Tag Archive | African American authors

September / Fall / Love / Giveaways

Finally, September…septemberMy favorite of all months.
I love September for it ushers in Fall.
I love September for offering a three-day respite from labor.
I love September for serving as a pre-cursor to the holidays -soon to come.
I love September for its religious significance; a reminder to fast and pray.
I love that it teases us with thoughts of egg nog ice cream and pumpkin muffins.
I love that within its dates fall the state fair and the PV/Grambling football game.
I love that it’s the ninth month (an indication of completion).
I love that it’s my birth month!
September is so sweet and so is Fall…
My favorite of all seasons.
I love the cooler temperatures.
I love the cooler fashions.
I love having the option of writing indoors or out.
I love the vibrant colors—the reds, oranges, browns, yellows, blacks and whites.
I love replacing manufactured air with God’s air.
I love the magnolia cones that litter my yard
And the pecan shells that stain my driveway.
I love the sound of the high school marching band; practice session ended but echoing notes still fill my street.
Finally, Fall…

To celebrate the arrival finally of two of my loves, September and Fall, I am giving stuff away!
Well, not stuff; rather, books. Lyrical Darkness to be exact. Three copies.

If you’d like a chance to win one of my love gifts, simply email me at afields121@yahoo.com by September 30th. Use the subject line “Happy Birthday.” (Don’t worry. If you forget to use that subject line, I’ll still scour my Inbox for entries.) At midnight on the 30th, I will toss all email addresses in a basket, draw out three and send the winners an ebook version of Lyrical Darkness. It’s just that simple!

NOTE: If you’d like to improve your chances of winning or would prefer a hard copy (instead of ebook), visit Goodreads where I am running a parallel giveaway that begins on September 6th.

Enjoy September!

Enjoy Fall!

Enjoy Reading!

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.

Hear Lovenia Roar!

LoveniaLLovenia Leapart, Writer, Author, World Citizen

Meet one of the most courageous writers I know…Lovenia Leapart. Some years ago, Lovenia and I belonged to the same writers group. We clicked on so many levels that even though time has marched on and many miles separate us, we have remained connected. I am so proud of her and all she is accomplishing, so much so that when I considered women writers to profile this month along with the woman history-maker that they admire or were influenced by, I thought of her. Below is Lovenia’s article and I’m sure you’ll be as impressed and inspired as I am.

Wrapped in Rainbows

Most people know Zora Neale Hurston almost exclusively in terms of her writing, but not many know her as an adventurer. At a time when most women lived lives of quiet domesticity and it was extremely rare for blacks to travel internationally, Zora Neale Hurston, driven by her deep and enduring curiosity about people and culture, traveled alone throughout the deep South (reportedly carrying a chrome-plated pistol for protection), and spent time living in Jamaica, Haiti and Honduras. It was through reading Valerie Boyd’s exceptional work (aka masterpiece), Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, that I was able to really gain a true understanding of the fearless kind of way in which Ms. Hurston lived. And ironically, soon after reading this work, I found myself entertaining opportunities to go abroad to live and work. Needless to say, I had to deal with a myriad of fears that threatened to keep me from doing what my spirit was calling me to do. But having read about Ms. Hurston’s travels, it was clear that there were times when Ms. Hurston found herself quite outside of her comfort zone in these foreign lands, and at a time before cell phones and internet access could have cushioned the fallout from any number of misadventures. Reading that, I thought, if Ms. Hurston could follow her heart’s urgings and live so boldly in her day, in this time of modern technology surely I can find the internal wherewithal to do the same.

I did. So off I went to China, not knowing a drop of Chinese and not having the slightest idea about what to expect from myself or the culture. And the trip blew my mind so wide open that I have been irrevocably changed by the experience. So, beyond sharing a love of the craft of writing, I also feel a “kindred connection” with Ms. Hurston that now includes a passion for adventure, exploration, and discovery that comes from traveling and living internationally and off the beaten path.

It often takes tremendous courage and internal fortitude to break away from the herd and go after one’s dreams and live life on one’s own terms. To honor that, Evelyn Bourne and I have created a podcast called Working Your Mission, which is an interview series that highlights people who are making a living doing work they love. Through this project, we hope to provide inspiration and useful advice to others who would do the same. I think all artists have within them an innate level of fearlessness (otherwise, we simply could not do the work that we do) and I’ve come to believe that allowing that fearlessness to unfold in areas of our lives beyond our work not only makes us better artists, but ultimately, more fulfilled and self-actualized human beings as well. Zora Neale Hurston certainly did that, and the bold and courageous way in which she lived her life continues to give me inspiration to do the same.

Lovenia is the author of the paranormal romance novella, Marked by Temptation. She is currently at work on the sequel, as yet untitled, and is planning to release her novel, Consolation Prize next spring. She partners with Evelyn Bourne on the Working Your Mission podcast series.

Hear Us Roar

I am always excited when a new year rolls around because it offers three great months—back to back no less—to celebrate greatness. In January we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In February we trumpet the achievements of African-Americans and in March we shine the light on the accomplishments of women.

Due to a writing deadline and a series of family situations, I was unable to celebrate Dr. King or Black History Month. This means I must do March BIG, and I am. I am merging two great things—Women’s History Month and A Tour through Blogland (an online tour of various blogs that deserve recognition) to spotlight four remarkably talented women writers (who have amazing blogs or outstanding content on their websites) and the women in history who influenced them. These four women have agreed to blog on my site this month and I am proud to present them to you now. They are:

Becky Baggett – week of March 8

Carol Balawyder – week of March 15

Lovenia Leapart – week of March 22

Serena Wills – week of March 29

Some of the guest writers will answer four questions about their creative selves and their creative process (this is the A Tour through Blogland portion) before sharing remarks about their chosen history-maker (this is the Women’s History Month portion). I am so excited to learn more about them and I can’t wait to read their articles because I know it will be yet another opportunity to stick out my chest and proudly call myself a woman.

To start off this great month, I will present my history-maker. She is not a woman who is known worldwide and she is not recorded in any history books that I am aware of, but she is an historical figure nonetheless. She is Rev. Bonell Fields, my mother.

Honor the Choosing

It is an established fact that education for girls and women is the most effective way to elevate the living conditions (wealth, health, emotional stability, future, etc.) of families and subsequently communities. I can attest to this in my own life.

In her twenties, my mother was a divorcee with three young children. We moved in with my grandmother and my mother immediately enrolled in nursing school at a vocational and technical school. After completing her studies, she worked full-time as a pediatric nurse and focused the rest of her time on raising her children, managing to send all of us off to college. In her forties, with her children grown and gone, she began work on her undergraduate degree at seminary and graduated within four years with a higher grade point average than any of her children. This while also working full-time in nursing and raising one nephew and two of her teenage nieces. She then embarked on a five year pastoral study to receive her license to preach and pastor. Ordination was next, followed by her first assignment–pastor of St. Stephen’s AME church in Enid, OK. This marked the occasion of the first female African-American pastor in Enid. And when I tell you she went through hell in those early years, that’s an understatement. In the Christian world, one would not expect pastors to be judgmental and unwelcoming, but that’s exactly the treatment my mom received. She was ostracized, criticized and harshly judged. Sounds an awful lot like the treatment Jesus received, huh? But, she endured and today although she is retired from both nursing and pastoring, she mentors neophyte pastors, both male and female, and writes about her life experiences.

I thank God for choosing my mom to be my mom. She is an amazing woman! Even though her name is not in the history books, she is my history-maker, my role model, my positive influence, and I love her dearly. So in honor of Women’s History Month, I salute my mother—Rev. Bonell Fields.

Introducing…

3HoneyCover

I thought I would start the new year by doing something I’ve never done before–review a book on my blog. Yes, I have featured authors in the past and I have featured books, but I have never posted a book review along with an author/book feature. So this is new for me, and it’s way too early to say whether I will continue this practice or not but for now I want to introduce you to an author I’ve known for a while and always admired–Sean C. Wright. When I learned Sean had a new book out (beautiful cover above), I wasted no time buying and reviewing it. I hope my review inspires you to read more of Sean’s works and to visit her entertaining website and blog Oh, No Typos. Happy new year! Happy new readings! Happy new beginnings!

 

Title: Honey Riley

Genre: Fiction, African American Literature, Women’s Literature, Supernatural

Length: 52 pages

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=honey+riley

 

Honey Riley is about a biracial clairvoyant who uses her precious gift to keep others out of danger, but is blind to the gift when it concerns herself. Her heroic life often rings of pain, but Honey never wavers in her strength for her loved ones and the people she helps. Honey’s legacy starts just after The Civil War and weaves through the mid 1980s.

 

Ann’s ReviewHoney Riley by Sean C. Wright

This short novel of less than 100 pages conveys a lot. It is the story of a spiritual gift that travels multiple generations, and like most gifts, it can be a blessing and a liability. But the gift is only the foundation of the story.

 

The cast of characters, mostly women, and how they serve (or not) the gift create the framework of the story. I think it interesting that most of the characters use the gift for the good of others, to serve and protect. But a few allow the gift to destroy them. I also think it clever how the name, Honey Riley and variations of it, is handed down with the gift.

 

This is a vivid story that is reinforced with a bit of history and bold, colorful descriptions. Beware: this story is not easy on the emotions. Readers will experience anger, triumph, sadness, joy, satisfaction, fear and more. You will not arrive at the end feeling encouraged or hope-filled, and you may feel  the story should have ended before its actual stopping point, but regardless, you will have been glad you spent time getting to know Honey Riley.

About the Author
SeanHeadShot
Sean C. Wright is native to Dallas, TX. See all of her published works here:  http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/african-american-fiction/9736. Get to know Sean at www.iwrightaway.com.

Alas, The End

Today, another Women’s History Month comes to a close. It’s been a fun month of spotlighting many fine women who also happen to be talented writers. Prepare to meet the last of the seven soul-deep, inspiring women writers who I chose to feature this month. These women writers pooled their talents to make “Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature” a five-star anthology; a must read!

Meet

Ingrid Lawton & Breggett Rideau

Both Ingrid and Breggett have rock’em, sock’em poems in “Voices,” and Ingrid also has a short story that will leave you gasping in surprise.

Ingrid Lawton
Ingrid is a native Texan, who writes poetry and short stories. She has also completed a screenplay for young adults. The short story “Cornbread and Buttermilk” and the poem “Schizophrenia” which appear in “Voices from the Block” are her first published works. She enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.

Breggett Rideau
Breggett was born in New Orleans and is a graduate of Louisiana State University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Science. After college graduation, she worked as a food microbiologist for years until it gave way to her passion—being a jazz singer. Her interest in jazz started when she was three years old, as her father, a jazz purist, had Nancy Wilson and Carmen McRae records playing day and night.

After her first CD, The Opportune Time dropped, Breggett garnered critical acclaim not only from local publications, but also from international institutions. By the invitations of Dr. Gene Cho, Ph.D., Regents Professor, University of North Texas and the Hang Zhou Conservatory, Breggett performed and lectured at Shanghai Conservatory, Shanghai, China in the spring of 2005. She was the first woman of color and jazz artist from the United States to perform and lecture at the conservatory. Currently, she travels extensively singing and sharing her love of jazz.

Featuring Women Writers for Women’s History Month

In previous weeks, I introduced several women writers who are featured in the recently released anthology Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature . This week I am pleased to introduce yet another–Toyette Dowdell. I met Toyette years ago and know her to be a highly skilled writer. I consider it an honor for my work to appear with hers in Voices. I can’t wait for you to learn more about this gifted writer through her interview below, and if you’re interested in meeting Toyette in person, she and many of the other contributors to Voices will be at Absinthe Lounge at Southside on Lamar, Dallas, Texas, Saturday, April 5, 7:00 pm.

When did you know you wanted to write?
Toyette: I was an insatiable reader as a child and wrote lots of short stories and plays when I was young, but I decided I wanted to pursue it more seriously after watching the movie Purple Rain by Prince. I said to myself, “Prince wrote a movie so I know I can do that!”

What was your first written work?
Toyette: My first written work was a youth mystery patterned after the Encyclopedia Brown series. My first published piece was a play I wrote that was performed on stage when I was a freshman in high school.

What is your inspiration for writing? Or, where do you get your ideas for your stories, poems, etc.
Toyette: My inspiration for writing is to make other people feel the way I do when I read a really good book which is to be totally immersed in the story. My writing is all about entertaining and engaging my readers. I want them to be caught up in what’s happening and if there is a little bit of thought provocation then all the better.

What are you currently working on?
Toyette: I am currently working on a mystery thriller based in Texas about a female Texas Ranger.