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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving memories. . .

Thanksgiving gets no love. Somewhere between Halloween and Christmas, this holiday that's all about food, family and thankfulness get nothing. There are never retailers who want to take this day away from their employees for the almighty dollar.

Well, today we're showing Thanksgiving some love. I reached out to some ladies who I'm thankful to know and asked them to share their favorite memories of Thanksgiving. 

ReShonda Tate Billingsley:

I'll admit it, I never bothered to learn how to cook Thanksgiving dinner. My mom could throw down in the kitchen. I mean the kind of eating that sent you straight to the sofa afterward with a bad case of the 'itis.' So, I never bothered to learn because she was just going to doctor up whatever I did anyway. Fast forward to my first Thanksgiving ever away from her. I was married and living in Oklahoma City, hundreds of miles away from my mother in Houston. I was working as a television news anchor/reporter, and I was the low man on the totem pole so I couldn't get the holiday off. My producer came up with the bright idea to have me cook Thanksgiving dinner on the morning show...with my mother's help via phone. Long story short, my dressing was flat, literally, like a pizza flat, my turkey was nice and crisp on the outside and still clucking on the inside (something about blood oozing from the bird made the viewers lose their appetite). And oh yeah, my mother cursed on live TV...told me "That's why your lazy ass should've been paying attention all those years." I immediately reprimanded her, reminding her that we were live, to which she replied, "I can't say lazy on TV?" I ignored her sarcasm, told her this was a family show, and we were doing a family activity. She told me, "Dammit, you called me. You know how I am. Eat your bloody turkey, I'm going back to bed." Then, she hung up the phone. 

Yes, all of this was live on the air. 

I was embarrassed beyond belief. The viewers loved it. (I just thank God that was before YouTube). After tossing back to the anchors in the studio, who were laughing so hard they were crying, I called my husband and told him we'd be heading to Luby's for Thanksgiving dinner. Dinner wasn't exactly what I was accustomed to, but it was decent...until the staff started pointing my way and the cook finally came over and said, "Are you that reporter whose mama cussed her on TV today?" I guess my mother was with me that Thanksgiving after all. 

On February 3, 2014, ReShonda Tate Billingsley along with National Best Selling author, Victoria Christopher Murray launched Brown Girls Publishing, their new boutique publishing company. Visit An award-winning and national best-selling author and journalist. She has authored over 35 books and was involved in three anthologies. She writes both adult and teen fiction, as well as nonfiction. Several of her books have been optioned for movies, including her sophomore novel, Let the Church Say Amen, which is being directed by actress Regina King. Billingsley has also been a television reporter/anchor for NBC affiliate KFOR in Oklahoma City and Fox affiliate KRIV in HoustonTexas

Victoria Christopher Murray

My favorite Thanksgiving was when I introduced my boyfriend to my family for the first time. That boyfriend became my husband.

Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking quite an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, New York, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton Institute in Virginia where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating in 1977, Victoria attended New York University where she received her Master of Business Administration in 1979.
Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she decided to test her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria never lost the dream to write and when the "bug" hit her again in 1997, she answered the call.
Since Temptation, Victoria has written fifteen other adult novels, including: JOY, Grown Folks Business, The Ex Files, The Deal, the Dance and the Devil, her newest novel, Never Say Never and the popular Jasmine Cox Larson Bush series.  In 2012, Victoria joined ReShonda Tate Billingsley to write two collaborations, Sinners and Saints, and Friends and Foes which pits Victoria's Jasmine character against Rachel Adams, a first lady created by ReShonda.
Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being a pioneer in African American Fiction.  Since 2007, Victoria has won six African American Literary Awards for best novel, best Christian fiction and Author of the Year - Female.  Her 2013 NAACP Image Award nomination for Destiny's Divas was her second Image Award nomination.
In 2008, Victoria’s first novels in her Christian fiction teen series - The Divine Divas – were published and were optioned to become a television series.  She is currently in negotiations for her novel, The Ex Files, to become a movie.
With over one million books in print, Victoria is one of the country's top African American contemporary authors.

Devondia Roseborough

My favorite memory of Thanksgiving would definitely be when my grandmother was living, Rosetta Dixon Hood. She passed when I was 13 years old but I can still see her kitchen to this day, vividly with the aroma of homemade dressing, hen, duck, turkey, dumplings, cheese mastering the melting process between the elbow noodles while the potato salad chilled and the savory smell of chocolate and vanilla made the pitter patter of little feet ready to lick the bowl. Family laughing and engaging down memory lane as the sweet sounds of I’ll Be Home for Christmas sang from her Hi-Fi. I had the privilege of being the eldest grandchild and I was my grandmother’s favorite so with that said I had my own personal pan of mac and cheese. We would laugh as the elders told the stories of old until our eyes watered. Everyone would pile up at grandma’s house and there was nothing for anyone to bring but what they wanted to drink. The loving part about this memory was she fed everyone regardless if they were kin or not and to be exact she did not mind you taking a plate home because there was always enough to do so. The saying no one can take my mama’s place is true but no one can touch what my grandma created during the Thanksgiving holiday and for that I am thankful. Memories.

DeVondia Regina Roseborough is “The Traveling Advocate” who is a loving mother of two daughters and grandmother to one grandchild who is determined and motivated to publicly express the effects on HIV/AIDS globally. Born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ms. Roseborough delivers a heartwarming message based on facts from her personal experiences in life. Directed by her faith in God, DeVondia chose to take action against her December 9, 2003 diagnosis. Handed the news that her T-cells were a count of nineteen, she soon learned that she had AIDS. Letting nothing stop her, not even a twenty-three day stay in the hospital, Ms. Roseborough healed spiritually and closed her mind to the world of negativity and decided to convey God’s love for all; including those with HIV and AIDS. She is the author of My Last First Kiss, Put It On Paper and Changed Woman . . .Unchained: Life After AIDS.

Dr. Nicki Washington

My favorite Thanksgiving memory is 2012, the last one with my father. We traveled to Asheville to spend Thanksgiving with my mom’s family. As we often do, our family ends up playing cards or some other game. My dad’s jokes and overall personality, despite his sickness, made everyone enjoy that special holiday, as usual. None of us knew it would be the last one we’d spend with him. Even still, we all remember how much fun we had playing Wii games, eating, and laughing about stories from the past.

Dr. Nicki Washington was the 2000 valedictorian of Johnson C. Smith University, receiving a B.S. in computer science. She received a M.S. and Ph.D. from NC State University in 2002 and 2005, respectively, becoming the first African-American female Ph.D. in computer science from the university, and the first Johnson C. Smith computer science graduate to obtain a Ph.D. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Systems and Computer Science at Howard University.

Dr. Washington has been a featured guest on radio and television shows such as Fox5 Morning News, "The Daily Drum," and "The Ernest Burley Show." She has also been a featured writer and speaker for institutions and organizations such as Google, USA Today College, Bennett College for Women, Johnson C. Smith University, The DC STEM Summit, National Coalition for Women in Information Technology, and the National Society of Black Engineers. She is a native of Durham, NC.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving memory? Share it below in the comments and Happy Thanksgiving!! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

And they say kids don't read, how about these kids who write!

If you believe what the media says, kids aren't into reading these days.
Well, let me be the first to tell you that kids aren't just reading, they're writing books too!
Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley launched the Brown Kids/Brown Teens line from their publishing company Brown Girls Publishing.

And this December, Brown Girls Kids will release a collection of Christmas stories written by three young ladies, Morgan Billingsley, Jackie Lee and Gabrielle Simone.
These three authors are under the age of 16!

The Perfect Present will be released on December 9th.

Three amazing stories about the magic of Christmas and discovering what really matters when it comes to celebrating the season!
 Operation: Santa is Real
Max and Mickey are twins who share everything! A love of sno cones, video games, and Christmas…especially Santa Claus. But Max no longer believes in Santa and Mickey is on a mission to convince her brother that Santa is real. But when her plan backfires, Mickey may find herself on Santa’s naughty list. And when all is said and done, the M and M twins will learn what really matters when it comes to celebrating the season.
 Friending the Grinch
Jasmine can’t seem to find her Christmas spirit. A new girl named Jayla has stolen her joy, and some of her friends. Between her conniving and lying, Jayla is ruining Jasmine’s life. But Jasmine is the only one that can see Jayla for the Grinch that she is. Everyone else is fooled by her sob story of a tough life. Can Jasmine get her family and friends to see the truth? Or will Jayla help her discover a few things about herself?
 The Littlest Elf
Kylie is small. The tiniest elf in Santa’s workshop and she can’t seem to do anything right. After nearly ruining Christmas, she finds herself wondering if she will ever be good enough to work for Santa. Following a worldwind adventure, she finds that she was closer to the answer than she thought. Join Kylie as she discovers the real meaning of Christmas!  
Also available from Brown Girls Kids: 

 Anything I Wanna Be will help you realize you are amazing!
It's great to be young, brown and a girl. When you tap into the power of that dynamic combination you can be anything you want to be. When you’re young, energy and excitement propels you forward. When you’re a brown girl, in all our varying shades, you have strength because if you can walk boldly in that golden, God-given skin, you are fearless!

 Oh yes, no matter what comes your way, sadness or gladness, you can take bad and make it good and you can turn good times into great joys. Inside these pages are powerful poems that will ignite your soul and uplifting stories to motivate you to keep on keeping on. Whatever it is you want to be. . . this fun compilation piece was written to help you shine. Read it, let it motivate and encourage you and guide you on your journey as you discover the greatness in YOU!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Chatting with Phyllis Bourne. . .The Espresso Empire series

My new favorite author, Phyllis Bourne
Romance author Phyllis Bourne might be the only other person I know who has the same addiction to Starbucks that I do. Add that to the fact that she writes some of the sexiest romance out there and you can understand why she's among one of my favorite authors.
Her Mr. Phyllis stories on Facebook as just as entertaining as her novels! 

Her series,  Espresso Empire, kicked off with Every Road To You in March.

The next entry into the series will be April's Moonlight Kisses

Romance series are all the rage. How do you plan out each book in your series?

Unfortunately, I’m not much of a planner or a plotter. I do turn in a synopsis for each book in the series, because my publisher requires it. However, I don’t use them once I start writing. I only have a vague idea and figure the rest out as I write each book.

 Tell the readers about the next entry into the Espresso Empire series.

The next book in the Espresso Empire series is Moonlight Kisses (May 2015). Older brother Cole Sinclair takes the reign of Espresso Cosmetics in hopes of restoring the company his mother founded to its former glory.
Cole meets his match in rival cosmetics company owner, Sage Matthews. And when I say, ‘meets his match’ – I mean literally. Their personality traits mirror each other. They’re both overbearing, competitive and a wee bit ruthless when it comes to business.
The two engage in a sexy battle of one-upmanship that’s hella funny!

  What are some series that you read? 

I’m a huge fan of Farrah Rochon’s, ‘Moments in Maplesville’ series. She brings that fictional town to life in a way that makes me want buy a house there! 
Gwyneth Bolton’s Hightower series is my favorite classic series. 

What would you say has changed about your writing from your first book to your latest? 

The biggest change is my books now reflect more of my personality and sense of humor. My first book, A Moment on the Lips (February 2006), was an easy-paced sweeter romance.  My current book Falling into Forever (on sale now!) and the upcoming Moonlight Kisses (May 2015) are faster paced and on the sexy side. I’m also betting they make readers laugh out loud.

 What's the best book you've read this year?

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I made the mistake of picking it up first thing in the morning. I couldn’t put it down until I finished it later that afternoon.

 How can the readers keep up with you online? 

I’m easy to find online.
Instagram: @phyllisbourne
Twitter: @phyllisbourne

What's next on the horizon for you? 

This week, I’m starting the third installment of the Espresso Empire series. Lola Gray learns she’s lost her job as the face of Espresso Cosmetics to a drag queen – and there’s hell to pay! 

Hot M.A.M.A. Land: Changes, Holidays & The Spirit of Giving...Who ...

Hot M.A.M.A. Land: Changes, Holidays & The Spirit of Giving...

Who ...
: Changes, Holidays & The Spirit of Giving... Who in the world came up with the changing of time? Am I the only one out of sorts due ...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Happy 239th Birthday to the USMC. . .the first line of defense

I was honored to take a picture with these heroes two years ago.

And I was blessed to meet these women!

Chatting with Sherelle Green. . .The Elite Event Series

Author Sherelle Green
Sherelle Green  had a dream and turned it into a reality. Now, she is one of the dynamic voices in romance.
Her first novel, A Tempting Proposal  was released in 2013. Now, she's back with the second book in her Elite Event series.

     Romance series are all the rage. How do you plan out each book in your series?

I always like to start with a concise idea of what my series will be about and the overall message I want to send to readers.  I love writing connecting stories, so I tend to write an outline that details the first or second book and then I let the rest fall into place. It still amazes me when I think I’m finished with an idea and it branches out into something else entirely. I love the way that writing opens doors and sometimes, my characters speak to me and demand that I write their story. I don’t limit myself in a series or story idea because I never know what great things may be lurking within my storyline.

    Tell the readers about Red Velvet Kisses and the Elite Event series. 

The Elite Event series is centralized around four female Chicago event planners who are each strong-willed, independent and fierce in their own unique way. I enjoyed writing A Tempting Proposal and If Only for Tonight, but Red Velvet Kisses was one of my favorite books to write in the series. Lexus Turner is sweet, shy, always follows the rules and at times, socially awkward…especially when it comes to sexy men like Micah Madden.

After her first marriage ended in a bitter divorce, Lex is finally living life on her own terms. But her self-confidence took a hard blow so she’s convinced that her ideal man would be someone simple, reserved and completely opposite of her ex. But in walks the bad boy security expert with a street edge who refuses to be ignored. So he concocts a plan that she can’t refuse, determined to prove to Lex that she can definitely handle everything a man like him has to offer.

I’ve been told by readers that if they could clone Micah, they would. And as you can imagine, a man like Micah doesn’t get rejected often so he’s working overtime to win Lex’s heart.

What are some series that you read? 

Wow, I read so many series that it’s hard to keep track sometimes. Contemporary Romance series will always holds a special place in my heart. Some of the series that I fell in love with that  were great influences before I began my writing journey were Francis Ray’s Grayson Family series, Brenda Jackson’s Westmoreland and Madaris series, AC Arthur’s Donovan’s series, Farrah Rochon’s  Sabers series, Maureen Smith’s Wolf Pack series, Niobia Bryant’s Strong Family series and so many more. Lately, I haven’t had a chance to read as much as I would like to, so my TBR pile is enormous!

    What would you say has changed about your writing from your first book to your latest? 

 When I wrote my first book, I let the words flow not really paying much attention to pacing, the element of surprise, or the use of repetitive words because I was so excited to finish my first manuscript. Every author has a voice and my voice has definitely become more cohesive and defined since writing A Tempting Proposal. Now, I focus more on the flow of my stories and plan out the exact time I want to release certain information to the readers or the characters. I also pay close attention to repetitive words or phrases and I take so many more notes while writing stories now because I like to make sure everything is tied in at the end. In comparison to my latest book, I’m also more daring and bold in my writing and I take chances with my work that I never did before.

  What's the best book you've read this year?

I have read so many amazing books this year, but I must say that Beverly Jenkins's Destiny’s Captive is one of the best. I was not much of a historical romance reader until I met Beverly Jenkins at a book event a couple years ago and enjoyed the meeting so much, I decided to look up all her books. After that, I found myself checking out other historical romance authors. I majored in English and I always loved my historical English classes, so I couldn’t believe it took me so long to get hooked on the genre.  

    How can the readers keep up with you online?

I love hearing from readers. Feel free to find me via any of the following methods:

Twitter: @sherellegreen

    What's next on the horizon for you? 

I just turned in the fourth book in my Elite Events series entitled Beautiful Surrender that releases in May 2015. I’m currently working on the first book in my new series and a holiday novella that are both scheduled to release in the fall of 2015 from Harlequin. I’ve really been inspired by my travels, so I’m also working on my first women’s fiction novel that partially takes place in the Middle East and a variety of romance stories I’m eager to release!