All posts by Urban Literary Review

Literary Spotlight: The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to Osm

blueunicornThe metal horned unicorns are doomed!” That’s what Lauda Lead Horn wailed when she first saw the tribe’s new savior. OK, so his horn was not metal. . .and he did not have a magic power. . .and he was really a puny little runt. But doomed? Were things really that bad?

Well, things were pretty bad in the land of MarBryn. Magh, an evil sorcerer utilized unicorn horns and hooves to create his magical potions and spells. Those he used, to increase his power and to conquer everyone in his path. All of the unicorns from the Tribe of the Metal Horn were now gone . . . except for twelve survivors.

Before the blue unicorn was born, Numen told Alumna, the aluminum-horned oracle, that he had a plan to bring the tribe back home to Unimaise. His prophecy was, “Only the blue unicorn can join with the Moon-Star. Until then, no new unicorns will be born.” Blue was the last unicorn born. Twenty years later, his horn was still covered with a plain blue colored hide. There was not a glint of metal to be seen on it or his hooves. And he still didn’t have any magic. But he was no longer scrawny and he had his wits. Though no one else in the tribe thought he had a chance, Blue felt ready to make Magh pay for his evil deeds. And he went off to do it alone. That was Blue’s first mistake. If the entire tribe was not standing horn-tip to horn-tip at the proper time and the exact place to help usher the Moon-Star Spirit into Blue’s horn, he would die. Then, the rest of the tribe would really be doomed.

Readers will follow along two journey paths in this book. Blue is joined in his travels by his mentor Gaiso, the Stag and his friend, Girasol the Firebird as they try to find their way across a danger-filled MarBryn to Muzika Woods. The rest of Blue’s tribe is forced to follow another route due to Nix Nickle Horn’s unfortunate incident with a Manticore. Nix, the great unicorn defender must safely lead the way for Ghel, the Golden-Horned unicorn; Silubhra Silver Horn; Cornum the Brass-Horned unicorn; Steel Horned Style; Cuprum the Copper-Horned unicorn; Tin-Horned Tinam; Dr. Zinko; Iown the Iron-Horned unicorn and the others in an action packed adventure to their destination in Muzika Woods. Both journey paths converge there in the Nebulium Circle.

This chapter book is a collector’s dream containing page after page of lavish artwork. It contains nearly 100 pages of story text by Sybrina Durant and the same number of pages of magnificent water-color illustrations by Dasguptarts. This book, written by Sybrina Durant and illustrated by Dasguptarts, offers readers a visual feast of over forty beautiful water-color pictures that each span two pages. Forty-two – easy to digest two-page chapters are chock full of adventurous and entertaining morsels. This illustrated book will become a favorite of teen and older fantasy readers.  A companion coloring/ character description book is also available at any online bookstore.

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About the Author

I’m Sybrina. . .. . .Just one of millions of wannabe author/singer/songwriters out there but I hope, after reading or hearing my books and songs, you’ll think my contributions to the world have as much value as any other famous artist out there today.

Fame is all in being in the right place at the right time but at least with the internet and venues like this, all of us have opportunities to share our creativity with the world. I’m so happy that I am able to share my works with you. That is awesome!

The books I’ve written span a wide range between illustrated picture books, coloring books and YA novels to technical and how-to books. If you’re so inclined you can read a little bit about the inspiration for each one below.


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Literary Spotlight: Loving You Feels So Right : Alana & Jakobi Story


Alana Kim is the definition of crazy, sexy, cool. Labeled a man eater by current and former lovers, this wild child lives life on her terms and couldn’t care less what the world thinks of her. Seeking something she never experienced in her home growing up, Alana relishes the affection and attention she receives from the opposite sex. Men absolutely adore her but she’s unable to return those feelings of adoration which causes problems to arise with a longtime lover. For years, Alana has been content having sex without strings or commitments and has no plans to be tied down by anyone. It’s not until she witnesses the lives of the ones closest to her changing, that her past begins to weigh heavily on her heart. Throw into the mix an amazingly handsome man who captures her heart immediately and suddenly she’s changing her tune, considering love for the very first time.

Jakobi Tate is a damaged soul, carrying a load of hurt and pain on his shoulders but from the moment he lays eyes on Alana his life was forever changed. It’s like he’s known her his whole life and with no real family to call his own besides his brother Marcus, Jakobi is hoping to build something solid with Alana. However, he soon discovers that there’s tons of baggage and other men that come along with loving someone like her. Her promiscuous ways along with her detached personality may be just enough to push him away for good. Jakobi is fighting his own demons so he’s left wondering if taking on her issues is worth all the trouble. They have a connection that is out of this world but will that be enough for them to hold on to what they’ve found in one another? Read along as unimaginable revelations come to light and a foolish obsession reaches its breaking point in this steamy urban romance.

Meet the Insider: Joe Joe Jones

Joseph “Joe Joe” Jones was born and raised in New Castle/Wilmington, Delaware. After becoming a convicted felon, doing a three year prison stint for drug trafficking. Upon release fighting with the temptations of the streets Mr. Jones took his urban street knowledge and turned it into an actual business (Street Knowledge Publishing). Mr. Jones teamed up with a childhood friend and prison inmate, Leondrei Prince, who had written a series of black urban books. Leondrei Prince became the first author of SKP with Bloody Money, inspired by the writings of African American author Donald Goines, taking the book game by storm. SKP has released over thirty books to date and has recently engaged an investment partner to finance its acquisitions. With a new line up of hungry freshmen writers and his existing authors that has sequels has something to prove. We are looking beyond books. We are turning all books into films, music soundtracks, e-books, audio books, and plays.” says Joe Joe Jones Ceo of SKP. With the use of his hard work and the internet, Jones has taken writers from the streets to the board room of the best publishing companies in America. Game recognizes game and Jones is on top of this new game. Jones has his ear to the street.
When he finds a talent he is able to make decisions that can change a writer s life. He gets stories that are hot topics on the streets. Jones writers write about the street level criminal masterminds unlike Charles Manson and Bernie Madoff. SKP is run very much like a 1980 s music label. Jones is giving deals to writers and is now working with investors to back companies that he has idjoejoeentified as an acquisition target. Joe Joe Jones is a savvy businessman, book store owner, distributor, and now author with his new street novel Scandalous Ties co-written with one of his hottest freshmen authors Jermaine “Ski” Buchanan which is a four book series that is about to drop this fall. He is also is wrapping up a solo book that he dedicated a lot of time into “Imaginary Freedom” which he feels that will change the game and wake up some young brothers out here that is struggling to survive the best way they know how.


What inspired you to launch your bookstore?

What really inspired me to launch my bookstore is for a launch pad for my books to get exposure. There are really no outlets for paperback books and as myself being independent I like to control my own destiny. Also give an outlet for other inspired authors to make away to make money. Books, music, clothing, and whatever anybody trying to promote and to make a living. This is about survival for young black entrepreneurs like myself.

Can readers purchase books from you online?

Yes readers can purchase my books and other independent books online under

What authors have you worked with and which ones you enjoy the most?

I’ve worked with Leondrei Prince, Kevin Bullock, Jimmy Dasaint, Gregory Garrett, Wasiim, Allysha Hamber, Parish Sherman, Sicily, Deja King, Eric Fleming, KD Harris, Divine G, Willie Dutch, Visa Rollack. I may be missing a few, but I would have to say I enjoyed working with Leondrei Prince the most he was the platform of how I got started with Bloody Money and forming Street Knowledge Publishing. I’m excited about all the new authors and new projects that we have up next for 2017.

What type of books do your customers enjoy most?

I have all kinds of customers of all genres. They enjoy the street lit, erotica, Christianity, history, Islamic, self-help, kids book. We have it all and it is all being sold evenly. I love it! Personally my favorite is the self-help and knowledge.

How do authors and publishers contact you for book signings and to pitch their books for placement in your stores?

Package your book with a press kit with flyers, posters, and book markers. Set up to do a signing. A lot of authors are lazy and don’t want to invest in their own project. My motto was and is I’m going to sale these units with you or without you. Create that buzz for yourself instead of depending on your publisher or bookstore.

What has been one of the challenges of running a bookstore?

The groundwork of getting the book store off the ground and finding the right people around you that you trust and make things happen like you would.

If you had any advice for future book sellers, what would it be?

Be creative and love what you do.. You have to promote and promote and promote. Lol!

Please share with us how authors can contact you via email and social media?

 Authors can contact me on and social media street knowledge book center on twitter, facebook, instagram, and snapchat

Literary Spotlight: Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War

Available now in Paperbackfighterpilots

Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War details author and Professor Mary Lawlor’s unconventional upbringing in Cold War America. Memories of her early life—as the daughter of a Marine Corps and then Army father—reveal the personal costs of tensions that once gripped the entire world, and illustrate the ways in which bold foreign policy decisions shaped an entire generation of Americans, defining not just the ways they were raised, but who they would ultimately become. As a kid on the move she was constantly in search of something to hold on to, a longing that led her toward rebellion, to college in Paris, and to the kind of self-discovery only possible in the late 1960s.

A personal narrative braided with scholarly, retrospective reflections as to what that narrative means, Fighter Pilot’s Daughter zooms in on a little girl with a childhood full of instability, frustration and unanswered questions such that her struggles in growth, her struggles, her yearnings and eventual successes exemplify those of her entire generation.

From California to Georgia to Germany, Lawlor’s family was stationed in parts of the world that few are able to experience at so young an age, but being a child of military parents has never been easy. She neatly outlines the unique challenges an upbringing without roots presents someone struggling to come to terms with a world at war, and a home in constant turnover and turmoil. This book is for anyone seeking a finer awareness of the tolls that war takes not just on a nation, but on that nation’s sons and daughters, in whose hearts and minds deeper battles continue to rage long after the soldiers have come home.

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Mary Lawlor’s memoir, Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War, is terrifically written. The experience of living in a military family is beautifully brought to life. This memoir shows the pressures on families in the sixties, the fears of the Cold War, and also the love that families had that helped them get through those times, with many ups and downs. It’s a story that all of us who are old enough can relate to, whether we were involved or not. The book is so well written. Mary Lawlor shares a story that needs to be written, and she tells it very well. (The Jordan Rich Show)

Mary Lawlor, in her brilliantly realized memoir, articulates what accountants would call a soft cost, the cost that dependents of career military personnel pay, which is the feeling of never belonging to the specific piece of real estate called home. . . . [T]he real story is Lawlor and her father, who is ensconced despite their ongoing conflict in Lawlor’s pantheon of Catholic saints and Irish presidents, a perfect metaphor for coming of age at a time when rebelling was all about rebelling against the paternalistic society of Cold War America. (Stars and Stripes)

Fighter Pilot’s Daughter. . . is a candid and splendidly-written account of a young woman caught in the political turmoil of the ’60s and the domestic turmoil that percolated around a John Wayne figure who won the Distinguished Flying Cross, eight Air Medals and the Cross of Gallantry across three generations of star spangled blood and guts. … Among the triumphs of the book is Lawlor’s ability to transition from academic – she is the author of two scholarly books and numerous articles about American literature and culture – to popular writing. ‘I tried very hard to keep my academic voice out of the book,’ said Lawlor, who will be retiring as a professor and director of American Studies after the spring semester. ‘In academic writing, you explain and explain and footnote and footnote, and some of the life inevitably comes out of it. I wanted this to have life.’ In so many ways it does….[particularizing] her family, including her mother, Frannie, her older twin sisters (Nancy and Lizzie) and a younger sister (Sarah). . . . In many ways the Lawlor women drive her narrative. … Her principal focus, inevitably, is her Fighter Pilot Father, who, in her words, ‘seemed too large and wild for the house.’ Jack Lawlor was so true to fighter-pilot form as to be an archetype, hard-drinking, hard-to-please, sometimes (though not always) hard-of-heart. Mary does not spare those details.’ (Muhlenberg: The Magazine)

This engrossing memoir adeptly weaves the author’s account of growing up in a military family in the United States and Europe with domestic American and international Cold War events. Mary Lawlor’s descriptions of her parents’ origins and aging, and her perceptive, honest reflections on childhood and young adulthood between the 1950s and 1970s, are illuminated by the knowledge and wisdom that develop over decades of adulthood. In re-visiting her earlier life, the author reveals a process of arriving at a compassionate understanding of the significant people in it—relatives, friends, nuns, boyfriends, and draft resisters, among others—and through this, a clearer understanding of one’s self. She demonstrates that comprehension of the broad historical context in which one lives—in her case, the pervasive global rivalry between communism and anticommunism, and its influences on American ideals about family roles, political values, and aspirations, which she questioned and challenged as a young woman drawn into the counterculture—is crucial for attaining such self-knowledge. (Donna Alvah, Associate Professor and Margaret Vilas Chair of US History, St. Lawrence University)

Also in Paperback

About the Author


Mary Lawlor is professor of English and the Director of American Studies at Muhlenberg College. She is the author of Recalling the Wild: Naturalism and the Closing of the American West, and Public Native America: Tribal Self Representation in Casinos, Museums and Powwows.


Meet the Insider: Co Kane



Tell us about your bookstore.  Your name and position.  Where you are located and what genres you carry?

My bookstore is called Book Teas, Indie Author Book Source. I am Author Co Kane, owner, publisher, and author. I am located at 907A Gamble St Tallahassee, FL 32310 and we specialize in all genres including poetry, cookbooks, inspirational reads as well as full children, tweens and teens area.

What inspired you to launch your bookstore?

My inspiration came from the fact that there weren’t many black owned bookstores, blacks don’t read enough and I found it hard getting my books in bigger bookstore chains. Book Teas was created with the indie/self-published author in mind, catering to their readers by delivering quality paperback books to their communities. Book Teas will also be home to Books and Boys Initiative, which will strive to bring African-American boys back to creative writing and reading comprehension.

Can readers purchase books from you online?

Yes, readers can purchase books online and pickup in store.

What authors have you worked with and which one did you enjoy the most?

There are quite a few authors that I work with consistently, and I enjoy them all for different reasons but Author Chunichi was the most pleasant experience. I reached out to an Essence Bestselling Author and she received me like an equal as opposed to an author beneath her. That really stood out.

What type of books do your customers enjoy most?

I like all books but I enjoy fiction but true to life books. The stories with a message as opposed to sensationalized lies that only entertain.

How do authors and publishers contact to you for book signings and to pitch their books for placement in your stores?

All authors can visit our website and find out how to submit their books for sale in the store. Book signings can also be scheduled on the website and the day and time purchased. The website is fully equipped with everything that authors and readers need.

What has been one of the challenges of running a bookstore?

Advertising dollars and support from my alma mater, Florida A&M University. I presumed that the university that I graduated from would be more involved with my store but I have pitched it to the newspaper staff and no one has contacted me for an interview or to drop in and view the store. I am literally in walking distance of the very place I obtained my undergrad degrees and receive no support or mention whatsoever. In terms of advertising, the store would need to increase sales to purchase ad space, and without ad space, I can’t increase the traffic into the store.

If you had any advice for authors and publishers, what would it be?

To support all independent black owned bookstores, bookstores period. A small donation and mention would increase sales on all fronts: for authors, publishers and the store itself.

If you had any advice for future book sellers, what would it be?

To research the market that you’re thinking of opening a store in thoroughly, and make sure that the community wants to read. People will always say they don’t have time to read so make them make time to read.

Please share with us how authors can contact you via email and social media?

Please visit my websites and join the mailing lists: and

IG: @Cokane_addiction, @Bookteas


Twitter: @blakcokane


tiahnewTiah Short is the Founder of Urban Literary Review and CEO of DC Bookdiva Publications, Find her online at

Meet the Insider: Jaclyn Gary

Meet the Insider Series

By Tiah Short


Tell us about your bookstore.  Your name and position.  Where you are located and what genres do you carry?

I’m Jaclyn Gary, the owner of Mahogany Reads Café, which is an Indie Bookstore located in Holly Hill, Florida (just outside of Daytona Beach, Florida). We carry all genres of books, such as, both fiction & non-fiction, urban street lit, romance, erotica, and poetry, to name a few.

What inspired you to launch your bookstore?

My husband Hood Ink wrote a book called Bad Karma, that we self-published. Through that journey I realized that there aren’t many platforms available for self-published authors to get their books out to the masses. Bookstores such Barnes & Noble and BAM have strict guidelines as to books they accept into their store. This gave me the idea of starting a bookstore that is geared towards independent authors/publishers.  With all that’s going on in the world today, I just want our people who are doing right to feel accomplished by having their books in print and in a bookstore.

Can readers purchase books from you online?

Readers can purchase books online at

What authors have you worked with and which one did you enjoy the most?

I’ve worked with Author Bernie Richmond and of course my husband Hood Ink the author. I’ve enjoyed working with them both. Bernie has a bookstore in Miami so she has been kind of a mentor to me throughout this whole process.

What type of books do your customers enjoy most?

Because I just opened my physical store (Saturday 11/5), I’ve only been selling Bad Karma by Hood Ink. The readers seem to like that genre, so I will have plenty of urban street lit in stock.

How do authors and publishers contact to you for book signings and to pitch their books for placement in your stores?

I can be contacted via email at

What has been one of the challenges of running a bookstore?

The challenge that I’ve faced has been trying to get the store open. Due to Hurricane Matthew that affected Florida’s east coast a few weeks ago, it pushed our renovations back a few weeks. But with God and determination we are now open.

If you had any advice for authors and publishers, what would it be?

I would tell them to remain professional and consistent. This is a great platform for all parties involved (the bookstore owner, the author, and the publisher). If you say you’re going to do something be sure that you do it. If something comes up and what you said you would do changes please keep the line of communication open.

If you had any advice for future book sellers, what would it be?

My advice would be to go for it. You only fail if you don’t try. We need more bookstores. We need more places that cater to us. We need a place to go to make ourselves feel proud to be who we are. So, just go for it!!

Please share with us how authors can contact you via email and social media?

I can be contacted via email,


Facebook at, Instagram at and Twitter at



Tiah Short is the Founder of Urban Literary Review and CEO of DC Bookdiva Publications, Find her online at



Meet the Insider: Valinda Miller

By Tiah ShortValindapromo.png

VaLinda Miller has been with the federal government for 30 years and has worked both domestically and overseas in financial and administrative capacities.

Originally from Washington D.C., VaLinda has resided in Charleston, SC for 15 years, since the financial area of her agency relocated to Charleston. In addition to her volunteering to work with libraries in DC, Virginia, Maryland and other states, she is currently on the Board of the Friends of the Charleston County Library and Friends of the state of South Carolina Library.

In May of 2014, she purchased The Booksmith in Seneca, SC. She plans to retire in the next two years from the Federal Government. She is a regular blogger that heavily promotes Library and related causes, she has one beautiful daughter Kendra and loves her mixed-breed dog Tommy.


Meet the Insider.

Tell us about your bookstore. Your name and position. Where you are located and what genres do you carry?

The Booksmith is located in Seneca, South Carolina and has been around for 25 years.
We sell all genres – Fiction, non-fiction, Christian, African American, South Carolina history, USC and Clemson books/items, cookbooks, teen, kids, etc. We also sell jewelry, holiday decorations, scarfs, puzzles, board games, coffee, tea and biscotti.

VaLinda Miller and I am the owner. I purchased the store in May 2014.

It is 3 and half hours from Charleston, SC, 2 hours from Atlanta, 8 miles from Clemson University, and 45 minutes from Greenville, South Carolina.

What inspired you to launch your bookstore?

I attended a class in Florida called “Owning a Bookstore Workshop Retreat” by Paz and Associates. I attended it on a whim not knowing if I could afford a store or run an online store. The company suggested I look into The Booksmith since it was close to where I live.

Can readers purchase books from you online?

Not yet. Our website should be up in one week. We are blessed that we have a USPS Post Office inside the store where we can mail books directly to the customers.
What authors have you worked with and which one did you enjoy the most?

We have worked with a few local authors:
Billy William “What the Girl At The Picnic Said”
African American Author – Joyce Galloway Mece – The Sad Apple Tree
Dottie Frank
John Stamp – Shattered Circle

We enjoyed John Stamp’s mystery books.

What type of books do your customers enjoy most?

Best seller listings, SC History, mysteries and fiction.

How do authors and publishers contact to you for book signings and to pitch their books for placement in your stores?

Facebook, twitter, Instagram, email or visit the store

What has been one of the challenges of running a bookstore?

One of the biggest challenges is not enough money. I had planned to retire when I purchase the store, a year later, I realized that I could not afford to. Over the past year I have made many changes from the previous owner and cut back many unnecessary expenses in order to keep the store running. It is also hard to work a full time and part time job while being updated by my manager (who is doing a fantastic job) on a daily basis and I trust her.

If you had any advice for authors and publishers, what would it be?

Don’t submit or publish a story without someone other than friends/co-workers reviewing your work. Another review always adds value to the story. Do not invest a lot of money using other services without doing your own research into them. Don’t write with the ideal that you are going to become rich. Write because you love to write. Write your own story from your heart. Writing is a skilled enhanced over time and not the first book will be knocked out of the park.

If you had any advice for future book sellers, what would it be?

Do not borrow money. Yes, it may seem unrealistic and crazy, just don’t borrow. I have been in this business for two years and in the first year I listen to publishers, the previous owners and others on how I need a credit line to order books.

It does not work. Here is an example. You place an order for $500.00 worth of books or sideline items on January 1. The bill is due January 30. Will you have the money on January 30 to pay it in full? What about rent, utilities, payroll (the biggest expense), water, advertisement, etc. Will you make enough money in 30 days to pay those expenses as well as the $500.00 worth of items purchased?

Buy with cash. If it does not sell by the allotted time you want, return the items back to the vendor (and watch that deadline too. Many vendors have a deadline on when an item can be returned and the discount may be lower and you have to pay for shipping).

Watch you MONEY very carefully – every single day and please avoid borrowing.

Please share with us how authors can contact you via email and social media.

Email – or

Facebook – thebooksmithsc

Twitter – @TheBooksmithSC

Instagram – thebooksmithsc


tiahnewTiah Short is the Founder of Urban Literary Review and CEO of DC Bookdiva Publications, Find her online at