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Sneak Peek: Grant Park by Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Grant Park by Leonard Pitts, Jr.

Grant Park is a page-turning and provocative look at black and white relations in contemporary America, blending the absurd and the poignant in a powerfully well-crafted narrative that showcases Pitts's gift for telling emotionally wrenching stories.

Grant Park begins in 1968, with Martin Luther King's final days in Memphis. The story then moves to the eve of the 2008 election, and cuts between the two eras as it unfolds. Disillusioned columnist Malcolm Toussaint, fueled by yet another report of unarmed black men killed by police, hacks into his newspaper's server to post an incendiary column that had been rejected by his editors. Toussaint then disappears, and his longtime editor, Bob Carson, is summarily fired within hours of the column's publication.

While a furious Carson tries to find Toussaint—at the same time dealing with the reappearance of a lost love from his days as a 60s activist—Toussaint is abducted by two improbable but still-dangerous white supremacists plotting to explode a bomb at Obama's planned rally in Grant Park. Toussaint and Carson are forced to remember the choices they made as idealistic, impatient young men, when both their lives were changed profoundly by their work in the civil rights movement.

Editorial Reviews From the Publisher

"A novel as significant as it is engrossing." —Booklist, starred review

"Grant Park is layered, insightful, and passionate. Pitts's subtly explosive language grips readers with the delicate subject matter and earnestly implores them to understand that '[race] has always meant something and it always will.' The scars will remain, but stunningly powerful examinations like Grant Park can be the salve that helps heal open wounds." —Shelf-Awareness, starred review

"An important book, one that honestly examines the current, tumultuous racial divide in our country and demands we not turn away from its harsh realities." —Amy Canfield, Miami Herald

"[A] high-stakes, hard-charging political thriller. . . . The sharply etched characters, careful attention to detail, and rich newspaper lore propel Pitts's socially relevant novel." —Publishers Weekly

"Leonard Pitts has written a taut thriller that weaves together a stark look at America's tortured racial past with a fast-paced tale of terrorist conspiracy and love rekindled." —Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun Times

"The book is a page-turner, but also one that commands deep reflection on history, racism, and personal choices." —Blanca Torres, The Seattle Times

"Pitts masterfully revisits [election night on November 4, 2008] and four decades of the civil rights struggle to create one of the most suspenseful and spectacular fictitious moments you'll experience this fall." —Patrik Henry Bass, Essence

"Pitts does a skillful job of building tension in the novel's historical sections as well as on Election Day. . . . He also does something not every political thriller writer does: builds believable, complex characters." — Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

"And then there are those thrills—gasping, mouth-gaping page-turners that author Leonard Pitts Jr. weaves through another realism: truthful, brutal plot-lines about racial issues of the last five decades, mulling over exactly how far we’ve really come. That makes this will-they-live-or-won't-they nail-biter into something that also made me think, and I absolutely loved it." —Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez


Martin Luther King stood at the railing, facing west. The moon was a pale crescent just rising in early twilight to share the sky with a waning sun. He leaned over, joking with the men in the parking lot below. A couple of them were wrestling playfully with James Orange, a good-natured man with a build like a brick wall.

“Now, you be careful with preachers half your size,” King teased him.

“Dr. King,” called Orange in a plaintive voice, “it’s two of them and one of me. You should be asking them not to hurt me.”

“Doc,” someone called out from below, “this is Ben Branch. You remember Ben.”

“Oh yes,” said King. “He’s my man. How are ya, Ben?”

Another voice yelled up from below. “Glad to see you, Doc.”

As Malcolm Toussaint moved toward King, it struck him that the preacher seemed somehow lighter than he had the last time Malcolm had seen him. It had been late one night a week before, by the Dumpsters out back of the Holiday Inn. The man Malcolm met that night had seemed… weighted, so much so that even Malcolm had found himself concerned and moved—Malcolm, who had long scorned the great reverend doctor, who had, in the fashion of other young men hip, impatient, and cruel, mocked him as “De Lawd.” But that was before Malcolm had met the man. That was before they had talked. Now he moved toward King, his mind roiling with the decision that had sprung from that moment, the news he had come to share. King, he knew, would be pleased. There would be a smile, perhaps a heavy hand clamping on Malcolm’s shoulder. “Good for you, Brother Malcolm,” he would say. “Good for you.”

Malcolm was vaguely amused to find himself here on this balcony, anticipating this man’s approval. If you had told him just a few days ago that he would be here, ready to go back to school, ready to embrace nonviolent protest, he would have laughed. But that, too, was before. Malcolm meant to raise his hand just then, to catch King’s attention, but a movement caught his eye. Just a reflected ray of the dying sun, really, glinting off something in a window across the street. Something that—he knew this instinctively—should not have been there. He wondered distractedly what it was.

King’s voice drew him back. “I want you to sing it like you’ve never sung it before,” he was calling to someone in the parking lot below. “Sing it real pretty.” And Malcolm realized he had missed something, because he had no idea what they were talking about. His attention had been distracted by… what was that?

“It’s getting chilly.” Yet another voice calling to King from below. “I think you’ll need a topcoat.”

“Okay, Jonesy,” King was saying. “You really know how to take good care of me.”

And here, the moment breaks, time fracturing as time sometimes will into its component parts, until an event is no longer composed of things happening in a sequence, but somehow all happens at once. And you can see and touch and live all the smaller moments inside the right now. This is how it is for Malcolm Toussaint now. King is laughing. Malcolm is taking a step toward him. King is straightening. Laughter is echoing from below. King is reaching into a pocket for his cigarettes. He is becoming aware of Malcolm on his left. His head is coming around. There are the bare beginnings of a welcoming smile. And Malcolm knows. Suddenly knows. And Malcolm is leaping, leaping across space, across time itself, becoming airborne—he was sure of it, that detail felt right, even though by this time King is barely six feet away. Malcolm grabbing two hands full of expensive silk, yanking Martin Luther King off balance, yanking him down hard in the same instant they all hear the popping sound like a firecracker, in the same instant he feels the soft-nosed 30.06 bullet whistle past his cheek like a phantom breath, in the same instant he falls awkwardly across King’s chest.

And then…

And then time seems to reel for a crazy breathless moment, as if decid¬ing what to do now. The fulcrum of history teetering, the future hanging, suspended in midair.
Until all at once and with a brutal force, time decides itself and slams back into gear.

A woman shrieked.

Someone yelled, “Somebody is shooting!”

Someone yelled, “Doc, are you OK?”

Someone yelled, “Stay down!”

Malcolm’s breath was ragged in his own ears. His heart hammered like drums. Then from beneath him, he heard a familiar baritone voice say calmly, very calmly, but yet, with a touch of breathless wonder. “Oh my God. Was that a gunshot?”

Their eyes met. Malcolm didn’t speak. Couldn’t speak. “Brother Malcolm,” said Martin Luther King, his voice still suffused with wonder and yet, also, an almost unnatural calm, “I think you just saved my life.”

Malcolm was overwhelmed by the thereness of the man. He was not myth and mist and history. He was not a posterboard image on a wall behind a child dutifully reciting in a child’s thin, sweet tenor, “I have a dream today.” No, he was there, beneath 20-year-old Malcolm Toussaint, who had fallen crosswise on top of him. Malcolm could feel the weight and heft of him, the fall and rise of his chest. He could see his very pores, could smell the tobacco on his breath, the Aramis on his collar. Martin Luther King was there, still alive, beneath him. Malcolm opened his mouth to speak.

And then, he awoke.

( Continued... )

© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Leonard Pitts Jr. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

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About the Author
Leonard Pitts, Jr.
is a nationally syndicated columnist for the Miami Herald and winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, in addition to many other awards. He is also the author of the novels Freeman (Agate Bolden, 2012) and Before I Forget (Agate Bolden, 2009); the collection Forward From this Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2009, Daily Triumphs, Tragedies, and Curiosities (Agate Bolden, 2009); and Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood (Agate Bolden, 2006). Born and raised in Southern California, Pitts now lives in suburban Washington, D.C., with his wife and children.

Intimate Conversation with Colette (Ford) Harrell

Colette (Ford) Harrell the author of the debut novel The Devil Made Me Do It is passionate about the written word. Holding a master’s degree, she is a director of human services. Her creation and implementation of a health and energy medical program stands as a best practices model. As a motivational speaker, she specializes in customer and human service workshops on state and national levels. She is co-founder of COJACK Productions, a Christian entertainment company. As an active member of her church, Kingdom Christian Center, she serves in several ministries.

Colette is a wife, mother, author, poet, songwriter, and playwright. Her novel is a delectable read, where romance, suspense, humor, and the supernatural all come together to entertain, educate, and inspire. A Detroit native, she currently resides in Ohio, writing with humor and compassion to engage and minister to the human heart. Her motto is: whatever you do, do it “for love alone.”

BPM: What drove you to sit down and actually start writing this book?
When I was sixteen years old, I had chicken pox. Now, I’m not sure if you know, but the older you are when you get chicken pox, the worse you look. I defined UGLY. I wouldn’t even let my best friend see me. But, I was bored. A shoot-me-now,-’cause-this-ain’t-getting-any-better-type of boredom. Every day my friend would phone and tell me what happened at school, and I would share what happened on the soaps. After two days of watching that paint dry, we decided to write our own soap opera—only nobody was singing. I mean nobody . . . but it opened the door to a dream.

From then on, I knew that someday I would write a book. I started writing The Devil Made Me Do It when I saw a writer’s contest on the Internet. You needed one hundred pages of a story. I wrote the pages to see if I could do it, and I was superamped to find out I was one of the winners of the contest. It encouraged me to continue writing and to finish the book.

The story of  The Devil Made Me Do It resounded in my spirit because I always wondered what would happen if the heavens (or hell) rolled back and we could see what was happening in the supernatural. There birthed my trilogy, the Heaven over Hell series.

BPM: Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?
Absolutely. I’m this down-home chick with a Southern twang from the hood of southwest Detroit. I was raised in a two-parent household with four siblings. My parents were all about reading versus television consumption. I think we were the last household in the neighborhood to purchase a color television. What we did have were books, magazines, and newspapers. I was still in elementary school when I walked to the River Rouge Library (a good mile away) to borrow books. Many times I walked alone. But at that age, reading was my passion, and it still is.

For me, a good book is like good gossip—you just have to share it. In sharing, I began to want to tell my own story, my own way. As a result, I have always loved to tell a good story—I promise there weren’t any lies—sometimes making it up as I went.

Growing up in Detroit, I found myself in some tight spots, just by the nature of being in the vicinity of something “going down.” It’s a wonder I never woke up dead. When that happened, I would call on my praying mother, begging her to pray just one more prayer. Eventually, those times taught me how much God must love my hardheaded, tryna-get-it-right foolish self. Now, there are always two sides to every coin. And some of the spots I was graced (Mama was praying hard!) to wiggle out of were pretty tight—persuading me fully that the devil must hate me. I know I really hate him and his modus operandi. Hence, my story, The Devil Made Me Do It, and how I decided to tell it.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from?
My book ideas evolve from my conversations with others. My friends and I tend to have these deep conversations that result in my getting this animated lightbulb over my head. Its bright glow and halo effect asks the question: “What if?” My stories answer those questions.

BPM: Are your books plot-driven or character-driven? Why?
Wow . . . I think a little of both. I start out with the light shining over my head, and I take that idea and begin writing without thought, and then a plot unfolds and the characters in the plot begin to take shape and demand to tell their story. I let them have their way. And, there are times when even I’m surprised at the choices they make. In The Devil Made Me Do It, Briggs’s and Esther’s journey totally amazed me. Even though each book in the Heaven over Hell trilogy stands alone, the next two books will continue their saga.

BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What genre do you consider your book? 
I consider the book Christian fiction with an edge. I say that because, yes, my characters are Christian (well, most of them), but they aren’t perfect, and they don’t part the Red Sea or walk on water (although I do believe that miracles and wonders still occur). My characters sometimes make poor choices, and they have to face the consequences of those choices.

My main character, Esther, as a child, believed she was special. I once heard someone say that African American parents tend to tell their children not to think more of themselves than they should. They went on to explain that this schematic stemmed from slavery, when thinking too much of yourself could get you killed. As years passed, we reinforced these beliefs with negative thought patterns that belittled rather than built up. We’ve all heard: “You think you’re so cute” . . . “Stop getting a big head” . . . “Stop acting like you all of that!” And, these utterances of wisdom were from family members!

I wanted to explore what happens when the devil comes for your sense of self at a young age, and he didn’t just stumble on to you; he’s on assignment. The scripture pertaining to the devil wanting to kill, steal, and destroy you is not only speaking of a physical act, but it is also mental and emotional in origin.

The book’s glimpse into the supernatural provides a twist that is “cover-your-eyes scary,” and in the next chapter “slap the table, fun and humorous.” Esther Wiley is one of three childhood friends who are joined at the hip from kindergarten to college. In college, Esther meets Briggs Stokes, and they fall in love. But, life throws all the friends a shocking curve ball that causes a ripple effect that lasts for years.

BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Esther dares to believe, even from a young age, that she is special. As African Americans, we are so conditioned not to speak well of ourselves less we be called prideful. Sometimes we become so conditioned to not think ourselves wonderful that we end up with self-esteem issues. Esther dared to believe and to act on that belief.

Briggs is a son of privilege, but it’s that same privilege that makes him come to believe that in his truest self he is invisible. It’s not just about his inherited money, but about who he really is. He struggles with the question: How do you grow up around God’s anointed superstar and still be seen for yourself?

The devil uses both of these issues to destroy the destiny God has for each of them. When they allow the spirit of lack to decide their futures, both lose. Identity theft was committed long before the computer age. My pastor has always taught that if you fail to know the purpose of a thing, you are destined to abuse it.
This first book in the trilogy shows the hidden agenda of those who should be for you and how making the right decision when you come to spiritual forks in your road will decide your destiny. And, for the record, it doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger. LOL.

Intimate Conversation with Nakia R. Laushaul

Nakia R. Laushaul resides in Houston, Texas with her lovable teenage son. She is an inspirational poet, motivational speaker, novelist and entrepreneur. She recently stepped away from Corporate America to pursue a more creative life. She is the CEO and chief designer of A Reader’s Perspective, which offers a host of literary services ranging from publishing consultations to typesetting.

Nakia is the author of, “The Truth As I See It: In Poetry & Prose,” “Running from Solace,” a 2011 USA Book News Best Books Award Winner and 2012 Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Nakia is featured in the Writer’s Digest inaugural publication dedicated to self-published authors: “2014 Guide to Self-Publishing.” Nakia is proud to present her 2014 title to readers, Locked in Purgatory.

Nakia is committed to challenging everyone within her reach to find compassion and empathy in the differences that exist among us all. Nakia truly believes that by doing what you love, you become happy! She hopes that you will go find your happiness.

For more information or to book Nakia R. Laushaul for your book club meeting or other special event, visit her website: Check out her blog, Random Rants of Truth of a Social Butterfly: For more information regarding publishing services please visit:

BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?
I started writing this book two days after I finished writing my first novel, Running from Solace in 2010 because there was so much more that needed to be said on the topic of generational curses. I finished it in 2012 and I’ve had an interesting journey to publication up until this very day. Why now? We have got to save our families.

BPM: Does your upbringing, prior relationships or life experiences inspire your writing?
Definitely. If I touch a tree limb, I am inspired. I see a character, a setting, and snippets of dialogue in everything. I have had an amazingly tumultuous and blessed life. And many of my experiences have been just so I could write from the inside out.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven? 
A character will begin speaking to me around the same time I see a title and a new book idea is born. I think I go right down the middle between character and plot driven stories. The characters drive the plots/the plots move the characters. Both are important and need to be well-developed.

BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What genre do you consider your book? Is this book available in digital forms like Nook and Kindle?
I write Inspirational Fiction. All of my books are available in paper and digital formats.

BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
I have three main characters: Luther Bennett, the family Patriarch who has fallen from grace. He’s the kind of man you’ll love to hate. Maybe. Next, there’s Lynne Bennett, Luther’s misguided adult daughter. She’s the woman we all know and love who just can’t seem to get it together in the romance department. Finally, Samuel Bennett, Luther’s eldest son, a man after Luther’s own heart, but at what cost?

BPM: What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
Locked in Purgatory tackles the very sensitive subject of fatherlessness and abandonment from a very real perspective. It’s not just another story about a deadbeat dad, it’s so much more than that. I am still in awe that I wrote it. I feel as though I experienced an amazing level of growth as a writer and a human being and I am humbled for being chosen to deliver this message.

BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author? What are your ambitions for your writing career?
If my books are being read by people I don’t know and will most likely never meet, I’ve accomplished my goal—I’m being read. I am a success.

BPM: What are your expectations for this book? What would you like for readers to do after reading this book? 
I want my readers to feel the emotions, to understand and have empathy for the characters who are all far too real. And after the last word has been read, and the one final sigh escapes your lips, if you are a woman reading Locked in Purgatory, I want you to pass it on to a man. If you know a father heading down purgatory road, like Luther—give him this book.

BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Purchase Locked in Purgatory by Nakia R. Laushaul

Intimate Conversation with Pamela Samuels Young

Intimate Conversation with Pamela Samuels Young

Pamela Samuels Young
is a NAACP Image Award winning author and practicing attorney who’s taken a brief hiatus from crafting her fast-paced mystery novels to write about her newest passion: natural hair care. In her first non-fiction book, Kinky Coily: A Resource Guide to Going Natural, Pamela chronicles her transition to natural hair. Kinky Coily also provides tips and resources for other women who want to begin their own natural hair journey. A bona fide natural hair enthusiast, Pamela is excited about sharing her new found knowledge in the hope of helping other women learn the beauty and versatility of their kinky coils. You can visit Pamela’s YouTube channel, KinkyCurlyPamela, and her website,, for more hair care tips and videos.

Have you been thinking about transitioning to natural hair, but don’t know where to start? Then Kinky Coily: A Resource Guide for Going Natural is for you. A literal treasure trove of information, Kinky Coily is a roadmap for anyone interested in beginning a natural hair journey. You’ll find the best bloggers, the best books and magazines, as well as recommendations on how to select the right hair care tools and products.

Better yet, you’ll learn how to begin your natural hair journey, how to develop a weekly hair care regime and how to track your progress. Whether you’re transitioning from a relaxer, ready to give up your weave or flat iron, or already rocking your natural locs, Kinky Coily: A Resource Guide for Going Natural will open your eyes to the true beauty and versatility of your naturally kinky coils.

BPM: Why did you go natural? How did you start the journey from permed hair to natural hair?
I decided to go natural after my hair started falling out from a relaxer. One day I had a head full of hair and only a few months later, I had patches of bald spots. My hair was shedding at an alarming rate every single day and neither I nor the hair stylist I was seeing knew how to stop it. A friend of mind had recently gone natural and introduced me to her natural hair mentor, Deanie. Deanie met me at the beauty supply, told me about sulfates and moisturizing, recommended conditioners and protein treatment, and gave me a list of do’s and don’ts. After the very first treatment, my hair stopped falling out—immediately. That’s when I became a believer and set out on a journey to take charge of my own hair care.

BPM: Did you go for the "big chop" or did you transition to natural hair with braids or a wig?
Initially, I refused to do the big chop. I just didn’t want to sport a teeny weenie after. So I hid my damaged hair underneath a wig. But after about three months, I got tired of putting on a wig every morning and taking it off every night. So I did it. I chopped it all off and I’m so glad I did.

BPM: How did your husband feel about your new hair styles? Was his input a major concern?
My husband does not like my natural hair!  But I do!  He prefers my hair straightened. But I know that once it grows longer, he’ll love it.

BPM: We saw your YouTube videos.  Amazing! You are so brave to share your story with millions, what inspired you?
I’ve learned so much about my natural hair. For example, I had no idea my hair had a natural wave pattern. So many people see my hair and say, “My hair would never do that.” I would’ve said the same thing. That’s because we don’t know our hair!  I’m on a mission to change that. Your readers can view all of the videos: 

BPM: What three tips would you offer women who are thinking about going natural?
My top three tips are: 1) No sulfates! Either wash with a conditioner (co-wash) or find a sulfate free shampoo; 2) stay away from the heat, that means flat irons as well as blow dryers; and 3) moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Kinky hair needs moisture!  I deep condition at least twice a week and moisturize and seal nightly.

BPM: What products do you use? Share with us your favorite products.
Unfortunately, the same products don’t work for every hair texture. You’ll need to experiment to find out what works best for you. I have kinky, tightly coiled hair. So if you have a looser curl pattern or if your hair isn’t as coarse as mine, the products I love won’t work for you.

That said, my can’t-do-without products are: Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic, Kinky Curly Knot Today conditioner, Organic Roots Stimulator’s Temple Balm and Curl Refresher, and Herbal Essence Long Term Relationship Conditioner. I love Herbal Essence for co washing. I also love mixing my own oils. My favorites are amla oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, castor oil, olive oil and peppermint oil.

BPM: How long did it take for your hair become more healthy in your opinion?
It took about three months before I noticed my bald spots growing in. Within about six months, I really saw a change. My hair grew back much thicker and healthier.

BPM: How did you wear your hair to work during the transition?
I hid my damaged hair underneath a wig, until I finally broke down and did the big chop. I have to say, though, my Mommy wig was quite cute. I still plan to wear it sometime.

BPM: Do you think our hair has a lot to do with our body image and self-esteem?
Absolutely! I don’t care what I’m wearing. If my hair isn’t right, I don’t feel good about myself.

BPM: Research helps us learn to embrace our beautiful hair. Did you do a lot of research?
Tons of research. I recommend that everybody read The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy. That book is an encyclopedia on kinky hair. I learned so much from that book. And I lived on the internet and YouTube. My favorite bloggers are Curly Nikki, Naptural 85, KimmayTube, Mahogany Curls and African Export. I owe those sistas a debt of gratitude for everything they taught me.

BPM: What was the most rewarding part of this experience?
All the compliments I get about my hair. Women always come up to me to ask about the products I use and I’m always glad to share.

BPM: How will your book Kinky Coily motivate women to consider moving toward natural hair care?
I think when they see other women taking charge of their own hair, they will feel free to do the same.

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book and your how-to-videos?
I want them to have the confidence to take charge of their own hair care. I’m not trying to put hair stylists out of business. But I want women to know they can remedy their own hair care problems. If I’d known everything I know now when my hair started falling out, I could have stopped my shedding. My hair was damaged from the heat and badly needed moisture. I was also getting touch ups too often. But I didn’t that because I knew nothing about the care of my hair. Now I do! 

BPM: What advice would you give a person who wants to tell their hair care story?
Take good notes during your hair care journey. I keep a journal and took pictures every three months. After you finish your book, ask for constructive feedback from family and friends.

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases.
I’m working on a books and beauty showcase called Natural Born Writers. Several fiction authors who just happen to be natural, are going to gather to talk about books and being natural. A popular natural hair blogger will also join us. We hope to hit several cities. So stay tuned!

Connect with Pamela Online

Intimate Conversation with William Fredrick Cooper

Intimate Conversation with William Fredrick Cooper

William Fredrick Cooper Uplifts The African-American Community With His Novels

William Fredrick Cooper
is the author of the critically-acclaimed SIX DAYS IN JANUARY, the Essence/Black Expressions Bestselling novel THERE'S ALWAYS A REASON and the author of ONE SEASON IN PINSTRIPES, a sports memoir chronicling the 2009 championship season of the New York Yankees. A dynamic speaker known for giving enlightening radio interviews, he has edited several award-winning novels and contributed to New York Times bestselling anthologies and national periodicals such as Ebony Magazine.

His fourth book, UNBREAKABLE (A LOVE BALLAD) is scheduled for publication on March 18, 2014. (All books were published through Strebor Books/Simon and Schuster). A Brooklyn native and the proud father of Maranda Nicole Cooper, stop by Cooper's Facebook page, listen to some great music and say hello.

BPM: How did you initially break into the publishing industry? What road did you travel?
Ella, I traveled the road of self-publishing. Back in 2000, when I received my 72nd and last rejection letter, one that actually said my writing was “too emotional for a black man,” (sigh) I decided to do this on my own. So I went to First Books Library (Currently known as Author House), a print-on-demand company.

In 2001, I was speaking at the University of Maryland at College Park about the struggles of my literary journey and little did I know God had put someone in that audience that was listening to my every word. After the conference the woman and I put books up for a vendor. She me told her vision then asked me to tag along. At first I rejected her, but she never forgot about me, even as she grew in stature. Through her, I received my first computer (when I wrote the lead story in the book, and the rest is history. I owe her a bit, and love her in my own special way. Thanks, Zane.

BPM: What is your definition of success? Does money play a part in how you gauge success?
My definitions of success are broad and none of them have anything to do with money. That we are contributing pebbles in the vast ocean of African-American Literary History makes us successful. That a person can maximize their potential in any area of light at a high level defines success.

BPM: What books or authors made a difference in your life?
So many books have inspired me. Terry McMillan and “Waiting to Exhale” was one, because it started the current literary phenomenon. The literary works of David Halberstam (Summer of ’49, October of 1964, The Best and the Brightest) have influenced my flow, as I love his intellectual rhythm with words.

The romance writers (Donna Hill, Rochelle Alers, Brenda Jackson, Cheryl Faye) taught me narrative imagery, James Baldwin’s diversity, Timmothy McCann’s books passion, Eric Jerome Dickey’s usage of commas in paragraphs, Cornel West, Earl Graves and others for social content, and of course, The BIBLE, for faith.

BPM: How many books have you written? How has your writing style evolved over the years? What stimulated your growth the most? 
Ella, I am blessed to have done four books. Three of them novels, and a fourth was a sports book. God has really blessed me with a versatile pen: In my early days, I wrote novels and steamy erotic short stories, but I would always challenge myself in writing short op-ed pieces on diverse issues. That would eventually pay off when I wrote my sports memoir ONE SEASON IN PINSTRIPES.

Good writers stimulate me. People like Robert Fleming (Cole Riley) influenced me so much as a writer, because they can do anything with a pen. Intellectually stimulating and articulately-driven, I admire his range. I think he’s one of the most underappreciated writers of our generation. GIVE HIM HIS DUE!!!

BPM: Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book?


Intimate Conversation with Mary B. Morrison

Intimate Conversation with Mary B. Morrison

Mary B. Morrison
, New York Times best-selling author also writes as HoneyB. She has 20 novels including her newest release, If You Don't Know Me. Writing for both Kensington Publishing Corporation as Mary B. Morrison and Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books) as HoneyB, Mary is at the top of the African-American fiction genre. In her novels, Mary addresses social and sexual issues that impacts relationships. Mary is pro-female empowerment and believes all women are worthy of living free from abuse.

Mary received her Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from Vista (now Berkeley) Community College. She worked 18 years for the government. Earning nearly six-figures, Mary resigned from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development on June 3, 2000, and withdrew her retirement to self-publish her debut novel Soulmates Dissipate.  Soulmates Dissipate is currently being made for motion picture by Codeblack Entertainment and Lionsgate. In 2006, Mary sponsored an anthology publishing 33 students entitled Diverse Stories: From the Imaginations of Sixth Graders.

Mary currently splits her time between Atlanta, Georgia  and  Oakland, California. Her wonderful son Jesse Byrd, Jr. is writing his first novel for 6th to 8th graders. To contact Mary visit Check out all of the books by Mary B. Morrison on Amazon: 

BPM: From Mary B. Morrison comes the sizzling tale of two friends and the provocative bet that forever changes their lives and the lives of so many others. Now, with all of their futures up in the air, who will play one vengeful game too many? And who will wish she wasn’t left standing? What  is the main topics in your latest book, If You Don't Know Me?
Deception runs deeper than love. Men and women will lie to get what they want, fight to keep the person they don’t deserve, and hate the one they love most. People do this because they don’t know who they are but believe they can define their partner.

BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to?
Everyone that reads or listens to my books on audio. I’m pro-female empowerment. I write strong female characters. No matter how difficult the journey may be for my heroines/protagonists, they almost always overcome their obstacles. I believe women rule. The problem, as I see it, irrespective of socio-economic status, is that most women don’t realize how powerful they are.

BPM: You believe strongly in: 

God. Sexual liberation. Self-actualization. Non-judgment. Taking risk.

BPM: Faith allows you to: 
Overcome fear of failure. God never fails us. He never lets us down. If we fall, He extends a hand. Faith allows me to stand-in ‘my’ truth and stand-up for what ‘I’ believe in.

BPM: Criticism makes you:
Stronger. I wholeheartedly embrace freedom of speech and expression. What people say about me and/or my work expresses how they feel about themselves. How and what I respond to defines me.

BPM: Do you consider yourself a role model: 
I don’t consider myself a role model. I feel I’m an inspiration to many of my fans and readers. Eddie Murphy, Terry McMillan, Tyler Perry, and Wendy Williams are just a few of the people who inspire me because I aspire to do more than what they’ve done.

BPM: When you are afraid, you will:
Sleep with the light on. Not in the traditional sense. I mean seek clarity. Manifest destiny. I’m not really afraid of anything, especially failure. Why? Because failure is a concept and the catalyst to success.

BPM: What surprised you the most about becoming an adult:
Growing up is a natural progression. As a kid, I worried I wouldn’t be able to pay rent, bills, etc. We learn work ethics and discipline starting with . . . do your homework, clean your room, go to bed. I give my guardians and teachers my gold stars for helping me to become who I am. The word ‘believe’ may be the most powerful word in all of our development. When others believe in us, we’re awesome. When we believe in ourselves, we are amazing!

BPM: The greatest threat to literary freedom is: 
Censorship. Doesn’t matter if it originates in the mind of the writer or the omission of the editor, it’s lethal. Deleting or changing one word can alter the meaning of an entire sentence. The most genuine aspect of writing is to be authentic. Society is so sensitive that freedom of speech isn’t free. Say or write something offensive and you could jeopardize your life-long career.

BPM: How has your writing evolved: 
It’s eternally evolving. I’m working on giving readers what they want before they realize they need it. I consider the non-fiction book I’m penning, D.A.D.: A Woman’s Guide to Choosing the Right One, a new perspective for a new generation.

BPM: Do you view writing as a gift or a career:
The answer for me is both. Fourteen years in the industry and currently working on book number twenty-one denotes sustainability. I don’t take my success for granted. Each novel is more difficult to pen because I’m always striving to do and become better.

BPM: Advice you would give a new author:
Be true to your characters or they will be false to your readers. You cannot please everyone. Don’t try. Do not censor your first writing. Let it flow. Always hire a professional editor. Learn the business. Brand yourself. Set and attain goals. Know what you want. Please don’t tell me, “I just want to write a book. I don’t care about making money.” Then talk to someone who isn’t making money. You don’t need advice from me for that. Don’t ask me, “I want to write a book. Where do I start?” Published writers, editors, and agents respect you when you can show (not prove) you’ve accomplished something.

BPM: Your greatest accomplishment as a writer: 
Is yet to come. What I appreciate most is having a loyal fan base. Some readers have purchased all of my books. I love them for that. I do take time to smell the roses but there’s so much I want to do I know I’m going to run out of time before I do it all. I’m ready to produce my first book-to-film with Codeblack Entertainment. I’m eager to write for television, executive produce another stage play, open a restaurant, and host a talk show. There’s so much to do I don’t focus on what I’ve done. Already getting paid for that. On to the next!

BPM: What you know for sure: 
I love my sons, Jesse and Max. Max is my adorable seven-year-old Yorkshire terrier. Men are like dogs but harder to train. I have no problem telling a man what I want. Women need to understand that what one man won’t do, another man will. Ladies should ask men for a “relationship ring.” I do. It’s not a promise ring because I can’t promise a man shit. I’ll explain why this ring is important in my non-fiction book.

BPM: Life's greatest teacher is:
Some may say experience. I say, “teachers.” I love my teachers so much!

BPM: Success means: 
Being your best. Accomplishing your goals. What I/we aspire to do in our lifetime is meaningful. For some it’s graduating from college, others want to become astronauts. We know man can land on the moon. What else can we do? Whatever one dreams of is extremely rewarding when it’s achieved. But don’t stop there. Set a goal. Achieve a goal. Set a goal. Achieve a goal. Success is not a destination or a place to vacation. It’s a revolving door. We must sacrifice for success, not for society. If you want to be a stay-at-home mom, do that. But do not give up your career or livelihood to ‘do the right thing.’ I ain’t trying to be right, y’all. I’m living to be me (whatever that is). I am not the person anyone else thinks I should be. I am who I am.

BPM: Your writing educates, illuminates or entertains: 
All three. I can make just about anyone laugh and at the same time learn something.

BPM: Will the printed book ever become obsolete:
I sure am glad typewriters are. I got tired of that damn whiteout, especially when the document had carbon copies. I’m on a flight to Atlanta and I’m working on my 11-inch MacBook Air that fits in my purse. We no longer print our books and send them to the publishers. I love it!  Everything is done electronically and we’re talking the last five years or so. I tell my son that his kids will ask, “Daddy, what’s a book?” In about 10 years (or less) I believe printed books will be a collector’s item, and that’s not a bad thing. Buy and have them signed now!  Especially the first editions.

BPM: What legacy do you wish to leave future generations of readers: 
Positive life lessons. Time changes. Being smart will never grow or get old.

Visit Mary online at 

Follow Mary on Twitter: 

The Series in Order of Publication

Purchase the entire series today! 
Book 3: If You Don't Know Me
Book 2: I'd Rather Be With You
Book 1: If I Can't Have You 

More Than I Can Bear by E.N. Joy

More Than I Can Bear by E.N. Joy

Always Divas Series Book Two

Paige begs to differ with the scripture that says God will not put on a person more than they can bear, because she is truly on the edge. One slight push from another one of life’s unexpected and unpleasant occurrences, and she’ll be free falling.

As if having suffered physical, mental, sexual and spiritual abuse from her husband hadn’t weighed heavily on her enough, Paige had to deal with learning that her best friend and sister in Christ had done the ultimate no-no and slept with her husband. Thank God one of Paige’s co-workers, Norman, who she now deems as a true friend, was there to catch her fall before she hit the ground. But will Norman be there when Paige receives news that may not only push her off the edge, but cause her to jump willingly?

In More Than I Can Bear, not only when it rains does it pour, but there is lightening and plenty of thunder to go along with it. Will Paige drown in the storm she finds herself in with no umbrella, or will she catch hold of the life saver God extends to her?


“Was that my boy I heard?”

The singsong voice coming from the dining room was heard prior to Norman, Paige or Miss Nettie ever even making their way into the room.

“Oh, he’s here all right, Mrs. Vanderdale,” Miss Nettie called out as she looked back over her shoulder at Paige while pushing the swinging dining room door at the same time. “My oh my is he here.” Miss Nettie hustled her way through that door with Paige in tow as if there was a three alarm fire they were trying to escape. There may not have been a fire, but Miss Nettie knew one thing for certain, there was at least about to be some smoke blown. And where there’s smoke…

“Son! My only son. Come give Mumsy some love.”

Paige watched as a pail skinned woman with blond hair and a house coat that would have given both Maud and Mrs. Roper a run for their money, brushed by her and embraced Norman.

“Mom, please,” Norman said as his mother began planting kisses all over his face as if he were a five year old child. “Come on, Mom,” he pleaded to no avail, finally just dropping his arms down to his side like dead weight and giving in. He rolled his eyes up in his head while his mother smothered him with kisses.

“You don’t come visit as often as I’d like, so I have to make up for times missed,” his mother said, planting one more smuckerroo right on his nose.

“Come on, Mother, let’s not start with the whole ‘You never come by to see me routine.’ You know I make it by as often as I can.”

“Oh, hogwash. You’re too busy at that ridiculous peasant collar job of yours.” His mother shooed her hand.

“It’s blue collar,” Norman corrected his mother, not noticing the offended look on Paige’s face, seeming she worked at the same place of employment. “And don’t say it with your nose up in the air, so. Miss Nettie here’s job is blue collar. I’m sure she might find that offensive.”

“Oh please,” she shooed her hand again, never taking her eyes off of Norman as she straightened his already straightened collar. “Nettie is family. I don’t even consider her part of the hired help anymore. It’s just like having a dog. Once it’s been around for so long, it’s like part of the family,” she chuckled, planting an unforeseen peck on her son’s lips.

“What the…” Paige started under her breath, lightweight lunging toward her mother-in-law until Miss Nettie’s grip on her hand tightened and pulled her back.

Paige’s words reminded Mrs. Vanderdale that someone other than her and her son were in the room. She turned and addressed Mrs. Nettie. That’s when, for the first time, she noticed Paige. “Why Miss Nettie, you didn’t tell me one of your kin folks was in town again.” She lowered her voice but with a stern tone and wagging finger in Miss Nettie’s face she said, “I thought we had this talk before. Now I don’t mind your people coming for a visit every now and again and sharing your quarters, but you must give Mr. Vanderdale and me a heads up. Is that understood?”

“Yes, ma’am, but I-” Miss Nettie started before Mrs. Vanderdale cut her off.

“Now I hope you saw to it that the kitchen staff made extra for your guest. You know we are already going to start having an extra mouth to feed whenever my Norman comes around now that he’s a married man.” She sharply turned to Norman. “Speaking of which, son, where is that lovely bride of yours? Why I can’t wait to welcome her to the family.” Mrs. Vanderdale began looking over Norman’s shoulder toward the swinging door leading to the living room.

“She’s right there, Mother.” Norman nodded toward Paige.

His mother turned around only to find Mrs. Nettie and her supposed kinfolk standing there. She continued looking at the doorway. “Where, Son?”

“Right here, Mother. Standing right here in your face.” Norman walked around his mother and went and stood next to Paige. “Mumsy, this is my wife, Paige. Paige, this is-”

“Mrs. Vanderdale!” Miss Nettie shouted as she quickly went to her boss’s aid.

Norman joined Nettie in keeping his mother to her feet as she appeared faint and weak, as if her knees had given out.

“Mom, are you okay?” Norman asked worriedly. “Miss Nettie, help get mother over to the chair. And please, have Stuart fetch her some water.”

Miss Nettie just stood there torn, not moving a muscle.

“Please, Miss Nettie, why are you just standing there?” Norman asked.

How could Miss Nettie tell the young lad that she didn’t want to leave that room for not even a second? She didn’t want to miss what she felt was long coming and overdue. “Oh shucks,” she said under her breath and then scurried over to the swinging door that separated the dining room from the kitchen. “Stuart, Mrs. Vanderdale needs a glass of water, quickly.” Miss Nettie hurried back to her employer’s side. Under ordinary circumstance she would have gotten the water herself. But to her this was a long awaited extraordinary circumstance.

Within seconds, Paige stood to the side and watched as a black man with salt and pepper hair dressed in a long tail tux took over a glass of water to Mrs. Vanderdale. Norman took it from his hand.

“Thank you, Stuart,” Norman said with a nod, then turned and placed the glass to his mother’s lips.

She took a few sips and after a moment or two, she seemed to regain her strength.

“Mom, what’s going on?” Norman questioned. “Have you been feeling okay? Are you sick again and haven’t told me?” He looked to Miss Nettie for an answer.

“No, no, not as far as I know. She’s been just fine,” Miss Nettie assured him.

Norman felt his mother’s forehead. “She doesn’t seem to have a fever.”

“I think it’s your fever that’s got her feeling a certain kind of way?” Miss Nettie said between her teeth with a knowing look on her face.

“Huh, what?” Norman was confused by Miss Nettie’s statement. He looked to Paige to see if perhaps she had any idea what the older woman was talking about. He always did have the hardest time deciphering what he referred to as Miss Nettie’s riddles.

Miss Nettie looked to Paige as well, whose expression told the older woman that the new Mrs. Vanderdale knew exactly what the punch line was. Paige decided to translate to her husband.

“She’s talking about you having jungle fever, Norman. Your mother is in shock that your new wife is black,” Paige said.

“Please, my mother doesn’t care about what color you are.” Norman turned to face his mother. “Do you mother?”

His mother couldn’t speak. She was still trying to catch her breath. But her dilating pupils begged her son to realize that he’d hit the nail on the head.

“Mother, is that what has you acting this way? The fact that Paige is black?”

Realizing his mother was still trying to catch her breath, Norman offered his mother another sip of water, of which she gulped down. She wiped the dripping water from her chin and was finally able to speak and the only words she could manage to force out was, “Who on earth names their African American daughter Paige?”

“Mom!” Norman said, embarrassment peeking around his tone.

“Well, I’m sorry, son, but I thought I raised you better than that?”

“What?” Paige had held her tongue long enough.

No one noticed Miss Nettie standing off to the side with a satisfied grin across her mouth and her nose in the air as if she was sniffing roses instead of smoke.

“Oh, my and I see she even has the attitude that comes along with it?” Mrs. Vanderdale said, grabbing her chest.

“That comes along with what?” Paige asked verbally while Norman asked with his eyes.

“With…” His mother motioned her index finger up and down the length of Paige’s body. “With that.”

Paige took another step toward her mother-in-law.

“Hold on just a minute.” Norman put his arm out, stopping Paige from getting any closer to his dear mother. “Mother, I’m not clear on what you’re trying to say here, but if it’s what I think it is, disappointment in you would be describing how I feel without crossing the line of respect.”

“Norman, it’s totally clear what your mother is implying,” Paige said. “But just in case you really don’t understand, let me break it down for you.”

“Oh, gosh, and there she goes ready to start breaking things,” Mrs. Vanderdale panicked. “Nettie, put away all the china and crystal. I’ve caught glimpses of those reality shows and know how they like to throw glasses and stuff at each other.”

Paige’s mouth fell to the floor. She wanted so badly to go off on her mother-in-law for stereotyping Paige, but then she realized she’d be going off on the wrong person. It’s those trifling basketball and housewives she’d need to speak her peace with. She couldn’t blame Mrs. Vanderdale for believing what her eyes showed her to be true on all these cable networks. Not only that, but Paige had to remember that she herself had lost control to the point where her hands had to be pried from another woman’s head full of weave…a couple of times. She didn’t categorize that as a ‘black’ thing though. She categorized that as a woman out of control. And from the looks of things, if his mother kept it up, Norman was about to be out of control as well.

“Enough, Mother!” Norman spat. By now Miss Nettie had an arm full of dishes after starting the task of which her employer had instructed her to do. Stuart, who had remained silent off to the side, waiting for Mrs. Vanderdale to finish her water so that he could take the glass back into the kitchen, began helping.

“Miss Nettie, Stuart, please leave the settings and excuse yourselves.” Norman looked to Paige. “Paige, can you go with them, grab a drink, appetizer or something? I’d like to have a word with my mother.” He turned and shot his mother a condemning look. “Alone.”

“But-” Paige started. No way did she want to excuse herself from the room. She wanted to give her mother-in-law a piece of her mind. Or at least bear witness to her husband giving her a piece of his mind in her defense.

“Come on, honey.” Miss Nettie took Paige by her elbow after placing the dishes back on the table. “I make the sweetest tea mixed with lemonade that you’d ever want to taste.”

Paige didn’t budge.

“Come on now,” Miss Nettie nudged. “Trust me, God’s got this.”

Paige finally gave in and allowed Miss Nettie to lead her off to the swinging door that led to the kitchen.

“Believe you me,” Miss Nettie said. “I don’t want to miss it either. But don’t worry, as long as I get to witness her finding out about that bun you got cooking in the oven, it’ll make up for whatever I miss right here.”

Paige stopped in her tracks and stared at Miss Nettie, wondering how on God’s green earth she knew she was pregnant. Because she was plus size and her dress was a little big, no way could that woman have realized she was showing.

Miss Nettie simply winked and said, “Child, you’d be surprised at what God shows me in my head before it ever manifest before my eyes. Now come on and get some of this sweet tea and lemonade. You need a break before we’s get to round two.” Miss Nettie chuckled as they disappeared into the kitchen.

( Continued... )

© 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, E.N. Joy. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this promotional excerpt.

More Than I Can Bear: Always Divas Series Book Two by E.N. Joy

The Last King by A. Yamina Collins

The Last King by A. Yamina Collins

The Last King went #1 on the Free Amazon kindle bestsellers list in three categories:
African American literature, historical fantasy, and African-American romance.

A modern-day fantasy romance about a young woman innocently caught in a war between two age-old nemesis: God, and immortal beings whose ancestors ate from the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.

Twenty-eight year Emmy Hughes has never quite fit in---she's six feet tall, dark-skinned, and daydreams of being an Elf from Lord of the Rings. But when she is badly injured in a car accident that kills her mother, Emmy does not dream of fantastical worlds anymore---she just wants her shattered life to be normal again.

Unfortunately, normalcy is the last thing in store for her once she meets Lake George's newest arrival, Dr. Gilead Knightly. Granted immortality from a line of people who marched into the Garden of Eden and ate from the Tree of Life, Gilead has been alive for centuries and has met everyone from Nubian kings to Napoleon.

But Gilead and his eccentric family are also hunted beings. Indeed, God considers the Edenites' possession of immortality to be theft and for thousands of years He has dealt with their transgression by sending each of them a "Glitch" ---an unsuspecting human meant to retrieve this stolen "property" and kill them off.

When Emmy discovers that she is Gilead's Glitch, she is not only thrown into a world of immortals who eat bone marrow, panthers who read minds, and a family whose blood is made of pulsing gold, but she finds herself the target of Gilead's vengeance: he must get rid of her before she gets rid of him.

Easier said than done. Because Glitches are not only an Edenite's greatest threat---they're also their greatest love.

Excerpt The Last King: Book I - Series 2

CHAPTER 8 - Her 

Kill her, a voice in his head tells him.

Yes, of course, he responds. That's what I have to do.

And how should he do it? Should he follow her home when the lecture is over, come up behind her in her driveway, or wherever she lives, and snap her neck like a twig?

Whatever he does, he needs to be cruel. He needs to teach her and the One who sent her a lesson. Yes, that's it. He will do to her what his brother Micau did to his own Glitch: something so physically twisted that it would make the ears of any human who hears about it and finds her remains, shutter.

Slowly he starts to straighten up and just in time. The door to the auditorium swings open suddenly, and out it walks.

He cannot make out her whole face because her hands are covering her mouth and nose, but he can see her big eyes, and the alarm in her face.

Two other people are following it - following her, and making a commotion behind her.

"Hold your head back," one of them is saying, trying to still the bleeding woman's franticness.

But blood has already seeped onto her white dress, and Gilead can hear her saying, "Not again, not again," as she rushes past him.

Not again. So it's happened before. Gilead thinks. Of course it has It happened the other day, while Gilead was standing outside the restaurant, didn't it? She was somewhere around the vicinity that night, near the boardwalk, wasn't she?

In a moment, the woman, looking a bit disoriented no, disappears into the bathroom and Gilead closes his eyes and bites his lower lip.

Now he knows why he missed the fine print on the flier, and why he had a desire to come to this lecture in the first place.

It's Him.

Gilead curses under his breath; curses Him with everything he's got.

Her? he thinks, in disgust. Against the greatness of me? That simple-looking thing?

It's insulting.

Opening his eyes, he takes the opportunity to move toward the exit as a few more new comers enter the building. It's all Gilead can do to appear as normal as possible---he stands up straight and forces himself not to clutch his stomach.

Outside, he takes in several quick breaths of air, and doubles over again.

Why should he fear her?

"I will break her," he mutters to himself. "If I have to rip off her whole face, I will break her."

Something about him saying this brings him a feeling of relief. He is clear-eyed and focused for a moment, even self-assured, for he knows that once he makes up his mind about reaching a goal, it's as good as done.

He will kill her tonight, somehow.

But before he can contemplate how to execute his plans, he cups a hand over his mouth, rushes toward a nearby bush, and vomits onto the leaves and branches.

( Continued... )

© 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, A. Yamina Collins. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

The Last King: Book I  by A. Yamina Collins

If You Don't Know Me by Mary B. Morrison

If You Don't Know Me 
by Mary B. Morrison


If you can’t get enough of all things reality television get ready for the drama like only New York Times bestselling author MARY B. MORRISON can bring it!  New York Times and #1 Essence best selling author Mary B. Morrison knows how to write stories that will have readers on the edge of their seats. 

Her critically acclaimed debut series Soul Mates Dissipate explored the topic that puzzles most of us: how to find— and keep — your soul mate. The series did so well that Morrison received a multi-film development deal. Publishers Weekly noted Morrison’s sensual novels “pack in dozens of juicy episodes” in her “high drama page turners” and described her as “prolific.”

Her new series which introduced readers to sexy vixen Madison Taylor and a whole cast of juicy new characters has continued to keep readers panting with noting “Mary is at the top of the African-American fiction genre” and Library Journal praising the second installment and encouraging readers to “buy in anticipation of high demand.”

Mary returns in April with IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME;  the third installment of the If I Can’t Have You series being published by Dafina Books in hardcover original.

Two women, a sizzling wager, and the fallout that would turn their lives upside down, that’s exactly what readers will find in Mary B. Morrison’s newest release. Sindy Singleton isn’t about to lose Chicago DuBois to Madison again. But getting him to open his heart once more won’t be enough to satisfy her. Enlisting the help of Chicago’s worst enemy is the fastest way she knows to expose Madison’s most brazen deception yet. But Madison has more than one devastating card to play.

If there’s one thing Madison has learned from her disastrous bet, it’s how to turn catastrophe into opportunity. Playing on Chicago’s fatherly instincts will maintain her access to the DuBois fortune—and keep her family’s empire successful. Using sweet Sindy’s niceness against her will knock her out of the running. And the cherry on top: Madison’s got the perfect scheme to finally take care of her ex-lover, her rivals, and the husband she’ll never let go.




"When he walks in, you'll walk out."

"Are you sure?" Nyle asked me after the prison guard closed the door to our private glass-enclosed room.

We sat facing each other. The chill from the stainless steel chair made me sit on the edge of my seat. The rectangular-shaped metal table was cold enough to keep my favorite butter pecan ice cream from melting. Three feet of space separated us.

I stared into his crystal-blue eyes as I said, "Help me get Granville Washington back behind bars and you'll be discharged the same day he's booked. The remaining two-and-a-half of your three-year sentence will be dismissed. You'll be on a one-year probation with an officer that you'll meet face-to-face one time. After that you'll check in over the phone. A few people owe me favors. If you complete the assignment to my satisfaction, your early release is guaranteed."

Nyle sighed heavily. His neatly arched brows drew close together. His eyes darted to the left. He blinked. When he opened his eyes, they were intensely on me. Instantly, I became motionless.

"I've already done what you've asked of me."

"Not exactly."

"Not exactly my ass." Veins protruded from his neck. His voice escalated in anger. "The outcome isn't what either of us anticipated but I did my part. Now you want me to do you another favor? Fuck the money you paid me. I want out of here today."

That wasn't happening. When we left this room, I was going home; he was headed back to his cell. I did not influence him to commit a crime. That was his choice. Helping him get out was mine.

"What if what you want now isn't what you expect later? Then what? You walk away and leave me to do all of my time?"

Precisely. In my mind, I nodded, but didn't move my head. He had nothing to lose. I did. I needed him to calm down so he could focus on what was important to me.

I softened my tone. "Fair enough. Regardless of what happens this time, I'll keep my word." Not sure if I were lying, I extended my hand and shook his. I had to tell Nyle what he needed to hear.

Getting men to do whatever I wanted—with the exception of my father—that was my strength. Loving another woman's husband was my weakness.

Better for me to pursue the man I wanted than to allow my dad to arrange for my husband the way he'd done with Siara. I missed her. Skype was nice but I hadn't seen my sister in person in twelve years. Her being sold by our father wasn't my fault but she didn't feel the same. Occasionally, she still says, "You are my big sister. You were supposed to protect me." I think our father or her husband told her not to come back to America and not to let me visit her in Paris. I wasn't sure how or when but one day we would reunite.

Trust your gut instincts. That was how I lived. My word used to be a firm commitment. Since I was a little girl, when Sindy Singleton made a promise, I kept it. Truth or lie, right or wrong, my love for Roosevelt "Chicago" Dubois was gradually overruling my senses. Lately I'd been doing what was in my best interest. When things didn't go my way, I didn't hesitate to change my mind.

This morning I'd smoothed back my long straight cinnamon hair and coiled it into a bun that sat at the nape of my neck. My cream-colored pants, which I only wore when I visited the Federal Detention Center, were loosely fitted. A simple short-sleeved matching blouse draped my hips. Comfortable leather flats clung to my feet. No lipstick. No perfume. No jewelry. My purse was in the trunk of my Bentley that I'd parked in a downtown lot a block away. My keys were secured in one of the small lockers in the lobby. My Texas driver's license was left with the guard at the security entrance.

Sitting in a room reserved for attorney/client visits, I was the attorney. Nyle Carter was my protégé. I needed this inmate's help the same as he desperately desired mine.

"Let me get this straight. I have to find a way to bring Granville back to prison before you'll get me out of here?" he lamented.

Peering through the glass door, I scanned the visitors' room. There was a handful of folks who had come to see what I called "the mentally ill and prayed up." Prison made grown men ask the Lord, Buddha, Allah, Jehovah, or whatever higher power they believed in to set them free. Forgiveness wasn't practical for repeat offenders. I wished repentance wasn't an option for them either.

A lot of the criminals I represented were guilty but the majority of them had raised their right hand and sworn on the Bible that they were innocent. I was paid to defend, not to judge. Ultimately, that was God's job.

Nyle had pleaded the Fifth on his charges and still had to do time. He'd become known to those on the inside as G-double-A. Some youngster by the name of No Chainz had given Nyle the name saying it meant "Got All the Answers." I wished that were true for me. I wouldn't be sitting in this cold room trying to convince a man to entrap another man so that I could be with the man I loved.

"I said you were to make sure he never got out."

Nyle remained quiet.

On a scale from one to ten, Nyle was handsome above average. Put a suit on him the way he used to dress prior to getting locked up and no one would believe he was forty years old when he was arrested. Not that there was a better age to be charged but with his thick blond curly hair and smooth pale skin he could easily pass for thirty.

"I paid you twenty thousand to give Granville advice that would get him convicted with two consecutive life sentences."

He slid his hand from his forehead to the nape of his neck. No response.

Nyle could benefit from a daily dose of natural vitamin D. The inmates didn't get much sunlight. Everything was indoors, including the gym. The few windows they had were high above the basketball court. Nyle deserved to be here but didn't belong. There were some people you never envisioned behind bars. Others you knew it wasn't if they were going to do time. It was when and for how long?

"Why did the judge overturn the jury's decision?" I asked.

Getting myself this involved, I could risk being disbarred and losing Roosevelt if he thought I was part of the conspiracy to kill him. I was undoubtedly determined to have that man.

The Series in Order of Publication
Book 3: If You Don't Know Me
Book 2: I'd Rather Be With You
Book 1: If I Can't Have You

Purchase the entire series today!

The Prodigal Son by Kimberla Lawson Roby

The Prodigal Son 
by Kimberla Lawson Roby

NAACP Image Award Winner, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Marks 20-Book Milestone!   Reverend Curtis Black and his family drama are back in Kimberla Lawson Roby's upcoming novel, The Prodigal Son, (Grand Central Publishing).

New York Times Bestselling Author Kimberla Lawson Roby has published 20 novels which include A House Divided, The Perfect Marriage, The Reverend's Wife, Secret Obsession, Love, Honor, and Betray, Be Careful What You Pray For, A Deep Dark Secret, The Best of Everything, One In a Million, Sin No More, Love & Lies, Changing Faces, The Best-Kept Secret, Too Much of a Good Thing, A Taste of Reality, It's a Thin Line, Casting the First Stone, Here and Now, and her debut title, Behind Closed Doors, which was originally self-published through her own company, Lenox Press.
She has sold more than 2,000,000 copies of her novels, and they have frequented numerous bestseller lists, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Essence Magazine, Upscale Magazine, Emerge Magazine,Barnes and Noble,, Wal-Mart, The Dallas Morning News, and The Austin Chronicle to name a few. Both Behind Closed Doors and Casting the First Stone were #1 Blackboard bestsellers for four consecutive months in both 1997 and 2000. Behind Closed Doors was the #1 Blackboard Best-selling book for paperback fiction in 1997.

Kimberla is a 2013 NAACP Image Award Winner for Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction, the recipient of the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Author of the Year – Female award presented by the African-American Literary Award Show in New York, the recipient of the Blackboard Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2001 for Casting the First Stone, the recipient of the 1998 First-Time Author Award from Chicago’s Black History Month Book Fair and Conference, and in 2001, Kimberla was inducted into the Rock Valley College (Rockford, IL) Alumni Hall of Fame.

Each of Kimberla’s novels deal with very real issues, including corruption within the church, drug addiction, gambling addiction, infidelity, social status, single motherhood, infertility, sibling rivalry and jealousy, domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental illness, care-giving of a parent, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment, and overweight issues to name a few.

Kimberla resides in Illinois with her husband, Will. For more information about Kimberla Lawson Roby, visit To book Kimberla Lawson Roby for speaking engagements and/or book signings, please contact Connie Dettman at

The Prodigal Son 
The Reverend Curtis Black  hasn't spoken to his son, Matthew, in over a year-not since Matthew dropped out of Harvard to marry his girlfriend, Racquel, and be a full-time father to their infant son. Curtis knows that it was he and his wife, Charlotte, who drove Matthew away, but he prays that one day his son will forgive them and come home.

Matthew, however, can't seem to forget the pain his parents caused him and Racquel. Still, he wonders if maybe they'd been right, as fatherhood is not what he expected, and Racquel's behavior has become increasingly erratic. Matthew genuinely wants to be a good husband, though, and swears he'll never repeat his parents' mistakes. But when an old friend expresses her desire for Matthew, the temptation may be too great to resist...

Then, there's Dillon Whitfield, Curtis's long-lost-son, who has settled in as a member of the Black family. Yet the transition has been anything but easy. Charlotte, convinced he's only after Curtis's money, wishes he would move back to where he came from. Dillon, however, has no intention of going anywhere. After a lifetime in the shadows, he's determined to take his rightful place as Curtis's first-born son and heir, and he'll do whatever it takes to win his father's affection-even if it means playing dirty...

As jealousy builds and secrets pile up, both of Curtis's sons will be pushed over the edge and forced to take drastic action. Can these two troubled young men find their way back into the Black family fold, or will their family ties be undone once and for all?

Kimberla's novels are categorized as Contemporary Mainstream Fiction.  Her target audience is primarily women of all ages, but men read her novels as well. The primary subject matter discussed in THE PRODIGAL SON is family drama relating to both marriage and sibling rivalry.


Chapter 1

Matthew stared at his wife of ten months and shook his head. Racquel, who was sitting at the opposite end of the chocolate brown, leather sofa, looked over at him and frowned. “What?”

Matthew shook his head again. This time, his eyes screamed disappointment. But all Racquel did was purse her lips and turn her attention back to the flat screen television. It was a noticeably warm Friday evening in May, and though Matthew was a bit tired from his long day at work, he would have loved nothing more than for the two of them to be out somewhere together; maybe have a nice dinner and catch whatever new movie was playing. But as usual, Racquel was contently curled up—like an unconcerned couch potato—doing what she did best: watching some awful, ungodly reality show.

Matthew leaned his head back onto the sofa and closed his eyes. Not in his wildest imagination—not in a thousand lifetimes—would he have ever pictured himself being so miserable. But miserable he was, and worse, he now realized that getting married at the young age of nineteen had turned out to be a horrible mistake. He’d now turned twenty, but he could kick himself for giving up a full, four-year, academic scholarship to Harvard University, something he’d worked very hard for his entire childhood—and now this was all he had to show for it? This, a tiny, two-bedroom apartment, a twelve-dollar-an-hour job at a bank, and no love life of any kind to speak of?
Not since the day he’d been born had he ever had to struggle financially. Even before he’d met his father, which hadn’t happened until he was seven years old, Matthew had lived a pretty good life because his maternal grandparents had always seen to it. Then, of course, when his mom had married his dad, he hadn’t gone without anything.

He must have been crazy in love or crazy out of his mind to think he was doing the right thing by getting married. He also couldn’t deny how right his mother had been, every time she’d warned him about having unprotected sex. He still hadn’t spoken to either of his parents in more than a year—not even when they’d mailed him a ten-thousand-dollar check, and he’d torn it up—but his mom had been correct in her thinking. Matthew wasn’t sure why he’d been so careless and irresponsible. Although, he was proud of the fact that he’d immediately manned up as soon as he’d learned of Racquel’s pregnancy and had decided to be there for both her and the baby.
Then, as it had turned out, Racquel’s parents had told him that they would take care of little MJ until he and Racquel finished college—since Racquel had been scheduled to attend MIT a few months after the baby was born. They’d also wanted Matthew to get his education without any worries, so off to Boston he had gone—and life had been great until that dreadful day in January when Racquel had gone into labor much too early. A huge blowup had ensued between his mother and Vanessa, the two grandmothers to be, at Racquel’s baby shower, and Racquel had gotten herself all worked up over it. Next thing anyone had known, her water had broken and she’d been rushed to the hospital.

Matthew remembered how terrified he’d been that Racquel would lose the baby, but thank God, everything had turned out well. Little MJ had been born with a respiratory problem, but he’d ended up being released from the hospital just a few days later. Although, the more Matthew thought about all that had evolved, he was saddened further because none of what had occurred on the day of the baby shower could compare to any of what had happened a few weeks afterward. His mother had concocted the most outlandish scheme, and before long, the Division of Children and Family Services had come knocking at the front door of Racquel’s parents’, stating that they’d received two phone calls claiming child abuse. Of course, none of this had been true, and although in the end, the truth had been exposed and Charlotte had been arrested, the whole idea of little MJ being snatched away from Racquel had been too much for her to handle. It was the reason she now regularly obsessed over their one-year-old son, and she never felt comfortable leaving him with her own parents, let alone anyone else.
She wasn’t even okay with Matthew taking MJ to see his sister, Alicia, or his great-aunt, Emma because she feared something might happen to him or that he might be kidnapped. That whole DCFS incident had ruined Racquel emotionally, and Matthew had a feeling things would never be normal for them again. As it was, she rarely left the house, and she no longer visited any of her friends when they came home from school for the weekend. She never invited anyone over to the apartment either.


The Prodigal Son by Kimberla Lawson Roby
Series: A Reverend Curtis Black Novel