Malik is smart. He loves school, and he runs–he has to. He is teased by kids just like him for loving learning. Malik knows this is unfair, and he is tired of living this way. He isn’t alone. His friend, Keisha, knows how he feels. She and Malik have been there for each other through many difficult days. Matt is their friend, too. Not unlike Malik and Keisha, Matt’s days are spent running from trouble in his own way. One afternoon, while the three friends are gathered at Keisha’s house, the doorbell rings and things change in a way none of them could have guessed.
My Black Life Matters, by Michael A. Brown, is the story of young Malik and his friends, three African American elementary students who explain how they deal with the abuse and bullying endured on a daily basis. Malik, Keisha, and Matt live with mistreatment on many levels, the most painful of which comes from their own peers and family members. Readers of all ages will find Malik’s story relatable, and teachers and parents will recognize many children in Keisha and Matt. They represent a large part of the African American population all of whom deserve to have their voices heard.
Author Michael A. Brown brings to light the incredibly challenging lives of children across the country. In making sure that their lives matter, he gives them voices through his vibrant and engaging characters. Brown’s book is a must-have for school counselors. Brown deals with triggering content in a tasteful way that parents and counselors can easily incorporate into important personal discussions. Kudos to Brown for giving readers a story grounded in real-life with a positive and uplifting message.
Pages: 44 | ISBN: 1735604194
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Profiles of KAD Relations with the Black Community helps readers understand how KAD can be a bridge in the Black Lives Matter movement. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I wrote the answer to that within the book itself, but essentially I didn’t feel that there was anything like it in existence, and I thought there should be.
What were some ideas that were important for you to convey in this book?
The role that Korean adoptees play in anti-racism.
What is a common misconception you feel people have about Korean adoptees (KAD)?
That they’re “not Asian enough.”
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
The importance of practicing anti-racism and the importance of getting adoption-based and/or race-based trauma included in the DSM V.
Posted in Interviews
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The Prodigal Dream is a thought-provoking coming of age tale following Joe, an ambitious young man battling to escape his neighborhood and achieve the ‘American Dream’. Joining him in his journey for success is his best friend Marlon. However, despite their friendship and similar childhoods, his dreams and plans are quite different to Joe’s
Author P.W. Freeman explores several deep and culturally reflective themes in this book including, setting goals, personal ambition, long-term gain versus instant gratification and friendship. Both main characters in the novel have the goal of bettering themselves. Both Joe and Marlon want to be more financially affluent than they were in their childhood. Financial wealth appears to be their main criteria for ‘success’. However, the journey they take to achieve their goals is vastly different. Whilst one chooses to work methodically through education and long-term commitment the other is in search of more instant gratification. The novel encourages the reader to examine how they define ‘success’. Prodigal Dream also explores the theme of friendship, what it means to be a friend, and how friendship changes over time.
The Prodigal Dream is set in the U.S. and begins in 2020, but then works backwards, looking at Joe and Marlon’s childhood and youth. Freeman adds descriptions of technology, music and clothing to set the scene and time period. The detailed descriptions bring the story alive and give the story an authentic feel.
The story is structured in easy to follow chapters. The chapters are appropriately titled and give a nice flow to the story. The story follows the traditional plot structure but does at times have the reader questioning what the eventual resolution or outcome will be.
The main characters in the story are Joe, and his best friend Marlon. In their younger years they are similar, and described similarly in physical appearance, speech and interests. As the story progresses the two characters are differentiated more and more by their actions and choices. Although they still enjoy the same music, their speech changes, as does their mutual friendships and interests. This change, and the choices that lead to the changes, is the thing I liked most about this novel. There are also some important supporting characters in this novel, including good friends and family members. These characters are well developed and add depth and interest to the story.
The Prodigal Dream is a compelling contemporary fiction novel exploring the challenges urban youth face in modern society. It questions our definition of success and how we achieve success.
Pages: 206 | ASIN: B08QGPG3YL
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Something in Madness concludes your DarkHorse trilogy. Were you able to accomplish everything you set out to do with this series?
I did accomplish all my major objectives for writing the trilogy. My themes came across clearly in each novel, though each had a slightly different emphasis. The struggles of the characters under historical slavery (The Lies That Bind, 1859-61 Mississippi), Civil War guerrilla brutality (Honor Among Outcasts, 1863 Missouri), and, finally, post-war oppression (Something in Madness, 1865 Mississippi), clearly make their points. Though the characters, living in a repressed society, must remain tightlipped, rarely giving speeches, I think the reader gets the idea that humanity can— and must learn to — get along.
In fiction, context is everything, and the main concept carries throughout the series. For example, in book 1, a drifter and a dozen escaped slaves form a partnership to build their own plantation, but pretend their enterprise is a traditional master-slave one to trick the town. At first, the hostility and suspicion between the partners, driven together by circumstances, is palpable. But as they seek common goals under enormous pressure (as they do throughout the series), the partnership’s internal conflict blends into familiarity, friendship, and finally trust. And isn’t that what we aim for ideally?
The plot of each novel ties up neatly and better than I’d hoped. Each involved complicated situations and seemingly insurmountable obstacles for the characters, requiring numerous twists and turns, and ingenuity in the part of the protagonists. I had a lot of fun devising them and hope readers can sense that excitement.
Further, I worked hard to make the major characters (below) complex, fully-formed individuals — Black, white, Native American, mixed-race, male and female — each with admirable qualities and flaws, unique personalities, and ways of thinking and speaking:
- Durk: an imaginative, idealistic hustler, whose ambition brings real danger to himself and his cohorts.
- Antoinette: a sophisticated, strong woman carrying heavy emotional burdens and secrets.
- Big Josh: wise, intelligent, highly competent; the group’s real leader, bearing his own past tragedies.
- Mrs. Marie Brussard French: a reclusive, powerful planter controlling the town and perhaps a bit mad.
- Devereau French: the unhappy and embittered French family heir.
- Wounded Wolf: Chickasaw chief whose arc is completed surprisingly in book 3.
In fact, I think the arc of the series as a whole worked in tandem with the character arcs of each novel. As for the plots, the final novel not only ties up a number of tangled situations within the its storyline, using clever tricks and surprising gambits played out dramatically in court, but the novel also resolves a number of issues left unresolved from book 1 in an emotionally satisfying and meaningful way.
Was there anything in the story, that developed organically while writing, that surprised you?
Actually, my novels develop almost entirely organically. I never get bored because of the exciting surprises I encounter along the way: plot, dialogue, characters, everything. It’s a hard slog, but the constant need for invention keeps me, and the story, fresh.
Some of my most pleasant surprises came through the dialogue. I like to create characters with strong views and then listen to what they have to tell me. Some of the best lines merely pop into my head in the shower or taking a walk.
One good example of strong dialogue is from The Lies That Bind. The Mrs. French character detests being around townspeople. But I needed a way to get the recluse to town so that Durk, the protagonist, could expose her darkest secret to the citizenry. So I have her going to church, unwillingly, once a year:
“I don’t see why I have to go to church every Easter, just because that Man rose from the dead,” the bitter widow said.
I also gained terrific dialogue through my research. In Something in Madness, Colonel Rutherford, one of my few true villains, says some shocking things about race relations. Rutherford is an unregenerate Confederate who refuses to surrender nor to accept emancipation. In this scene, he opines on the concept of Black literacy:
“Negro schools have sprung up like mushrooms after a storm; hell, they’re starting them themselves. These so-called schools are a plague descending upon our civilization.”
Rutherford’s attitudes were taken directly from contemporary letters to newspapers and articles written by correspondents. I merely put them in the mouth of one man — who spoke them in a tense meeting with the story’s hero, Durk, a Southerner who’d fought for the Union. To Rutherford, Durk is a traitor. In other words, the two men don’t like each other, or the other’s politics. Frankly, the racial animus prevalent in 1865 was tough to read about, and I had to put my source materials aside at times.
As for my methodology. First, I came up with the central concept of the trilogy (the partnership), which established the context for everything that happens after, themes and conflicts. Second, I get a rough idea of the arc the plot will take, plus an arc the major characters will undergo, working on their strengths and weaknesses. Then I let the characters go at it to create the plot twists, always working more conflict into every situation and scene. Is the story tense enough? Does it move?
For example, Durk and his Black partners are equal; they have to trust each other. But with Durk acting as front man for their enterprise, what if his ego drives him to gamble on the cotton market? What if that venture endangers their whole scheme?
I have to figure my way through all the possibilities. That constant need for invention creates suspense for the reader — and a lot of fun for the writer.
What has been the most surprising reader reaction to your books in this series?
How I write the female characters, without a doubt the most commonly asked question. After the publication of The Lies That Bind, I was invited to speak to a book club with about a dozen women and a few men. I went there with the notion of discussing many of the book’s elements, but the major thing they wanted to discuss was how I could write the women so well! In retrospect, there were two reasons for that.
Most importantly, I set out to give the women’s stories, Mrs. French and Antoinette predominately, as much weight as the men’s in terms of plot and outcomes. Not doing so would, in my opinion, sabotage the notion of “equality” and realism, an omission committed by far too many male writers past and perhaps present.
And second, I asked for and received feedback from female writers, friends, and my most ardent fan and critic, my wife, who often pointed out: “A woman wouldn’t say that” or asked “How would she feel about…” And she was always right.
What project are you working on next?
I’ve been considering a sequel to The Antiquities Dealer, my futuristic suspense thriller featuring the clever David Greenberg, released in 2018. The story involves the search by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian extremists to find the surviving nail from the Crucifixion, tied to an attempt by a secret society to clone Jesus Christ. Murders, puzzles, and romance drive the suspense toward a surprising conclusion. In the meantime, I’ve begun working on another sci-fi thriller, Remembering Planet Earth, where in the not-so-distant future, our world has become an offbeat tourist destination for advanced, wealthy aliens — they’re here to have fun and observe…what? In both sci-fi scenarios, I get to explore politically and socially relevant themes, and offer up possible consequences.
Posted in Interviews
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Racism has plagued the country for years. It always seems like it is the cast iron ball chained to our ankles preventing us from moving forward. When it seems like we have had enough of crime against people of color, something new emerges. From killings to wrongful incarceration to brutality against innocent people going about their daily life. Trumping the Race Card highlights the beginning of all this and the evolution of oppression through history. Rodney Patterson has cast a light on this sensitive topic to help people realize where they go wrong as well as what can be done about the systemic failures within our society. These are human failures and as such, they can be fixed.
One thing that stands out to me the most about this book is how Rodney Patterson’s passion is palpable throughout this though-provoking book. Someone said that racism is also a human rights issue and should be treated as such. Trumping the Race Card elaborates on this idea and colorizes it with insightful concepts. This is a deeply emotional and sensitive issue to write about especially at this crucial moment in our nations history where we are on the precipice of some potentially monumental changes to the way in which police officers serve our community. Prejudice is an issue that has crippled our communities since the nations founding. Rodney Patterson inspires progressive thought and spurs action. For me, this book did a fantastic job in helping me understand how much of prejudice is racism and vice versa.
Trumping the Race Card is well written and well-timed. I left this book feeling well informed and better prepared with strategies that can be utilized for action at any level of involvement in advancing human rights. This book is really for anyone whether they have experienced or been proximal to racism.
With a pragmatic approach and easily understandable language this book is easily the best civil rights book I’ve read this year. I believe this book will appeal to a wide range of readers. This country needs this book now more than ever.
Pages: 101 | ASIN: B07W4S684D
Tags: african american, author, book, book review, bookblogger, civil rights, discrimination, ebook, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, nonfiction, nook, novel, prejudice, racism, read, reader, reading, rodney patterson, story, trumping the race card, writer, writing
Mirrors of Life vividly explores contemporary experiences of black people in America through the emotional tale of a mother and her children. Yvonne is a single mother who is stuck between tragedy and poverty. She finds a release for her pain through her religion and focus on her children. Yvonne’s children are all motivated individuals, though each in their own direction. Each blaze their own path in life, but Derrick is the one that seeks economic equality for his community and finds opposition coming from surprising places. Can Derrick overcome these challenges and change the social and economic fabric of a community set in their ways?
What I found most striking about this novel was the unique way in which it broached sadly common economic and educational deficiencies in minority groups and their communities. Derrick seeks substantial change to address racial inequalities and social justice and does so through his own drive and faith. In a time where black men are killed regularly at the hands of law enforcement, and vigilantes, this novel speaks volumes in its ability to keep the conversation on these topics civil and focused on human experiences.
Derrick, I think, is the main focus of this story. He’s a character that was slow to build but was well developed and stirring. The challenges he faces, they are numerous and varied, and the way he handles them, propels this novel forward at a delightful pace. His mother, Yvonne, is an equally captivating character that I wanted to learn more about. She could have easily had her own novel.
This is a thought-provoking novel that uses compelling characters to bring life to an otherwise familiar story. Mirrors of Life explores themes of family, faith, and love while waxing philosophical, occasionally, on a few topics. If your looking for an intriguing contemporary urban fiction story that addresses many societal issues in a heart-felt yet engaging way then Neal Owens has a novel for you. Mirrors of Life: What is your life in the mirror? is an inspirational novel that made me smarter, if not more aware.
Pages: 304 | ASIN: B07VGLQKTS
Tags: african american, author, book, book review, bookblogger, contemporary, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, MIRRORS OF LIFE, neal owens, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, urban fantasy, What is your life in the mirror?, writer, writing
The Cure For Onlyness is a motivational guide to help black men live a life filled with joy, passion and purpose. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Despite the mainstream media generated narrative that suggests black men are in danger of becoming extinct, I personally believe black men are positioned to experience unprecedented levels of success in America today. Now more than ever, black men need to be exposed to optimistic stories that refute the negative media generated stereotypes about black men. My intention with the book was to not only share some reasons for optimism, but to also provide some insights and strategies that support them in becoming optimistic about the future.
You have dedicated your life to empowering men and women. How has your experience helped you write this book?
After overcoming divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure, depression and being homeless for 2 years living out of my car, I decided I wanted to share the lessons I learned during those challenging times in my life. Since I was able to overcome a multiplicity of adversities in my own life, I definitely have first hand experience in dealing with adversity. Being able to rebuild my life after all of these challenges gives me credibility and my story gives others permission to challenge themselves to overcome any adversity in their own lives. I’m a firm believer that experience is the best teacher, and my experiences have definitely made me a great teacher.
I enjoyed your view on positivity expressed in this book. What do you find is a common misconception people have about positivity?
Because of the over proliferation of negative news stories, most people are extremely pessimistic about the world right now. I on the other hand happen to be extremely optimistic about the future. A big misconception that people have about optimists is that we are in denial about the challenges facing our world. The truth is we aren’t. We simply choose to focus our attention on the things that are right with the world versus the things that are wrong. If a person is willing to look past negative media headlines they would find there are a lot more things that are right with the world than are wrong with it. It’s really all about perception and the lens through which we see the world. I love this quote by Deepak Chopra, “There are two types of people in the world. Those who believe the world is primarily a dangerous place with only moments of safety, and those who believe the world is primarily a safe place with only moments of danger. I choose the latter.
I found this book to be ultimately uplifting. What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?
I hope people will feel a sense of optimism in regards to race relations in this country and abroad. I personally do not believe race relations are getting worse in this country despite the current racial tensions we all feel. As an optimist, I see the world through an evolutionary lens and I believe humanity is still evolving. We are evolving in consciousness and ultimately, we will evolve to the understanding that we are all a part of one human family. More specifically, my hope is this book reaches the millions of men of color who have given up on their dreams and let them know they have everything they need already inside of them to create an extraordinary life. I hope my story inspires them to find their joy, passion and purpose in life.
Discover the secrets of thriving as a black male in a world that is rigged against you with this definitive guide to self-improvement for black men!
Do you often find yourself despairing at the abysmal and “doom-and-gloom” statistics of black men? Are you tired of being forced to conform to noxious societal labels and subscribe to stereotypes that don’t serve your ultimate purpose and goals?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this guide might just be what you need.
In this powerful guide, Michael Taylor, an accomplished life coach and entrepreneur, shows you how to shatter limiting beliefs peculiar to black men and hands you the blueprint to living a life of joy, happiness, fulfillment and accomplishment.
Posted in Interviews
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Some scars will destroy everything in your path. No one understood this better than Samantha. After being a heartless and disengaged person for most of her life, she has no remorse about what she does to other people. She is perfectly fine deceiving and targeting women. That is until she meets Sasha, who upturns her entire life. Sasha loses some important people in her life for the simple reason that she loves Samantha. However, Sam’s past and her scars will ruin everything. Isis died but who will Samantha be now? Can she make it having lost a chunk of her heart? Can love truly improve a person?
Ben Burgess Jr writes Wounded with a passion that will make you feel the characters devastation. It is sad to watch Sam be the person she is, knowing full well she could be different. The stories of Sam’s childhood are told with vivid emotion and pain that the reader cannot help but empathize with a person who is still a scarred little girl inside. Even when she messes up, the reader still remains on her side. This book will keep you hoping that love will finally show up and conquer all. When you think it finally has, unseen twists will have you reeling.
It is evident that Samantha’s character took time to sculpt. She is deeply complex and multidimensional. This only increases the frustration when other characters do not see these sides too. She is an extraordinarily broken person but the enthusiasm with which she executes her bitterness is inspiring. The friends, among other supporting characters, are developed enough to make them interesting but allow Sam to remain the driving force in this novel.
The emotive way in which this book has been written, along with a vibrant use of language, makes the writing simple yet captivating. However, I felt like the story was wrapped up a little too quickly. I wanted to see more of the process that led to Samantha’s change and I felt like the death of Isis should be broken down as we simultaneously witness the birth of a new Sam.
This book pulls you in right from the beginning. You will find yourself hoping for a better Sam right from the first page. Wounded will inspire an emotional investment. After this emotional roller-coaster, at least you will get a happy ending.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B07TT13N13