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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Conversations w/ Gracie Hill

Q. How long have you been writing?

A. I started writing when I was in High school. I wrote mostly poetry and short stories. Over the last five years I started writing romance novels. It has not been my long time desire to be a novelist. God gave me the title for five books and the words to put on the pages. So, I give all the glory to God.

Q. What are some of your writing credits?

A. I have written several Newsletters for churches and organizations. I am currently writing for an online magazine called “Rock Town Wire.” Visit the magazine at www.rocktownwire.com I have also written several articles for another online magazine called “Helium.” You can read those articles at www.helium.com I am a member of the Chicago Writers Association.

Q. What are your published titles?

A. “Where The Brothers At?” was my first book. It was released in November of 2008. My second book entitled “Sorrows of the Heart” will be released in late May of this year. You can read excerpts, check out the book covers, and read comments about the books, written by people who have already read the books on my website at www.graciehill.com I am currently working on my third book “The Kitchen Beautician.” It is a hilariously colorful look at life and the decisions that people make and how those decisions impact their lives. It will be released later this year. Excerpts from this book are also available on my website.

Q. Why do you like writing romance novels?

A. I like painting a picture in the writers mind with my words. I think people can easily relate to books written about affairs of the heart, love, and the roller coaster ride the emotion love can take you on. A lot of people read because it offers them a doorway to something that they don’t have and want to experience. It’s their time to fantasize. I like providing that fantasy.

Q. Who are some of your favorite authors?

A. ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Patricia Haley and Donna Hill. Donna and I are not related but I wish we were. She is a great author. There are a couple of up and coming authors Tretara Flowers and Tiama Dent that you should be on the look out for. I like their work as well. You can read samples of their work on my website.

Q. What book are you reading now?

A. “Devine Order” by Deborah L. Harris

Q. Who designed your website?

A. My sister Machelle Wood. She is a Webmaster by profession. She manages and updates my site on a regular basis. I am blessed because she does it for me for free.

Visit Gracie at www.graciehill.com

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Get to Know Toyi Ward

Getting to Know Toyi Ward, author of Par for the Curse

Why Did I Write this Book?
Par for the Curse is my baby. It is roughly 70,000 words and took me five years to write while managing a full-time career and family. The concept came to me back in 1999, but I didn't start writing the manuscript until 2003. The story follows Stormy Briggs as she attempts to uncover a dark secret in her family, a curse that was put on her great-grandmother over 80 years ago.

So many people are carrying the baggage of their parents and grandparents that I really wanted to write a story that sheds some light on that struggle. The concept of "sins of the father" is a very real thing in our society. Many adults are walking around with the baggage and curses of their parents and grandparents. The complexity of choosing your own path and detouring from the family you love strikes an emotional chord for people. Some take that path, others keep passing the bags to their children and it starts all over again.

Stormy and Me

I had quite a difficult time developing the character, Stormy, for Par for the Curse. I wanted her to be real, meaning that she was to be flawed, admired, and suffer an internal conflict along with the plot conflict. She's complex, not unlike myself, which made it more challenging to write her. She's a very strong-minded woman who always viewed herself as a polar opposite from the other women in her family. She was educated. Intelligence was her claim to fame in the family.

Not unlike me, growing up around exceptionally beautiful women cast a shadow on Stormy's realization of her own beauty. She doesn't think she's unattractive but she didn't see herself as "car-stopping" beautiful, like the others. I've always said that I am the ugly duckling of my family. That's how Stormy feels, too.

There are several references in the book where people believe that Stormy and Riley are twins. They look nearly identical because their mothers are sisters and their fathers are twin brothers. Where I'm from, we call that "double kin". However, she never thinks of herself as being beautiful like Riley or Lourdes. Instead she considers herself smarter than they are. It's her consolation prize. So, when she ends up in a "situation" no different than than the others, her perception of self is challenged. Is she really that different from the others or did it take a while for the curse to catch up with her?

About the Book

Stormy has grown up with the warning that she is cursed. Raised in a family of eight women with twenty-four husbands among them, she has managed to escape the family’s legacy thus far. Things begin to change once she is given the details concerning a hex that was cast upon her great grandmother over eighty years ago.

Managing the antics of her adulteress young cousin, Riley, exhausts Stormy. Comforting the heartbreak of her older cousin Lourdes, angers her. After a devastating turn of events on par with her birthright, Stormy decides to seek a remedy for the family’s plight. She travels to New Orleans determined to find answers. Along the way she faces a quilt of obstacles and a set of choices that challenge her reality. Will she reveal the information or continue playing the hand she was dealt by an angry young woman in the Bayou?

Par for the Curse reveals the influence of voodoo and the impact of generational secrets on family, life, and love.

Purchase Par for the Curse to read Stormy and her family's story.

Follow the Par for the Curse Blog Tour schedule at http://bitly.com/ParfortheCurse.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Conversations w/ Renea Collins

1. As a person what is your inspiration to write?

What inspires me to write is being able to influence minds to see life and life experiences different so that growth can take place in their lives.

2. When did you discover you loved to write?

I discovered a passion for writing about ten years ago. I would sit and write whenever I wanted to express myself and couldn’t do it verbally. Then I would take the stories or poems to my family and friends and share with them. They would put the poems on their voice mails. Its funny now, lol.

3. What was your first written piece and how did it feel to have accomplished such a task?

My first written piece was a play I did at my church titled, " breathe" and it made me feel wonderful seeing something that I knew God gave me as a gift on stage with people watching it and experiencing the power and move of God through it.

4. A Author’s career can be a difficult task, so how do you get into the zone to write your next book?

For me to have gotten in a zone to write my next book, I first prayed and asked God for focus. Then I allowed Him to guide me. Then I rehearsed the whole story in my mind and then when I sat down to write it just flows out of me. That’s how I know it's a gift from God for me to write because it truly is unexplainable when I write. Sometimes I think I'm at the computer for an hour and when I come away it's been six or seven hours.

5. Taking it back to your debut novel, how did it feel to hold your first book in your hand?

To hold my first book From the Extreme in my hands was crazy for the first time. I couldn’t stop looking at it or smiling. My heart was beating fast and I got nervous, but when it was all said in done and I slept with the book that night in my hands, I knew it was God that did it. I knew he was in control of me and from the extreme.

6. Other then writing what is one of the things you love to do?

Besides writing I love to direct plays, I am also an ordained Minister so that takes a lot of my time. I love to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ to young people and others that come from a hard background like I did and that have been told they won't amount to nothing. I love to help them know that anything is possible and you can truly do whatever you choose to do with hard work.

7. When is all said and done what mark do you want to leave in the literary industry?

I want to leave a positive, over whelming, unforgettable mark on the literary industry. I want to make other authors proud of all the works I put out and I want readers to feel like they are apart of the story as they read and the stories to be life changing, knowing that they can overcome any obstacles thrown in their paths

Visit Renea Collins at www.myspace.com/daughterofthekingpublish

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Conversations w/ Elissa Gabrielle

1. As a person what is your inspiration to write?

Words have power and it is that power of the written word that inspires me to write. I love creating stories, carefully crafted words that string together a beautiful melody. The reaction from readers who also appreciate the written word is priceless. That is inspiring in itself, to receive a visceral reaction from readers who love what you’re writing.

2. When did you discover you loved to write?

At age 13. I learned the power of words from my dad, Joe Thomas who is a jazz musician also. He would write songs and poetry that would blow my mind. It was at that time that I knew I would become a writer.

3. What was your first written piece and how did it feel to have accomplished such a task?

My first written piece was a poem titled, “Peace In The Storm.” I wrote it after my father played a song, titled “Peace In The Storm”. It touched my heart and soul in such a way that it inspired me to write my first piece, and in that piece, I glorify God and praise him for bringing me to a level of peace in the midst of all of life’s storms.

4. A Author’s career can be a difficult task, so how do you get into the zone to write your next book?

I simply start writing. Most writers will tell you that once the characters start talking to you, you have to get that down on paper! The pen flows naturally at that point.

5. Taking it back to your debut novel, how did it feel to hold your first book in your hand?

It was a true blessing. The book represented blood, sweat, years and tears. It was confirmation of all of my hard work.

6. Other then writing what is one of the things you love to do?

Cruising. All of my closest people in my life will tell you that a cruise to anywhere is the biggest treat for me. In addition, I’m a simple girl, and I love spending time with my family – a weekend getaway with my husband and children is also something that I enjoy doing.

7. When is all said and done what mark do you want to leave in the literary industry?

Any mark that I leave will be determined by God. I like to think that I would have been a source of entertainment for readers, as well as a person who helped to make publishing dreams come true for others. If those two things happen, I’m satisfied, and all praises go to God for it all.

Visit Elissa Gabrielle @ www.elissagabrielle.com

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Conversations w/ T. Nicole Robinson

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I can remember when I was about 7 pr 8 years old and I had an assignment in school. The assignment was to write a poem. Now most of the children in the class wrote the typical "Roses are red, Violets are blue", but not I. I decided to write a poem about something completely different involving intense feeling about my 7 or 8 year old life. Ever since that day I have been writing.

2. When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I have written several short stories in my younger years, but never did anything with them. I took all the poetry I had written over the years and put them together for my first book. That was released in December 2007.

3. How long does it take you to write a book?

It depends on what the book is about. Some situations and characters come easy because they are loosely based on people I have encountered in my life. Other books may take longer if I am basis the characters off of one or nothing. It typically takes me about 6 months to come to a final draft of a book.

4. Do you have any suggestions to help others become a writer? If so, what are they?

The one suggestions I have for others trying to become authors is to stick to your guns. Listen to your inner voice and strive to achieve what you have set out to accomplish. Also, attend as many literary events as you possible can - they are filled with information and chances to network with other authors.

5. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

It is not as cut and dry as the readers may think. The writing of the book is the easiest part. Publishing your book is what is going to test your dedication.

6. Wha't next for you?

I am working on several projects right now. I have my debut novel, My Own Terms, hitting the streets in May. I am working on the sequel to that, I am working on a compliation of short stories for a book based on poems from my first publisihed book of poetry, and I am working on a couple of other novels. I am always busy.

7. How can fans get in contact with you?

She can be reached at www.writtenbytnicole.com

July Book of the Month

Literary Events

  • Book Expo of America
  • Black Writers Conference
  • National Black Book Festival
  • National Book Club Conference


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