Written by: Godfather Wesley Hunter
Your debut novel, Tropical Illusions, talk about it, what’s it about?
I appreciate this opportunity! ‘Tropical illusions’ is to me, what ‘Reasonable Doubt’ was to Jay-Z, and what ‘True to the game’ was to Teri Woods, it’s my first love! I wrote Tropical illusions as a tribute to a woman who was like a mother to me, she passed away in 1997 as a result of HIV/AIDS. I wanted to do something to eliminate the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, while simultaneously preserving this woman’s memory. So, in essence, ‘Tropical illusions’ is about HIV/AIDS in the African-American community, and the moral of the story is that we should strive to practice abstinence outside of marriage. We should be responsible in our sexual activities, when we are too weak to practice abstinence. We should know that HIV/AIDS is not exclusive to the gay community, or to intravenous drug users who share needles, and last but not least, everyone should get tested.
Did you always plan to self-publish? What’s the story behind the launch of Step Ya Game Up Publishing?
I didn’t always plan to self-publish. Initially my focus was on finding a publishing company that could satisfy all of my publishing needs, i.e. making my books available as e-books as well as in paperback, marketing to my target audience, being effective in branding my name as an author, etc. After encountering several publishers offering sub-par deals, I decided to study the business on my own, and my goal was to create a company that I would want to do business with, a company that aspires to reach for the next level, a company that aspires to ‘Step Ya Game Up’! Pun intended!!!
What’s next for Step Ya Game Up? New books? New authors? Other plans?
Right now, the focus is on publishing this Gangsta Paradise series. Which, as of now, consists of 3 books with an underlying moral/message that you shouldn’t do unto others, what you don’t want done to you. We’ll be releasing book one; ‘Anybody Could Be Touched’, within the next 45 days. Also, we’ve been in talks with a number of film producers with the goal of bringing ‘Tropical illusions’ to the big screen sometime in the near future.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about the publishing business, so far?
One of the most important lessons that I learned in this business, is that you shouldn’t take things personally, it’s business!!! As an author, I want readers to purchase books written by, John Bowens, all day everyday, but, as a publisher, I can’t be self-centered and concern myself with only one brand. I have to cater to the appetite of my readers, and consistently give them a variety of books to choose from, so that I can meet their individual, as well as collective, needs.
NowUCme NowUdont. Of course, we all want to know, what’s the meaning and reason behind your unique Facebook handle?
Lol! Nowucme Nowudont! This moniker has many meanings for me. Anyone who knows me well knows, that I do a lot of traveling, so, I’m here one minute and gone the next, hence, Nowucme Nowudont! But a better description is that ‘Nowucme Nowudont’ is tantamount to saying, “Miss me with that bullshit!”! Real talk, I give everyone a fair chance, but when you bring negativity and foolishness to my table, you already know what it is when you don’t see me anymore, and I refuse to take your calls; Nowucme Nowudont!!!
Some of us call you The Globe Trotter, and I’ve even said that, you probably live on a plane. But, truly, where is John Bowens from? And where is home?
New York City, born and raised! I’m from South side Jamaica, Queens … Baisley projects stand up!!! I recently relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I had a house built from the ground … So that’s the place I call home, although New York will always be in my heart.
You served 16 years in prison. That’s a long time. What was that for? Where did you do your time?
Wow! The struggle truly defines who we are. On November 8th, 1996, a federal Judge sentenced me to 19 years in prison for conspiracy to manufacture, possess, and distribute schedule 1 narcotics; crack cocaine and heroin. I served 16 years and 4 months which was what the Bureau of Prisons calculated to be 85% of my time. I served my time in USP Canaan and FCI Schuylkill, (which are both located in Pennsylvania), I served time in FCI Bennettsville, in South Carolina, and I was also in, FCI Yazoo city, which is down in Mississippi. At various points of my sentence I passed through the transit centers of USP Lewisburg, USP Atlanta, and the Federal transit center in Oklahoma.
What made you first start writing? What/who were your inspirations?
I was an avid reader since I was a small child. To this day, I boast that I will read anything, from westerns to sci-fi to horror, and I especially love to read for information. I was always a writer! It started off as rap songs and poetry, then later, developed into what I am doing now. I was inspired to write books by Luisa Henry, the woman who was like a mother to me; the one who passed away due to complications stemming from HIV/AIDS. My writing is a tribute to her, and it was through her that God showed me the path which He intended for me to walk.
Marketing. Give us a take away. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
The most important lesson that I learned when it comes to marketing is, that it’s a full time job, 24 hours a day! You have to promote and sell your products shamelessly. You have to do it, at the super market, you have to do it at the post office, you have to do it on the bus, the train or airplane, you have to do it at church. No one will know about your product unless you tell them about it, period!
Distribution. What take away can you give? What lessons have you learned, so far?
When it comes to distribution the most important lesson that I learned is, that team work makes the dream work!!!!! For independent authors, publishers, and book stores, I have a solution to all of your distribution problems … It’s called UNITED DISTRIBUTION!!!
Is there anyone in the business you’d like to work with? Any collab efforts in the works?
I would love to work with my Muslim brother Al- Saadiq Banks, I’m a huge fan of ‘Block Party’, and ‘No Exit’. As far as collaborations, I have something in the works with United Distribution members, we have an Erotic Anthology that should be set for release in 2015. Also, readers can look forward to a collaboration with myself and authors Itchie Mu and Karl Heyliger, we call ourselves the “Ruff Writerz”!!!
You’re very approachable, and you seem to have an honest heart and a joyful spirit. Were you always this way? Always able to openly connect with others?
As a kid, many of my childhood friends gave me the nickname ‘Smiley’, because I always had a smile on my face. Later in life, I earned the name, Yahya Ruhani, which is translated to mean ‘One with spiritual life’. So, to answer the question, yes, I think I’ve always had a natural ability to deal with others. Even when it comes to people of different nationalities. My partner, Ivan, always points out the energy I bring into a room once I walk in, and I think this plays a huge role in the small amount of success we’ve been able to accomplish thus far.
Tell us about your blogtalk radio show. What does the future hold?
Step Ya Game Up Publishing presents: Let’s Talk Sports with Ivan Keith! I love this show, and not just because, Ivan Keith, is my brother and business partner, but because, even for people who aren’t particularly fanatical about sports, Ivan Keith has a high volume of energy, he’s outspoken, funny, and very entertaining to listen to! This guy is like a walking sports almanac, and he makes it easy to understand what’s going on in the sports world! Don’t take it from me, just tune in every Saturday at 3pm eastern time to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/urbanliteraryreview, or you can LISTEN directly from your phone when you call (347)215-8932 … Via Internet you can even go into the archives and listen to old shows.
Anything else you want to share?
Be on the lookout for my new novel, ‘Anybody Could Be Touched’, and other titles from Step Ya Game Up Publishing as well as from United Distribution. Also, tune in, on Saturdays, at 3pm eastern time, to Let’s Talk sports with Ivan Keith, and Sundays, at 9pm eastern time for Luv4TheLockdown radio show with Cali Kim DaBoss and AuthorGodfather Wesley Hunter.
How can you be reached?
My book, Tropical illusions, is available at Amazon.com in both e-book and paperback form, and I can be reached directly at:firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Nowucme Nowudont, or StepYaGameUpPublishing
Elissa Gabrielle returns with a soul-stirring, powerful and emotional read that will leave you breathless. Laced with an alluring poetry, hip hop and jazz backdrop Gabrielle will tug at both your heartstrings and your political persuasion in the highly-anticipated Eye of the Beholder.
Empowering, Enlightening, Engaging and Inspirational, Elissa Gabrielle is a powerhouse in the literary industry. Respected by many, revered in the highest regard, Elissa Gabrielle maintains a spirit of excellence in all she does. She is known to have the midas touch. The sky is the limit for this sassy, sundry and prolific author. Elissa Gabrielle has broken the ceiling of literary excellence with her gift in the skill of multi-genre writing. The author of multiple poetry books, numerous novels and contributor to several anthologies, Elissa has proven herself to be well-versed in artistic creativity.
Elissa Gabrielle has the uncanny ability to take newcomers and mold, shape them into literary superstars and has created multiple award-winning authors and best-selling books in the process.
Her colloquial and imaginative creations have lead to sensual and seductive inclusions in Zane’s Purple Panties, Erogenous Zone: A Sexual Voyage, Mocha Chocolate: A Taste of Ecstasy, The Heat of the Night, Historie Chocolate D’Amour, Pillow Talk in the Heat of The Night, Zane’s Busy Bodies: Chocolate Flava 4 and more.
As a Literary Entrepreneur, Elissa is the founder of the greeting card line, Greetings from the Soul: The Elissa Gabrielle Collection, collaborator and creator of The Triumph of My Soul, and publisher of Peace In The Storm Publishing. Elissa has managed to turn relatively unknown authors into household names and has molded and shaped the careers of some of today‘s brightest literary stars. In addition to these innovative achievements, Elissa has graced the covers of Conversations Magazine, Big Time Publishing Magazine, Disilgold Soul Magazine and has been featured in Urbania Magazine and Black Literature Magazine.
Peace In The Storm Publishing has been nominated in several categories in the African American Literary Awards Show, and has won Independent Publisher of the Year in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In addition, Elissa Gabrielle won for Self-Published Author of the Year in 2010 for her explosive novel, “A Whisper to a Scream.” Elissa also won for Self-Published Author of the Year for the collaborative effort, “The Heat of the Night.”
Her writing and publishing passion is rooted in her desire to give a reader’s soul a rise, one page at a time and grounded in her quest to bring forth the Triumph Anthology series, an ongoing testament of faith. The first anthology in the series was the highly acclaimed The Triumph of My Soul, which will be followed by The Soul of a Man and The Breakthrough respectively. “I started the Triumph series because in life, we all fall down, but by the Grace of God, we get back up. There is always victory in tomorrow,” Elissa says about the Triumph series.
From the novelty of her writing, to her highly-regarded greeting card line and the successful culmination of her publishing company; Elissa Gabrielle remains an ingenious and creative force to be reckoned with in terms of delivering distinct, fulfilling and entertaining literature. By pushing herself to stay a cut above the rest, Elissa Gabrielle brilliantly and consistently delivers Literary best.
“Elissa Gabrielle is a force to be reckoned with.” ~ Shani Green Dowdell, Author and Playwright
The true measure of our existence begins with the way we view the world.
Jerusalem “Jay” Jones has experienced the uglier side of life. As an Iraq war Veteran, he is a hero for bravely putting his life on the line to serve his country. But that unselfish act resulted in him lying in a Veteran’s hospital with injuries he sustained from the war. His present circumstance should be a cakewalk for Jerusalem considering what he has witnessed both as a child and while in the heat of battle. The pleasantries of love, laughter and life have always seemed to elude him. From his early days as a child growing up abused and terrorized on the tough streets of Newark, to being all that he could be in the military, Jerusalem’s life has been anything but pleasant and attractive when viewed from the surface. Now, vulnerable and reclusive, he must face the world he joined the military to escape, armed with only dark secrets from his past, a bruised and burdened psyche and limits to him physically.
Jill Lopes longs to fix the wounded and broken, but before she can heal the sick, she must first mend her own battle scars of unhappiness and resistance, and find a way to push past the experiences that haunt her. When fate boldly steps in and introduces itself into Jerusalem’s and Jill’s lives, they realize that the challenges we meet in life hold the power to open us to a higher, more meaningful existence. Will they both be able to view the world for what it really is under the clear truth of who they are and what they are capable of becoming together? Does beauty really lie in the eye of the beholder? Experience the power of love on this redemptive journey where the purpose of the tribulations in one’s life, will be empowered to reveal the gifts they bring.
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
by Elissa Gabrielle
“Every now and then, God gives a talented artist a gift within their gift, a destiny-creating piece that illuminates so brightly it defies average definition. Elissa Gabrielle has brilliantly weaved a tale that is, simply put, for your eyes and heart to behold.”
~William Fredrick Cooper
Award-Winning/Best-Selling Author of Unbreakable
“Eye of the Beholder is a love story crafted in a way that only Elissa Gabrielle can. In what is sure to be considered her greatest craftsmanship to date, Gabrielle effortlessly gives her readers an explosive experience of emotions through words and sounds that dance on paper. Think colors … vibrant colors that come alive in your mind as you experience the poetic prowess of her writing style. You don’t want to miss this one.”
~SD Denny, Author & Freelance Editor
“Smooth like jazz, this work of art, Eye of the Beholder, has a poetical feel that wraps around your senses leading you into a captivating trance trying to inhale all the words written on the pages. Very vividly written with imagery so strong that you are able to feel every emotion of the characters within as if you are one with them, this page turner is a must read. This instant classic is enthralled with love and pain, desire and passion, perseverance and encouragement, and a true pathway as to how the hardest of test and the biggest of doubts can be overcome with real love and strong faith. Elissa Gabrielle has managed to intertwine poetry and jazz together to bring forth a riveting tale that all walks can relate and feel down to the souls of their own being making them a part of the lead characters, Jerusalem and Jill.”
~H. M. Trey, Author & Poet
“If the moon and the stars align Elissa Gabrielle will be a literary rock star. Eye of the Beholder marks in stunning fashion the return to readers the craft of writing that book lovers eyes should be awarded. A heartrending endorsement of losing trust, crossing lines and seeking forgiveness, Eye of the Beholder is a story of emotional deprivation beyond one’s control, and searching for inner soul sustenance. Elissa Gabrielle has penned word by word and line by line from the beginning to the end poetic justice poetically in this novel. Eye of the Beholder is comparable in scope, texture, and depictions with the classics because of the strong wit and passionate intelligence.”
~Alvin L. A. Horn, author of Perfect Circle
“If it’s worth reading, it’s worth waiting for…and I must say, Eye of the Beholder by Elissa Gabrielle is definitely worth the wait. Once again, Gabrielle reeled me in from the very beginning. I found the characters’ names alone very intriguing and I wanted to learn every detail about them. Gabrielle makes her readers feel as if these characters are people they have met at some point or another in life. But, if you haven’t met them, you certainly won’t regret getting to know the latest cast penned by our beloved…Elissa Gabrielle!”
~Linda R. Herman, author of Consequences
“Elissa Gabrielle delivers a story of intimacy, love and hope with a healthy amount of romance crafting the ultimate love story in Eye of the Beholder. While it is not uncommon for Elissa to create relatable characters in every book she pens the characters in this novel are not only relatable but memorable. Being familiar with the author’s work, just when I think she is incapable of penning a novel better than the one preceding, she does just that in Eye of the Beholder; it is indeed her best work to date and she is to be commended.”
~LaLaina Knowles, Award-winning contributor to The Heat of the Night
“Eye of The Beholder is a love song in prose. And not just a love song that exists between a man and a woman but that lingers in the memories of children about their first love, their mother. Many are caught up in what is visual, what the eye can see, but Eye of The Beholder is about what the heart can see and overcome. This book should be set to a jazzy beat so the reader can close his or her eyes and allow themselves to be swept away. Gabrielle has poured her heart into the pages of this book and the reader will come away with the realization that love transforms and transfigures; allowing us to see true beauty.”
~Angelia Vernon Menchan, Author, Publisher, Womanist
“Elissa Gabrielle’s Eye of the Beholder takes you to another place and time. Vulnerability and hope are the backdrop of this riveting novel. Gabrielle’s words are like cool water for a thirsty soul, each one dripping with lyricism and purpose. Eye of the Beholder will cause you to experience firsthand the transformative power of love.”
~J’son M. Lee, Author/Editor
Sensual, spiritual and thought-provoking, Elissa Gabrielle craftily brings relevant subjects to life in the exceptionally-written Eye of the Beholder.
~ Loretta R. Walls, Author of The Majestic Dynasty.
“Jerusalem and Jill are poetry in motion, as Jerusalem weaves his life story of discouraging events to an undercurrent of floetry and jazz that you can hear as a backdrop. Jill is the artist, drawing from her personal life to add fuel to who Jerusalem is becoming, not allowing him to wallow in his current condition, with her true compassion and love for what she does. Eye of the Beholder draws you into the world of these two people from the very first sentence, carrying you with them from their pasts into their present.”
~ Sharel E. Gordon-Love, author of the award-nominated The Putting Away
“Poetic, Lyrical, rooted in urban life and harsh realities. Elissa Gabrielle has done it again with this graceful novel, Eye of The Beholder, full of love, redemption and hope.”
“Elissa Gabrielle writes with incredible boldness and sensitivity. Her characters are believable and have left a lasting impression in my mind. Eye of the Beholder is a wonderful read.”
~Toriana Jones, author of Good To Have You Back
“When reading Eye of the Beholder by Elissa Gabrielle, you come to know the characters as if you grew up with them. Elissa Gabrielle weaves into Eye of the Beholder the memories, the family members, the tragedies and the triumphs that shaped the two lover’s will and perspectives on life. With Eye of the Beholder, you get more than a love story. You get a life story.”
~Joey Pinkney, Author and Book Reviewer
Laisha’s in for the surprise of her life when she realizes that God’s Mr. Right for her has been right under her nose.
Allyson M. Deese, author of Discovering The Joy Within, His-Love.com, and Write The Vision as well as several short stories, was born with a love for reading. By the time she was in middle school she was writing poetry and by her early twenties she was writing her debut novel in another genre under a pseudonym.
She was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. She spends her days writing to uplift, educate and entertain everyone.