Tag Archives: literary spotlight

Moral Entertainment w/ Pastor Jonathan Sanders

Written by Ta’Mara Nicole

There is a very delicate balance between spirituality and entertainment. It is extremely difficult to give the world what it wants, from a spiritual view point, in a time where it seems like violence, sex, and drama is what we tune in for every week. As a Christian, I would be lying if I said that I don’t indulge in a safe amount of reality TV. However, I can confidently say that many of these women are not the type of model that I would like to personally portray. However, who we are at home, are who we are period. Some can model the perfect mask, yet the thing about masks is that they eventually have to come off! My point is this, in a world full of strife and temptations, it sometimes seems next to impossible to model our lives completely after Jesus, especially when each day seems to birth an elaborate plot to bring these unrighteous characteristics out of us.




About Pastor Jonathan Sanders

Jonathan K. Sanders is the Pastor of the Victory Deliverance Church in Columbus Ohio. He also is the founder of Victorious Living Ministries and overseer of the International Evangelistic department for the Victory Deliverance Church, Inc. His evangelism spans the United States, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Guyana, and Canada. An international preacher and motivational speaker, Sanders’ profound yet practical delivery of the Word has transformed the lives of thousands. Sanders obtained a bachelor’s degree in theology from Lighthouse Christian College in Beebe, Arkansas. He has also received a bachelors of science in psychology from the University of Phoenix. He is now pursuing his master’s degree in counseling. He has two sons who attend college in Florida.




The Anatomy Of An Award Winning Novel w/Elissa Gabrielle

“Great, big, serious novels always get awards. If it’s a battle between a great, big, serious novel and a funny novel, the funny novel is doomed.”

Neil Gaiman

In the creative and athletic community there’s always been a never ending debate about the importance of awards, milestones and accolades to the success and viability of a career. Because of this debate seeds of doubt have been placed in the heads of various musicians, authors, filmmakers and athletes around the world. If a novel doesn’t hit the New York Times bestsellers list, can it be considered legendary and game-changing? If a player isn’t a part of a championship team in the NBA or NFL do they deserve to be heralded as one of the game’s greats?

As public figures in this current generation, we all long for love and support from legions of dedicated fans. When we don’t achieve these goals, our insecurities start to manifest themselves. Art, at its base form, was an outlet for artistic expression. The concept of commercialism has instead left us with a diluted form of art only made for monetary gain. How far have we progressed as a society when even the tools we use to craft our voice and define ourselves become dictated by the ruthless public court of opinion?

The above fact doesn’t mean that winning an award for your body of work isn’t an impressive feat. In fact, it can make careers and cement you as a legend in your particular field. As a rookie in the publishing world, I only wish to see The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson and my other novels celebrated and given the highest honors in the literary community. But how would I go about doing that? Is it an uphill battle? Is there something that I need to do differently or am I on the right track?

ElissaGabrielleBronzeHeadshotRecently I spoke with Elissa Gabrielle, an award-winning author and entrepreneur in her own right. Peace In The Storm Publishing, her company, took home the best independent publishing house award at the African-American Literary Awards ceremony from 2009 to 2011. She also won the self-published author of the year award for her novel A Whisper To A Scream and In The Heat Of The Night. Not to mention that her story The Other Side Of Midnight was featured in the Zane’s Busy Bodies: Chocolate Flava 4 anthology. She imparted her knowledge about the publishing industry and the true importance of an award to your author platform.

Randall:  In your opinion, what differentiates an award-winning novel from others in its same genre?

Elissa Gabrielle: The difference lies in the attention to quality story telling. Awards are given in the literary field for varying reasons; but in order to be considered for an award—no matter what category the award is given in—the measurement of literary excellence boils down to the ability to tell a good story. For some awards, that is based solely on book sales; and in others, it equates to the quality of the words and the mental visual connection made with a reader. Award-winning novels are the ones that go the extra mile beyond others in its genre. Award-winning novels are the ones that, in one form or another, form a bond with a reader beyond the minimum, the average, or the norm.

Randall: What makes a novel an award winner, the content or the high consumer visibility?

Elissa Gabrielle: First and foremost, any award given to an author is an honor; the recognition alone signifies something of importance. The yard stick used to measure its worth is decided by the one giving the award; but from the recipient’s point of view, the honor lies solely in receiving the recognition for their work. Whether the award is given based on content or book sales, it still is an honor bestowed upon a writer that has stepped beyond other books in the same genre. Whether by content of the words published, or by the ability to make readers yearn for those words at a volume that surpasses others in the form of books sold, the virtue of an award winner lies not solely in content or volume, but in the ability to cultivate the craft of writing to an extent that it becomes noteworthy by others.

Keep in mind, I have no agent, or a publicist, and I am an independent and I’m not signed to a major publishing house. Everything that has been done for me and my writing career has come from blood, sweat, years, tears and overcoming fears. Having said that, I don’t believe I fall into the category of high consumer visibility because of those reasons stated, therefore I can only rely on the quality of content I provide to my readers. It means a lot to me, to have the respect of the people who take the time out of their lives to read my work. I must honor the craft.


Randall: Building off of the previous question, should an author go for the acclaim that writing an award winning novel garners or the monetary gain and commercial success that a bestselling novel brings you?

Elissa Gabrielle: While all authors or most at least, desire the fame and fortune dreamed of in the realm of being an award winning or best-selling author, the true acclaim that should be sought by an author is in using their God-given talent to its full potential to the best of their ability. Our rewards as authors should come in doing what we were created to do. Acclamation should just be a bonus. When we focus on the Zane anthology (resized)gift of writing like it should be done, all of the other things will naturally fall into place. The focus should be on the craft…not in the prize. Additionally, expectation is usually the root of all heartache. If you put yourself in a situation like that, you could be disappointed and then you make the work about the awards and acclaim and not about the work itself. I try not to have those expectations.

Randall:  An author now has an award-winning novel in his portfolio. What should be their next move?

Elissa Gabrielle: To continue to write. And to write with substance and quality. An author should use the awards and titles given to them to promote themselves because they can be beneficial in helping them market themselves as a brand…but that title should never be an excuse to procrastinate, become lackadaisical in their writing skills or to become content in their status concerning their craft. Every author is only as good as their latest novel/book/story. A true author should learn how to use awards and recognition to promote the latest novel in a way that it is not their last. Certainly add it to your literary resume and line of achievements but I live by the motto that I take my work, but never myself too seriously.


Randall: What other projects do you have coming up?

Elissa Gabrielle: So grateful to have two novels releasing in 2015, in addition to a short story series and anthology collaboration.

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

Elissa Gabrielle: If I could turn back the hands of time and talk to a younger version of myself, knowing what I know now…I would remind myself that dreaming big is the only type of dreaming that should be done. Failure is not the end of anything…it is only the beginning. Success is not a ceiling; it is an opening for more to come. We are only as big as our egos and as little as our self-imposed limitations, and at the end of the day…we should never take either too seriously. All we should do is dare to dream.

You can keep up with Elissa Gabrielle at:










We came, we saw, we conquered! My debut publishing effort “Riverview High: Circumstances” reached #2 on the Amazon charts! Check it out on Amazon today. Don’t forget to leave a review!


“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


The Landscape Of Urban Fiction w/Author Nisha Lanae

“To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author.”

Charles Caleb Colton

In the subsector of business, things change. The landscape of the particular industry you’re in diversifies  into the future and competition starts to get incredibly steep. How do you make your creative work stand out above the rest of the crowd? In the midst of the trauma and  agony of your fight to be successfully self-employed, how do you keep your sanity? These are two of the many questions that plague authors in the current over saturated urban fiction landscape.

Recently I got a chance to speak with author Nisha Lanae, one of the genre’s unsung success stories, about moving and shaking in the industry as a new author and rising above the competition. Her answers were brief, but also very informative. New authors should most definitely take note!

Randall: As an author, what’s your take on urban fiction today?

Nisha Lanae: It’s a constant change. I was 15 years old when I decided I wanted to write urban fiction, I have seen so many changes within the genre.  From that time, until I published a book at 23. It’s still my number one genre to read, but I think these days we as authors in the urban fiction literary world are catching a lot of flak, for the nonsense and changes going on. Like everything, changes are going to happen, some for the good, and some for the bad. It’s up to us to stand, make a pack and demand changes we want to see, and I think that’s where “WE” as authors are lacking. We are lacking in coming together, and being the force to make urban fiction greater than it is.

Randall: How do you make your novels stand out from the competition?

Nisha Lanae: I give them my all. I write from my heart, and stories I would like to read. In today’s time, so many people are worried about competing and fitting in, rather than just being them. I write to entertain, aspire, inspire and to tell great stories.

Randall: Many skeptics and critics consider the sub-genre of street fiction as the proverbial bastard child of African-American literature and artistic expression. What’s your take on this?

Nisha Lanae: I  don’t feel that way. We are no different than a rapper, rapping about their struggle. Some of them haven’t lived that life, but maybe someone close to them has. We are no different than a writer who writes plays, moves or broadways or actress who put a visual aspect to the writer words. We just choose to express our creative thoughts on paper, in a storyline. Contrary to what people think, those stories relate to everyday life that people go through, and nine times out of ten there is always a message convoyed to the readers.

Randall: What other projects do you have coming up?

Nisha Lanae: I have a few collaboration projects coming up with some talent writers, as well as a few of my own.

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

Nisha Lanae: My advice is to always remain true to you, and your goals in life. I don’t care what someone thinks of them, if it’s something you want to do, work hard for it, and do it. A lot of times people tend to down talk your dreams, goals or aspirations in life, because they were too afraid to live out there’s. I was always told there is never a dream too big to achieve. Set your mind on achieving it, and work every day towards it.

You can find Nisha at:

Facebook: Nisha Lanae

Instagram and Instagram: Pendiva_Nisha

Email: Author.NishaLanae@yahoo.com

Website: WWW.NishaLanae.com



The cover to my novel, The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson. It’s due to come out in late October. You can preoder now at:




Get the first four chapters for only $2.00 today! The money goes to promotion and marketing costs for the novel.


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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

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From Surviving to Thriving w/ Beverly Smith


People love to spew inspirational phrases about adversity. They love to talk about how it builds character. How it reveals character,and how it enhances success and progress. For some, those phrases are more than just hollow and vapid cliches. It’s the toughest strand in the fabric of their lives.

For author Beverly Smith, her adversity  fueled her  desire  and motivated her to create her own world.     beverly


Born and raised in Southeast Washington DC, Smith experienced the gamut of negative circumstances-from homlessness to domestic violence, Smith has endured it , but now she took that negativity  and turned it into success.  Three years ago, she released her debut novel ” He Kept Me”, a powerful and soul gripping story about a young woman’s struggle through the streets of DC.  After releasing her novel, Smith went on to establish “Momma’s Safe Haven”, a foundation that offers a bridge of support to those in need of resources to help improve their lives and two businesses.

Recently, I spoke with Smith about her book, some of her favorite things and what’s next  on the horizon for this dynamic woman.



Jannelle: Your book, “He Kept Me” has been out for three years and has received great reviews. For those who aren’t familiar with the book, fill readers in on the theme of the story. Tell them what makes the story “pop”. How does it resonate with your audience? What makes it a great read?

Beverly: The theme of my book is ” My Testimony  straight no chaser!”  What makes it pop is the rawness of the real life situations, representing DC, and landmarks in the city. It resonates with my audience through struggle, This is for  people who have been through the fire. It’s a great read because there is a never a dull moment. It is definitely a page turner that will have you on a emotional roller coaster.

Jannelle: You have a foundation called Momma’s Safe Haven. What kind of projects and programs that your foundation spearhead?

Beverly: At Momma’s Safe Haven, we promote self love, higher education and self employment. We have ‘DC Youth has talent’, which is a program for the youth to display their talents while keeping them engaged. We had our first annual Show in February at  the Benning Park Rec Center.  Currently, we are in the planning process for our 2nd annual showcase. We  also have a program called “Never Give Up”.It is a three hour work shop on wheels. The workshop consist of me sharing my story through my book, encouraging a purge through a writing session, a vision board, letting go of guilt and shame.


Jannelle:  Some foundations sell products and take a percentages of the proceeds to support the the foundations or initiatives etc. Are some of your book sales funding “Momma’s Safe Haven”? If not, is it in the cards for the future?

Beverly:Yes! Momma’s Safe Haven  has several sponsors that help fund our events. Some of the proceeds from “He Kept Me”, D&B Handyman Service, and B’s Natural Products just to name a few. I believe it’s very important to maintain a great relationship with those who are heading in the same direction as you.

Jannelle: What inspired you to take on the publishing world?

Beverly:  I was inspired by pain that was eating me alive! I had to get it out. The purging was great and I knew it had to do something with the strength that I had gained from believing in God. I was inspired by wanting to help someone else who has experienced any of the things that I have been through.

Jannelle:  You are a DV survivor and many people always talk about leaving the situation. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. What steps did you take to escape your situation?

Beverly: Yes I am a DV survivor and yes for me it was easier said than done. My strength to leave came when I gave birth to my second child my 12 grade year at Cardozo High School. I knew in order for me to provide for my children I had to leave the abuse. The first step for me was when I started to love myself more than I loved him and suddenly my fear of what happen if I left turned into what would happen had I stayed.

Jannelle: What advice do you have for women and even men who are victims of Domestic Violence?

Beverly:  My advice to anyone who are victims of DV is to tell a loved one  and talk to someone who you can trust. Leave them  (the abusers) alone They will never be worth your time because love doesn’t hurt! Love nurtures, caress, protect. Self love is key! I have a support group on my website and you can call DV Hotline 1-800-799-7233.

Jannelle: Describe your writing process for “He Kept Me” ? What was your writing schedule like? How did you deal with writer’s block if you had any?

Beverly: I purged when I wrote my book. I was unemployed, attending Ashford University studying on line for my BA in ECE Administration and I was also studying spanish with Rosetta Stone. So my schedule was pretty flexible. I  moved about an hour away from my family so I had plenty of peace and quiet. No i didn’t have to deal writers’ block. I feel writers’ block is just fear. It took me four months to write my book from beginning to end.

Jannelle: What do you find the most rewarding? Your book or your foundation? Are they equally rewarding? Or are they rewarding in different ways?

Beverly: They are both equally rewarding in different ways. My book is so personal and it draws others who has been hurt. My organization focuses on the healing process from the pain.

Jannelle: I have a few either or questions for you as well.

Jannelle: Paperback or Ebook?

Beverly: Paperback.

Jannelle: Online or Stores?

Beverly: Stores.

Jannelle: Early Bird or Night Owl?

Beverly: Early Bird

Jannelle: Country or City?

Beverly:  City.

Jannelle: Mall or Boutique?

Beverly: Mall.

Jannelle: Dress Up or Dress Down?

Beverly: Dress Up.

Jannelle: Money or Fame?

Beverly: Money.

Jannelle: What is next for you? Please give us some links to where we can learn more about you and your projects.

Beverly: I  have a short film titled  “Still I Rise”.  It’s  a ten minute movie inspired by Dr. Maya Angelou’s  poem. I entered it into a contest and won!! We finished filming my movie in July and it will premiere in the Fall! Stay tuned!

You can pick up “He Kept Me” on Amazon now and don’t forget to leave reviews.


Check out Beverly’s  ” Momma’s Save Haven” as well


About the author

Jannelle is the author of “Wild Cards” “Thirst”, “Thirst II”, and “Love’s Hangover” and is a fresh voice in African-American fiction, spending time on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for two of her four titles. She’s also a freelance journalist. Her DC Bookdiva Debut, “Uppity” will be released in November, and is available for pre-order now at http://www.dcbookdiva.com




Website: http://www.jannelle.net
Twitter: @jannelle12
Instagram: writerdiva
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jannelle1

Talking Just To Be Talking

Many people run their mouths and don’t mean half the shit they say. And then there are those like K Sherrie.

This interview is a special one to me. When I first became acquainted with K Sherrie she was an aspiring author. We met in a Facebook group called Sisters into reading/Reviewing Book club where she is an administrator. Upon meeting, K Sherrie expressed interest in joining my Facebook group for Aspiring Authors. I added her to the group and she asked questions and participated in discussions. After talking to her, and assisting her with anything that I could, she has now accomplished her goal of publishing her first book.


K Sherrie is now working on Queen of DC: The Middle which is due out on Sept. 20th. While also working on a project titled Some People Were Made For Each Other. I am indeed so proud of this young lady for all of her hard work and diligence. It’s my pleasure to be able to present to others this great new author. Meet KSherrie.

Sheri: What have you written?
K Sherrie: I released my first book Queen of DC on June 24th of this year. I also have a somewhat weekly blog titled Journey Into My Mind where I just share my thoughts on everything via my website and Facebook page.

Sheri: What are you working on now?
KSherrie: I’m currently working on part 2 of the Queen of DC Trilogy and part 1 of Some People Were Made For Each Other.

Sheri: Do you write full-time or part-time
K Sherrie: Part-Time.  I’m patiently waiting for the day that I am able to write full -time, but until that day comes……I gotta make the doughnuts

Sheri: Where does your ideas come from?
K Sherrie: Life. I take stories or scenarios that I have witnessed or been apart of and use them as my starting point, and from there I let my vivid imagination take flight.

Sheri: How do you deal with writer’s block?
K Sherrie: I disengage.  I will completely remove myself from a project for a week or so. I stop reading and just try to relax and enjoy life.  Once I feel enough time has passed, I revisit the project.

Sheri: Do you read much?  who are your favorite authors ?
KSherrie: A LOT.  I try to commit myself to at least 1 book per week, Sometimes I find myself reading more. My favorites are Jason Poole, Sa’id Salaam, T Styles, Mike O, Eric Jerome Dickey, and of course MYSELF.

Sheri: What book/s are you reading at present?
K Sherrie: I just wrapped up Devil in the Pulpit by K Marquelle…. and I’m getting ready to dive back into Facebook Chronicles series by Mike O since the final chapter is now out.

Sheri: Shout out your editor! Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
K Sherrie: My editor is a close friend of mine name JP. She wants to get into the world of editing and asked me to take a chance on her and I did.  We are jumping off the porch together with this one.

Sheri: Shout out your graphic designer!Who designed your book cover/s?
K Sherrie: Gabrielle Prendenhaust. I came across her work via a post on FB, sent her an email and things took off from there. Www.coveryourdreams.net

Sheri: What are your thoughts on reviews?
K Sherrie: I think HONEST reviews are important. I’ve just put out my first book and I NEED honest reviews.  I don’t feel I, or any other author, can truly grow as a writer, if people only tell us what we want to hear, or hold back true feelings because of what the outcome could be. I want reviews and I want them honest. If you love my work tell me so and WHY. If you hate it, tell me so and WHY.

Sheri: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
K Sherrie: I’m on Facebook what feels like 24 hours a day. You can catch up with me via my promo page at http://www.facebook.com/ksherrie202 Or hanging out in my favorite facebook group “Sisters into reading/reviewing bookclub” I recently joined twitter…still getting used to it so bare with me. @KSherrie2014 is my Twitter name. My email is KSherrie2014@gmail.com


Purchase her latest release, Queen of DC now!

Sheri 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 obtaining her Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing . Sheri lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.