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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chilling at the CIAA

There was  a small crowd in Time Warner Cable Arena Wednesday afternoon as the women's basketball tournament continued. I've always wondered why alumni of the CIAA schools don't support the women's basketball teams. Women's basketball is exciting because many of the women on the floor seem to play harder than the men because they seem to have something to prove. Shaw University's women's basketball team — in my humble opinion—could give any men's team a run for their money.

The older alumni is styling on you! The women looking around the vendor booths at the arena today are dressed to kill. Even though it's balmy 55 degrees today, one Livingstone alumnae I saw still wore her blue fur head wrap. That's style commitment.

Shaw advanced to the semi-finals with a victory over St. Augustine's.
And, most importantly,
The Johnson C. Smith University women's basketball team advances to the semifinals of the 2012 CIAA Tournament with a 75-70 victory over Winston-Salem State University. JCSU will play Chowan University on Friday, March 2nd at 3:00 p.m. in Time Warner Cable Arena.

Pictures from the CIAA women's tournament

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Video blog: Feb. 28, 2012

Chatting with Trice Hickman. . .who will be signing in Charlotte this week (BE THERE!)

This week Charlotte will be celebrating 100 years of CIAA Basketball. The 12 historically black colleges and universities that make up the league have produced some great thinkers, ballers and writers. This weekend, Winston-Salem State University alumnae, Trice Hickman, will be signing books in Charlotte. Hickman embodies a huge lesson that students learn at HBCUs --never give up.

Talk about your journey to publication.

First, I want to start by saying thank you so much for allowing me this opportunity for an interview on your blog! I’m very appreciative.
My journey to publication has been an interesting one. After I wrote my first novel, Unexpected Interruptions, I was bursting with excitement. I did my do diligence and submitted my work to every agent, publisher, and editor whom I thought would be interested in the book. But to my disappointment, rejection letters started trickling in by the boat loads. Every single person I submitted my work to turned it down. Rejection is tough, but I was much too determined to give up. After 2 ½ more years of searching for a book deal, I decided to take the fate of my literary career into my own hands. I did painstaking research before taking a leap of faith and forming my own publishing company, Platinum Books. I released Unexpected Interruptions myself, and the book that everyone turned down went on to earn two literary awards and top several bestsellers lists. I eventually published two additional novels when I was approached by Kensington (Dafina Books). They offered me a contract to buy all three of my originally self-published books. Kensington re-released Unexpected Interruptions, April 2011, and this time the book that was originally rejected several years earlier received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly! My second novel, Keeping Secrets &Telling Lies, was just released this month, and my third book, Playing the Hand You’re Dealt will hit bookstore shelves this December. I’m currently working on my next novel.

 What’s the main difference in self-publishing and having a contract with a traditional publisher? 

The main difference between self-publishing and being signed with a traditional publisher is the level of responsibility the author has to shoulder in the overall publication process. When you self-publish, everything is on you! You must foot the bill for all the costs of publishing your book. From beginning to end, you are responsible for everything from the cover design, to getting the book edited, to book distribution, to fulfilling purchase orders, to submitting invoices, to scheduling book signings. When you’re signed with a traditional publisher they take care of the tasks mentioned. However, whether an author is traditionally or self-published, the one thing that remains the same in either case is that you MUST actively work to promote your book.

 You’re a radio show host as well as best-selling author, tell our readers about your show. 

I’m so excited about the Blogtalk Radio show I host with bestselling author, Brian W. Smith! Our show, On the Air with Trice and Brian, started airing September 2011. Since then we’ve gained a loyal following of readers, authors, and industry professionals who tune in to hear from seasoned professionals and rising new authors in the industry. The show has become so popular that our chat room has a name—the Book Brats! If you catch the show and drop into the chat room you’ll see why! It’s fun, interactive, and addictive! On the Air with Trice and Brian airs every other Thursday, 8:00 p.m. EST at Listeners can also call-in at 619-393-2858.

 What is your latest novel, Keeping Secrets and Telling Lies, about? 

Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies, is the story about a successful power couple who seem to have it all. Victoria is an attractive, business savvy sister who owns an event planning and catering company. Ted is a powerful, blue-eyed CEO who knows how to take care of business in and out of the boardroom. But their seemingly happy marriage begins to unravel when secrets from their past creep into their present. They begin telling lies that eventually catches up to them, and they must fight to find a way to keep the love they hold so dear. This is a story about how good people can make poor decisions, and once they do, how do they recover from them?

 Did you expect to write a sequel to Unexpected Interruptions

Yes! After I wrote the last line of Unexpected Interruptions, it was the end of the book, but not the end of the story. The characters still had things to say, so I listened to them and continued their journey. And even after I completed Keeping Secrets &Telling Lies, the characters are still talking to me, telling me to finish their story, so I’ve outlined the last book in what I’m calling the Love With No Limits trilogy.

 Where do you draw your inspiration?

I draw my inspiration from life experience and the people around me. But let me be clear; to date, I have not written about anything that has directly happened to me, or about anyone whom I know. I tap into my vivid imagination to fictionalize things I’ve observed. I always ask, “Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if?”

 How can readers reach you? 

Readers can reach me through my website, I love connecting with readers through the social networks as well. They can find me at:
Facebook:, Twitter:, and LinkedIn: 

Trice will be signing copies of Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies  at Barnes and Noble:
Author Event
Barnes & Noble at Carolina Place welcomes author Trice Hickman, who will be signing copies of her latest fiction novel, Keeping Secrets and Telling Lies. Ms. Hickman will sign copies of her novel Unexpected Interruptions as well.
Friday March 02, 2012 7:00 PM
Carolina Place Mall11025 Carolina Place, Pineville, NC 28134, 704-544-9985

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chatting with new author Liane Moonraven

When it comes to fantasy, we all know of writers like Charlene Harris, Anne Rice, Stephen King and J.R.R. Tolkien. Allow me to introduce you to the latest author to add a little fantasy to reality, Liane Moonraven.
Liane Moonraven's debut novel, The Broken Sword, won best first chapter from UP Authors, a collaborative effort, founded by marketing expert Melissa Powely and author Ron Knight. This advisor program was developed to give authors a way to share resources and provide economically priced opportunities.

 Liane Moonraven spoke to me about fantasy writing and her journey to be published. Full disclosure, we've known each other for years and I'm so excited for her!

Congratulations on the publication of your first novel! Where did you find the inspiration to do a retelling of King Arthur?

Thank you Cheris and thank you for inviting me! I’ve been a huge fan of yours for a long time so being here is my pleasure! For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. My childhood fantasies included Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain and other chivalrous knights. When I was in high school, I read Le Morte d’ Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory. I later went on to read Once and Future King, The Mists of Avalon and other Arthurian books. I watched movies about Arthur, including First Knight with Richard Gere but In 2005, after watching the movie King Arthur (which, by the way was helmed by black director Antoine Fuqua and I thank him in my author’s notes), I joined an RP group dedicated to the movie version. That is what began my interest in actually writing the genre.

There aren’t a lot of women of color writing fantasy, why did you chose this genre?

 I think it really chose me to be honest. I’ve always written romance but when I started writing medieval historical fiction, I was in the zone. I had to reconcile with myself that it was “okay” to write outside the box. I had a conversation with African American horror writer Brandon Massey and he helped a lot with me becoming comfortable with the genre. I was really concerned with the black community AND the white community accepting me writing this genre. I created Arthur’s love interest with Berber (Black Moors) blood. Book 2, the Shields of Blood contains a lot more black characters including the ancient medjai. I did quite a bit of research for Shields. Think of the black medjai character in The Mummy Returns ;) and you’ll have a pretty good idea!

What has your publishing experience been like?

Fortunately I have a great publisher who is very hands-on. I still do a lot of research but there is so much to this industry it’s almost impossible to keep up. There’s a lot of information to digest and everyone has an opinion or horror story it seems! I’m doing okay though because I have surrounded myself with seasoned authors, like you, whom I trust and feel comfortable going to with questions. Writing the novel seems to have been the easy part! It’s what needs to be done after publishing that’s the hard part!

What has been the most exciting part about being published?

Well, I really, really believed in my story. I knew it was a good story if I could just get people to read it. There were some nay-sayers in the beginning who tried to deter me and convince me there is no market for the story, but my heart made me believe I could do it. So having people actually read the words I’ve put on paper and enjoy the story is so humbling and so rewarding. I feel vindicated and pleasing the readers is what makes me happy! I was absolutely floored when The Broken Sword won first place for Best Chapter (the most difficult category) in the UPAuthors competition. It was then I realized I was making my mark.

What's next on the horizon for you? 

I am two-thirds finished with the sequel to The Broken Sword, which is titled, Shields of Blood. The Broken Sword was about characterization, familiarizing the readers with the players while telling a story. Shields of Blood is ALL about the action! Both books are full of suspense, chivalry, steamy romance and of course Arthur and his knights! The release date is scheduled for October 2012.After I finish Shields, I will finish up my untitled-as-of-yet horror story that is based on the Salem Witch Trials. There was a black slave named Tituba and one of her ancestors is being haunted by the women Tituba caused to be hanged for witchcraft. The story takes place modern day but what happened during the trials is reason why weird things start happening to the lead character.

How can readers reach you? 
 I would love to hear from people and here is how they can reach me:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saturday randoms. . .

It's not often that I spend a lot of time with my 19-year-old niece, who is also dabbling in writing, but this weekend we decided to hang out in Charlotte.

First there was brunch, or my excuse to have Dunkin Doughnuts coffee. It's funny that we went there, I call her munchkin, even though she's my height these days.
She now says she runs on Dunkin and will never eat a Krispy Kreme again. 

Posing in front of Artist Lena J's mural in Myers Hall, my old dorm.
Then we made a stop at my alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University. Next, we headed to Macy's where there was supposed to be a celebration for artist Romare Bearden, who is a Charlotte native.
This is what they said was supposed to happen:

Bring your family to our Children's event and enjoy storytelling, arts & crafts, delicious treats and exciting entertainment.
Join us for a celebration of Romare Bearden, featuring children’s collage and craft activities, storybook readings, live music, and face painting!  Plus, with any purchase of $50 of more, you will receive a complimentary scarf printed with Romare Bearden’s most revered work, The Lamp.

This is what we saw:
Where is everybody? And we were late.

Finally, my niece decided that she wanted a tattoo. And that's where the day ended! At Visions Tattoos.
So, how was your weekend? 
My niece is into music! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Finding inspiration in a bad romance

Lady GaGa sang about a bad romance. But a bad romance inspired my first romantic suspense, Cautious Heart.

Caprice Johnson is a highly respected detective. She's one of the few women in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department's elite Vice/Narcotics unit. Caprice does her job with precision and expertise; her entire life is built around being a police officer. But it wasn't always that way. When Caprice lived in Chicago, she was a police officer on the fast track with the Chicago Police Department, but she was also in love with the man she thought she was going to marry, Damien King. But Damien's wandering eye and lack of self-control when it came to women sent Caprice flying out of the Midwest forever. Determined to protect her heart and her emotions from the pain she felt in Chicago, Caprice stops dating and refuses to let anyone get close to her. While her career flourishes, she has no personal life at all.
Inspector Nathan Wallace fell in love with Caprice while working side by side with her as a partner. When he gets promoted to the department's internal affairs division, he reveals his feelings to Caprice. Nathan tries to break down the wall she's built around herself. But every time he gets close to her, she pulls away. Despite every thing she tries to do to push Nathan away, he doesn't stop loving her. The harder he pursues her, the harder she fights him. As time goes on, Caprice begins to warm to Nathan and a relationship buds. Just when it seems things couldn't get any better for Caprice professionally and personally, she makes a huge drug bust that changes her life. Caprice and her new partner arrest one of the most notorious drug dealers in the state. When she takes him down, Donovan Harris vows to get even with her. He wants to ruin Caprice's career and reputation so that she can't testify against him. Donovan hatches a dangerous plan that could ruin everything Caprice had ever worked for.
Then the man who broke Caprice's heart, Damien King, comes to Charlotte to start a new business and win Caprice back. When he turns up dead, Caprice is the prime suspect. With her career and life on the line, Caprice has to rely on Nathan and the truth to survive.
Want to know why Damien had to die?  Watch this:

Jarvis Holliday tells you what to do and what not to do at CIAA 2012

Nightlife writer and blogger Jarvis Holliday has lived in Charlotte since the CIAA Basketball Tournament set its roots here.

So, he know a little something, something about having a good time at the annual event.

Check out his tips:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CIAA doesn't erase racial tensions in Uptown Charlotte

The main party spots in Charlotte during the CIAA are the same venues that have been accused of discriminatory practices in the past.

Take the EpiCentre for example; many of the most tweeted about parties of the CIAA will be held at Suite, Howl at The Moon and The North Carolina Music Factory. In local African American circles, it seems that everyone has a story about being mistreated at these venues.

The most publicized acted of alleged racism involves Phillip Agnew, a Charlotte man who was arrested last summer at the EpiCentre for a dress code violation. Agnew claims that the incident was racially motivated.

When 25-year-old Phillip Agnew was arrested at the Charlotte entertainment complex, The EpiCentre, last summer, he started a movement that brought praise and scorn his way. According to published reports, he was arrested because he wouldn't turn his hat around -- at an outside event.
Agnew said his arrest was racially motivated, a complaint about the EpiCentre that has floated around the black community in the Queen City since the place opened.
Agnew took it public, fighting the arrest and launching a protest against the EpiCentre. Then he went one step further, launching the Black Card, a movement in Charlotte to bring solidarity and economic empowerment to the city's African American-owned businesses.
Agnew took things a step further, creating The Charlotte Collective in response to a number of documented discrimination claims against the EpiCentre, the NC Music Factory, and several other Uptown venues.
The group released this statement about the upcoming basketball tournament and the parties surrounding it.

In light of recent discrimination claims against the EpiCentre and other Uptown Charlotte venues, the Charlotte Collective, is cautioning CIAA party-goers to remain vigilant, be smart, and stay calm should any discriminatory incidents occur during next week’s tournament.  The Charlotte Collective was founded last year in response to a number of documented discrimination claims against the EpiCentre, the NC Music Factory, and several other Uptown venues.  Founder, Phillip Agnew, hopes that tournament party-goers will enjoy the festivities while considering the reputations and records of the businesses they choose to support.  “If we were to list every venue with a pattern of discrimination, it would be nearly impossible to find anywhere for party-goers to enjoy themselves.  It is our goal to ensure that each and every person understands their rights and follows our 3 steps.”
The steps are simple:
1.    Stay Calm – Do not escalate the situation.
2.    Document – Photos and witnesses are critical.
3.    Escalate – Contact Charlotte’s Community Relations Committee (CRC) at (704) 336-2426 or online
at and complete the Discrimination in Public Places form.

Charlotte Collective member, Dee Miller, believes that the 3 steps will allow party-goers to address potential discrimination in an effective and non-confrontational manner.  “Yes, knowledge is power, but the next logical step is empowering people to take action that creates a lasting impact.”

Racism in uptown clubs has been written about in several Charlotte publications. Creative Loafing, the city's alternative weekly newspaper, wrote about it in 2010 following a spat with Six Figure Entertainment's CEO Kirk Brown and Therapy Cafe, which is now closed.

It started when Kirk Brown, CEO of the African-American-owned promotion company Six Figure Entertainment, sent out an e-mail on July 29 accusing Therapy Café, a downtown restaurant/bar, of "racial profiling." Six Figure Entertainment and Therapy entered into an agreement last month that would allow Brown's company to host events at the restaurant on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The e-mail stated in part: "We've ... become aware of an undertone of racial insensitivity to the patrons of SFE as noted by many of you via the automatic addition of 20% gratuity to your bills." Brown said his allegations stem from the fact that a manager at the cafe told him one Saturday night that Therapy was adding a 20-percent gratuity to patrons' bills because "black people don't tip."
Adam Rees, general manager of Therapy, said a gratuity was added, but not because of race. "A lot of our servers were quitting because of inadequate tip percentages ,and we wanted to say: 'Hey, on nights when you guys are going to do an event for us, let's see if we can do a gratuity,'" Rees said.
 This was the second time the paper had reported on this issue. Charlotte's African American newspaper, The Charlotte Post, also covered racism at night spots in 2006. Could it be that the more things change, the more they stay the same?

Party time with The Sol Kitchen

It's almost CIAA in the city of Charlotte. Normally, I wouldn't even talk about the mass list of parties. But!
Mike Kitchen, the owner of The Sol Kitchen, is bringing something different this year. So, on this windy day in Charlotte, we met at Starbucks -- of course-- and talked about CIAA and some future events coming to town.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jason Campbell (the NFL QB) channels Maurice Goings--sort of

Life kind of imitates art when it comes to the wedding of NFL quarterback Jason Campbell. The former Washington Redskins QB was supposed to get married in the Dominican Republic over the weekend. However, the wedding never happened, according to Black Sports Online.

Over the weekend rumors started to surface that Former Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell had pulled a Richard Jefferson and left his fiancée Jenny Montes at the altar hours before their wedding in the Dominican Republic.
On Monday, that fast food site reported it as fact that Campbell had bailed on the ceremony.
Campbell has spoken out on the matter to clear up the rumors.
Former Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell was supposed to get married over the weekend in the Dominican Republic.
However, he and his fiancé, Jenny Montes, mutually decided to hold off on taking their vows because of personal reasons.
Campbell told CSN’s Kate Longworth that he did not leave Montes at the altar, as had been reported. He said that was not in his character.
Do I believe Campbell?
Jenny has his initials tattooed on his back, so I doubt she was happy about pulling the plug on the wedding, but Campbell has made his statement and I respect him at least acknowledging the rumors.
First, let me say I feel sorry for Jenny Montes and I hope that she had a role in the decision not to marry Campbell. Second, he should've been glad someone wanted to marry him -- dude, you played for The Redskins. The. Washington. Redskins. broke up with you first. And finally, this is so familiar to me.
My football player, Maurice Goings, was stood up at the altar in Let's Get It On.
When I wrote this book in 2008, I had no idea that this would actually happen in reality--even if it was to a former Redskin. Here's hoping Jason and Jenny find happiness at the end of this ordeal. And let that be a lesson to you, never, ever get his name or initials tattooed on you until he puts a ring on it!

Meet my Jason Campbell in If It Isn't Love.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stuff People Say to Romance Novelists. . .or me at least

Chatting with Deatri King-Bey

Author Deatri King-Bey is a force of nature. In 2006 she burst onto the literary scene as an author --she was already an editor at Third World Press, Inc.--  and has been lighting it up ever since, writing in different genres and chairing the Romance Slam Jam convention. King-Bey spoke with me about her latest works and this year's Romance Slam Jam, which will be held in Little Rock from April 11-15.

When were you first published?

My first title, Caught Up, was published February 2006 by Genesis Press.

Tell the readers about the Write Brothers series (since we are all looking for Mr. Right/Write).

Women often complain that it’s hard to find a good Black man. Well, Gloria Write is the mother of four great Black men and not one of them is interested in marrying. Mother knows best, so Gloria gives her sons little loving nudges here and there to push them into their happily ever after. Currently books I and II, Tell Her How You Feel and Santa’s Helper, are available in print, Kindle and Nook formats and book III is coming soon.

As the chairman of Romance Slam Jam, what is the most difficult thing about organizing such a huge and wonderful event?

The hardest part is keeping the price low. The Romance Slam Jam is around $200 less than comparable conferences and we also do not charge authors for signing space or to distribute their promo items like many conferences do. We also do not have any type of dues to collect during the years. So we have an extremely tight budget, but we want as many people who want to attend be able to afford to attend.

What can readers expect at this year’s Romance Slam Jam?

Gwyneth Bolton is our keynote speaker. Gwen is more than a great author, she’s a fantastic person and also mentors up and coming authors. She’s also funny and don’t let there be a karaoke machine around, she’ll have you up on the stage with her killing Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper's Delight. Talking about karaoke, we will be doing karaoke again at this year’s conference. We all just love it. There will be workshops on the craft and publishing industry and reader sessions for attendees to get to know the authors in a more personal setting. A MEGA book signing (don’t forget to bring books you’ve purchased over the years to have them signed), Emma Awards Banquet and so much more. We are going to have a GREAT time, thanks to the hosts Sistahs of Color Reading Group and Laura Parker Castoro. They’ve done a great job.Visit for full details about the conference.

What’s your next book and when can readers get their hands on it?

My next new release will be the third story in the Write Brothers Series: Third Time’s A Charm and will be out this spring. I’m also re-releasing my historical romance Journey’s End and a women’s fiction title called Jodie’s Choice this spring.

How can readers reach you?

Visit my website at and it has links to my announcements (for book releases), social media sites, webpages, books, everything Dee and they can email me at I love hearing from readers. I even let them choose the order I'd do the Write Brothers Series in.

That book was so much better than the movie

A lot of people ask authors, have you ever thought about turning one of your books into a movie?

Thought about it?

Man, I dream about walking the red carpet at premiere of Cautious Heart: The Movie dressed in a black leather dress and some purple knee-high boots. But that has more to do with my leather obsession than any offer I've been given to turn Cautious Heart or any of my books into a movie.

But I worry about someone else's view of my babies, I mean my books. What if they put the wrong actress in the role of my heroine. Like, Gabrielle Union as Freddie from More Than He Can Handle -- umm, NO!

And what if I can't get Spike Lee to direct it? Did I tell you that Spike Lee is the other part of my dream?

Mostly, I worry that my readers will walk away from the theater saying, that book was so much better than the movie. It's important to me to make my readers happy, I remember how disappointed I was a reader when I saw those horrible BET Arabesque movies. That was part of what led me to boycott the channel. Those movies looked nothing like the wonderful books that had been written. Thank God they stopped that. That's why I admire Brenda Jackson so much.

Last year, Jackson produced Truly Everlasting, a movie based on her wildly popular Madaris series. The movie created quite a buzz and it was wonderful. If I could do that then you'd see Cautious Heart on screen.

Tell me, what are some of your favorite books that have become movies?

Funny, but true. . .

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And you thought your Valentine's Day sucked. . .

A bit of role play spices up relationships. Well, add some calls to 9-1-1, nine police cars and an arrest of a Portland couple and your V-Day Waffle House dinner and port wine was simply amazing.

Stephanie Pelzner and her boyfriend Nikolas Harbar were in the midst of a role-playing game when Harbar put her in the back of his Subaru, naked and bound with duct tape, and took a little joy ride around the city, including a stop at a grocery store, where concerned witnesses spotted her and called the cops. Nine patrol cars were sent to pursue the presumed kidnapper’s vehicle, and twenty minutes later the romantic interlude ended in Harbar’s driveway, where police confirmed the situation was indeed voluntary, and booked the pair into the Multnomah County Jail.
I'm sure this isn't how this couple thought they'd be spending the evening in handcuffs. On another note, do you think they should've been arrested?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Here's a great Valentine's Day gift for the paranoid lover

Today is Valentine's Day. A day for lovers, roses, chocolate and red balloons. If you've spent the last few months wondering if your lover is faithful, then here's some software that will confirm your suspicions, ruin your life or prove that you've got a little bit of paranoia that you need to work out.

It's called Easy Spy.

Dear friend,

I know how you feel... Suspecting that someone close to you is doing something behind your back is an extremely stressful situation to be in. It can affect your health, work and family life dramatically.

The longer you go without knowing the truth, the worse it gets.


"It's literally like being
a fly on the wall"
imagine this
Now, I'm not promoting this software, because you can definitely find something better to drop $72-$97 on (like a collection of my books. . .). And I really wonder how legal this product is. But think about it, if your don't trust your lover, just go. Save yourself the money and the heartache.

And by the way, Happy Valentine's Day. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Trice Hickman is coming to Charlotte!!

Trice Hickman
Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies
Author Event
Barnes & Noble at Carolina Place welcomes author Trice Hickman, who will be signing copies of her latest fiction novel, Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies. Ms. Hickman will sign copies of her novel Unexpected Interruptions as well.
Friday March 02, 2012
7:00 P.M.

Carolina Place Mall
11025 Carolina Place, Pineville, NC 28134, 704-544-9985

What is Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies about?

Some secrets set you free. Some destroy your world.
After six years of marriage, Victoria and Ted are the ultimate power couple. She's a beautiful, business savvy sister who owns one of Atlanta's hottest event planning companies. He's a blue-eyed CEO who knows how to take care of business in and out of the boardroom. But their happy life quickly begins to unravel when long held desires and decades-old secrets come back to haunt them.
It starts when Parker Brightwood re-enters Victoria's life. She thought she'd gotten over the handsome surgeon who once stole her heart, but unusual circumstances bring the ebony prince back on the scene—and this time he's determined to win her at any cost. Ted's undoing begins with his mother's sudden death and a mysterious secret—one that will lead to a truth so shocking it threatens the life and marriage he holds dear.
Facing a road filled with uncertainty, Victoria and Ted must confront their deepest, most hidden fears. Can they repair the damage done by secrets and lies before it's too late?
"Trice Hickman is definitely ready to take the world by storm." —Urban Reviews
Praise for Trice Hickman's Unexpected Interruptions
"Hickman hits all the high notes in this charming modern romance where love and loyalty trump race." -Publishers Weekly
"There's a good dose of humor and steamy romance that makes this novel soar."—Urban Reviews

Friday, February 10, 2012

Madonna? Really . . .

I was going to ignore the Super Bowl and the halftime show. My Cowboys were not in it and I didn't care.
Until I saw this story about Madonna.

She said to Ryan Seacrest:

"I understand it's punk rock and everything, but to me there was such a feeling of love and good energy and positivity, it seemed negative. It's such a teenager-irrelevant thing to do." The 53-year-old added, "There was such a feeling of love and unity there, what was the point? It was just out of place."
What she should've said was, Hi Pot, I'm Kettle and I'm calling you black. When Madonna was M.I.A's age, she was running around half naked, rolling around dry humping the MTV stage "Like A Virgin."

So, you're the godmother of shock and awe.
Even when she was older, she was still working on the shock factor, kissing a girl (Britney Spears) before Katy Perry made it a hit song. Was that not childish and a "teenager-irrelevant" thing to do?

I'm not defending M.I.A's boneheaded move. It was inappropriate as was the lyric she was singing when she flipped up her finger. She clearly said I don't give a **it. It wasn't bleeped. I heard it clearly. Where's the outcry about that?

Interview with an artist: Artist Lena J talks about a historic project

Charlotte artist Lena Hopkins-Jackson is a part of history at Johnson C. Smith University. She created a mural of famous black women in Myers Hall, a freshman dorm for female students, the first at the historically black college. Full disclosure, I'm a graduate of JCSU and I lived in Myers my freshman year of college in 1995.
Jackson told me all about the mural and the world of art in Charlotte. Check out my video interview with her below.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

If I wrote this in a book, it wouldn't make it past my editor

From the files of this is the too real to be fiction, a man gets arrested in the grocery store only wearing peanut butter and chocolate. 

This is not a scene from my latest book, this is true.

Here's what Charlotte's WCNC is reporting:

Kentucky State Trooper D. B. White said a manager of the Food World IGA in Neon arrived at work last week to find 22-year-old Andrew Allen Michael Toothman wearing only the confections and a pair of black boots.
Court documents say Toothman is accused of smearing peanut butter around the store, discharging fire extinguishers and using bottles of NyQuil to spell out the word "sorry," according to The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg.
White called it "the biggest mess I have seen."
Toothman is charged with burglary, criminal mischief and indecent exposure. He is being held at the Letcher County jail where records do not indicate whether he has an attorney.
I'm all for using food to set the mood, a little whipped cream and chocolate makes for a great love scene -- but in the local supermarket? Umm, no!

I just wonder if this was running through his mind.

Devon Harris and one night in Paris (France, not Hilton)

Devon Harris is a celebrity chef who defied his NBA father by heading to culinary school in Paris. At the time, Devon was dating Kandace Davis, the woman his father blamed for his son's decision to abandon playing basketball.

So, Devon Harris, Sr. arranged a going away party that would change his son's life and cost him his relationship with Kandace.

Was Devon hoping for a reunion with Kandace when they reunited in Betting On Love and he decided to work for the work his friends, Jade, Serena and Alicia? Yes, but as it turned out it wasn't meant to be. Besides, Devon had a lot he was dealing with. He gave me the details about one night in Paris that changed his outlook on love and the man he wanted to be.

When I arrived in Paris, I met a lot of beautiful women and many of them were impressed by my cooking skills. I don't know what it is about women and men who cook for them. As a young man, I did my share of loving and leaving. Then I met Monique. 
She was sweet, passionate and reminded me of everything  I'd lost with Kandace. But I knew I couldn't give her the commitment she wanted or needed. See, I was reeling from the fact that my mother had cancer and was near death. My father, who'd been abusive to my mother for years, was using her illness for his  personal gain. While he was pretending to be the loving and supportive husband, I found myself becoming more and more like him. Using women to hide my pain. When Monique and I were alone in my apartment one night, she told me that she loved me and I knew that I had to end it and change my life. I couldn't hurt another woman the way I'd hurt Kandace. 
Looking out at the lights of the city and having the Eiffel Tower in the background, Monique asked me why couldn't I love her and what was holding me back from being happy. 
I told her that she deserved a better man, someone who was ready to give her all that she wanted and needed. Of course she didn't understand and cursed me out in French before she dashed out of my life. As my mother's condition worsened, I left Paris and returned to Atlanta. Before she died, she told me that I had to forgive my father. I'm still working on that. But I have become a better man and instead of hurting women with my selfish needs and desires, I've decided to make amends. First, Kandace forgave me -- even though there is no chance of us having a romantic relationship ever again. (I hope her husband Solomon Crawford is reading this.)
Second, I decided to help other women in the same situation as my mother had been in for years. And I did it without trying to garner publicity for my cooking show or anything else I was doing. I'm not my father. 

Find out more about Devon, his charity work and the woman he finally falls for in Recipe For Desire. Coming March 6.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Recipe For Desire . . .Reviews rolling in

What are people saying about Recipe For Desire?

Read a review from Emerge Magazine!

From the Five-star review:

Recipe For Desire is a hot and tasty story of how ingredients, love and redemption, can soothe the soul.
Make sure you get your copy!

Recipe For Desire . . .29 days away!!

Make sure your pre-order your copy today: check these retailers,,,,, or your favorite retailer.

Stuff Marie Charles Says. . .

Marie Charles is Charlotte's resident party girl and she took a break from her social schedule to be interviewed.
As you know, Charlotte is about to host the CIAA basketball tournament and the Democratic National Convention, so Marie didn't give me much time to talk to her. 
So now, I'm left with a bunch of stuff Marie Charles says. 
  • "I'm not a trophy."
  • "Look at this outfit. Not trying to mess this up by slapping that slut silly."
  •  "Do you know who I am? I'm Marie Charles."
  • "Wow, Channel Three is talking about me?"
  • "You have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet. This isn't old school Charlotte."
Marie Charles is going to learn a powerful lesson in Recipe For Desire and meet her match in the form of celebrity chef Devon Harris.
By the way, Devon sat down with me and told me about a night in Paris that changed his life. We'll talk about that later this week.

Be sure to check out Marie and Devon in Recipe For Desire, coming March 6.

Monday, February 6, 2012

High school sweethearts die together. . .heartbreaking

There are few things that make me cry, but a story in today's Charlotte Observer did that to me.
From The Charlotte Observer
 Shavalos Jameson drove from Charlotte to Winston-Salem State University every weekend to pick up his fiancée, Simone McDuffie, who was a freshman and member of the school's Army ROTC.
This past weekend would be the last trip Shavalos and Simone would take together. Something happened as they drove down I-85 south and Simone lost control of the car. 

State troopers said McDuffie lost control of her fiance's car on U.S. 52 in Davidson County, and plunged over a bridge onto Old U.S. 64, nearly 50 feet below.
The couple died. Jameson's stepbrother, Trevon Rutherford, 16, was riding in the back seat; he was taken to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, where he was in critical condition.
Sgt. K.G. Brown of the N.C. Highway Patrol said Rutherford was able to give troopers a statement about the accident. The preliminary report points to driver error as the cause of the crash, authorities said.
Troopers couldn't find any apparent mechanical problems with the car, and don't believe alcohol or other distractions - such as texting or talking on a cellphone - were a factor.
The couple died. That sentence stands out to me -- as if God knew he couldn't leave one here without the other one. Here were two kids seemingly doing the right thing, gone in a tragic accident. And 16-year-old Trevon is clinging to life.
My prayers go out to the families of all involved in this tragedy.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First look at Isn't She Lovely by Bettye Griffin

Isn’t She Lovely?
by Bettye Griffin
A nervous Keith followed his attorney into his office. In one of the chairs facing the desk sat a woman who looked nothing like what he expected. It was probably silly of him, but from Jeff’s description of a struggling divorced mother, he hadn’t expected anyone who looked, well, quite so together. For one thing, she was petite. Keith imagined that her schedule of full-time work, part-time college, plus caring for her children left much time for nutritious eating, but Tracy Pegram hardly had a figure of a woman who grabbed a lot of greasy hamburgers and French fries on the run.
She was also fashionable. Her hair was cut in an extremely short natural that emphasized delicate features and a graceful neck. From what he’d seen, the shorter a woman’s hair the larger her earrings tended to be—perhaps to prevent her from being mistaken for a man—but Tracy Pegram’s lobes were decorated with small gold love knots, just one in each ear. She wore a simple black sweater and black pants with a black-trimmed collarless kelly green suit jacket. A thin gold chain hung around her neck with a curvy capital T hanging from it. To Keith’s eyes, Ms. Pegram looked as well-dressed as, well, Wendy, who was clearly in a considerably higher income bracket.
“Mrs. Tracy Pegram, may I present Mr. Keith Norwood,” Jeff said.
Keith saw the flash of recognition in her dark eyes. She shook the hand he offered like she was in a trance.
“You might recognize him,” Jeff added lamely.
She spoke for the first time since Keith entered the room. “Yes, I do.”
“Keith, you sit there,” Jeff instructed, indicating the chair to Mrs. Pegram’s right, then went around to sit behind his desk.
After Keith was seated he cleared his throat and began to speak. He noticed that while he sat all the way back in his chair, she sat upright, her legs bent backward at the knee and demurely crossed at the ankle. He tried not to be intimidated by her stern body language. “Mrs. Pegram,” he began earnestly, “I can’t tell you how sorry I am about what happened yesterday. My son, Josh, has been unhappy lately about my campaign. You see, if I should win it’ll involve moving to Springfield. He’s fifteen and doesn’t want to leave his friends.”
“I don’t mean to sound rude, Mr. Norwood, but is that supposed to be an explanation for what he did? Your son has a tantrum because he doesn’t want to move and my son ends up with a broken leg?” Her eyes flashed with anger.
He resisted the urge to exchange worried glances with Jeff. The last thing he wanted to do was make Tracy Pegram think they were ganging up on her. “Of course not. I just wanted to give you some background information.”
She nodded. “I know about the accident that killed your wife and mother-in-law,” she said softly. “I truly am sorry for the...horrendous experience you and your son suffered, but perhaps he should be supervised more closely.”
Keith’s spine stiffened. He understood the message behind her words: that he shouldn’t be out campaigning, he should be at home with his son. And he didn’t like it. Who was this woman to tell him how to raise his son? With all she had on her plate, how much time did she spend with her kids?
She kept looking at him with anger in her dark eyes. Keith didn’t know if he’d ever had her vote to begin with, but if he ever had it, he’d definitely lost it now.
Jeff quickly intervened, leaning forward personably. “Listen, we’ll all parents here. We have to realize that even the best-behaved child is going to act out every now and again. I’m not saying that Josh has had no problems stemming from witnessing the accident that killed his mother and grandmother, but that ordeal is pretty much behind him. What happened yesterday was really a one-time impulse that he regrets very much. Mrs. Pegram, I asked you here today in the hopes that we can reach some kind of a quiet settlement.” He put just the right emphasis on the word ‘quiet.’
Keith found himself holding his breath as he waited for her reaction.
Tracy felt torn. She was being asked to take money in exchange for not pursuing legal action. Josh Norwood had left the scene of an accident, and one with injuries at that.
But he was also the son of a wealthy man, and she was already dipping into her meager savings to keep her bills paid on time, and she wouldn’t be able to keep that up for very long. She was still paying back the loan she’d taken against her retirement account to finance her divorce from Clint. Her credit card balance was creeping upward because of emergency repairs for a nine-year-old car she couldn’t afford to replace. And the kids always needed something, especially the rapidly growing Gabe. Things were worse now than they’d ever been before, and her stress level was becoming unendurable. Just last week she’d actually cried when she realized she’d accidentally picked up two half gallons of more expensive premium orange juice instead of the regular kind she usually bought. Things had to be pretty bad when an expenditure of a dollar and forty cents reduced her to tears. In that case it wasn’t so much the money as it was the strain of trying to keep up. And who knew when Clint would be able to send her anything?
It might not be fair that rich men like Keith Norwood could buy their children’s way out of just about any jam, but she had no choice. She had to hear him out.
“I’m listening,” she said quietly, trying not to sound defeated.
“I wanted to give you an amount that would cover your out of pocket expenses for your son’s medical treatment and would leave plenty left over,” Keith Norwood said. He paused, then said, “Twenty-five thousand dollars.”
“You give the word, and I’ll get the papers drawn up right away,” Jeff added. “You’ll be able to pick up your check this afternoon. Of course, there are some terms we have to ask that you agree to.”
Tracy’s fingers gripped the arm rests of the chair, forcing herself to remain impassive. Twenty-five thousand dollars! That was probably two-thirds of her annual salary. To think that Keith Norwood could pay her that much money in one lump sum, the same way she would buy a ninety-nine-cent burger at McDonald’s. She could actually pick it up on her way home from work, Jeff said.
But nothing was as simple as it seemed on the surface, and Jeff Howard’s words suggested a catch. “What kind of terms?” she asked, her voice low with suspicion.
“Confidentiality. We would expect for the details of the situation itself, as well as the financial settlement, to be kept secret. No friends, no family...not even your ex-husband should be told.”
Her eyes narrowed. She had broken her promise to Amber and hadn’t yet telephoned Clint, but it bothered her that Jeff knew about Clint in the first place. “How do you know I have an ex-husband?” Once again she was reminded of the creepy feeling she’d gotten that morning when Jeff called her house.
As he hedged, the answer came to her with the force of a strong ocean wave. “My God, you’ve had me investigated,” she said accusingly. “You did more than just find out my name and phone number. You’ve snooped into my personal business, going over any records that exist on me. You invaded my privacy!”
While listening to her tirade, Keith noticed that her voice had a husky quality to it that was charming. In a different setting he’d find it sexy. He pushed that outrageous thought aside and sought to reassure her. “Mrs. Pegram,” he said in the most soothing voice he could muster, “I can understand your being upset at the thought of a background check being done on you, but I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s only common sense to get an idea of a person’s character before you offer them cash to keep something quiet.” Too late, he realized that pointing out his ability to pay her for her silence would only antagonize her.
She turned on him with blazing eyes. “And what if my character had been questionable, in your opinion? That doesn’t change the fact that my son has a broken leg because of your son’s reckless driving. So then what would you have done?”
His answer came without hesitation. “I would’ve brought Josh to the police station to turn himself in. I would have let the insurance company handle the settlement and done everything I could to protect my son against the law, even if it meant dropping out of the race for governor and having to disappoint those who’ve supported me with their money and their time.” Keith spoke with quiet resolve that conveyed he was every bit as concerned for his son’s welfare as she was for hers.
He certainly sounded convincing, she thought. She felt herself softening, then swiftly changed her mind. She couldn’t cave in now. Josh’s leg would be in a cast for the next six weeks. She’d have to shuttle him to and from school all that time, and she was already exhausted.
No. As far as she was concerned, Keith Norwood was as sincere as Fred C. Davis, the character of a do-nothing, hot-air Chicago alderman on the old TV sitcom Good Times. His decision to stay in the governor’s race four years ago after his wife’s death suggested he was power-mad and wanted to be the nation’s second black president. Couldn’t he see that his son had been traumatized and needed his dad? That might be why the kid took his grandfather’s car keys in the first place, to get his father to stop running for office and pay him some attention for a change.
It almost seemed unfair that such a cold, unfeeling man—even if he did manage to show personality and warmth on the surface, like that heartfelt claim he’d just made—should have been blessed with a personal fortune, Tracy thought. Imagine, paying someone twenty-five thousand dollars just like that!
It just went to show how real estate often made people rich. Tracy had dreamed, at least she used to when she and Clint were married, of one day buying a house, a place of their own that she would lovingly decorate, where they would raise their children. Of course, they would have owned just one house, the one they lived in. Keith Norwood, on the other hand, owned properties all over Lake County in a partnership with his father. It was likely those lucrative investments more so than his salary as attorney general, that allowed him to write five-figure checks without a second thought.
She blinked. Wait a minute. Real estate. That was the key. Keith Norwood could do something for her that would help her even more than twenty-five grand, something that would help her get back on her feet.
“Um, Mrs. Pegram?” Jeff Howard prompted.
She decided to go ahead and ask. All he could say was no. She could even make him sweat a little, suggest subtly that she’d go to the police if he didn’t give her what she wanted. She wouldn’t actually do that, of course. Tracy had no interest in revenge. She just wanted a chance to get ahead for once in her life, and a better future for Amber and Gabe. If he resisted, she’d just accept the money and go about her business. But he didn’t have to know that. That damn background check showed she wasn’t a criminal, but it wasn’t like they could read her thoughts by reading a piece of paper.
“I’m going to make you a counteroffer,” she said. “Your offer is very generous, and while cash is always wonderful...”
Keith and Jeff looked at each other in puzzlement, and she knew they were wondering what on earth she was about to ask for.
Tracy rushed on. “But what I’d really like is a rental house with free rent for five years, a house with three bedrooms in a good school district, like Gurnee.”
There. She’d said it.

Isn’t She Lovely? 
by Bettye Griffin

February 2012
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