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Wanting To Find Her Own Way In Life

Reese Author Interview

Trapped follows four women who meet at a freshman assembly and remain friends through college and beyond. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Initially, the concept was a short story about four friends having a girls night in, playing a drinking game. As the ideas for their personalities developed, I realized a short story wouldn’t hold the amount of information I wanted to convey to the reader, thus Trapped was born.

Throughout the novel, the characters are searching for their own identity separate from their past. What were the driving ideals behind the characters’ development throughout the story?

I wanted each woman to have her own identity, but I also wanted them to be relatable. Every woman, including myself, can attest to wanting to find her own way in life on her own terms. We’ve all had some secret that we’ve wanted to keep buried, but as we go through life’s journey, we realize that our past experiences give us insight to make us better.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted to touch upon a few things with this novel. Mental illness and sexuality are two major points worth mentioning. There’s still so much taboo around sexuality and mental illness in the black community, and I wanted to normalize the discussions surrounding these topics. Mental health issues need to be discussed, as well as treatment options. No one should be shamed for seeking the help they need. In the same token, the world doesn’t have to agree with the way someone lives their private life, but they should respect an individual’s decision either way. Society would be so much better if people were open to each other’s differences rather than despising others for them.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on the second book of the Trapped series, Released, which will be released in the summer of 2023. Keep an eye out for the beta reader notifications this spring.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Meet the girls: Naomi, Arnya (pronounced Ahn-yah), Stephanie, and Jasmine—four friends who meet during a dreaded group assignment in Freshman Assembly.

Naomi is on the verge of leaning into her adulthood. An only child in a prestigious family, she attempts to break out of her sheltered life to find herself. When love comes knocking in an unconventional way, Naomi has to choose between her traditionally structured upbringing and her carnal desires.

Arnya finds herself living her young adult life grieving the loss of her mother when a chance encounter at a charity event opens the door for romance. Her happily-ever-after approaches destruction when a past lover emerges, threatening to expose the truth about her son.

Stephanie, the former “church kid,” wants nothing more than freedom from her overprotective, saved-and-sanctified grandmother. When a job opportunity of a lifetime falls into her lap, Stephanie finds herself caught up in a web of deceit—and the arms of her boss.

Jasmine is a natural-born hustler. Her ability to read people goes a long way toward getting her into college—and occasionally into trouble. Jasmine is as carefree as she is calculating, and she makes it a point to keep everyone on their toes. The tide shifts in her world when a thoughtless bet nearly costs her a friendship—and her heart.

Join the krewe on this decade-long ride through girls’ trips, family drama, and uncovered secrets that will have you clutching your pearls, in this spicy novel, New Orleans style.

My Thank You Letter

Melvin E. Edwards Author Interview

The Strength of a Thousand Sons is your memoir detailing the challenges your family has faced over generations and the struggle to break the negative cycles. Why was this an important book for you to write? 

​My first book, The Eyes of Texans: From Slavery to the Texas Capitol, was published in 2020 and it featured my maternal ancestors in a similar manner as this one. The Strength of a Thousand Sons examines the paternal side of my family, and we also learn about personal and American history through their stories. While both sides of my ancestors were directly impacted by slavery, the Edwards line emerged from its human bondage with deep scars that weren’t healed with time alone. I traced my dad’s struggle and gave context to how he laid the foundation for me and future generations to have a better chance to succeed. This book is my thank you letter to him.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The first chapter was the toughest thing I’ve written in my life and I’ve been a writer for almost 40 years. I cried for three days while writing that chapter alone. I still do if I think about it too much. 

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

The most important takeaway is that one person can change generations for good or bad, so we might as well strive to be positive role models — for our own children and others in our care.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

The systems of racism and abuse are common and have many layers. The sooner we realize that the sooner we can break those vicious cycles once and for all. I’m optimistic we can do that for good.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

When you’re in an abusive family, you can only break the cycle if you have the strength of a thousand sons.
The author of the award-winning book, The Eyes of Texans: From Slavery to the Texas Capitol: Stories from Six Generations of One Family, returns with the riveting follow-up that features the paternal side of his family, beginning in 1842.
Like his maternal ancestors, Melvin E. Edwards’ paternal ancestors are also Texans from the time of the Republic of Texas. However, the Edwards line emerged from its human bondage with deep scars that aren’t healed with time. One mind-boggling act of desperation by 10-year-old Melvin Edwards changed that trajectory and provided a softer landing for his son, this book’s author.
If you found Isaac Bladen to be unforgettable in the last book, you’ll find the elder Melvin Edwards equally compelling in this true story.
Studying family history can be fascinating. It can also reopen old wounds.

Blackface

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Blackface, by Pamela D. Smith, is a celebration of African American’s success in politics, art, and culture. For the longest time, black faces have been associated with mockery, misery, pity, and everything negative. Pamela D. Smith, however, brings positivity to the words and gets readers to revisit the misrepresentation of the term. Smith is not trying to forget history but she wants readers to use these experiences to become a leader. The Author shares painful memories of African Americans, the impact slavery has had for generations, race dynamics, the struggles Black people have gone through, and how African Americans rose up, and are shining.

Smith has written a powerful and inspiring book sharing her experiences as an African American woman and asks the reader what they would do if they were in her situation. Many of the situations the author describes are some that many readers don’t face that often so this was an eye-opening read for me. I also admired that the author debunks the stereotypes given to African Americans, some of which I wasn’t even aware of.

The author writes in a conversational tone that is not out to point fingers but instead to educate us. I feel this book can be relatable to people of different races, not just African Americans. Smith inspires and provides tips on how to be a leader for yourself and how to be the best version of yourself no matter what you face in the world.

The author is honest and open with the reader and she does not hold back about what African Americans have gone through and still go through today. The author’s vulnerability is inspiring and a remarkable feature of her writing.

Every chapter in Blackface has a lesson that will benefit the reader. My biggest lessons were on how to brand and package yourself for more visibility. By creating an exemplary brand with your name, you will be able to skillfully sell whatever product or service you have, impact lives, sub-consciously mentor future leaders, and live a fulfilling life. Apart from the wise teachings, I also loved the quotable texts in various chapters. One of my favorite quotes from Blackface is ‘To become internally self-aware, we must be open-minded’. This quote is powerful and helped me change my perspective.

Blackface: An African American guide to building a personal brand, developing as a leader, and serving with excellency is an insightful look into how African Americans can grow in their professional lives. It gives a realistic look into the struggles and roadblocks that People of Color face.

Judgement With No Empathy

B.J. Cyprian Author Interview

The Gray Line follows a woman that has dealt with many obstacles and is forced to challenge her belief of what is right and wrong. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

I had a surface concept of who Angel was as a person. I think when we consider people who have had a lot of severe trauma we expect them to be broken or unable to cope. Very few people believe that someone like Angel could thrive despite all of her hardships to the point of maintaining healthy relationships.

I think people often don’t take the time to ask or learn what informs certain personalities and decisions. There is often judgement with no empathy, and this appears to be growing in this country more and more. I just wanted to write about people that you, or anyone could know.

What were some obstacles you felt were important to defining Angel Lamb’s character in the story?

Adolescent and childhood traumas have happened to so many people. We hear stories about these children, but I wanted to look at what could happen after. However, Angel isn’t perfect, nor has she “put her trauma behind her.” Trauma is just that: a wound, an injury. Just like a scar on our outer self can be re-injured, as can internal damage.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

The answer is in your question… Hope. When I lost my sister, I truly didn’t know how I could go on and I realized it was an absence it hope. I think that’s what the world needs now more than ever…hope. I also wanted to show how love and empathy could go a long way into helping both yourself and others heal.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am still working on the Shadow Resistance sequel. I don’t yet have a release timeline. I’m also working on scripts to stretch my writing portfolio as well as attempt to gain the ability to do this full time.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Angel Lamb has overcome many obstacles in her three decades of life. Rescued from an abusive environment at a young age, Angel has a realistic and cynical outlook on life, yet a strong sense of right and wrong. After she loses her wife in a tragic automobile accident, Angel seeks out the assistance of a local grief support group to help her deal with the crushing loss.

When violence begins to find members of the group, Angel is forced to face her painful past as well as an uncertain future. In order to survive, she will have to challenge her own black and white view of good and evil.

Black, White, and Gray All Over

Black, White, and Gray All Over: A Black Man’s Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement by Frederick Reynolds is a fantastic memoir surrounding his tumultuous life as a black cop in Compton, California. The book deals with sensitive topics such as racism, police brutality, poverty, and crime. As a cop, Reynolds encounters horrific situations that allow him to showcase in his book the many difficulties and traumatic events that cops in America have to deal with daily. Through his unforgettable story, he invites the reader to take a look from the inside at what it’s like to work in law enforcement in one of the most crime-ridden cities of America. This well-crafted book is highly informative and brings a critical perspective on life: it’s not all black and white; there are also gray areas that are constantly being navigated and make things more complicated to understand.

This revealing memoir tells the emotional story of the author’s road to personal improvement. Reynolds describes perfectly what it was like growing up in a dysfunctional family and how he almost kept going down the wrong path as a young person. We get to see the dangerous lifestyles that many people are introduced to from an early age and how hard it is to get out of them without the appropriate support system. His job as a cop helps him build a life for himself and his family. However, this didn’t come right away. Many obstacles had to be overcome, getting to witness in the process one of the most heartbreaking and cruelest realities of the worst areas in Los Angeles County.

Reynolds tells his personal story with great detail. His descriptive writing is carried out through every chapter. From his life as a child to his eventual retirement, he gives as much context as possible to the reader, creating a complete and holistic perspective of his life. He makes sure to display the real problems and corruption that he saw while working as a cop. He also shows the reader how challenging and thankless the job of being a cop in America is. This allows him to exhibit the complex and traumatic lives people who work in law enforcement have to deal with. His detailed accounts of murders, shootings, drug deals, and gang violence were very tough to read, and it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to lead a life where such events are part of your daily routine.

Black, White, and Gray All Over: A Black Man’s Odyssey in Life and Law Enforcement is a relevant book that will help readers understand the history of racism and discrimination that this country has had. Police work is probably one of the most demanding jobs out there, and through this book, you’ll get a better understanding of all the sacrifice it takes to carry out this necessary profession. Bad people come in all genders, races, shapes, and sizes; some even wear badges, so it’s important to remain human and avoid judging too harshly those that happen to look different than us or have had the misfortune to grow in disadvantageous circumstances.

Pages: 477 | ASIN : B09JF9VB4Z

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Dear Daughter

Dedrick Moone and his daughter, Haelee, have conquered many things in their life together. From the separation and divorce of Dedrick and Haelee’s mother to the car accident that almost ended his life, Dedrick and Haelee have managed to find strength in one another. Their relationship is a truly special one. From her birth to their ultimate move far from the only home they both have ever known, the pair battle everything life throws their way with grace, dignity, and incredible resilience. Dedrick’s love for his daughter and his determination to keep her safe and supported is unmatched.

Dear Daughter, by Dedrick L. Moone, is a poignant personal story of the author’s relationship with his young daughter. This beautifully constructed children’s book/memoir details every joy Moone experienced from finding out he would soon be a father to winning a hard-fought custody battle which allowed him to give Haelee the life she so wanted. In addition, Moone includes each of the challenges he and his daughter faced. He sugarcoats nothing, and his honesty is appreciated. Moone’s work will touch the lives of more families than he will ever realize.

Moone grew up without a father and was determined to not fall into the stereotype of an absentee father that plagues the African American culture when it comes to divorce. His goal was to be present for all the important moments in his daughter’s life and this collection of letters shows that devotion. The letters are not all joyful and positive memories, instead, they show the real challenges he faced including going to jail. The darker memories are still told in an age-appropriate way that is not scary for children, rather factual and honest.

Dear Daughter: A Love Story, will show readers the intense love and admiration Moone feels for his daughter. It can be felt on every page of this heartwarming account of their lives. This heartwarming picture book is highly recommended to any parent who has faced overwhelming challenges in raising their children. Moone and his daughter give readers something that is difficult to find in today’s world–they give us hope.

Pages: 57 | ASIN : B09QZG1YFV

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Lilac Bush: A Poetic Journey and Cultural Awakening for Future Generations

Lilac Bush: A Poetic Journey and Cultural Awakening for Future Generations by [Pamela Nwokeji]

Lilac Bush calls attention to the longevity and persistence of discrimination against black Americans. The call comes as author Pamela C. Nwokeji shares with us her negative experiences during her childhood in Roxbury. Beyond this, Pamela also extols her positive experiences and relates them through analogy and poetry to lilac tones.

Within her exceptional writing, the poet shows how education is transformative in everyone’s life and especially in hers. Such movement leads young people and adults who read her work to be more critical and more aware of their role in the world. Persistence and education are words that mark Pamela’s ideals, as being the most powerful key to a person’s development and success.

The obstacles experienced by the author are mostly due to racial and cultural prejudice, and also because she is a woman seeking independence in a society shaped by patriarchy. However, even with all the problematizations implied in this work, the characteristics brought out by the poet is joyful and motivating in several aspects. The representation carried in the title makes all the difference to this milder perspective, which is lilac. This shade chosen by the author carries several positive meanings, among them spirituality, something that the author also addresses in her book.

Her affinity and relationship with God and His purposes are made explicit several times, not only in the religious sense but also in her home and in her strong and united family. The poems by Pamela Nwokeji are inspiring, but beyond all of this, she brings us a portrait of the many evils experienced by African Americans, in order to get to know and, through knowledge, transform this reality. As a reader, I felt graced to have the opportunity to read such a work, which intrigues and delights throughout the journey in the universe of Pamela’s poetry.

Lilac Bush is an inspirational and thought-provoking collection of potent poetry that explores a variety of issues with beautiful and flowing language.

Pages: 207 | ASIN: B09HQ59QGV

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Fires of Social Change

Julius Thompson
Julius Thompson Author Interview

A Brownstone In Brooklyn follows a young man and the struggles he faced growing up in the 60’s in Brooklyn and how these struggles were impacted by the Civil Rights Movement. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for A Brownstone in Brooklyn came from my time as an undergraduate at The City College of New York and what I had to overcome to graduate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The sixties in Brooklyn was an era that had a personality, a feel, and a life-force that changed a generation. I felt this energy and experienced these fires of social change. I wanted to put this into words on a paper.

What were some driving ideals behind Andy Michael Pilgrim’s character development?

Some of the driving ideals was a strong family bond and a relationship to every person in the Brownstone where I lived in Brooklyn. Andy was the Rock Star and hope of people who moved from the oppressive south and wanted the young people to have a better life than they had. He was a hero, a vision of the future, that blacks could advance and compete with white American young people. It was a strong racial identity and that fueled this push for success. Andy wanted to rebel, but knew he would be letting a lot older people down. H was full of respect the older generation.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

As a product of the inner City, I wanted to show that Bed-Stuy and other African-American enclaves were populated with good people who wanted to achieve goals and success and not what was pictured on television and in the Black-Exploitations movies of the era.

Black Americans read and created literary works of significance.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Killer Kudzu (Sci-Fi): Publication Date January 2022.

Killer Kudzu is a pre-apocalyptic, semi-horror novel where science has gone terribly wrong. There is a southern twang in the characters voices and a distinctive down-home feel in the locale. It is written with a social twist and a commentary about the relationship between blacks and whites in the south. Killer Kudzu is in the vain of the creeping menace like Pandemic, The Atlantic Gene, The Hot Zone and The Day of the Triffids.

Killer Kudzu Book Trailer:

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Website

A Brownstone in Brooklyn chronicles the life-altering events that shape the future of Andy Michael Pilgrim, a young man growing up in the turbulent sixties.
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