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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tales of an Original Bad Girl by Mack Mama

Synopsis: Mack Mama has defied all odds and after being counted out by many she rises from the ashes of defeat. She served a total of 13 years in prison and after her last stint, she chose to concentrate on her music and literary talents. Her debut novel happens to be the story of her tumultuous life. “Make no mistake, I wrote my memoir not to glorify my lifestyle, but to save the children that are going down the wrong path. Hopefully they will say “If Mack Mama can change, so can I”

Born addicted to heroin, and taught to shoplift by watching her mother steal to support her habit. Mack Mama was destined for destruction. When her mother died from the AIDS virus, Mack spiraled out of control. She was bitter, and disgruntled, using her mother’s death as an excuse to destroy her life. She became very vicious, and treacherous, as she adapted to the grimey streets of Brooklyn in the 80’s. Drugs, violence, and sex ,was the norm. Mack Mama partakes in it all. As she searches for her sanity, she purges her soul in this shockingly honest memoir. Mack Mama was well known for being a hustler, and lived a lavish lifestyle, but after various bids in prison she realizes that she wasn’t beating the system. She, was getting beat and wasting her life behind bars.

She suffered from domestic abuse from her spouse, who was nine years, her senior, and inevitably became the abuser in her relationships with women. Her last prison stint changed her life and started her on her road to redemption. TALES OF AN ORIGINAL BAD GIRL is indeed a page-turner and a revelation, about the author’s wild life. She describes her life honestly, and with raw detail, taking the reader into the story as witness to the insanity of urban life in the underworld of Brooklyn, New York.

Get to Know Mack Mama: 1. What made you decide to start writing novels?

I was incarcerated and had read numerous books. I decided I had a story inside of me that would be unique.

I was tired of the same old urban fiction. I lived the lifestyle that was often depicted in the novels I loved, so I am an authority on an authentic street story.

I wrote Daisy Jones and an author was born. I didn’t release Daisy Jones until after I wrote and released Tales of an Original Bad Girl. I wanted people to read my memoir and get a sense of who I am opposed to popping out the blue as another street lit author.

2. Why did you feel that your life story would be interesting?

I have lived a life few people could imagine. I have experienced drugs, sex and alcohol and wasn’t a rock star. My mom died when I was sixteen years old from the AIDS Virus and it rocked my world. I turned into a very bitter, disgruntled wild teen and ran to the streets with a vengeance.

I knew that my story could possibly save a life or deter a person that can identify with my situation from choosing the path that I ran down. I was mentally, emotionally and physically abused by my ex-husband who was nine years my senior.

I had a bout with post partum depression that I discuss candidly. These issues affect millions of women. My story needed to be told so I wrote it and poured my heart and soul onto the pages. I purged and shared my life with such honesty and raw emotion that people that have read it love me!

3. How much time did you do in prison?

Thirteen years in total. I went from being the valedictorian in Junior High school to earning a degree from the school of Hard knocks. I ran in and out of prison like it was a time-share. I destroyed my record and let my family down time and time again.

4. What happened to your music career?

It never went anywhere because I did so much time. My music is my first love, I rap and sing and I put out a soundtrack with every book I have released. Tales of an Original Bad Girl has a soundtrack that sells on itunes called “Mack Mama”. The chapters in the book are the song titles on the cd. You read “Don’t turn out like me” and then pop in the song. It gives you the entire Mack Mama experience.

My books are like my husband that I love, they pay my bills and music is my lover, who makes me feel sooo good, but has no money. There was simply no money in it for me, although I am extremely talented. It is notoriously hard for females to make it in the music industry. I love books because even independently, as a self-published author you can make a living off of your writing.

5. What motivates you to write?

My daughter. She is so proud of me and I want to continue to keep her beaming and bragging that her mom is an author.

6. What do you do to give back to the community?

I have developed an online mentoring program to provide after care with the girls that I speak to during my speaking engagements. I felt like after I talk to the at-risk youth where do they go from there. If I had a mentor that I respected and believed that, they knew what I was going through, perhaps I would have listened. It sure would have saved me years of turmoil.

7. What would you like the readers to know?

Take a shot on my books. I may be a new author but I won’t be going anywhere soon. I am a reliable brand. I have two new books on the way and I’m determined to make Star Status Publishing a household name.

I also want them to tune in to my radio show on Mack Mama’s World Radio on blogtalk, you would absolutely love my show. I have interviewed the best in the business. My shows are incredibly untamed and lively. Check me out. I also blog for Corner Store Magazine my blogs are interesting and gives you my spin on life issues and gossip.

Also, go to my mentoring site and donate to a wonderful cause. I love the children and am dedicated to doing my part in saving the at-risk youth from their ruins. It takes time, and finances to get them into positive activities, workshops and outings. I need help!

Thank you AAMBC for allowing me to use your platform to introduce myself to the masses.

Thanks to all my supporters and “fam” that purchase, follow, listen and spread the word about MACK MAMA. I love you all from the bottom of my heart.

Blessings, Mack Mama

Web-Links:

www.mackmamamentor.com

www.starstatuspublishing.com

www.mackmamaworld.com

www.facebook.com/starstatuspublishing

www.twitter.com/mackmama

http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Original-Ultimate-Edition-ebook/dp/B008B7ZIWY/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1340954052&sr=1-3&keywords=tales+of+an+original+bad+girl

mackmama1@gmail.com

http://youtu.be/aLs3IM1NE04

http://www.cornerstoremagazine.com/index.php/component/content/article/705-relationships-drama-reality-tv

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Married in the Nick of Nine by Alretha Thomas

www.Marriedinthenickofnine.com.
Synopsis: Cassandra Whitmore is facing yet another Valentine’s Day alone. Her love life is as dry as the Sharpie pen she uses to mark an even more dreadful day on her calendar—her upcoming 30th birthday. Driven by the maddening ticking of her biological clock, Cassandra is determined to meet, fall in love with, and marry “The One” within nine months.

When Cassandra accompanies her cousin to a night club, her Type-A quest to meet a man is quickly rewarded by a stranger’s velvety, baritone voice asking if he might occupy the seat next to her. He’s Nicolas Harte, whose good looks leave Cassandra speechless, but not for long. After mustering enough courage to strike up a conversation, she learns Nicolas is everything she wants in a man—smart, successful, and available. There’s only one catch: He’s “GU” (geographically undesirable). Nonetheless, Cassandra falls in love with Nicolas and makes the uncharacteristic decision to move from Los Angeles to New York to be with him. But Cassandra gets a rude awakening when she discovers there’s something rotten in the Big Apple.

Excerpt:

The Speakeasy is jumping; the line to get in is crazy. I don’t know how Cyn does it. I just don’t see what people find so enthralling about club life, but it must have something to offer or half the women in Los Angeles wouldn’t be standing in line shivering their butts off. Parked outside the club, I glance at the clock on my dashboard and see that it’s already ten o’clock. I could have sworn we were supposed to meet at nine. I would call Cyn, but I forgot my Blackberry at home, and I’m not about to use the pay phone at the corner gas station. I don’t know why I didn’t fill up earlier. I could have spared myself the close encounter with that homeless man determined to wash my windows. Poor guy. I can hear my pastor now: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ I know he’s probably gonna buy a couple of forty-ouncers with the five dollars I gave him, but I couldn’t help myself.

Okay it’s way past ten now. I guess Cyn got confused. I wish she would get here. After that disastrous date with Lawrence, I need a pick-me-up. And speaking of pick-ups, I can’t believe he expected me to pick up the tab. According to his mother, the only way to tell a woman’s not a gold-digger is if she pays on the first date. I don’t know why Lawrence signed up with the dating service. Clearly, he’s already married.

“Lord have mercy. You scared the mess out of me!” I scowl at Cyn, who just appeared outside my passenger door.

“Let me in.”

I unlock the door; she opens it and sits.

“Girl, you scared me.”

“Why are you so on edge? What’s up?”

“I guess I’m still reeling after that date I had with Lawrence, the mama’s boy.”

“I told you you’re wasting your money on that dating service. You need to ask for a refund. It’s been a year, you’ve been out with over a dozen guys, and it always ends up the same. What was that last one’s name?”

“Richard.”

“Yeah, Richard. The one who asked for a loan after two weeks. And then there was Doug, the crackhead…”

“Former crackhead. When I met him he was clean and sober.”

“Right. Somebody put that crack pipe in his briefcase. And don’t let me forget Theodore, who wanted you to have a ménage a trois with his ex-girlfriend on your second date, or was that Phillip? No, that couldn’t have been Phillip, because he was gay.”

“I get the point!”

“Okay, so I won’t mention the four or five other guys who could have worked out if they had only worn the right color suit, lived in the right part of town, or had the right number of frequent flier miles.”

“Cyn, please! I get it.”

“Do you? I don’t know why you’re trying to get married anyway. You just don’t know how good you have it, living your own life with nobody to get on your last nerve. If it wasn’t for Shelby, I would have divorced David’s big, fat, funky butt a long time ago.”

“You don’t mean that. But even so, I’m not giving up.”

“You know what they say about people who keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results?”

“I’m not crazy. But never mind that—where have you been? We were supposed to meet at nine.”

“You said ten.”

“I did not!”

We exchange looks and take a moment to size each other up. “Never mind. Just forget it,” I finally say, by way of an apology.

“Girl, that purple cashmere top is kickin’ on you,” Cyn says, her way of accepting it.

“You look good, too. Looks like you’ve lost some more weight.”

“It’s the black, but thanks anyway. We’d better head in. I need a drink.”

“I dunno, Cyn. I’m not feeling that line.”

“Please, we’re not gonna stand in line. I have a hook-up.”

“Good. Then I think I’ll have a drink, too,”

“Little miss perfect is gonna have a drink?”

I ignore Cyn. We get out of my Lexus, and all heads turn when she slams the car door. A couple of women, wearing lace front wigs give us smug looks from the head of the line. Cyn and I exchange knowing glances as we approach the long, velvet ropes separating us from the competition. Now that I’m out, I wanna have a good time. Cyn’s right—I really need to loosen up. I’m gonna really try to be spontaneous tonight. I laugh out loud at my own thoughts and follow Cyn closely as we brush past these ladies-in-waiting. I wiggle my nose at the scent of perfume and hairspray wafting through the air. I suck in my gut and hold my head high, all the while praying that Cyn truly does have a hook-up. I couldn’t bear to get to the front of the line and be kicked to the curb.

“Ouch. You stepped on my foot!”

“I’m sorry,” I say to a short girl in braids and hardly anything else.

“Come on, Cass!”

“I’m coming,” I say, trying to ignore the daggers and snickers coming our way. I stare at the back of Cyn’s head as she looks up at the six-foot-five gatekeeper with neck and arms the size of tree trunks.

“Hi, I’m Cynthia Townsend. Roberta and I work together.”

The bouncer crosses his bulging arms over a huge, barrel chest and sneers at us. “Roberta who?”

“Roberta Jenkins. She’s a social work—”

“Oh Robbie, okay. Sure, you right.” He points at me and asks, “She with you?”

Cyn looks over her shoulder. I guess to make sure it’s still me and not one of the haters we trampled en route to the head of the line. “Yeah, that’s my cousin.”

“Y’all good.”

“Thank.”

He parts the velvet rope, we high-five one another, and waltz into the club.

An author and playwright, Alretha Thomas is making her name through her pen. Award winning plays and wanting to help her community, Alretha’s background is as diverse as her personality. She started at the age of ten, when her 5th grade teacher picked and read her short story assignment in front of the class – that simple, loving act empowered a new writer. Continuing in high school, her numerous original oratorical conquests on the Speech Team led her to a journalism concentration at USC.

Upon graduating, Alretha soon realized that her interest in journalism was not heartfelt. While at the taping of a live sitcom, the producer noticed her and encouraged her hand at modeling. Modeling didn’t mean much to her, but it did lead her to acting and a NAACP Theatre Award Nomination (1993) for BEST ACTRESS. Alretha left acting and began to write full time. Her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre pieces—the community response was overwhelming.

This led to full length plays outside of the church. In 2002, The Stella Adler Theater presented A Shrine to Junior. The play was nominated for an NAACP Theatre Award and in 2004, Alretha’s play, Civil Rites, was the recipient of an NAACP Theatre Award. Her play Grandpa’s Truth ran at the Inglewood Playhouse in Inglewood, California in 2006, and was extended more than once by popular demand. Not only did radio station KJLH support by recommending this production to its listeners, but notables like the Mayor of Inglewood, Roosevelt Dorn, and music legends like Freda Payne and Stevie Wonder had critical acclaim for Grandpa’s Truth. This wonderful piece was featured on Channel 5 (KTLA News) by Entertainment Reporter, Sam Rubin. Additionally, in 2007, Alretha’s play, Sacrificing Simone had a successful run at Stage 52 in Los Angeles and was called “an inspirational crowd pleaser” by the Los Angeles Times and in 2009, Alretha’s ground breaking One, Woman Two Lives, starring Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show), directed by four-time NAACP Image Award Best Director recipient Denise Dowse, garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences.

In between plays, Alretha’s first novel Daughter Denied was launched in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country. Representing her book, Alretha has been the guest on many radio shows and television shows including San Francisco Public Affairs show Bay Sunday with Barbara Rodgers on KTLA Channel 5. In 2011, Alretha launched her second novel Dancing Her Deams Away, and it was also well received. Her third novel, Married in the Nick of Nine, is taking readers and reviewers across the country by storm. Alretha is currently preparing for the release of sequel to Married in the Nick of Nine. The Baby in the Window will launch in 2013.

Get to know Alretha:

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: If you look up miracle in the dictionary, you’ll see my smiling face staring back at you. Nineteen years ago, if you had told me I’d be participating in an interview with AAMBC regarding my third novel Married in the Nick of Nine, I would have directed you to the nearest lost and found so you could hopefully locate your mind. There’s no way a young, black girl raised in a San Francisco housing project, with a sickly mother on welfare, and an abusive jailbird father could become a writer. There’s no way that girl, who finds her mother’s lifeless body on the living room sofa, at the age of fourteen, could even think about writing, let alone graduate second in her high school and get a scholarship to USC. There’s no way that girl, who becomes anorexic, bulimic, and falls prey to drugs and alcohol, could have any hopes of becoming a writer. Well, miracles do happen and with determination and faith in God, I was able to overcome my obstacles and fulfill my fifth grade teacher’s prophecy, that one day I’ll be a published writer.

Q: You refer to your books as your babies. Tell us how “Married in the Nick of Nine” was conceived and born.

A: In early 2011, I began putting together a skeletal outline for a story about a young, smart, and successful woman who was determined to meet, fall in love with, and marry “The One” within nine months. Around the time I was writing the book, I was launching Dancing Her Dreams Away, so after writing about thirty-five pages, I put Married in the Nick of Nine on the shelf. Dancing Her Dreams Away launched June 2011, and I was laid off my corporate job of twelve years in September 2011!

The Friday of the week I was laid off, I decided to query agents regarding Married in the Nick of Nine, just to see if anyone would be interested. Usually I have to query about three-hundred agents before I get a handful of responses, so I didn’t expect to get any replies, let alone any positive ones. So I submitted one query letter to one agent. To my amazement, the agent requested the entire manuscript. I was filled with glee and dread because there was no manuscript. I barely had forty pages. But this was an opportunity of a lifetime, so like Bradley Cooper in Limitless, I started writing. He had NZT and I had faith. I stayed up writing the book for four days straight, and by the following Monday I received an email from the agent asking if the manuscript had gotten lost in cyberspace. I told her I would get it to her the following day. So four days after the manuscript request, and one week after being laid off, I had completed Married in the Nick of Nine. Long story short, I submitted the book, got great feedback, but no cigar. After countless revisions, more submissions, requests, and rejections, I decided to once again self-publish! And I’m glad I did. Just think if I hadn’t submitted that one query letter, Married in the Nick of Nine would still be on the shelf.

Q: Which characters in “Married in the Nick of Nine” are you most like?

A: Wow! That’s a great question. I’m actually a combination of a few of them. I was very similar to Cyn in my twenties. I liked to party and like Cyn, I drank a little too much. I became more like Cassandra, in my late thirties. That’s when I got focused. There are aspects of both characters that I admire. I love Cyn’s free spirit and her tendency to say what’s on her mind. I love Cassandra’s determination and I admire how she managed to stay on point with her goals. She finished high school, went onto college, and now has a great career. I veered off the path during my journey, but thank God, I eventually got it together. By the way, I have a BIG crush on Nick! LOL!

Q: Is the life of a writer as you imagined it to be?

A: I never imagined what a writer’s life would be like. I’ve always envisioned what I wanted my life to be like as a writer. My dream is to be well off, free from the 9-5 grind, writing books, plays, having my books optioned for movies, and being a part of those movies as a producer. I saw myself being a part of every aspect of the movie making process, from casting to the red carpet premiere. I also saw myself being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Entertainment tonight, and all the other entertainment shows. Am I there yet? No. But I’m having a ball getting there. LOL!

Q: What are some of your favorite books?

A: There are hundreds. Top of my list is the BIBLE. Others that stand out the most are as follows: The late Bebe Moore’ Campbell’s, “What You Owe Me” and “Brothers and Sisters.” “Angela’s Ashes” by the late Frank McCourt. Terry McMillan’s, “Waiting to Exhale,” “Disappearing Acts,” “The Interruption of Everything,” and “A Day Late and A Dollar Short.” Wally Lamb’s “She’s Come Undone” and “I know This Much Is True.” “RL’s Dream,” by Walter Mosley, and all of Kimberla Roby Lawson’s books. Classics like “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker and “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. Too many more to list!

Q: If you could go back and change one day, what would it be?

A: It would be the day my mother died and yes, the reasons are obvious. I know she’s within me, and I believe she’s aware of my life. I actually had a very vivid dream wherein she appeared to me and she was very happy. She smiled and she said, “I heard you wrote a book.” This was around the time my debut novel came out. The dream was so real. I took one look at her and burst into tears. I was overwhelmed seeing her and I cried expressing the pain that I had experienced in my life not having her around. She hugged me and I woke up. I jumped up and ran screaming through the house. “My mother came to me! My mother came to me.” My husband, who was already up, reached out to me, and I collapsed into his arms.

Q:What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: NEVER GIVE UP!

Web Links:

http://www.facebook.com/MarriedInTheNickOfNine

https://twitter.com/#!/Marriedinthenic

www.Marriedinthenickofnine.com.

http://www.myspace.com/marriedinthenickofnine

Alrethat@aol.com

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Archie’s Psalm by Christopher D. Burns

Synopsis:

Archie’s Psalm is a glimpse into the life of a latchkey kid who is encountering situations that force him to learn about the changing world around him. A coming of age story with a carefully crafted narrative and subplot, Archie’s Psalm shows the transitioning world of a neighborhood in Memphis, TN ten years after Dr. King’s death. Through the setting, vivid character descriptions and moving storytelling a hot and humid southern neighborhood comes to life. Through the use of dialect and song the shifting tone and sound of the south reminds the reader of Zora Neale Hurstons’ novels. A work of literature that is artistic, powerful and important. A book that could become as relevant as Ann Petry’s The Street.

Excerpt:

He told stories to pass the time. A simple man, never loud. Carried extra quarters in his pockets, about ten patch made pockets on dingy coveralls, a soft white shirt beneath the faded denim straps over his shoulders. The only look on his face I remember was like the quiet warmness after a summer rain. His half smile marked with crescent moons at the corners of his mouth and lines like folds in brown blankets at the corner of his eyes. His skin soft with bristled hair, even on his hands hair grew. He carried a walking stick sometimes, and walked through the streets each morning and each afternoon. Maybe to see what we was doing, us latchkey kids, us thugs. But we wadn’t so bad, just bored, and he knew that.

He told stories to pass the time, stories of uprisings, niggers, Tom’s, fools, white folks, but mostly it was stories about the neighborhood that stuck to me.

Me and the guys ran all over the streets bothering and startling the old folks. He just stood when we would ride by, looking at us act up. He never did nothing to us unless he found us being too mannish. Folks used to say he carried bricks, a small piece of brick in each overall pocket. He caught Lil Tony trying to scare Ms. Phillips once. He saw him and from what Tony said,

“I was ridin right, ridin, Buck, I wasn’t even messin wit Ms. P. I ain’t lyin.”

“What’d he do, what’d he do?” I kept asking. Tony’s toughskins were scuffed pretty bad on purple knee patches. His palms was dirty with little scrapes on chubby hands. His jaws shook when he got excited.

“I ain’t lyin Buck, I ain’t-”

“Tony, what’d he do?”

“He threw one at me.”

“No he didn’t.”

“Yeah he did.”

“Did it hit you? Did it hurt?”

“You ask stupid questions Buck.”

“You the one that’s stupid. You know how Old Man Fishstick act when he see Ms. P.”

“Yeah but-”

“That’s why you got hit,” I laughed.

“Didn’t exactly get hit though, I just saw him raise his hand. So I jumped off my bike. He walked up an-”

“An he laughed at you an walked away, didn’t he? Don’t lie.”

“Yep, he jus laughed an walked off.”

“An he lef you sumthin?”

“A quarter.”

“Me too.”

‘Pretty Ms. P,’ was what he called her. Old Man Fishstick was what we used to call him. He always talked with Ms. P, but not much to many other folks. I even noticed him take out his folded red kerchief with the white designs on it to wipe his brow, before she would see him. He’d pull off his old blue hat and pull at the tufts of gray hair matted to the sides of his head. He’d even walk a little bit slower with longer strides. Such long strides I think would’ve been hard with a pocket full of bricks. I had found out that their wadn’t no bricks a long time before any body else. What it was, was quarters in small, cloth brown bags. But I didn’t tell nobody seein as he only had em every once in a while. Anyways, I asked him why he always fixed up himself, when he see Ms. Pat.

“Ya know what a peacock is?”

“Yes suh.”

“Find out why peacocks look like they do, an then ask me why, an I’ll tell ya.”

Still don’t know why peacocks look like they do, but I’m trying to get the answer.

Christopher D. Burns, MFA

Bio: Originally from Memphis, Christopher D. Burns joined the US Navy after getting into a lot of trouble as a teen shortly after graduating high school. Upon completing Aviation Electricians Mate school, Chris was stationed in San Diego, where he served in the military for four years and worked as an electrician on F-14 Tomcat aircrafts. When his military service was completed, Chris found himself trying to figure out his next move. He once again ffound trouble living in LA, so he moved back to San Diego and worked as a QA Analyst before being asked to play college basketball at San Diego City College. An injury cut short his basketball aspirations and led to visits to poetry readings in San Diego. At this time he began to write his first book, A Man’s State of Mind. He received an AA in Psychology from Mesa College (SDCCD) in 1997. Chris also began to work as a high school basketball coach and became one of the youngest head coaches in San Diego in 1999.

In 1997, Chris went on to attend San Diego State University where he earned a BA in English and a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. While attending San Diego State University, Chris wrote Stages: a handbook on men and relationships, 100 Black and White Questions (co-authored by Kevin Pendleton) and Archie’s Psalm (which later became his Masters thesis).

After graduating with his MFA degree from San Diego State, Chris returned to his childhood home of Memphis and worked for two years as an instructor of English at Historically Black College, LeMoyne-Owen College. He resigned to teach high school English, complete research on building writing skills, and to focus more on the CB Publishing website www.cbpublish.com, Center Court Basketball www.centercourtbasketball.com, a sports and fitness website, and his footwear company ARCH www.arch-usa.com.

Get to Know Chris:

Chris Burns, you became a writer for what reason? I was inspired to start writing my freshman year of college. I was playing college basketball and working as a teacher’s assistant. One of the teacher’s at the school was a poet and invited us all to her poetry reading from her chapbook. When I got home, I sat down and started writing. I always told stories and I was a bit of a class clown in high school, so the writer was always there, but I guess I needed a push. I began writing poetry and one of the poems felt like a story so I kept writing and it became A Man’s State of Mind, my first book. I guess to answer the question quickly, I became a writer because I had these stories in my head and I just needed to get them out. Unfortunately it has taken me 17 years to begin working on my career.

Archie’s Psalm. That is an interesting title, where did it come from and what is it about?The title came from the original draft of the book. I attended San Diego State University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. During the fiction workshops I began submitting chapters to my classmates and the story didn’t really have a title. Like my first book the story began as a poem. I was going to get my MFA in Poetry so it was only natural that most of my stories began in this way. The chapters I was submitting were not labeled chapters. I was using verses from the Book of Psalms in the Bible to kind of inspire each section. My idea was to make the final chapter begin with a verse from Psalms. When I submitted the book as my thesis it was written this way. However, I had a serious Jean Toomer influence and the narrative felt disjointed. I cut a lot of the book and removed the references to Psalms, but kept the title.

When someone asks me now why this is the title and what it’s about, I can still say that it is about songs. Psalms are songs. Archie is one of the main characters in the book. He is an older man, kind of like the neighborhood sage. The book is built around Archie’s interaction with the main character Buck. Buck is a young boy on the verge of becoming a teen. Old Man Archie often sits on his porch and sings the blues while playing his guitar. Throughout the story Archie tells Buck stories that often parallel with what is happening in the text. His stories usually begin with a song.

The book is about the multiple layers that exist in families. It is about those hidden stories that every family has. Archie’s Psalm is also about the point when boys become men physically and how they learn to interact with girls and all of the problems that the world throws at them. The book is a commentary on a lot of different things and it will be interesting if people finish it and realize all of the things that have taken place.

Explain to us your writing style, how do you differ from whats current? My writing style varies. I play around a lot with character sketches and dialect. I don’t use a formula. I just make sure I am writing as much as possible. I do have a lot of influences and those influences come through at times. My favorite writer is Ralph Ellison, followed closely by Toni Cade Bambara and Zora Neale Hurston. There are random elements of Invisible Man in every book I’ve written. In my first novel, A Man’s State of Mind, I play around with setting and I never really tell you where the story is taking place; which allows the story to have the feeling that it could be happening right down the street from you. In my second book Stages: A Handbook on Men & Relationships, there is a comedic tone that is playful but hides a serious subplot. I got that from Zora. In Archie’s Psalm I also use a bit of Zora’s technique in using a shifting dialect. In Archie’s Psalm the exposition is written in standard English, but the dialogue is written in the voices I heard in my head from my childhood. Those voices always code switched. My mom would sound completely different talking with friends than she did on the phone with bill collectors.

I think how my work differs is that after 17 years of writing and just putting books out there without any promotion is that I haven’t had to write in a particular style because one of my books caught on. What I’ve noticed is that many writers stick with what gets them a livelihood, or what is going to make sure they stay popular. A person who writes urban fiction, sticks with that. A person who writes relationship books sticks with that. My work differs because I can’t tell you one novel that is written like Archie’s Psalm. No one is really writing and giving a voice to Black boys. Most stories are written for women because they read more than men. I write my books for readers and I write what is familiar because I want it to ring true. Archie’s Psalm is different because it finally gives voice to the boy that was, raised in the single parent household, raised in the neighborhood that was changing from the close knit Civil rights based black community to the neighborhoods on the verge of Reaganomics, crack and gangs. As simple as the story seems, it touches on a lot of the issues that affect our neighborhoods right now and it does all of this in the form of a coming of age story.

Your best work thus far, what do you think that is and why? My best work oddly enough is a work that I haven’t even mentioned and it is not readily available. It Often Deprives Me of My Sleep is a collection of short stories, poems, essays and a conversation with the muse, that I wrote for about 15 years. For the sake of this interview though I guess I will say Archie’s Psalm is the most important… scratch that. All of the books are important.

When I was in grad school I had a professor who told me to write for me. He told me that I shouldn’t worry about my race or background and that I should simply write. I could never get past that. Everything I write in some way has a point. Everything I write means something and attempts to cut you and leave a scar. I need my books to live and breathe. I want each book to give you a character that when you are finished you want that character to keep living.

If I did have to choose one of the books that people can actually buy and answer the question, what is my best work… it would have to be Archie’s Psalm. I know the book is hard to read and is not what is the norm, but I think the payoff for finishing the book and then discussing it will create an experience.

Tell us about your next line of work, what can reader’s expect from you? The great thing about never promoting my work is that everything is new and there are multiple titles for people to choose from. If you want something that will reach in and pull at every emotion, you can read A Man’s State of Mind. If you want to laugh and learn how to read men, Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships. If you want to get into something that reminds you of classic literature with a contemporary setting, read Archie’s Psalm. If you want to read about business I have a Kindle download named One Hour to Wealth that gives you the guidelines I used to launch my own sneaker company. I have in my computer right now a book that I am co-authoring titled Winter in Hip-Hop, a nonfiction book that deals with Blacks in the post civil rights era. I also have a work of fiction that is about a preacher who murders a gangbanger. There are other projects I’m working on as well, but who knows if any of this other stuff will ever see the light of day? If you want to keep up with what’s happening with me you can definitely read the blog on www.cbpublish.com. I even do a Hi Lites section on cool places to visit in Memphis. I also write a fitness blog at www.centercourtbasketball.com that works in conjunction with my sneaker company on www.arch-usa.com. I like staying busy and I try to write in some form everyday.

How are you managing to write and then tell the world you have these great books you want them to read? I am not. That is why I don’t have a writing career. I have never taken my own advice about working on a dream in regard to my writing. This will be the first year that I have actively worked on promoting my books. I did do a little bit of promoting when I hosted an Open Mic, but not really. What I hope now is that people will see your interview and take a chance on my books. If they do, that would be great.

A book that can compare to Archie’s Psalm is? I think the closest relatives to Archie’s Psalm are The Street by Ann Petry and actually a short story: The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara. As many books as I have read I find it hard to make a direct comparison. I guess another title would be Stephen King’s The Body (the movie Stand By Me was based on this short story). I like the fact that I’m actually promoting this over my other books. I think it would be easy for me to push Stages or A Man’s State of Mind, those books kind of fall into the contemporary market. However I feel that people are ready to change gears.

Web-Links:

http://www.cbpublish.com

http://www.facebook.com/chris.burns.714

http://www.twitter.com/archbyccb

http://amazon.com/author/christopherdburns

http://www.cbpublish.com/author-christopher-d-burns-mfa/

cdburns@cbpublish.com

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Get to know Madison author of WWW.com

Who is "the real" Madison Taylor?

The real “Madison Taylor” is every character in every one of my books. As I write, my personality naturally seeps into each story to give it authenticity that people can relate to. But honestly, I am a real laid back type of person. I keep myself busy with writing and other projects.

How many books have you written thus far?

This will be book number 5.

How has your feedback been with the Scattered Lies Series?

It has been surprisingly awesome. As a first time writer, I never really thought of becoming an “author”. I was hesitant in the beginning, not because I was unsure of myself but the market was so saturated with the “hood come up” story that I knew I needed something that would burnish through. Scattered lies kind of took on a life of its own. As I started writing part one, the words just kept flowing. Every time I thought to end it, my positive feedback forced a trilogy.

Are your fans ready for a new novel or the next novel from you?

At this point, I think the fans are in “need” of a new novel from me. Scattered Lies was a blessing but it’s easy to turn people off with repetition. Many times people hold on to what has been working for them not realizing they are setting precedence that may eventually put them in a circle that they cannot escape. Then when the time comes to venture into something new it’s gonna be hard to get people interested because they already know you for something else. I think it’s better to start out as a diverse author than to become a limited writer. That’s why I try to keep my release dates as close as possible so not to fall off the radar and have to get it all back. What will be your new release dropping in July?

The new release will be WWW.COM What is www.com about? Without giving the plot away, it’s about four regular women fed up with the iniquity of the world. The story brings four women together for different reasons and from different seasons. Each bringing their own spark to the group, this ‘robin hood” like criminal enterprise ignites the pages of this book with the simple motivation of women scorned by different circumstances of life and their pursuit of satisfaction through remuneration.

What was your inspiration for writing www.com?

Writing was my inspiration for WWW.COM. It’s like once you get started, you can’t stop. I sit on the train, on the bus, and in my car just looking around at everything and everyone, gathering little pieces of real life; that blended with imagination and motivation, it becomes book number 5. To my knowledge, your strong point with being a novelist has been writing a storyline that is not typical and definitely keeps the readers guessing, as well as writing novels that anyone no matter the genre preference can thoroughly enjoy.

How do you keep your writing quality efficient and was it difficult to continue to do so with www.com being a new storyline?

In the beginning I prided myself on being the author that “strayed” from the group. There are so many urban stories that made me feel that readers were stuck in a “MATRIX” world of sex, money and murder. The proof came in all the negative feedback I received on my book covers. Many naysayers felt the covers weren’t “urban” enough to catch an audience as most books have naked woman with their “booty” out. Even though my novels replay many of the same scenes, I wanted my characters to have finesse. Like in Scattered Lies, Denise was the best dress, red bottom wearing diva that ever did it, a bourgeoisie bandit. In WWW.COM, yes it was a bit difficult. As a writer, I wanted to make sure people reading it did not relate back to Scattered Lies because this book reminded them of it. I want readers to read this and say, “Wow, I need to go get that Scattered Lies Trilogy”, and/ or vice versa. What sets your novels apart from every other book in the urban-lit genre? Me. I set my novels apart from every other book in urban-lit genre. Of course, we hustle it for the money but our motivation is what sets the standard. Many times people write anything because they have to. They are on a schedule or missing a deadline. I never get pressed because my respect for the industry won’t allow for that type of betrayal to my fans. My readers expect a “better than” the rest and you have to produce. Writers comes a dime a dozen but to be an author takes commitment and dedication.

Who is your favorite character in www.com and why?

I don’t want to sound cliché, but all of the women in my book are my favorite. They all represent a part of me. I know what it feels like to have a family member taken away and fighting for truth in a chaotic situation. However, for the sake of the interview, Justice is a character that many will probably relate to. Again, without giving too much of the plot away, she takes on a dangerous task of deception. But as always, real life kicks in, like getting pregnant by a mark, which leads to a very interesting story line.

Who do you think your readers will love the most?

I think everybody will relate to a different character in their own way. All four women have a story to tell and it is surprising who will be the hero in the end. Through the Scattered Lies series I was pleasantly amazed at whom some made the villain. Many felt sorry for Morgan; others thought she got what she deserved. You never know.

How do you think your new novel will compare to what people have been buzzing about with the Scattered Lies Series?

This will definitely be a change of pace from the Scattered Lies Saga. Even though it hints towards sex, money, murder, it’s more of a description of the people in the book than a story line. This book is more about reprisal through rouge activity.

Are you going to give your readers a sneak peak at your next novel scheduled to be released the end of the year "Roman's Revenge," which is the last and final chapter of the Scattered Lies Series?

Maybe. Scattered Lies has definitely held its own, each segment wanting you looking for more. I decided to do WWW.COM before “Roman’s Revenge” to give my fans a change of pace and to give myself enough time to create a “Scattered Lies” saga ending that will resonate through the industry.

Why should people support you and purchase www.com?

WWW.COM is a different kind of story. It’s unique, different, and shows women can be just as dirty without taking their clothes off.

Why did you switch from being self-published to having a publisher?

It’s hard being a self-published author. Having a publisher allows for different marketing and networking opportunities. Once I got a publishing deal, I found things to be a little less stressful. I only write. It’s important to be proactive in your own right but overall, having a publisher opens the industry up to you.

How and why do you find the time to stay so interactive with your readers?

My blackberry is the best and as someone who wants to continue selling a product has to remain a buzz. This industry is non-forgiving and there are so many already established authors and with up and comings every day, it would be suicide not to make the time for your supporters. Its part of the hustle; guerilla tactics to marketing and advertising. We are on our phones all day anyway; why not make it as productive as possible.

Find the Author:

iammadison27@yahoo.com madisonme twitter madison taylor (authormadison) fb www.5starpublications.net

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