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Author | Blogger | Workshop Facilitator Visit my website at www.authordeelawrence.com to learn more about my romantic suspense novel, Gotta Let It Go, which is set in Baltimore. Connect with me online @authordeelawrence (Facebook) and @thewritepen (Twitter). Thanks for visiting with me today!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Review of the play, SOUL The Stax Musical (Baltimore Center Stage)


The Baltimore Center Stage closed its season with a bang by showcasing its world premiere of SOUL The Stax Musical. The musical was based on a book written by Matthew Benjamin. It was choreographed by Chase Brock and was the final directorial effort by Kwame Kwei-Armah before assuming the position of artistic director of the Young Vic theatre in London.

This musical was inspired by the legendary story of Stax Records (Memphis, Tennessee) and the rise of many musical icons such as Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Booker T & The MG’s, Rufus & Carla Thomas and so many more gifted singers. All of whom contributed to laying the groundwork for American Soul Music.

When I arrived, the lobby was already in full swing with music, singing and dancing. A crowd formed around the performers and some were dragged to participate in dancing. There were a few takers until the doors opened then we all spilled inside and found our seats. But we were already primed for what was to come from the actors/performers on stage and we were certainly not disappointed.

The actors/performers belted out tunes that had us rocking and singing along. I felt transported into time: the outfits (I couldn’t get enough of Rufus’ flamboyant style), the jive talking, and YES, the singing…WOW! But what I found most interesting was that this was more than a musical because the audience got to see up close and personal the struggles of musicians amidst the Civil Rights Movement. The politics, racism, and the power play between the radio stations and the music industry were all too real. So real that remnants are still threaded throughout society today.

Overall, this was a fantastic performance as the actors/performers did an excellent job in breathing life into this story! Two thumbs up!

Check out the trailer and one of the sets below:







Monday, June 18, 2018

Interview with Yanatha Desouvre, author of Revelations: Roads to Redemption (A Grayson Goodman Novel)

Author’s Bio: Professor Desouvre is an educator and public speaker born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and raised in Brooklyn and Philadelphia. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on Management Information Systems and Marketing from Drexel University. He received an MBA, with a focus on Marketing, Mass Communication, and Media Management from Lynn University.

His literary works include Walk Through this Journey Volume One (2006), Volume Two (2008), A Family Affair (2010), Savor the Moments (2014), Proud to Be (2016)and his best-selling children’s book Big Sister, Little Sister (2013) available in French, Spanish and Haitian Creole. He is also the author of An Essential Guide to Windows 10 (2015). He’s a Marketing and Information Technology coach and consultant who has taught at Miami Dade College and Chestnut Hill CollegeAudiobooks for Walk Through this Journey (Volume One) and Savor the Moments are available on iTunes and other platforms. 

DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
YD: My action adventure thriller novel, Revelations: Roads to Redemption (A Grayson Goodman Novel) was inspired by many things, from love for my Haitian culture, where each chapter gives honor to Haitian proverbs, (which are translated into English as well). Dee, the action adventure/thriller genre is one of my favorite genres to read, so I wrote a book that I would enjoy reading. Finally, my latest novel pays homage to one of favorite Hip Hop groups, the Fugees. Each chapter is a title song from a Wyclef, Lauryn Hill and Pras song, (my way of bringing the band back together.) If Wyclef is reading this interview I’d love to get in contact with him because I have a vision that I’d love to share with him and it has to do with the Goodman Chronicles.

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
YD: Dee, yes, the Ian Fleming James Bond books, put me in a world of adventure and espionage and danger which I committed putting in my latest novel. Growing up and still today I read comic books. Stan Lee created Spiderman but what still sticks with me today is the character of Peter Parker, whom despite having these great powers still struggles yet he overcomes a lot of his challenges with his heart and mind not his superpowers.

DL: How long did it take to write your book?
YD: It took me about six months to a year to write this book. I use my birthday as a catalyst for my writing or any project I hope to accomplish. Recently, I celebrated my 40th birthday (an age I never thought I would see) by skydiving with my Brooks Brother bow tie in tow and my book cover taped to my chest here is the link  https://youtu.be/46w9kM-Q3Uk. Talk about taking things to new heights, 10,000 feet to be exact.

DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
YD: I tried to write an outline, however that didn’t work for me. With all my writings from poetry to writing a novel or short story, I start with the end in mind and go backwards. So, it goes organically but backwards. I know the ending is the creative and most fun part of the writing for me is to conjure how did we (the characters, readers) get there. Revelations: Roads to Redemption is the second part of the Goodman Chronicles (no, you don’t have to buy the first book to understand and appreciate the second novel.) I have at least a trilogy in mind and a young adult version of the Goodman Chronicles in the queue in my mind set in the 1990’s right before the age of the internet.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
YD: Dee, I sometimes do, Miles Davis, John Coltrane even Kenny G or Maxwell. A great friend of mind thinks that Maxwell’s “The Urban Theme” should be Grayson Goodman’s (one of the main characters in Revelations: Roads to Redemption) theme song. Maxwell, if you are reading this let’s have a conversation.

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
YD: For me, the keys to success in marketing my books are establishing genuine relationships with individuals in my local media, bloggers, news anchors, etc. I create press releases, book trailers etc. I also use the promo codes the iBooks offers as well as the KDP Kindle Promotions for free giveaways etc. I write articles on LinkedIn. I also have press releases for each event that I have coming up. I join various Facebook and LinkedIn groups where I post those press releases, giveaways, book trailers as well. I even encourage a childhood friend of mine to manufacture and assemble action figures for my characters. I was in awe when I saw them.  Below is the link to one of the book trailers for Revelations: Roads to Redemption https://youtu.be/A3cyKGCTRFo

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
YD: The advice I give aspiring writers is to not give up. Everyone has a story to tell. Only you can tell your story be it a fictional or non-fictional one. Hire an editor, the best investment you can make for your writing. I am beyond grateful for my editor Desiree McKim whose marvelous meticulousness was priceless in Savor the Moments: Inspired by True Stories and my college textbook An Essential Guide to Windows 10. I’m also grateful for Michèle-Jessica (M.J.) Fièvre - her guidance, coaching, and editing really help me grow as a writer.

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from Revelations: Roads to Redemption?

Excerpt from Revelations: Roads to Redemption chapter 13 / Fast Cars "Malè pa gen klaksonn." [Misfortune has no horn.]

Dominique cautioned them. “Based on the current speeds of both vehicles, you and the gray car are about to crash into one another. This would completely disable yours.” 

As Zoklo placed the palm of his hand on his head in disbelief, Amara’s voice took on a combative tone. “That is not going to happen!”

Dominique said, “He can’t catch up to us, guys, or we are toast! Do you see the two red buttons on the steering wheel? Those buttons release NOS, which temporarily increases your acceleration.”

Grayson looked at the buttons that read N2O, nitrous oxide. In a daring tone, he said, “Q70L, show me what you can do.”

Dominique said, “Floor it.”

Grayson turned his neck in a counterclockwise motion – crack – as he prepared to push the car to its limits. With a devilish grin, he pressed his right foot on the gas pedal until there wasn’t any space between the sole of his shoes and the floor of the car.

At the same time, Grayson pushed the two NOS buttons. Zoklo held his breath and gripped the car’s “oh, crap” handle to hold on for dear life. As Zoklo looked outside the window at streams of colors, everything was blurry because of how fast they were moving. Then – SWOOSH – the car appeared to be reaching new heights, leaving the city below it.

DL: What’s next for you?
YD: For two years now, I’ve been working on a posthumous project to bring to life the lost, not found recordings of my late godfather/uncle Daniel Coulanges who died at the young age of 28 years. My godfather/uncle was introduced as one of the World’s Finest guitarist. This project is near and dear to me. I am short $1,267 to raise the funds to manufacture, master, produce and pay for the licensing fees to make this “World’s Finest” posthumous album, not only to bring his music to life but to also raise awareness about everyone knowing their HIV status. My godfather/uncle Daniel Coulanges died of HIV/AIDS in 1989 when it was a death sentence. It was only two years later Magic Johnson made his HIV announcement. With this project I want to encourage everyone to live their lives to the fullest and make the most of everyday because you never know.

Here is the Indiegogo link https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/world-s-finest-daniel-coulanges-live-in-ny-xii#/ Reserve your World’s Finest album and much more today.

I’ll continue to raise funds for this project and until we reach our goal Dee. I’ll continue because writing is less expensive than therapy for me and I love it. I’ve been writing since I was seven.

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

·         Website: www.yanatha.com

·         Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/yanatha

·         Facebook: @aspire2inspirenow

·         Twitter: @yanatha

·         Book Buy Links: Exclusive 1978 Signature Edition with Free Shipping available via http://www.yanatha.com

·         Paperback via Amazon http://a.co/fTPw9wY

·         Amazon Kindle here: http://a.co/7slNC2p

·         iBooks here: Revelations by Yanatha Desouvre on iBooks

·         Instagram @goodmanchronicles


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

            Dee, it was a pleasure and thank you for the opportunity. As I always say, “Success comes with support. We only fail in this life when we fail to uplift one another.” 

#CHM #CAHM.  



Monday, June 11, 2018

Interview with Shannon Griffin, Co-Author of the Anthology: The Smell of Poverty

Author’s Bio: My name is Shannon Griffin and I am the co-founder and CEO of 4Humanitees. I am the co-author of the Anthology: The Smell of Poverty and a cancer survivor. My company designs and creates socially conscious t-shirts that align and build your brand’s message to generate revenue. I speak on survivorship of circumstances that try to take your life and keep you trapped. I help survivors get their life back, walk in their faith to activate their gifts.

DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
SG: In this anthology we will provide you with various "Poverty Stories" from professional, successful individuals that have made great strides to break the poverty circle and change their mindsets.

The goal of this collection of poverty triumphs will be on a greater scale. It will be an informative platform to educate, uplift and change the mindsets about the effects of poverty on families and individuals with life changing webinars, course and conference to help families change the trajectory of their lives.

During our life time, we have either used money as a class separator or as a class establisher. Unfortunately, poverty has showed itself to be a multifaceted concept that will group individuals with similar economic conditions.  In order to break out of this stronghold, some have used money to replace abilities and achievement. Your money or the lack thereof will show your true mindset and talents to meet your basic needs.

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
SG: I was inspired by many authors from my past to present. From Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume to a few other authors who are inspirational like Tony Morrison, TC Cooper, Desiree Lee, and Ebong Eka.

DL: How long did it take to write your book?
SG: The book was co-authored by 15 other authors and it took me 3 days to do my section of the book.

DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
SG: For me, I would write an outline to keep myself on track and I will let it flow for that area, but I primarily let my writing ideas flow.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
SG: Yes. I do listen to music when I write and I am inspired by John Legend. This book doesn’t have a theme song directly, but I do get inspiration from John Legend’s song “Give Me The Green Light” because I’m ready to Go Right Now and build my platform and change lives.

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
SG: The key that I have executed for this book and other book projects is doing what no one else is doing. I bring the book to life for the reader by making them see themselves in the book. Because of my social work background, I understand people and know that subconsciously everyone wants to scream about their troubles and pains that someone has done to them. As a child you feel that everyone is treating you bad and you only wish that you can tell someone that can make it all better.

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
SG: I would give an inspiring writer the advice of writing about topics you know like the back of your hand and bring your passion, logic and excitement at the same time.

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from The Smell of Poverty?
SG: Here you go.

Being the youngest of six and one of four girls was how my life started. In 1968, I was born into poverty the child of two adults from different eras but coming together all the same. Being conceived without my permission and placed in this life was the decision of God and only He knew what was planned for me born into poverty. My mother was from the deep south of Arkansas and she met my father on her travels from Arkansas to Seattle then to California.

From the streets of Oakland in a city where poverty was the norm and where civil activism and opportunity ran rampant in the streets. Oakland, California aka “The Town,” where high levels of poverty and police brutality set the scene and the influence of Huey P. Newton was the neighborhood recruiter. Born in the late 60’s, where free breakfast was handed out everywhere and was the lifeline for most folks in the neighborhood. A city filled with poverty, prosperity and oak trees, we grew up in west Oakland aka “Dog Town.” Growing up in west Oakland the local pool hall was your playground and the local park was the daycare center.

DL: What’s next for you?
SG: I am in the process of planning the next book the Smell of Poverty “Poverty from the Eyes of A Child” and The Smell of Poverty “The Embedded Poverty Code” for 2019.

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

·         Facebook: Shannon Griffin and 4Humanitees

·         Twitter: @4Humanitees

·         Book Buy Links: bit.ly/thesmellofpoverty

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, June 10, 2018

A Review of The Blackbirds by Eric Jerome Dickey


Whether it’s a thriller or a story about relationships, Eric Jerome Dickey can definitely write an epic tale. In The Blackbirds, Eric introduces readers to four best friends (Kwanzaa, Destiny, Indigo and Ericka) who will ride or die for each other. Each of these women are battling their own demons while trying to work through their romantic and family dramas.
What I really loved about this book was that Eric focused on each of these women as friends and how each of them celebrated their birthdays. I have to say that Eric did an awesome job in showing the frailties of each woman and how embarking on various romantic relationships made them so real, so vulnerable, so human. I found them to be relatable in some aspects – the hypocrisy of family (do as I say not as I do), lies men tell when they are playing games, etc.

Through it all, these women remained loyal to each other as they navigated through their various heartaches. Some found love when they least expected it while others were in between lovers or reigniting a past love.
Fantastic read! Two thumps way up!

My favorite lines:
Of the four women, Indio was the tallest. She was gorgeous, and what enhanced her loveliness were her confidence and an attitude born from two Nigerian parents telling her from her first breath how amazing she was, which coupled with an understanding of her true unsullied beauty. She was given the African-born truth before American society told her she was too dark-skinned to be searched for if she ever went missing.

Straight Outta Windsor Hills, Ericka was a hair shorter than Indio and the oldest in the crew. She was recovering from a divorce, a marriage to a man of the cloth that had been a marriage from hell, and she was in remission from cancer. She had lost her once-wavy hair during chemo. It was growing back, but she kept it cut close on the sides and back, let grow long on the top, had the hair dyed blonde and colored the tips of the top cancer-survivor pink.  

Destiny Jones was Straight Outta View Park, the land of doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and entertainers. She wore a thousand and one wavy sisterlocks, all bleached and cascading down her back. Destiny had been a face that looked the same now as it had when she was fifteen and attending private school in Bel Air and used her bleached dreadlocks to conceal her facial features.

Kwanzaa was two inches over being five feet tall, but she packed seven feet of beauty into those sixty-two inches. Her complexion was smooth; Ghirardelli chocolate personified, with subtle orange undertones, insinuating her Middle Passage ancestry was amalgamated with the Trail of Tears.

Rating: 5 stars