Tag Archives: literary feature

Natural Born Winner w/ Author John Bowens

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:stepyagameuppublishing@gmail.com
Facebook: Nowucme Nowudont, or StepYaGameUpPublishing
Instagram: johnbowens69

ULR Feature: Meet Author and Publisher Elissa Gabrielle

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.       elissagabrielle

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.

1-click for your Kindle today!







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.”
~L’Nora, Author

“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

ULR Feature: His – Love.com by Author Allyson M. Deese

About the Book       hislove

Laisha Bowman, a young woman of God who seems to have it all together, is missing only one thing… a man of God to share it with. Figuring what harm would it do, she logs on to His-Love.com.

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.

 Available Also on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel.com
allysonhappy holidays


Meet Allyson

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. 


ULR Feature: Meet Itchie-Mu

Author Muhammed “Itchie-Mu” Anwo is an urban fiction author and the co-founder of Street Dedication Publishing that he started with his co-partner Hakim Fleming. The first of six siblings, he quickly became involved with the streets at the age of 14, when his father, Muhammed Sr. was deported back to Africa due to a narcotic conviction. In 1990, Muhammad was sentenced to 15 years in the state penitentiary for several counts of arm robbery and aggravated assault at the age of 18.  itchiemu

After serving 6 years of the sentence he was released back to the streets, his raging heart at this point had a kind of numbness to it, and he was a lost soul just living life. With the combination of trying to survive along with the disappointment and grief in his heart, after finding out his sister and closest sibling Finah  Anwo died from a drug overdose at the young age of 18. This tragic turn of events truly marked his downward spiral forcing him to fall further into a dark pit.

Muhammad still had not learned his lesson. Addicted to his criminal behavior he carried those habits back behind the wall.  Muhammed ended up receiving more time, and pulling his youngest sister who had never been in trouble into the mix.  She received a year and a day in a Federal Prison for her involvement in his criminal activities. Muhammad became disgusted with himself, he had already gotten use to distorting his own life, but this time his family was suffering first hand from his foolishness.  While sitting in his cell, Muhammad began reading novels to pass time, and then he came across a book called “How to Write Novels and Screenplays” and was instantly inspired. He began writing novels to escape his reality and he was good at it.  He vowed that once released, he would never return.

Author Muhammad “Itchie-Mu” Anwo is currently working on a host of novels and screenplays and looking forward to working with other authors with the hope of turning their novels into screenplays as well.

“In life, for every action there’s a reaction. Everything happens for a reason; and most people make mistakes to become well known.” Therefore, Muhammad “Itchie-Mu” is content with learning and growing from all he has experienced.

Check out his latest book, Blood Stain (click here to purchase)


While awaiting a bond hearing, Rah-Rah is attacked in his cell by several Spanish gang members. After treatment for his wounds of war, Rah-Rah is moved to the medical floor in the county jail. That’s where he meets Venom, a known gang member from the Bronx in New York. Venom offers his resolution to not only Rah-Rah’s problem with non-black gangs, but a resolution for all blacks in New Jersey in regards to the cards being stacked against them.

After learning the history of the Blood gang movement, Rah-Rah takes Venom up on his offer to rep’ that red in Dirty Jerz. People began embracing the movement looking for that feeling of family love and bonds. Some understood the movement, and others had a hidden agenda for their new found power. In due time, murder, betrayal, and other acts of violence flood the streets of Newark, and surrounding cities.

The robbery attempt and shooting of the Mayor’s family member, and the slaying of two off-duty police officers elicits an intense fury from local and higher authorities. Because of their rage, you will see how the government uses and excuses collateral damage when they feel they are at war. Take a ride with Itchie Mu and read all about how life in the hood goes with no holds-barred.

Keep in touch w/ Itchie MU

FB: Itchie- Mu

Instagram @ Itchie- Mu

Twitter @ Itchie- Mu


Writing Is My Life w/ Eartha Watts- Hicks

Written by: Sheri Harrigan

Eartha Watts-Hicks is the founder of Earthatone Enterprises and Earthatone Books, an imprint of Earthatone Enterprises, LLC. She has designed and published titles for herself and others, including Miriam Kelly Ferguson. She has also lead self publishing workshops, writing, and publicity workshops for the New York City Parks Department, the National Writers Union, Project Enterprise, and other not for profits. Eartha Watts-Hicks is author of Love Changes, as well as a songwriter, music publisher, and member of ASCAP. A writing fellow of the Center for Black Literature and the North Country Institute, in June of 2013, Eartha Watts-Hicks received the Just R.E.A.D. ‘literary game changers’ Award by the NYCHA branch of the NAACP and was named a 2013 NAACP ambassador for literacy. Love Changes is available on Amazon.com, BN.com, Esspresson.net, Ondemandbooks.com, NYU Bookstore, Sisters Uptown Bookstore, select Barnes & Noble locations, The New York Public Library System, and is also available in Kindle. Eartha Watts-Hicks was featured in the New York Amsterdam News, FAN Magazine, January Magazine, Harlem World Magazine, NAACP Radio, and the Mothership Connection Show on Time Warner Cable Television Channel 57. She has also been accepted to present Love Changes at the Author’s Pavilion of this year’s Congressional Black Caucus.


I had the pleasure to speak to Eartha about her book. Her book was recommended to me in a book group. Once I started reading the book, Love Changes, I couldn’t put it down. Eartha did a great job as a new author breaking into the business. I truly admire an author who is professional and takes their craft as seriously as I do.
I present you all Ms. Eartha Watts-Hicks

Sheri: Tell me a little about yourself and your literary background?

Eartha: To start from the very beginning, I took my first writing classes when I was about eleven years old. I studied poetry and journal writing. I started writing songs (a long-time hobby) when I was around thirteen, so my brain almost automatically cues in to rhyme patterns. In 2001, I started writing Love Changes, believing that I could “teach myself” how to write fiction by checking out library books and complete said novel in three months time. That didn’t happen. Three years later, I took my first writing workshop at the Frederic Douglas Creative Arts Center here in New York. I completed my first draft a little over a year later. The merit of the first draft won me acceptance into quite a few competitive writing programs and in some cases, I was awarded scholarships. These organizations were instrumental in helping me to develop as a writer. I am now a fiction fellow through the Center for Black Literature, a past Hurston/Wright Foundation workshop participant, and a member of the Harlem Writers Guild. I recently won the award for literary in fiction from the N.Y.C.H.A. branch of the NAACP and was named NAACP literacy ambassador.

Sheri: What are your goals for your writing career?

Eartha: My initial goal was to write “positive” books. But I’ve learned that in aiming for “positive,” my work takes on so many layers. There are elements to it that are spiritual, developmental, professional, how-to tips and tricks, mathematical, musical, poetic, as I try to emulate who “we’ were in my generation—brown, brilliant, aspiring, proud, despite our insecurities. And I laid it all out as best I could.

Sheri: What have you written?

Eartha: My debut novel is entitled Love Changes. I have a song catalogue. My song, “Baby You’re the Only One 4 Me” is actually from the Love Changes companion soundtrack. I also blog all over, mostly for Harlem World Magazine.   lovechangesnew

Sheri: What are you working on now?

Eartha: I am now working on the sequel Chocolate Love, as well as a couple of other titles. And I have a collection of poems, short stories, anecdotes, and reflections that I have been growing.

Sheri: Why did you decide to become an author?

Eartha: I had aspirations of being a songwriter. Trying to break into that business was no easy endeavor (to be interpreted as an almost impossible ordeal). Writing and self-publishing was my way of taking control and making things happen.

Sheri: Why do you write?

Eartha: I write because I love to write. I have a strange sense of humor, so there were many times I just had to jot my golden nuggets of observation down to remember them. Writing is second nature to me, as well as my “feel good” space. It is my hobby, passion, expression, and for me, it’s an absolute necessity.

Sheri: Do you write full-time or part-time?

Eartha: That is hard to say definitively, because even when I am not putting pen to pad or fingers to keyboard, my wheels are still spinning.

Sheri: Where do your ideas come from?

Eartha: Everywhere, art, music, work, life, people, human nature, the sky. I try to capture everything beautiful, typical and/or atypical. Anything that tickles my fancy gets scribbled.

Sheri: What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

Eartha: For me, that would be the intimidating blank screen. And trying to forge ahead without peeking at what was already written.

Sheri: What was/is the hardest thing about writing your newest book?

Eartha: Chocolate Love is written in the first person from the Romell character’s perspective. Romell is a twenty-six year old, ambitious, ladies man, who is extremely flirtatious and has a preference for “exotic” women. This story takes place in the mid-nineties. My struggle has been writing in male voice, keeping him true to who he is, without my female self censoring and passing judgment. I, as the writer, have to allow him to be and grow through his mistakes. Whereas, me-the-woman and “black woman” would have told him about himself. My struggle has also been writing this story that takes place in 1995, maintaining a real sense of nostalgia while keeping it “fresh” but not dated or clichéd.

Sheri: How long on does it take you to write a book?

Eartha: I am still not sure. Love Changes took me over 10 years to write and finally publish. Since 2005, I had had editors and literary professional urging me, encouraging me, and even scolding me to find an agent and publish it NOW. At the time, it still felt like it needed work to me, like it needed to be sharpened. I wasn’t ready to let it go.

Sheri: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Eartha: I try everything and if that doesn’t work, I find something new. I read books on the craft, listen to music, do something my characters would do, everything. I even use charts to help me visualize.

Sheri: Do you read much? Who are your favorite authors?
Eartha: I used to be an avid reader. I now dissect and study books. My favorite fiction authors now are Bernice McFadden, Zora Neal Hurston, Jamaica Kincaid, Chris Abani, Dorothy Allison, Marsha Hunt for her title “Joy,” Omar Tyree, E. Lynn Harris, Travis Hunter, Terri McMillan, and so many others.

Sheri: What book/s are you reading at present?

Eartha: I am currently reading Profit with Purpose by Teneshia Jackson Warner. It is a very good book on marketing.

Sheri: Shout out your editor! Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?

Eartha:  My editor is Grace F. Edwards. I was in her novel writing workshop when she agreed to take me on. She has been creative writing professor at several institutions and she is African American. She helped me maintain the essence of my characters, and make the content grammatically correct, without sacrificing voice. That was important to me. My characters are educated but originally from the projects. Ms. Edwards was wonderful in helping to keep them true to life without being stiff. I must also shout out my copy editors, Monica West and Femi Lewis Usanga.

Sheri: Shout out your graphic designer! Who designed your book cover/s?

Eartha: I design my own book covers and interior layout. The sketch work was drawn by an artist I met here in Manhattan named Aleksey Moroz. I manipulated the images myself.

Sheri: Are you self-published or signed to a publisher?

Eartha: I am self-published.

Sheri: What do you do to market your books?

Eartha: I market on social media, through readings and events, vending, radio, print media, blogs, guest blogging, email campaigns. I try every day I can, when I have the time and energy to do so.

Sheri: What are your thoughts on reviews?

Eartha: Having gone through the workshop experience for so long, my attitude had been the worst feedback is none at all. So, I can critique a work backwards and forwards. It is different with reviews. I do not like giving reviews, unless I really enjoy a book. As a creative, I know how personal our work is to us and how much focus it takes to see it through.

Sheri: Which social network works best for your marketing?

Eartha: I like Facebook but I am waiting for the numbers to come in to actually see what working best for me.

Sheri: In what formats is your book available?

Eartha: Love Changes is available as a paperback and Kindle.

Sheri: What advice would you give to new and upcoming writers?

Eartha: I would tell aspiring writer to keep studying the craft, by reading books like Bird by Bird and Walking on Alligators, and just write it before you try to fix it. Get the whole story out of you and then go back and edit.

Sheri: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Eartha: They can find me on my website, http://www.earthatone.com. I am on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/earthawattshicks.lovechanges and on Twitter and Instagram @Earthatone

Purchase Love Changes Now!

The 21st Century Black Woman w/ Author Renee Wallace

Get the first four chapters of “The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson” for only $2.00 today! The money goes to promotion and marketing costs for the novel. Support the youth. Remember, the author of this article is only 17! :)


“Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.”

– Ayn Rand, “The Fountainhead”

One of the beauties of life is how vastly things change over a set period of time. Trends change every minute and we get technological advancements seemingly every month. However, social behavior is something that drastically changes as the years wear on. We don’t carry ourselves or interact with each other like our parents or grandparents did before us. Our circumstances are different from theirs. The world as a whole is different!

Societal behaviors have always interested me. Maybe it’s my natural inclination as a writer but I’ve always had a habit of studying the people around me and taking note of how they act and react to different things. One societal group that has gone through a drastic change over the decades is black women. The adverse circumstances that many in the African-American community face from our current broken family structure to the backlash of living in a ruthless world altogether has created a new generation of females I like to call the “21st Century Black Woman”.

The new, 21st Century Black Woman is strong, sexy, intelligent, resourceful, business minded and aggressive when it comes to what she’s passionate about.  Their sheer courage, independence and will power is incredibly attractive to many men but comes off as pent up aggression and exuded masculinity. Because of this, many black women of this generation tend to have a rough time finding partners that they’re compatible with.

The true 21st Century Black Woman is rarely ever embodied in black literature for some reason. Instead, she’s replaced with a ghetto, over-sexualized, attitudinal, self-hating, loud mouth caricature that perpetuates the worst stereotypes you can name. I tried to fight the negative propaganda and tell a true narrative in my novel The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson. Author Renee Wallace also highlights the brilliance and the struggle of the 21st Century Black Woman in her novel In Pursuit Of Joi. Recently, I talked to her about the novel and other relationship based topics concerning black women today.


Randall:  How did the novel In Pursuit Of Joi come about?

Renee Wallace: In Pursuit of Joi is a story about a woman, Joi McIntosh, who is perceived as a modern day Superwoman. Most people know a “Joi” or someone like her. She is, by most peoples standards, living the America dream. She has own business. She’s independent, happily married, awesome as a mother, and everyone’s sister-friend. She juggles all of her duties well simply because she is expected to. She is a success because she has to be. It is all on the surface, but she is forced to dig deeper when she meets a woman named Latoya Bradshaw.

Randall: Is there a real life motivation behind the story?

Renee Wallace: For me, there was because the characters involved are parts of me. In many ways, I was a “Joi McIntosh” as well as a “Latoya Bradshaw”. And there are many other woman who have gone through something similar to what occurs within the pages of this book. Though it is a work of fiction, I’m also telling someone’s story.

In Pursuit Of Joi Randall: Black women of the 21st Century are strong, intelligent, career oriented, well-  educated and  fiercely define themselves as independent. However, we find many black  women in situations where  the relationships fall apart because of the qualities mentioned  above. What’s your take on this?

 Renee Wallace: The best way that I can answer this is by countering with a question. At  what  point does it become too much? There is such a beauty in being intelligent,  career oriented,  educated, independent, and strong. However, there is also the pressure  that comes along with it  all. Women are often expected to be superwomen, so we follow  suit. We tend do what is expected  of us. Not only that, we tend to push ourselves harder in  order to exceed expectations. But at what  expense? Sometimes we get so determined to be  the “Alpha Woman” that we forget that we are  also soft and vulnerable and prone to make  mistakes. It can sometimes affect our relationships,  romantic and otherwise.

  Am I saying that women should be pansies? NOT AT ALL! However, we don’t have to  always be so  fiercely set on being independent that we no longer value things like  chivalry, protection,  companionship, or having a mate who can and will pick up our slack.

Randall: What does it take to bring balance to a relationship?

Renee Wallace: Honesty. The willingness to work towards better understanding of one another. Communication. Being one another’s strength. Being friends, having a sense of humor, and not being afraid to be vulnerable with one another.

Randall: Do you believe that there is a place in the current black literary market for fiction that has an overt message and tackles real world issues?

Renee Wallace: Oh yes! There is definitely a market for it. There is a need for it. The Black literary industry is meant to entertain, educate, and open the minds of readers. There are things that aren’t being discussed that should be. There are dialogs that need to be approached and books and magazine, and blogs are a gateway for it all.

Randall: In your opinion, do relationship stability and success correlate with each other?

Renee Wallace: Relationship stability and success are not mutually exclusive. You can definitely have one without the other.  However, life is so much better if you are fortunate enough to have them both.

Randall: What upcoming projects do you have on the horizon?

Renee Wallace: My next project is Foolish Pursuits. It is the follow-up to In Pursuit of Joi and it is a story about the consequences of actions that people take when they act out of emotion.  It is also a story about growth and learning to let go of things that hold you back from happiness and peace. It is told from the perspective of Latoya Bradshaw who is introduced in In Pursuit of Joi. I also have a book of short stories in the works for 2014 and more works for 2015.

Randall Barnes: By the time this article is published, it will be read by many young people. What is your message to them?

Renee Wallace: Don’t give up on your dream. If it is your passion, it is what you are meant to do. Don’t let anyone else determine your value. Don’t be afraid to dream big and don’t be afraid to have more than one! Failures are a part of life; let it motivate you. It’s okay to falter, but as long as you keep trying, you are not defeated. Always find at least one reason each day to smile. And never measure your standard of success by somebody else’s.

Randall: Where can we find you?

Renee Wallace: You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ReneeWallaceBooks, Instagram @skorpionlady77 and on Twitter @LivWallace. You can email me at foreverredbooks@gmail.com. I love to hearing from readers and writers. I love meeting new people and I look forward to hearing from lovers of literature!


Order Pursuit Of Joi and Renee’s other books on Amazon today!




We came, we saw, we conquered! My debut publishing effort “Riverview High: Circumstances” reached #6 on the Amazon charts! Check it out for free for a limited time on Amazon today. Don’t forget to leave a review!


Want more of Brianna, Maury and the Hendersons? Part 2 is available on Amazon as well!


“The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson” is dropping this month!

Read The Pre-Release Preview: https://payhip.com/b/DhLU 

Preorder Now: http://www.amazon.com/Diary-Aaliyah-Anderson-Randall-Barnes/dp/0988762196/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404822785&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Diary+Of+Aaliyah+Anderson


Do you have any questions, comments or concerns? Was I right or wrong on this issue? I would love to hear from you! Contact me directly at:

Email: thediaryofaaliyahanderson@gmail.com

Kik: @AuthorRandallB

Ask.Fm: @YoungandGiftedBooks

Twitter: @AuthorRandallB

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/randall.barnes.501



Writing is a very important part of my life. When it comes to new authors, I take a very special interest in them. I was interested to find out more about, Shawn Corey, because he works as a team with his wife. I was happy to sit down with the duo and get to know the authors behind the pen.

Shawn Corey (pen name) is a 31 year old black male who, at the age of 18, caught 15 years back in 2001. His release date isn’t until summer 2015. Basically, he uses writing as a way to keep from sitting by wasting time and opportunity. He doesn’t have much of a literary background, other than the fact that he was born to write and that he loves and lives to do it.

Dorian Stevens a.k.a. “Shante” is a 28 year old female who’d, had a thing for Shawn since they were kids, and so she took a leap of faith and married the man of her dreams. She was an All-American basketball player who, due to injury, stopped playing sports and now coaches instead. She too doesn’t have much of a literary background, other than the fact that She and Shawn used to write short stories to each other, envisioning their life after his release, and talking about the things they’d experienced. From that, this dynamic duo  decided to weave their ideas into books. This is their story:
Sheri: Where do your ideas come from?

Shawn and Dorian: A lot of times we just think them up using personal experiences of our own or someone else’s. Maybe we’ll come across something we read and take another angle at it. Mostly, though, our stories are close to us, simple life experiences embellished to the point of interest. Things that everyday people can relate to.

Sheri: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Shawn and Dorian: We deal with writer’s block, like we deal with all haters; ignore them! If we get stuck with writing, we move on to the next part of the book mentally, because, and we think this is normal, most of our books are written in our heads first, chapter by chapter, before we put it on paper. Of course, I don’t mean word for word, but the foundation more or less. We’re constantly discussing ideas of what we feel will grab reader’s attention.

Sheri: What are your thoughts on reviews?

Shawn and Dorian: We’re motivated by both good and bad reviews (though we haven’t had a bad review yet). As artists/authors it’s normal for us to be a bit sensitive about our work and we are to a degree. Because our work is a reflection of us, we feel that if you don’t like our work, then you don’t like us. I doubt most people think that way, it’s just our train of thought, we use that to remain motivated.

Sheri: What are your goals for your writing career?


Shawn and Dorian: We want to be ‘That Author/Artist;’ the crème dele crème of the urban fiction game.

Sheri: What are you working on now?

Shawn and Dorian: A suspense thriller entitled “Hello Luv” and it’s kicking our ass. However, with so many urban stories being the same (not knocking anybody) we try to challenge ourselves to stick out a little bit. The finish product will be worth it though, it’s not as fast paced as most urbans, but the ending will justify the means. We are also working on a two-part book entitled “Death Struck Vol.1” and this book is going to be powerful.

Sheri: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your literacy background?
Shawn and Dorian: We are a husband and wife team, who married November 22, 2011.

Sheri: Do you read much? Who are your favorite authors?

Shawn and Dorian: We don’t read as much as we used to, because at one point in time, there were a lot of bad stories out there. The last book we read was Kia Payne’s Paper, Promises, & Punishment 1&2 and they were very good books. Ashley Antoinette & Ja’Quavis Coleman are good, Kia Payne, Sista Soulja; that’s about it.

Sheri: What’s the hardest thing about writing for you?

Shawn and Dorian: Because Shawn is in prison he doesn’t have a laptop, cpu…he literally writes everything, and he says it can be painful, at times, to try and meet our personal deadlines. It’s often a struggle; sending mail back and forth, things being rejected by the prison, post office late on deliveries, etc…We get it done though. We don’t accept excuses, therefore we don’t give any.

The authors can be reached at facebook.com/shantestevens & facebook.com/collie.stevens.7




Sheri Henry-Harrigan started writing at the age of twelve as an outlet for depression. In March 2012 her first project Tales of the Broken Hearted was published. Since then she has penned several titles. She started writing strictly urban fiction. Her most recent work, The Imperfect Love Series is more geared toward the romance genre. As she continues on with her writing career, she plans to move into the crime fiction and thriller genres. Besides writing she is pursing her other passion of becoming a lawyer. Sheri lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.