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20 Questions with Ann Fields

Thank you Don for the author interview and for your support of writers. The interview was fun and your hospitality unmatched. Write on!

Author Don Massenzio

Today we sit down with author, Ann Fields. She is going to tell us a bit about her writing journey, her work and her inspiration.

Please enjoy this edition of 20 Questions:


ann-black-white-01 Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Even though I wrote my first story when I was in middle school, I didn’t give much thought to being a writer until college. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) held a conference a few miles from the college I was attending and one of my sorority sisters went. She returned to campus very excited, telling us all about the conference. I remember muttering something like, “I want to do that.” But I secretly believed that being a writer was not a viable career option for black people even though I knew of Langston Hughes and Phyllis Wheatley. So years passed and in 1990 I bought…

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Let There Be Peace

A time-honored song begins with the lyrics, “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.” We sometimes get off track with ushering in peace because it seems like such a lofty goal, an unattainable one. But recently, I was reminded by Doreen Virtue that peace on Earth begins with me and once I have mastered inner peace, peace naturally radiates outward to others—friends, families, communities, countries, and eventually the world. Even during this time of worldwide conflict, inner peace is possible. It can be achieved through meditation, yoga, prayer, a focus on the heavenly things (kindness, love, cooperation, unity, etc.) and a willingness to take our hands off the controls.

I challenge you during this time of unrest, wars and senseless killings to try this:  before you hop out of bed in the morning, close your eyes, take ten deep breaths (try to keep your thoughts at bay by focusing on the black and white kaleidoscope playing out behind your closed eyelids), listen to the sound of your breath as it enters and exits your body, then make a quick statement such as, “This will be an amazing day” or “Thank you God for this pleasant day” or “In all situations, with all people, help me to act and think like you God” or “Help me to relax and go with the flow.”

As an experiment I tried this short practice for a full week and it made such a difference in my attitude and in my day. The days went smoother. I felt calmer and happier. I was productive and in the evening when my day finally wrapped up, I felt peace, and I felt as light as air. I will confess…once the experiment ended, I fell into bad habits again, rushing out of bed, reviewing the day’s agenda in my head before sleep had fully dissipated, letting plans and deadlines wake me and spur me into action. But I am striving to get back fully on track, to take that much needed five minute break before the demands of life snatch that precious time away. And if I’m not successful at day’s start, then for sure on my mid-day break.

Join me now in listening to this beautiful song, “Let There be Peace on Earth” as sung by the Harlem Boys Choir.

Harlem Boys Choir Let There Be Peace on Earth

Marvelously Mature – Evelyn Palfrey

Back in the ‘90s, author Evelyn Palfrey started a new thing. She wrote romance stories with lead characters who were “marvelously mature;” a term she crafted to describe her sheros and heros–adults in their fifties and sixties; some retired, some not; some with children who were “grown and gone,” some who were raising grandchildren, but all confronting love in their latter years, which made for plots that were unfathomable in the more traditional romance stories.

I read every one of Evelyn’s books and enjoyed them thoroughly. This spring when I learned she had a new release, I jumped online and downloaded my copy of Going Home. Like her other books, I devoured each page and when I reached the end, I was not happy about saying good-bye to the characters. I don’t write and post book reviews on every book I read but this one – yes. Because I want readers to learn about and read Evelyn’s works (if they haven’t already). And as we all know, in this cyber literary world, book reviews are important.

My brief comments about Going Home follow and if you want more information about Evelyn or her other works, click here.

2011BookCover[1]Going Home is a contemporary romance story set in Austin, Texas. The heroine, retired office worker, Thalia Allen specializes in taking in orphans—her granddaughter Mishay and a father/son combo, Joe Lambert and Kyobe, who ended up in Austin after Hurricane Katrina ran them out of New Orleans.

The story opens with a snapshot of Thalia and Mishay in their routine home/school/church/life activities; a routine that quickly alters when Thalia allows Joe and Kyobe to move into her home. Thus starts a slow, respectful buildup to romance and love between the adults while the two teenagers struggle with their own teenage issues:  school work, peer pressure, cliques, dating, violence, college, etc. Encapsulating all four story lines is the natural evolution into a family unit; an outcome that makes them all emotionally stronger, secure and happy. Just as the family is strengthening and everyone is settling into their natural place, Joe blows the family apart with an announcement:  he is returning to New Orleans to resume his life there. It’s a heartbreaker for Kyobe and Mishay, but especially for Thalia who has given Joe her heart and has come to rely on him. Joe moves back home and is in New Orleans for several months before he comes to the realization that his life, his happiness, his heart is not in New Orleans, but in Austin. Acknowledging this, he returns to Austin to immediate acceptance by everyone except Thalia. She maintains a hard line with him until he proves he’s there for good by asking her to be his wife. They reunite, the family reunites, and they all live forever in love.

Like most romance stories, this is not action-driven but character-driven. We see a satisfying arch of the major characters, including the teenagers. By the end of the story they are more expansive, changed and for the better. The storyline follows a logical line of progression with plot twists in appropriate places, valid emotional ups and downs, and realistic behavior. The settings and descriptions enhance the story and the pacing is appropriate for a romance story. Of course the ending worked. It is after all a romance and the boy always gets the girl.

A plus I think readers will enjoy is the cast of characters. There was enough diversity—from thievin’ thug to sassy, low self-esteem teen to independent contractor to retiree—to make me wonder how Thalia was going to make a family of this rag-tag bunch. I should have known love conquers all.

The one hole in the story was the missing conversation between grandmother and granddaughter regarding her sexual status after being on the road with a hormone-driven young male. I also did not care for so many church scenes but that’s just me and my personal reading preference.

I believe readers will enjoy this story. It is an intelligent read that can easily jump off fiction pages to represent real life.

The Ebola Crisis

Pam Y. Fields

The Ebola Crisis is a good case that shows 1) how we are all interconnected and 2) why we should care for our brothers and sisters.

1. We can pretend that we don’t know what’s going on or what’s happening to our brothers and sisters but it will eventually present itself at our doors. Our media had mentioned only a little about the Ebola crisis in Africa before it made it to the US. However, even with that little bit, we could have still rallied forth to do something to help. I’m sure there were probably some groups and organizations that tried to do something to help but by and large, the US did little to help. Some probably felt like, ‘Oh, it’s over there. What does that have to do with me?” You can keep telling yourself that only up until the moment you are faced with it directly…

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