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Black Pearls Blog Tours - 5 new articles



 

Intimate Conversation with Kimberla Lawson Roby



New York Times Bestselling Author Kimberla Lawson Roby has published 20 novels and she has sold more than 2,000,000 copies of her novels, and they have frequented numerous bestseller lists, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Essence Magazine, Upscale Magazine, Emerge Magazine, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, The Dallas Morning News, and The Austin Chronicle to name a few.

Kimberla is a 2013 NAACP Image Award Winner for Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction, the recipient of the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Author of the Year – Female award presented by the African-American Literary Award Show in New York, the recipient of the 2014 Literary Excellence Award from Black Pearls Magazine, the recipient of the 2014 AAMBC Award for Female Author of the Year, the recipient of the Blackboard Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2001 for CASTING THE FIRST STONE, the recipient of the 1998 First-Time Author Award from Chicago’s Black History Month Book Fair and Conference, and in 2001, Kimberla was inducted into the Rock Valley College Alumni Hall of Fame (Rockford, IL).

Each of Kimberla’s novels deal with very real issues, including corruption within the church, drug addiction, gambling addiction, infidelity, social status, single motherhood, infertility, sibling rivalry and jealousy, domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental illness, care-giving of a parent, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment, and overweight issues to name a few.

Kimberla resides in Illinois with her husband, Will. Her 21st title, A CHRISTMAS PRAYER will release on October 28, 2014.


BPM: Share with us your personal journey into publishing. Was this a fun time in your life?
Writing was not a lifelong dream of mine, however, back in April 1995 I sat down and began writing my debut novel, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. It took me about seven months to complete, and I then began querying literary agents in search for representation. I was rejected by all of them. Finally, I submitted query letters directly to editors at publishing houses and received rejection letters from them as well. This is when my husband suggested that I start my own company to self-publish my book, and I did. My mom kept telling me not to give up also. As it turned out, I learned a wealth of important and very helpful information about the business of publishing, and I sold just over 10,000 copies within the first 6 months of publication. This was truly a fun and exciting time in my life.


BPM: How did you get to be where you are in your life today? Who or what motivated you?
My mother and my maternal grandmother were two of the kindest and wisest women I have ever known, and they began instilling a certain level of Christian and family values and wisdom in me from the time I was a small girl. Even after all the rejections, my mom told me I shouldn’t give up (I miss her tremendously), and my husband continues to be my biggest encourager and supporter as well.


BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to? Do you consider authors as role models?
I believe my literary work speaks to everyone in one way or another. I write about real-life social issues that can and do affect all human beings. Corruption within the church, infidelity, domestic violence, drug addiction, gambling addiction, adult sibling rivalry, care-giving of a terminally-ill parent, childhood sexual abuse, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, social status, overweight issues, and the list goes on. There is also always some level of redemption and forgiveness in every single book I write. I don't consider myself to be a role model per se, but if someone does in fact view me in that manner, my prayer is that I am able to represent myself well, particularly to young people.


BPM: Could you tell us something about your most recent work? Is this book availableon Nook and Kindle?
A CHRISTMAS PRAYER centers on Alexis Fletcher, who sadly, hasn't had a merry Christmas in five years—not since her mother passed away. Every December, she remembers the joy that her mother brought to everyone during the holiday season and feels the pain of her absence. This is even more so now that she and her sister are barely speaking, and her future mother-in-law would do anything—anything at all—to stop her son, Chase, from marrying Alexis.   Yes, it is available in all digital formats.


BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special? 
Alexis is kind, compassionate and very intelligent, yet she is struggling with lots of sadness because of the passing of her mother. No matter what she does or how wonderful every aspect of her life is, she still can't seem to get beyond her feelings about the holidays.


BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?
About three years ago, my editor, Beth de Guzman suggested that I write a Christmas book, and while I wasn't sure what I would center the story on, I told her about my own personal feelings about Christmas, and she said, "Well, that's the story." I can't personally relate to every aspect of Alexis Fletcher's life, but I can certainly relate to not truly wanting to celebrate Christmas since the passing of my own mom 13 years ago.


BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I enjoyed writing this book because even though Alexis is sad about the holidays, she is blessed in so many other ways and there is a strong sense of love and family throughout the entire story.


BPM: Where do your book ideas come from?
With every book I write, I first decide which social issue I'm really feeling passionate about at the time and then I create my characters around it. From there, I outline the story.


BPM: Are your books plot-driven or character-driven? Why?
My books can tend to be both, depending on which title. What I hear most often than not, though, from the majority of my readers is that they can always relate to both my characters and the overall storyline.


BPM: Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
In many of my books, there are. One example, is my novella, A DEEP DARK SECRET where I wrote about a 12-year-old girl who was being sexually molested by her stepfather who was an upstanding deacon in the church. She was suffering in silence and so are millions of children in this country who never tell anyone what's happening to them.


BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation, education, spiritual practice or journey?
As I mentioned above, I can't personally relate to every aspect of Alexis Fletcher's life, but I can certainly relate to not wanting to celebrate Christmas since the passing of my own mom 13 years ago. My prayer, however, is that God will give me a renewed spirit and the desire to enjoy the holidays again with family and friends.


BPM: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
I wanted to show that not everyone is the same and that loss of a loved one can affect people very differently. I also wanted to show that even through loss, God still gives each and every one of us so many other blessings and loved ones to be there for us.


BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
I'm currently finishing up THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, which is my 22nd book and the 12th title in my Reverend Curtis Black Series. It will be released, Tuesday, May 5, 2015.


BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Readers can visit my web site, www.kimroby.com. or visit me through social media at www.facebook.com/kimberlalawsonroby   or  www.twitter.com/KimberlaLRoby


 


           
 



 

Intimate Conversation with Cerece Rennie Murphy



Cerece Rennie Murphy fell in love with science fiction at the age of seven, watching “Empire Strikes Back” at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C., with her sister and mom. It’s a love affair that has grown ever since. As an ardent fan of John Donne, Alice Walker, Kurt Vonnegut and Alexander Pope from an early age, Cerece began exploring her own creative writing through poetry.

She earned her master’s degrees in social work and international relations at Boston College and Johns Hopkins School for Advance International Studies, respectively, and built a rewarding 15-year career in program development, management and fundraising in the community and international development arenas – all while appreciating the stories of human connection told in science fiction through works like Octavia Butler’s “Wild Seed,” Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and “The X-Files.”

In 2011, Cerece experienced her own supernatural event - a vision of her first science fiction story. Shortly after, she began developing and writing what would become the “Order of the Seers” trilogy.

Cerece lives just outside of her hometown of Washington, D.C., with her husband, two children and the family dog, Yoda.


BPM:   What moved you enough to sit down and actually start writing the first book in the Order of the Seers Trilogy?
When I got the idea for Order of the Seers, it felt like a blessing to me, this incredible gift and I just didn't want to waste it. The story came to me in such a complete way, with character names and backstories, plot lines - even the title of the story came to me.  I felt convicted to try and bring it to life.  To me, each story is a gift and the journey to telling that story is a privilege.  It was never a question of *if* I would write it. It also helped that, in the beginning, I had no inkling of trying to publish Order of the Seers as a novel. I think if I'd had that notion from the start, I would have been too intimidated. Instead of worrying about if my story was "publishable", I was able to focus on writing.


BPM:   Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?
Absolutely, though I have to say that I don’t do it intentionally.  All my questions about God, what our true purpose is on this earth and what we are truly capable of and meant for as a species are in Order of the Seers.  My own struggles to find and protect my identity are reflected in characters like Alessandra, who has so much self-doubt when you first meet her, and Liam whose guilt weighs him down to the point where he becomes a different person.  Self-discovery and determination are big themes in the Order of the Seers Trilogy because they are themes that I relate to on a very personal level. 

Family is also very important to me and, in retrospect, I can see how I got to explore the idea of family in a variety of ways throughout the book.  I'm not someone who grew up with a lot of family around me, but I learned that family doesn't have to mean people who are related to you by blood.  Someone who knows you and loves you for exactly who you are can be family, too.  Family can be the people you claim and those who claim you.  The story’s main villain, Crane Le Dieu, is basically an amalgamation of all my worst fears.  Almost every aspect of his personality terrifies me.  I think I would faint if I met him in the street.


BPM:   Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven?  Why?

So far, my book ideas come from questions that are on my mind that I would like to explore, but I also have at least two books planned that came to me in a dream, so who knows.  I'll take inspiration anywhere I can get it!  I read one reviewer who described my books as "very character-driven" which I took as a compliment because it said to me that she liked the book because she cared about the characters and that's ultimately what defines a good story for me.  All kinds of cool stuff can be happening in a book, but if I don't care about the characters then I can check out of almost any story pretty quick.  But to be completely honest, I don't think about any of that when I'm writing.  In fact, I try not to come with any personal agenda.  I believe the story exists already.  As a writer, I think my job is to see that story clearly and try to describe it to the readers as best I can.  I'm following the story that is taking place in my head and trying to write it down as true to that vision as possible. 

My only exception to this rule is when I chose not to expound on a particular aspect of a story because I am trying to keep the pace of the book pretty tight.  At the end of each chapter, I want there to be a reason why you need to turn the page and I try very hard to keep the story from meandering into territory that might compromise the pace.  Other than that, the characters and the story are in charge and the more I can keep my own agenda out of it, the better the story turns out. 


BPM:   Introduce us to your current work. What genre do you consider your book? Is this book available in digital forms like Nook and Kindle?
Right now I am working on the final book in the Order of the Seers Trilogy, which is about a group of people who can see the future and are enslaved for that ability.  The entire trilogy takes you on a journey as they escape the group that hunts them, rebuild their lives and start fighting back.  Through books 1 and 2, you watch these characters evolve from a group of people who are just trying to survive to a community that answers a much larger calling to restore a legacy that was broken for every man, woman and child on earth.

The Order of the Seers Trilogy falls solidly into the science fiction genre, but if you enjoy a lot of action, mystery and suspense in your stories, you could still enjoy this book even if you aren’t into science fiction. Both books are available in Kindle and Nook.  Book I is also available in audiobook.


BPM:   Introduce us to your books!  Take us inside the world of your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Sure.  The book starts out with Liam and Lilith (Lilli) Knight, a brother and sister who are about to have their world turned upside down when they discover that their parents died to hide a secret so powerful the people hunting them will stop at nothing to get it. Before this happens, Liam and Lilli are your typical American teenagers, living life day-by-day without a care in the world. What makes these characters so special to me is how they come together to create this safe haven for each other.  The adversity they endure could have easily torn them apart, but instead they form this incredible bond of familial love that helps them weather all the storms in their lives.

Marcus Akida is another main character that I love.  Before he was captured, he had a wife, a son and was a leader in his community.  In some ways, he is the character who’s lost the most in the book, but he is anything but bitter. His spirit is gentle, optimist and kind, despite everything that has been taken from him.  He never losses himself to the brutality around him and as a result becomes the most powerful Seer.  His character was very much inspired by Colin Powell and Nelson Mandela, people I deeply admire for their compassion and integrity.      


BPM:   What topics are primarily discussed?  Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
You know, even though Order of the Seers is science fiction, at its core this is a story about the importance of self-discovery and finding your true purpose.  The story is set in the real world for a reason.  Now more than ever, we need to encourage people to unleash their greatest potential so that it can be used to heal this world.  The Seers in this story are doing the same thing, and while the powers may seem a bit extreme, the potential for each and every one of us to change the world is VERY real.

The journey of writing this story has taught me so much, but I think there are two main things that I discovered about myself. The first is that I can write a full-length story (and then some).  Before this book, I never knew that about myself.  In fact, I used to tell myself that I couldn’t write anything longer than about 5 pages.  So, to be working on my 3rd book with another 5 books in varying stages of development is just incredible to me. People ask me if this is a dream come true and I tell them, “No,” because I never dreamed of doing anything like this. This experience is literally, beyond my wildest dreams.

The second thing that I’ve learned about myself is just how afraid I am of putting myself in front.  The fear factor for putting my self, my work and even my picture “out there” for the world to judge and criticize is huge for me.  It’s gotten better since I started, but only be degrees. (The fear used to be enormous, now it’s only huge.) Three years ago, when I published my 1st book, I hid under the covers the entire day, sick with worry.  By the time I released my second book less than a year later, I actually had the presence of mind to go have lunch with a friend to celebrate.  I may have felt a little queasy, but I kept everything down.  That’s progress!


BPM:   What defines success for you, as a published author? What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I have many levels of success that I hope to achieve with my writing.  The first and foremost is to write each story I am given to the best of my abilities and to be obedient to God’s will for them. I know that if I can do that, then someone will read my books and enjoy them, be inspired by them and maybe even change a little bit for the better.  If I can achieve that, then I would have accomplished a great deal.

For the next level of success, I would like my writing career to be financially self-sustaining.  It’s a very competitive market out there, but I would like my publishing business to be profitable.  Ultimately, I would like to make enough money from my writing to retire my husband.  I have the best partner in the world and I would love to see us both have the financial freedom to pursue our passions.


BPM:   What are your expectations for this book? What would you like for readers to do after reading this book?

You know, I don’t have expectations for the book because you never know how a story will (or won’t) impact a reader. It’s such a subjective experience.  On the most basic level, I’d like them to have been entertained by the story and satisfied by the conclusion.  On a deeper level, I hope that after finishing Order of the Seers, readers will be more curious about the limits of their own potential and examine their own spiritual relationship more closely as it relates to their unique purpose and calling.


BPM:   Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?  How can readers discover more about you and your work?

I definitely want to say THANK YOU for the opportunity to do this interview! It’s given me a great chance to reflect on my journey as a writer and I so appreciate that.  If anyone would like to learn more about my upcoming projects, you can visit my website at www.cerecerenniemurphy.com.  You can also visit my  Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cerece-Rennie-Murphy/205753729546299.

 
Purchase The Last Seer (Book 3 in the Order of the Seers Trilogy)

http://www.amazon.com/Order-Seers-Last-Seer-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00MQZRXL6 


Books by Cerece Rennie Murphy:

B&N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/cerece-rennie-murphy
Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Cerece-Rennie-Murphy/e/B008G6XXBS



           
 


 

Intimate Conversation with Kristin L. Mitchell




KRISTIN LYNN MITCHELL, M.Ed.
was born in Washington, D.C. She was formerly educated in the District of Columbia Public School system, from grades K-12. Because of her immense desire to become an educator, aiding in positively changing the lives of students in the District of Columbia, she decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Child Development from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. While at Spelman, Kristin became a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc., following in her mother’s footsteps.

Kristin always excelled academically. She graduated from Spelman number ten in her class, Phi Beta Kappa, and with high honors—summa cum laude. After graduating from Spelman, Kristin was accepted into Teach For America, and began her career as a high school, special education teacher at Anacostia Senior High School in Washington, DC. During her first year of teaching, Kristin set out to pursue her Master of Education in special education from George Mason University. Kristin graduated from George Mason with a perfect 4.0 GPA and high honors. Kristin credits her success to her mother, Erica J. D. Jones, and her earnest desire to teach to Ms. Griselda Y. Rutherford, her fifth grade teacher.

Kristin currently resides in Washington, D.C., with her pet tortoise, Brylen, and is still striving to make a positive change in the lives of students who reside in the southeast quadrant of Washington, DC.


BPM: What motivated you to sit down and actually start writing this book? 

My relationship with an ex-boyfriend was my inspiration for writing, He Wasn’t My Daddy. The demise of this relationship catapulted into a platform that is relevant to millions of women across the globe. This platform is that of being a “fatherless daughter.” This relationship allowed me to realize that I was a “fatherless daughter” and that I had, “daddy issues.” Thusly, I began to realize the importance of having that father figure in your life, and the detriment that can be caused when that presence is absent, as in my case.

BPM: Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?

Absolutely! In this book, I am speaking from a very personal place. I am telling, “Kristin’s story, based on Kristin’s perspective.” My story is all about my upbringing, being raised by a single mother, and being a, “fatherless daughter.” I speak to how not having the presence of a father figure in my life affected me, how it caused me to cling onto situations and people and look for that unique love in all the wrong places.

BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What separates this story from the millions of other books on the shelves? Is this book available in digital forms like Nook and Kindle?

You know, this is a story about love, loss, abandonment, and restoration! It truly takes you through the journey of a “fatherless daughter.” It is written in a way that bonds “fatherless daughters” across the world. It connects us by teaching and allowing the reader to see that so many of us share the same and/or similar stories, as it relates to this platform. It provides real-life examples of how to reach a happier ending; and most importantly, it’s expression of vulnerability and emotional exposure makes it easy for readers to relieve some of the shame and/or guilt for the decisions that they might have made, as a result of not having that father figure.

He Wasn’t My Daddy is honest, holds nothing back, and allows for others to witness that it is okay to expose all, in an effort to heal open wounds. Yes, it will be available on Nook and Kindle.

BPM: Give us an insight into the relationships discussed in the book. What makes each one so special? 

The two biggest relationships that I discuss in the book are the relationship with my ex, L.B. and the relationship between my father and I. Where do I begin? My relationship with L.B. was my first real, “adult” relationship. I would have moved Heaven and Earth for that man. There was something about the genuine care and concern that I believed he felt for me that drew me into him. I mean, I don’t recall ever feeling as if a man felt that type of genuine care and concern about me before. He wanted the best for me, he cared about my well being, he was interested in my finishing undergrad; he just wanted the overall best for me. No wonder I latched on! I quickly and unknowingly, placed him on a pedestal: one so tall that I left no room for him to fall – no room for error. I believe this is where I subconsciously placed him in the role of a father figure. He became my “everything!”

After L.B. and I broke up, and I began to experience an, “emotional rollercoaster.” During the aftermath, I began to realize what I had subconsciously done; but it took me four long years! I realized that I did have, “daddy issues” and all this time, I was looking fort L.B. to fulfill that role. I mean I had never had my father around growing up. He was imprisoned when I was so young. All those years that I missed out on having my father around, affected me in a very subconscious way. All this time I thought that I was just looking for and yearning for L.B.’s love; when all the while, I was yearning for the love of my father; the type of love that L.B. would never have been able to give me, no matter how hard he tried. Needless to say, the book definitely speaks to my father and my estranged relationship and the journey that we are on to build what should have always been there.

BPM: What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book? 

Wow! This book delves deep. He Wasn’t My Daddy speaks to various topics, platforms. The primary one being that of, “fatherless daughters.” Additionally, I discuss mental illness, suicidal ideations, sexual promiscuity, love & relationships, and self-esteem. Writing this book was definitely therapeutic for me. It allowed me to uncover a LOT of deep-rooted baggage that I was blindly carrying around. Being able to share my story and connect with other women in the same and/or similar circumstances is a pure blessing!

BPM:  What was your biggest challenge writing this particular book?

The biggest challenge I face while writing the book was having to relive some painful situations and recall some painful memories. It took a lot of strength to get through writing many off the chapters, as they are true reflections of my life and recant very painful experiences that I have endured. However, in an attempt to deliver something that was as authentic as possible, I had to ensure that I captured all of what I experienced and felt in my life, especially during those pivotal times. I'm hopeful that readers will appreciate this emotional sacrifice.

BPM: What would you like for readers to take away from your writing? How do you go about reaching new readers? 

I want readers to take away that if I can make it, Lord knows they can too! I mean, the struggle is definitely real, and there will be days that seem unbearable. However, I want to be the voice that says, “You can make it. Don’t give up and stay the course.” Look at the bright side, having the opportunity to reconnect to your father, or any parent is a blessing. It allows you to learn more about yourself, repair other broken relationships, set realistic expectations and ways of being for romantic relationships, and it opens up so many doors for emotional healing.

Lastly, I want readers to realize just how much not having a relationship with a parent can affect romantic relationships. We wonder why we as women put up with so much from the men in our lives; here is a good reason why!

BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author? What are your ambitions for your writing career? What would you like to accomplish after the book is released? 

To me, success can’t really be defined or measured. Success is your personal satisfaction with self, both professionally and personally. That is very different for everyone and depending on where you are in your life, it can change for the individual as well. Don’t try to be successful; if you’re anything like me, you will run yourself into the ground trying to keep up with yourself. Rather, work toward accomplishing whatever realistic goals you set out for yourself. That’s it, that’s all!

BPM: What’s the most important quality a writer should have?

I believe that the most important quality a writer should have is transparency. I do not believe that you can truly affect change, inspire, and uplift people if you do not bring a strong sense of transparency. People want someone that they can relate to, someone who is not afraid to be vulnerable and share their story; with the hopes that someone else can benefit from it.

BPM: What are your expectations for this book? 

My expectations for this book are two things. The first being to continue to spark a nation-wide and worldwide dialogue about, “fatherless daughters.” It is important for women to understand that there are millions of other women out there who understand and have fought this struggle and that they are not alone. It is equally as important for them to realize that often time their personal and romantic relationships have a great potential to be negatively affected as a result of being a, “fatherless daughter.” Often time we do not realize the detriment that is caused, the cycles that we perpetuate and how the decisions we make are predicated on those primary relationships we build with our parents; and as daughters with our fathers. Perhaps, continuing this dialogue will open the eyes of many to this issue.

My second expectation of this book is to travel the world, being a voice for and connecting to women like me! What a more fulfilling experience? Let’s talk, allow me to share how made it through my darkest times, my mental illness, my suicidal attempts. Allow me to share the steps that my father and I have taken to mend our relationship, and how that has tremendously benefited my life and helped to uncover so many other broken relationships; and most importantly, allow me to share how the grace of God has kept me.

BPM: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

The best ways to discover more about my work and me is to follow me on social media and invite me to speak at panel discussions and various events.

Connect with Kristin L. Mitchell

Website: www.hewasntmydaddy.com
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KrisLMitchell
Instagram:  http://instagram.com/theekristinmitchell
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kristin.mitchell.52

Purchase He Wasn’t My Daddy by Kristin L. Mitchell

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/he-wasnt-my-daddy-kristin-l-mitchell/1120324025
http://www.amazon.com/He-Wasnt-Daddy-Restoration-Redemption/dp/0692257624



           
 



 

Intimate Conversation with Jean Love Cush



A native of Philadelphia, Jean Love Cush graduated magna cum laude from Temple University School of Communication. She later earned a law degree, and worked as a prosecutor for the Philadelphia district attorney's office. Jean also served as a family law attorney helping low-income women escape domestic-abuse situations through community outreach, advocacy, and legal representation.

As the host of her own weekly radio show, Jean continued to pour her energy into issues that matter to her. As the on air personality of A View From the Summit, she tackled such issues as public safety, education, inner city violence and the plight of African American youth. It was while at the radio station that the idea and research for her novel Endangered came about.

Endangered was published by Amistad/HarperCollins and has received rave reviews. New York Times best selling authors Ashley and JaQuarvis call it “a gripping tale that captivates from the first page to the very last.” Publishers Weekly said the author “crafted a compassionate story that commands the reader’s attention,” while Ebony Magazine declared Endangered a “page turner.”

Jean is currently working on her third novel, The Missing, which is scheduled for release sometime in 2016.  While writing books has been a dream of Jean’s since childhood, her greatest loves are God, her two beautiful daughters Sydney and Haley and her husband Charles Cush.


BPM: What is Endangered about?

Endangered is about Janae Williams whose 15-year-old son, Malik, is accused of the latest murder in a wave of violence that has just been relentless in Philadelphia. She is desperate to prove his innocence but does not have the money it will take. In steps the internationally renowned human rights attorney Roger Whitford with an offer of a free legal defense, but there’s a catch. In exchange for his representation, Janae must allow Roger and his partner, Calvin Moore, to use her son’s case to expose what they believe is the inherent bias in the criminal justice system against all black males. They argue that black males should be protected under the law as an endangered species.


BPM: Tell us about your main characters. What makes each one special?
Endangered has a wonderful cast of characters. Janae Williams is by far the most complex character, and who grows the most in the story. From the moment she hears her son has been arrested for murder, she is absolutely convinced that he is innocent. Her greatest challenge is coming to terms with the fact that she was completely unprepared for what could have been predicted in their crime-ridden community. She’s been drifting through life—surviving but not really living. Her son’s arrest is a wake up call that could change their lives forever.

Then there’s Roger Whitford, the successful and maybe even fanatical human rights attorney. He’s waited his whole life to bring down what he believes is a criminal justice system riddled with bias against black males. He thinks he’s found the perfect client in Janae’s son Malik.

Finally, Calvin Moore rounds out the three main characters. He’s the self-made, high-powered attorney. He wants nothing to do with his underprivileged past until his philanthropic boss persuades him to help out on Malik’s case. Slowly he comes around, and with as much passion as his partner, he is determined to prove Malik’s innocence.


BPM: How did you come up with your story idea?
A few years back, I had the wonderful opportunity to host my own weekly radio show called A View From the Summit in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The format of the show was to cover local interest stories. There had been an up tick in the number of murders in the city, and almost all the victims and their perpetrators were black males. Around the same time, the beating death of Chicago honor student Derrion Albert made national news. Across the country people were talking about what could be done to curb the inner city violence. I decided to do a show on inner city violence. It wasn’t until after the show, when I could not shake what I had learned, that I realized that there was a story waiting to be told. I kept digging, broadening my research to include the imprisonment of black males.

With Endangered, I wanted to explore how the violence, bias and the criminal justice system impact the lives of people living in these communities. It was so important to me that Janae and her son, Malik, were strong, fully fleshed out characters and NOT caricatures of people from the “hood” that we too often see on 60 seconds news clips.


BPM: What should your readers take away from Endangered?
Wow, what a great question. I want my readers to turn the last page of Endangered feeling completely satisfied and entertained. But equally important to me is that they have a greater sense of compassion and understanding for what black boys living in the inner city face on a daily basis, including the threat of violence, the police and incarceration.


BPM: How does Endangered relate to current social issues?
Endangered opens with Malik having to confront the police on his own. His friends have all run away at the first sound of sirens because of their own fears and distrust of the cops. This 15-year-old child has to endure guns drawn on him, an unwarranted beating, and verbal abuse before he is tossed into the backseat of a cruiser without any explanation.

Malik’s survives his encounter with the police but his story is reminiscent of current events where black males and their families seem powerless to the machine of the criminal justice system.

One of the major questions or themes of Endangered is whether we as a society are really committed to the belief that all human life is valuable. Today, in the US, we are asking those same types of questions in light of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, Ramarley Graham and so many others.


BPM: What do you wish you had known when you started writing?
Oh, that’s an easy question for me—that writing is as much a business as it is art. When I started writing, I considered myself an artist. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the business side of things. Trust me, that is a surefire way to never get published whether you self-publish or go the traditional route. It’s only when I changed my mindset that I started to see things happen in terms of actually getting my stories to readers. While in my heart I would rather sit at my computer all day and create, my brain tells me that there is other equally important work to do in order for readers to get to enjoy my stories.


BPM: How do you balance your personal life with your professional life as a writer?
To be honest, I don’t know that I do. I know I try really hard to create some semblance of balance. An interesting thing about writing is that once you’ve written the story, and it’s published, the other work of getting the word out begins. I try to include my family in promoting the book. If I go to a book signing, my two daughters help manage the sales, my husband is usually behind the camera taking pictures or video footage, all of which help me to be fully present for my readers. It’s a family affair!


BPM: Our life experiences, challenges and successes help define who we are on a personal and professional level. At what point in your career did you discover your real worth and own it?
This is more of a spiritual question for me. I remember when I graduated from law school and started practicing law as a prosecutor. I knew almost instantly that I didn’t want to be an attorney; that realization was absolutely devastating because I had invested so much time, energy and money into it. I didn’t stop practicing right away. I gave it a few years but my initial impression never changed. If I’m really honest, I knew most of my life that I wanted to be a writer but the law seemed like a practical thing to do. And how could I quit when I had beaten the odds of growing up very poor? But I did eventually give up the practice of law, and for some time I struggled with my “worth.” If I couldn’t define myself as an attorney then who was I? Now, I own my worth because it is not based on what I do but that I am a child of GOD.


BPM: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Definitely! I am blessed to be able to do what I love—write. And, I want to thank the readers in advance for their support. Also, remember once you have read Endangered, or any book by any author and loved the story, spread the word!!

BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Please visit the Jean Love Cush website — www.jeanlovecush.com
Like Jean Love Cush on Facebook — www.facebook.com/jeanlovecush
Follow Jean Love Cush on Twitter— www.twitter/jcush



           
 


 

Intimate Conversation with Gracie Hill




GRACIE HILL
is the award-winning author of five faith-based novels. She has also contributed to a book of anthology and written for several magazines. Gracie is an entrepreneur and a Spirit filled woman of God. She is a member of the Chicago Writers Association and lives with her husband and children in the Chicago, IL area. Visit her at www.graciehill.com. Follow her on Facebook and become a Facebook friend at Gracie Hill.

PATRICIA HALEY
is a trailblazer in the modern-day Christian fiction genre. She is an award winning, #1 Essence national bestselling author of twelve faith-based novels and two anthologies. She’s a senior project manager, born again believer, and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Patricia lives with her loving husband and precious daughter in the Chicago, IL area. Visit her on www.patriciahaley.com. Become a Facebook friend at Patricia Haley-Glass or join her fan page at Author Patricia Haley.

BPM: Gracie, how did you get to be where you are in your life today? Who or what motivated you?
My mother was a tremendous influence in my life. She was strong, independent, intelligent and a successful entrepreneur. She taught me to work hard and encouraged me to live my dreams.

BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to?
It speaks to those who need to be encouraged that their challenges in life are temporal. It speaks to those who need direction and a source of strength that is available and reliable.

BPM: Do you consider authors as role models?
I consider them as a source of encouragement and as a catalyst that drives me to stretch out, challenge myself and go to the next level. I am an avid reader. There are so many awesome entertaining authors. I read to relax and allow my mind to experience a journey that someone else has paved for my enjoyment. I like the feel of a book in my hand. Reading other author’s work gives me confidence that the heights in excellence other word smiths have achieved is just as possible for me.

BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book?
The book was co-authored with National Bestselling author, Patricia Haley. She envisioned a series comprised of modern stories, loosely based on the attributes of the Apostle Paul and struggles he encountered with churches in the New Testament. She asked me if I would be interested in writing the series with her. Of course, I happily said, “Yes.”

BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Developing the characters, especially the protagonist, Maxwell Montgomery. I enjoyed the challenge of sculpting his personality, strengths and weaknesses and folding those into his relentless mission to pursue corrupt church leaders while realizing his own flaws as the story unfolded.

BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Relentless is the first book in the Redeemed Series. Maxwell Montgomery is the protagonist. Relentless depicts him amassing a long list of legal victories in the war he’s waged against corruption and religious hypocrisy, single-handedly bringing down one of the most popular churches in Philadelphia. He’s estranged from his family and unable to have a successful relationship. Maxwell cannot focus on anything but his mission. He has a single vision and he doesn’t need God or trust God. I think this makes him a relatable character for many people who struggle with past hurts and disbelief or uncertainty of who God is and his power. He struggles with forgiveness and allowing those who have hurt him a second chance. His personal conflicts make him real and believable. The same personal conflicts make him many of us if we take a good look at ourselves.

BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation, education, spiritual practice or journey?
The book takes you on a journey and so does life. I was raised in the church and have been Spirit filled for over twenty years. My Christian walk has been one paved with struggles, successes, disappointments and joyous celebrations. I have grown in my knowledge of the Word of God and my Christian character has matured and helped to shape the woman of God that I am today. I thank God for placing me in the right church where the Bible is experienced. Promise of Life Ministries in Rockford IL has been a blessing in my life for many years. If we allow God to lead us, we will always end up in the right place.

BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
The book just reminded us that people are not perfect, even the ones we love. It clearly depicts that success doesn’t always equate to happiness. However, God’s love and direction is always an oasis when the storms rage in our lives.

BPM: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
We wanted to craft a story built around a protagonist that people could relate to. Maxwell Montgomery isn’t perfect. He has challenges and shortcomings like all of us. But, he does grow and is able to see himself and begins to wonder if he has made a mistake in his pursuit of a specific pastor in the story. Our readers are able to experience Maxwell’s journey as the story comes to life and the plot unfolds chapter by chapter. I think the book absolutely set the pace for the other three books in the series. And, Relentless introduced a protagonist, Maxwell Montgomery, who is intriguing, likeable at times, frustrating at others and will captivate your interest as the four book series continues.

Our readers will not want to miss a step of Maxwell's journey to discover the unexpected and the unknown that awaits him.

BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
Patricia and I are currently writing the second book in the series, Redeemed. And, we are enjoying the literary journey.

BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Visit my website at www.graciehill.com and get to know Patricia Haley at www.patriciahaley.com


Purchase Relentless by Patricia Haley and Gracie Hill 

Redeemed Series Book 1;  Released on Oct. 28, 2014
Genre: Drama, Faith Based; Clean Fiction with adult issues

Barnes and Noble.com:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/relentless-patricia-haley/1118612869





           
 



 

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