when I write. However, I listen to music before I write.  I am a huge fan of wrestling.  Before I preach or write, I listen to the theme music to wrestler, Somoa Joe.

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
MCD: You must not only know your target market or niche group, but you must know their lifestyle.  When you know one’s lifestyle you have an opportunity to market your book and message your target audience on multiple platforms.  Don’t just put your money in one media outlet but discover and define the lifestyle of your target audience, and place marketing material and information multiple places and or venues that they will see, hear or watch.  Also, have a marketing plan. 

Writing your book is not going to yield a profit, but a plan will.  Be strategic and relentless in your planning. Do absolutely whatever it takes to stay focused on your marketing plan. The key is not to do your plan once your book is published, but prior too.  In addition, social media is great but always have a call of command for your audience and be consistent.  Last but not least, branding is imperative.  Study someone who has branded themselves well and implement ideas that would work for you. Oh, and how can I forget the importance of having a strong graphic designer. I would tell any author, don’t cheat the cover of your book; a high-quality cover makes all the difference in the world!

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
MCD: Do not depend on family or friends to support you.  Don’t rely on your “click” or the in crowd to support you.  The key to success is introducing and talking to people outside of your comfort zone.  If you only focus on the people you know, you have just limited your measure of success.  Also, I am a big fan of having a mentor.  Don’t focus on this person becoming your friend, but instead someone that you can be accountable to.

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from Perfect Patty Messed UpFear Not!

Perfect Patty has the tendency to place limitations on herself. Truth be told, even though Perfect Patty is a very confident woman she also is at times very fearful.  She knows the word of God and quotes quite frequently the scripture that says, “for the Lord has not given you the spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Many people that know her would never guess she succumbs to FEAR. However, there are many occasions that Perfect Patty had so much FEAR she thought she would faint. 

Fear continues to limit her.  Fear has caused Perfect Patty not to enjoy the fullness of her life and blessings.  She has the “What if” mentality. What if I fail? What if I don’t succeed? What if it doesn’t work out? What if my plan doesn’t work?  These fearful cognitive thoughts create boundaries, that keep her from moving forward. 

If Perfect Patty doesn’t have full control she feels the weakest.  However, it is in the letting go that she will gain so much power.  If Perfect Patty would just learn how to let go, it would be the most monumental moment in her life.   She will see a whole new array of colors. Colors that she didn’t knew existed.  It’s time for Perfect Patty to rise. 

It's worth burying FEAR so that you may conquer! You will have a different mindset than you've ever had before.  You will experience love that you never experienced before. You will experience life that you never experienced before.  Write that list. That list of FEAR’s you must conquer. Write it and look at it and say, “By God’s grace, I will conquer.”  Never say never.  It can place a wall to where your destiny is leading you to.  Never is a powerful word and should only be used sparingly.  It should not be a word you use freely.  Using the word never is a substitute for I can’t.  No! YES YOU CAN!  Write those things that you are fearful about and say, “I will never say never. This too I shall conquer.  This too I shall have victory, This too I shall prevail.”  It’s time for you to experience some things of color that are right there waiting for you. FEAR NOT!


O Lord, anoint me for my destiny journey. Remove any roadblock of FEAR in my way.

DL: What’s next for you?
MCD: Writing another book with my spouse. To expand the book and magazine to an international platform and continue to preach, with power, the word of God! I will not stop until Perfect Patty Messed Up and Lady C Ministries is a household name.

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

·       Website: www.farenterprises.biz

·       Facebook: Pefect Patty Messed Up and Far Enterprises

·       Twitter: @faraboverubmag or @cdpgem

·       Blog: www.ladycspeaks.blogspot.com

·       Book Buy Links: www.amazon.com or www.createspace.com

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

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Review of Never Again Once More by Mary B. Morrison

This novel is the second in the Soulmates Dissipate series. This time the storyline spanned several years where we see Jada and Wellington living separate lives, Jada giving birth to Darius, him going to college, dropping out, becoming a womanizer and the drama continues. Throughout it all, Jada and Wellington are still pining for each other although they were married to other people.

After Jada’s mother died she decided to come clean about her feelings for Wellington and fessed up to Wellington that Darius wasn’t his son. Despite knowing this, Wellington still loved Jada and Darius as his son. In the end, Jada and Wellington remarried to the chagrin of scorned ex-lovers.

I totally get that sometimes when you find your soulmate you can go to the depths of the world to be with them but the message was a bit mangled in this novel. Overall, it wasn’t a bad read and I would give the next novel in the series a try.

My favorite lines:
“I hear congratulations are in order.”

The tone was sharp and rather cynical. Hopefully, Wellington wouldn’t lower the volume, because she could hear the person on the other end.

“You must have the wrong number,” Wellington responded.

“Oh, I never have the wrong number when it comes to you.”

Silence lingered; then Wellington said, “How did you get my new number? Look. Don’t ever call me again. I’m happily married now.” Wellington sat up on the edge of the bed and rubbed his head as his penis slumped over his balls. Wellington shook his head from side to side.

“Who is it?” Jada impatiently asked.

Wellington signed heavily, stared directly at Jada, and frowned. Jada took the phone.

“Hello. Who is this?’

“Enjoy the honeymoon while you can, because I never signed the divorce papers. Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, Melanie roared.

 Rating: 3 stars