The Ghetto Blues is an autobiography of your life in the projects of San Antonio and how you overcame numerous obstacles. Why was this an important book for you to write?
My legacy is important to me and I want to share my story to inspire people. I want my children and future grandchildren to know the real me, my life story, and that no matter what life throws at you, you are to never succumb or play the victim role. No excuses.
I wrote the book for my family’s history; the saying that every time an old person dies, a history book dies with them.
I don’t want my history book to die with me.
What I liked most about this book was the honesty in the retelling. You left nothing out, good or bad. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The hardest to write about, is by far, the suicide of my beloved mother. She was not only my mother, but my best friend and someone that I could talk to about anything. My mother always had my back and she loved all of her children, unconditionally.
The Ghetto Blues is dedicated to my mother and father.
When writing a biography it enables you reflect on life choices. Is there anything that you see differently now that you’ve written this book?
There’s a lot that I see differently as I reflect back on my life’s choices, but without the decisions that I made, there would be no Ghetto Blues.
My experiences taught me to remember the past but don’t let it define my present and future. I’ve learned from my choices and there’s no greater teacher in life than mistakes.
I felt like this book was about perseverance in the face of adversity. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope that readers take away the fact that no matter what you go through in life, you are the director, producer, actor, and the entire cast of your life’s decisions. You are in control of your own life.
There are two choices, to give up or to never give up.
I hope that the Ghetto Blues inspire young children and people in general that are born into poverty, suffer mental, or physical abuse to never give up.
I write this book for future generations to learn, grow, and inspire to be a better you. This book is the story of my life and based on true events. It’s about a young lady that struggled through her identity crisis and was raised in unstable environments and poverty.
A story about a life of tragedy, trepidation, but triumph. I never accepted the ideology of a victim. Instead, I embraced strength, resilience, and a warrior’s philosophy. I fit the perfect description of Tupac Shakur’s meaning of the saying, a rose that grew from the concrete. When the odds were stacked against me, I continued to grow mentally, physically, and spiritually.
I believe that you are only a victim when you have no choice; otherwise, you are an enabler. I had no choice being born into poverty, but I had a choice on whether to rise above my circumstances. My desire was to break the mental and physical chains plagued in our communities and instill new ones for me and my children.
My story goes out to all the people that suffered and survived, The Ghetto Blues. I hope to transform and inspire you to never give up on you.
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The Civil War was filled with pain, suffering, and too much death for both the North and the South. The often-untold stories of suffering and valor are those of the slaves and former slaves. Out in Missouri and Kansas some of the most brutal fighting occurred, not from the armies, but from guerrilla warfare. Honor Among Outcasts continues the story of the Dark Horse inhabitants that have joined the Union Army as soldiers in the Missouri State Militia Ninth Calvary. This is a story of how a group of former slaves fight for their freedom along with their half Indian partner. They face war, racism, and the loss of family and friends, and a multilevel conspiracy; but through it all, their spirit and honor never waver.
Ed Protzel uses historical fiction to bring light to things that went on during the Civil War. While the story of Durk and Antoinette is fabricated there is truth underlying their situation. Generals in the war often didn’t agree with the side they were on; but cared more for their political status than the men they sent off to die. Colored soldiers were especially expendable and were not given adequate supplies and provisions to fulfill their missions, yet few cared. Protzel does an amazing job showing the fear for each decision and action that the soldiers in the Dark Horse regiment had to make. It was never a simple decision of what makes the most sense, it was always about, what will keep us alive the longest while maintain honor. Paralleling their story, is the one of the women from the Dark Horse plantation. These women could not join the army, so they had no protection when all their papers are lost. This was a common issue among freed slaves. You could not go anywhere without your documentation or you were at risk of being put in jail or hung. This fear is so prevalent in the writing.
Reading about the harsh conditions in Missouri that the soldiers lived in is hard, starvation, lack of medical care, equipment shortages in the way of horses and weapons. Soldiers being sent out with little more than their bare hands to fight off guerrilla attacks. I know growing up and learning history I never heard about the guerrilla warfare and the complete brutality of it all. It didn’t matter who you supported, they were merciless and only cared about collecting the spoils of war. Killing meant nothing to these mercenaries. Double agent spy’s playing to whatever side they could is not a far-fetched idea and I’m sure it happened more often than even Protzel makes mention of. Lives and families torn apart and those left alive must suffer from it all.
Reading Honor Among Outcasts, I can see where Ed Protzel got the title. Everything is stacked against the Dark Horse group, men and women, but through it all they retain their honor. They refuse to take the easy way out of things to save their own lives. As I read this book I wanted to see the happy ending, I wanted everything to be okay, but true to real life, that isn’t always the case, not everyone will live, not everyone has a happily ever after. There is still another book in this series and I look forward to reading it to see what happens with the remaining Dark Horse members’, just maybe they will find peace.
Pages: 269 | ASIN: B077YRFB9J
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This hard to put down, exposure of the, ‘hidden truth,’ that could change, your World View, and the Course of History! Jaw dropping secrets, hidden for decades; are revealed, in this book; written by a former member, of the US Organization, in the ’60’s! From the perspective, of the Author, and Barbara’s exceptional research, is an eye-witness, eye-opening, and shocking account, about the inner-workings, of the US Organization, in The Black Power Movement, of the ’60’s & ’70’s!
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The Ghetto Blues by Tammy Campbell Brooks unexpectedly won my heart. The book’s full title is The Ghetto Blues – An Autobiography of Tammy Campbell Brooks’ Trepidation, Tragedy, and Triumph, and it follows the life of Tammy from childhood through adulthood. In the opening pages of the prologue, Tammy’s daughter writes, “In this book, you will go through different stages of emotions from tears, laughter, happiness, and joy of growing up in poverty and impoverished environments, but not letting the circumstances define you.” As I began the book, I was skeptical that I would experience all these emotions, but as I concluded the final chapter, “Bells Will Be Ringing,” I found that Tammy’s daughter had been entirely right all along.
Typically, authors are referred to by their last names in reviews, but after reading Tammy’s story, I feel it only right to call her by her first name. Tammy’s story was incredibly challenging for me to read at the beginning because it is so disparate from my own experience in suburban America. Growing up in the projects of San Antonio, Tammy had an upbringing that is almost unbelievable for most readers – gunshots, emotional and physical abuse, poverty, extreme hunger – but she avoids writing about her experiences in such a way as to say, oh woe is me! Completely the opposite, Tammy describes herself as driven and dedicated. Even though she experiences setbacks and succumbs to vices that will have readers wanting to call her up and say, what were you thinking?!, she does not let her weaknesses or mistakes define her, and she is always striving for the best out of herself.
Tammy’s autobiography is written in an almost spoken format, and not at all how Strunk & White might have preferred. While the typos and grammatical errors irritated me at the beginning on the book, I came to realize that if it had been written like Faulkner, for example, it would not have truly been Tammy’s autobiography. Her story is edgy and uncomfortable, and sometimes painful to read. It is the opposite of polished, but it is honest and eye-opening. That said, the book would have benefitted from some additional editing to correct some of the simple spelling errors and word usage errors. Those glaring errors are the only reason I would give the story four stars instead of five, because Tammy’s story is undeniably a full five stars.
Describing Tammy to someone who hasn’t read her autobiography feels almost as if she must be fictional: how could one woman overcome all those challenges thrown at her? Not only is Tammy an inspiration, but she was also eye-opening to me. I knew nothing of the ghetto lifestyle in the projects that she describes, and her story reiterates the age-old adage of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” At the conclusion of her autobiography, my overwhelming emotion was one of thinking that Tammy’s story would be amazing to share through radio or podcast. The courage and strength that it took Tammy to share her and her family’s story with readers should not be underestimated, and I hope that many readers have the opportunity to learn from her experiences.
Pages: 257 | ASIN: B07BFKCQZ9
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William Bowie a slave and skilled carpenter along with his family were freed by the will of Roderick McGregor of Prince George County Maryland in the year 1858. Fifty- Five years later in 1913, his grandson William Augus Bowie and John Whitelaw Lewis co-founded the Industrial Savings Bank in Washington DC and together they would make important and lasting contributions to the African-American community of Washington. Thomas and John Vreeland Jackson were manumitted by Richard Vreeland in 1828 in Bergen County NJ. Oystermen by trade they would go on to become two of the first black property owners in Bergen County and conductors of the Underground Railroad who helped thousands of slaves to escape to freedom. In 1823, Joseph VanArsdale was freed by the will of Abraham VanArsdalen in Somerset County, New Jersey. Joseph would become one of the earliest black property owners in Princeton, New Jersey. This is their story in Slavery and Freedom.
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In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree takes place in the 1860s and follows the lives of three people trying to find their way in post-Civil War America. What was the inspiration for your characters; the Henry the ex-slave, Clara and lieutenant Elliot?
I have always been an omnivorous reader. From horror to historical and most genres in-between. The American western is genre that seems to have sort of faded into obscurity over the last thirty years or so. I suppose I can understand why. A lot (not all) of it had become dusty, formulaic, trope-worn, overly-romanticized, and historically inaccurate. I set out to write a story set somewhere between the gold rush and the turn-of-the-century. Something with a different kind of hero from the gunfighter or bank robber. Something that would dust off the genre, add some real humanity, and hopefully spark some renewed interest in this fascinating and sometimes troubling time period.
Henry as the main protagonist was an easy choice. I read a short once, about a man who was freed after the civil war and went on to become a well-known cowboy in Texas. The man had a remarkable way with horses. He was the inspiration for Henry. The challenges African Americans faced even after they were freed from slavery were monumental, and so many extraordinary men and women overcame this adversity and went on to live noteworthy lives.
With Clara I wanted to highlight challenges that women of the period faced. Their oppression can’t be compared equally to African American’s enslavement, but neither can it be marginalized. I also used her character to showcase the disconnect between wealthy easterners and the reality of what was going on in the rest of the country.
John Elliot’s inner conflict wasn’t that uncommon for soldiers both during the civil war and the years following. I have read truly heartbreaking letters sent home disillusioned soldiers from the period, particularly ones from soldier’s involved in what could arguably be called the Native American genocide.
This novel gave a good view of life in 1860s America for slaves and Native Americans. What were some themes you tried to highlight throughout this novel?
Henry and Clara’s relationship is touching but anchored with fear and a desire to find their way to the right side of things. What served as the basis for their relationship while you were writing?
Henry and Clara’s relationship is one of self-discovery for both of them. Henry begins to forgive himself, and finds that he is still capable of love. Clara discovers that her prejudices were misinformed. Her interactions with Henry, and his honesty, later affects how she later handles John’s disturbing revelations.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I have two novels in the works. One is a contemporary drama about a twelve-year-old whose parents both die tragically less than two years apart. He’s subsequently injected into the foster care system and eventually runs away hoping to find an estranged grandparent who lives off-the-grid in Montana. The second is about a man searching for his daughter years after a global catastrophe. Both novels should be released in 2019.
In 1865 a shadow hovers over the nation: the shadow lingers still…
Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.
Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.
Henry finds himself caught in the middle.
Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.
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The Gumdrop House Affair, volume 2 in The Monk Mysteries, takes readers on a journey from the untimely death of Saul Greenberg, the financial officer for the Diocese, through the gruesome discovery of a horribly decomposed body no one can seem to explain, to the recurring appearance of the menacing turquoise eyes. Timony McKeever’s characters, Sergeant Jack Laskey and Father William Butler are both painfully aware of the presence and part played in the string of violent acts by the evil they refer to as “The Ugly.” Somewhere between Aunt Rhoda’s World Famous Apple Cobbler and Mona Monahan’s famed Gumdrop House lies the answer to the Laskey and Butler’s questions.
Mysteries top my preferred reading list, and The Gumdrop House Affair ranks among my favorites of recent years. Not having read volume 1 in the The Monk Mysteries, I don’t feel that I was lost. Readers need not read the first installment to fall nicely in step alongside Laskey and Butler as they struggle against “The Ugly.” McKeever does an excellent job bringing readers up to speed on his main characters’ backgrounds.
By far, the McKeever’s character, Aunt Rhoda, is my favorite among the many players in this work. Her strength and no-nonsense attitude permeates every scene in which she is featured. She is capable of curing most any ill with her frying pan alone–that includes the odd home invasion.
The Gumdrop House and its proprietor, Mona Monahan, are as unique as they are colorful. The Gumdrop House is a place of refuge and operated by Mona with open arms and no judgements. Mona is yet another of the author’s strong female characters. The account she relates of her face-to-face encounter with her grandfather, a mobster in his own right, demonstrates her tenacity.
Dialogue is one of McKeever’s most obvious strengths. The author transports readers to the scene of the crime with the colorful conversations between Laskey, Mona, Paisley Bob, and the rest of his lengthy list of players. Nowhere is this more evident than in the most violent and climactic scenes. I am not a fan of excessive profanity, but McKeever uses it sparingly enough and in the most appropriate circumstances to drive home his characters’ emotions.
Within The Gumdrop House Affair, the author intersperses an added layer of first person observations of Deputy Chief Thomas Dugan between authentic dialects and heated exchanges in order to explain his characters’ choices and actions. I truly appreciated this additional twist in McKeever’s writing. He gives his writing the feel of the classic detective novel with these ventures into the mind of one of his characters. This introspection is a welcome addition to the already engaging tale.
Fans of the mystery genre will not be disappointed with Timony McKeever’s police drama. Each of his characters has a rich personality and is portrayed in vivid detail. The multifaceted plot addresses everything from inherent evil to the corrupt dealings within the Catholic church itself. From beginning to end, McKeever’s mystery installment is laced with humor and brimming with everything that makes for an authentic and enjoyable thriller.
Pages: 266 | ASIN: B06Y4S6P44
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In 1850 Charleston, South Carolina, beautiful and headstrong Willow Hendricks is forced to grow up surrounded by turmoil, secrets, and lies. Brutality and cruelty form the world around her. Dysfunction between her and her father rule her life until she finds commonality in spunky, outspoken Whitney Barry, a northerner from Boston. In an era where ladies are considered mere property, these Charleston belles are driven to take control of their own lives. Fear and chaos encompass these feisty women in their quest to fight for the rights of humankind. Slaves—powerless and crippled by an assumable superior race—fight against all odds to secure freedom and equality. Only when losing it all do they find a new beginning. Book 1 embraces the hardships the slave endured at the hands of their white masters.
Available March 2018
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Black and White is contemporary novel focused on interracial couples and the stigma they endure. Why was this an important novel for you to write?
I felt with everything going on in the world today, this book was needed. I want this book to help improve the world or at least get people to start talking and create a dialogue for change. The world can be an ugly place and I wanted to show that ugliness so that people can also appreciate the beauty.
The story is set in a city filled with crime and focuses on the animosity between black communities and the police. You take a balanced perspective in your story, do you feel that is something that is lacking today?
I feel there is mistrust on both sides when it comes to the Black Communities and the Police. I feel that both sides need to work on change and the only way that can happen is with dialogue. I want this book to help. I’m an NYPD Detective and I feel that it’s important that Cops acknowledge that there are some cops who are prejudice and pray on minorities but at the same time it’s important that minority communities don’t assume that every cop is corrupt and prejudice. I feel society forgets that cops are people too. I feel that sometimes some cops become so calloused from the job that they began to see minorities as bad. Balance is the key to everything. Understanding each other helps also. I talk to communities often and sometimes after I explain certain situations to the crowd, they understand things better and have less animosity. Sometimes the community members help me see things differently than I do through the lenses of being a cop. In order for the world to get better, we all have to change.
Did you put any personal life experiences in this book?
I put some personal life experiences in all of my books. “Ben”, “Ebony”, and even “Bill” and “Becky” are all parts of me. At times I felt like Ben where I felt my own race believed I wasn’t “Black” enough and I was too “Black” for some White people. I know the struggle of dealing with the public at protests like Ebony. I’m an NYPD Detective. Like Ebony, before I became a Cop, I hated cops and I became one to make a difference in the world. I’m heavily involved in urban communities and I’m in an interracial relationship. I’m similar to Becky because I wrote this book to change the world. I wouldn’t want to alter it or tone it down. I love this story the way it is and my writing is important to me. I’m similar to Bill because I grew up in Queens Bridge. Despite growing up in a low-income family, I didn’t let my environment hold me back. I’m also a huge basketball fan and play regularly. Some of the situations and even dialogues in the book I have actually had or have been involved with. I like to put some of my real experiences in my stories because I believe it helps them feel more authentic.
What is one thing that you hope readers take away from Black and White?
I want readers to understand that we all have biases, we all have assumptions and stereotype, but it’s important not to base our actions and decisions on these things. It’s important to get to know people and not assume that a certain race is all the same. I want people to read this book and understand that love is love. It doesn’t matter what race your partner is, be with anyone you love. I also want people to feel comfortable in their own skin. Ben and Simone were examples of two characters that struggled with that and it’s important to know that until you have love and appreciation for yourself, you can’t truly do the same for someone else.
What is the next novel that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next novel will be a story celebrating the strength of Mothers. I’m writing a story about three different types of Mothers in three different situations and I’m calling it “Mothers.” I hope to have the novel out in time for Mother’s Day.
When the prestigious law firm of Wayne, Rothstein, and Lincoln catches two major cases—a rape case where a White NBA star allegedly raped a Black stripper, and a murder case where a Black rapper allegedly killed a gay couple and two policemen—Bill O’Neil and Ben Turner are tasked to handle these racially charged litigations. The cases hit emotional chords with the two lawyers and force them to reckon with their interracial relationships and families. Will the racial tension of their cases destroy them or make them stronger?
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The Testimony of a Villain follows Manuel into the gritty alleys of the inner city as he seeks retribution. What was the inspiration that made you want to write such a thrilling novel?
Good question. My inspiration or should I say, “the book that inspired me to write” was The Adventurers by Harold Robbins. In his story, he wrote about a South American character named Dax who lost everything. The book was almost a thousand pages, it covered decades of history. It took me on a ride through time. I enjoyed it.
So, I was compelled to I start writing about Manuel Doggett a man who lost everything. I asked myself, how would it effect a black man here in the United States? So I pulled from the history of the African-American experience. Manuel is born on the tail-end of the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King is dead. Malcom X is dead. The Black Panthers and the original Nation of Islam had been dismantled.
Here comes Manuel Doggett. The future.
As a child, he shows great leadership abilities. He is smart, thoughtful, and a good speaker. Further, there’s nothing stopping him from being anything he wants to be. He has aspirations of being a judge or the first black president.
His family is murdered in front of him. His wealth is stripped. He is forced to live in the inner-city. This young man with so much potential is now faced with dangers from the same black people that his family talked about with so much pride. He realizes that he is a cub that has become prey to a jungle of hyenas.
Manuel had two choices. Try to rise above it or become part of it.
From the spirt of a leader, he took the third choice. He became it. He became the fear. He became the danger. He became the king of the concrete jungle.
He became the villain.
For me this was thrilling to write.
Manuel Doggett is a boy who lost everything and was formed by the streets and remade in its’ dark image. How did you set about creating such complicated characters?
A loaded question. I will try to answer it the best I can. The characters around Manuel are not complicated to a person who grew up in the inner-city. You see them all the time a car thief, a pick-pocket, or a drug dealer. You see the upset aunt or the concerned mother. Manuel, on the other hand, is a complicated character. He has physiological issues and is force into different environments, his higher intellect compelled him to rise up at any cost. Further, he had become a killer. Now, as an author, I had to navigate Manuel through the streets. I had to take on the mind of a madman. What would an intelligent madman do?
The original title of the book was “Product of Environment”. I named it Product of Environment because while I was writing I noticed how Manuel had to adapt and lead others into each new environment he faced. A leader will be a leader wherever he goes.
The title changed to Product of Environment: The Testimony of a Villain and was later changed again when I sat down with my project manager, Anthony Lindo.
Anthony was putting the book cover together on a computer and I was watching him. We were discussing colors and letter sizes, and then, all of a sudden, he deleted Product of Environment out of the title. After looking it over, it made sense.
Thus, we have The Testimony of a Villain.
I found myself enjoying the book because I found a lot of truth embedded in the story about life, justice and society. What themes did you try to capture while creating this story?
The themes that I tried to capture about social justice revolved around relevant issues: abortion, race, politics and crime. I think most readers found it interesting how “living the life of crime”, didn’t seem like a crime to the people living it.
It was simply a way of life.
To me, the the biggest social issue that the Testimony of a Villain brings to light is that there are people who live like the characters in the story every day. For them, it’s normal. They never had a job and they don’t plan on getting a job. They are just waiting to go to jail or get murdered or hustle another day.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book that I’m about to release is called: Wisdom of a Dying God. It’s a crime story about a crime fiction writer who is in prison, dying. He has books floating around the prison system. He is revered by his peers because of his knowledge of the criminal underworld. As the prisoners read his books, they find better ways to commit crimes.
The book should be available in the next 60 to 90 days.
Outsiders call Manuel a villain. After spending his youth entangled in inner city gang warfare, he’s lied, robbed, and murdered his way to the top of the brutal organized crime underworld. His path toward vengeance was set long ago when two killers massacred his family in front of him…
Manuel tracked down one of the murderers and exacted revenge, but his bloodlust grew for the killer who got away. When he got the chance to complete his vengeance, the city cowered beneath his thirst for retribution. As he continues to retrace his old scars, Manuel has one chance for vindication. To succeed, he’ll need to take a hard look at the street life he’s built upon the ashes of his childhood…
The Testimony of a Villain is a dark crime thriller set on the unforgiving streets of inner city Boston. If you like true crime stories, complex characters and an unapologetic look at urban reality, then you’ll love Aaron G. Harrell’s poignant psychological thriller.
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