Tag Archives: relationships

Literary Spotlight: Homie, Lover, Friend by Shawn Thompson


H.L.F. Final Cover


2017 is starting off with authors dropping phenomenal books and Shawn Thompson’s newest work is no different! His novel Homie, Lover, Friend is a contemporary look at the relationships of real people with real issues. He touches on the issues of homosexuality, black hypersexuality and the hardships of a working woman. If the storyline doesn’t sound like Being Mary Jane and Empire rolled into one! I got a chance to talk with Shawn Thompson about the novel and all the tantalizing storylines.

What inspired you to write Homie, Lover Friend?

My novel “Homie. Lover. Friend.” was inspired by events in my own life regarding love and relationships as well as the actual song that was created by R. Kelly in the 90’s. My goal was to depict what life is like for twenty somethings in the world we live in today. Being in my twenties, I have gained experience in the art of love and loss, also struggling with what it truly means to have a “Homie. Lover. Friend.” within significant others and partners.

The book seems like a perfect blend of Empire and Being Mary Jane! Give us some details on these characters and the struggles they have to face in the novel.

Funny you say that; I am familiar with both shows and LOVE Empire. Cookie especially! There are three main characters in “Homie. Lover. Friend.” each with their own prospective struggles. Beau is a gay African American male that is anything but stereotypical, he values unconditional love over casual sex and has a hard time finding it. He also struggles with his personal affinity for his best-friend Roland. Roland is a domineering entrepreneur who has issues respecting those around him and uses women and power to boost his ego. Of course, karma has a way of humbling those who feel they can’t be tamed. Within his doggish past, he has dated and hurt Monae but they have remained friends after the end of their relationship. Monae is a successful career woman who seems to have everything going for her except the support of her fiancé Sterling. Over time she is forced to re-evaluate where she is in life and what is most important to her.

Is it easy to write relationship centric books? It seems like the only topic that continues to stay constant, even as life evolves.

I have always had an interest in relationships and love, part of the reason why I have pursued an alternate career in relationship counseling. It is easy for me to write relationship books because I have been in many relationships and friendships that have pruned me to be who I am now. People will always need one another, regardless of what some might think, which makes the relationship topic easy to relate to. Life may evolve but the yearning for others to care about us constant. Love is life and life is love!

Does “Homie, Lover, Friend” have a deeper meaning than it just being the title of the work?

The title “Homie. Lover. Friend.” was created based off the 90’s R. Kelly song. Each character is one part of the title. Homie being Roland because he is a homie to Beau. Lover being Beau because he wears his heart on his sleeve. Friend being Monae because she is a best-friend to the other characters as they all struggle to find their new selves.

What’s next for you?Headshot

Many things. I have a second book coming out in April called “Jaded”. It is a spin-off to H.L.F. and includes some of the main characters from my first novel. I am also experimenting with different writing styles and preparing myself to write my third novel. I currently co-host a podcast “Conscious Convos” which explores a variety of topics that are prominent to 21st century millennials.  

Where can we find you?

You can find me on Facebook and Instagram. My Facebook page is Author Shawn Christopher and my Instagram name is author_shawnchris

Available Now On Kindle Unlimited And Paperback




ULR Feature: “Ain’t That ‘Bout’a B*tch” by Ms. Betty

Available in ebook, paperback and hardback.

Ms. Betty’s book, “Ain’t That ‘Bout’a B*tch”, is entertaining and genuine. It is a great reminder how much fun relationships can be, albeit sometimes at our own expense. Betty’s own zany behavior, in the midst of train-wreck relationships, contributes to the chaos as she tries to find success in her love life. Each episode she endures is a real-life reminder to readers that our failed relationships are merely practice until we truly understand love and life.

Her descriptive, candid and raw style is a great element in the storytelling. It enables her to present the material such that the reader can visualize and share her experiences. And the individuals alongside Ms. Betty throughout the book are truly characters in their own right.

If you enjoy down-to-earth humor, you will appreciate the vivid re-telling of life experiences designed to help others laugh and learn. Or if you can identify with the dating and love life struggles that simply make one shake their head and exclaim, “Ain’t That ‘Bout’a B*tch!”, then this book will entertain. Certain to provide laughter and life lessons. Well worth the read.   aintthataboutabitch

Available in ebook, paperback and hardback.

Book Review

“Ain’ that Bout a B*tch takes you on a journey in Ms Betty’s world. Her trials in dating and looking for Mr Right. Her true love of family and friendship. This book may not be for everyone, but, if you are a down to earth person and laugh at mistakes in your life then you will truly understand Ms Betty’s journey. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed some more.
What I like about this book is that Ms Betty has found away of looking at bad situations by laughing at it and allowing the healing to begin. She stays true to herself with no compromising.” – Amazon Reviewer

About the Author

Hello! My name is Ms. Betty. I come from very humble beginnings in St. Petersburg, Fl with my mother, father and older sister. My parents divorced when I was young and even though my mother relocated to Gainesville, Fl, I always had a very close and special relationship with my father. I grew up between Gainesville and St. Petersburg with nothing but memories of love, fun and happiness. Don’t get it twisted. My family is just as dysfunctional as the next family. Now that I’m an adult, I have 2 blended families. My mother remarried and so has my father. I have worked in various social services fields. I have worked with the HIV/AIDS community which was by far my most favorite group of people to work with due to their vast experiences with life that were truly invaluable learning lessons for me. My 2nd most fun group of people to work with is the SPMI (Severely Persistent Mentally Ill) population. They taught me to totally appreciate life and waking up in my right mind (or semi) right mind on a daily basis. I have worked with drug addicts, the homeless, addicted pregnant mothers and every other type of social woe you can think of. I’m a true lover of life and the people in it. I always want to make a difference in somebody life. It took me 2 years to write the first book of my trilogy, which delves deep into my persistence and resilience in my relationships and attempts at finding true love. It wasn’t always easy or fun, yet I’m truly thankful for each and every learning experience given me, which has taught me to really appreciate life and the many blessings God has blessed me with, and more importantly to forgive. I can be reached at TheRealMsBetty@yahoo.com

Available in ebook, paperback and hardback.

Pain Is A Sign Of Worse To Come w/Author Tumika Patrice Cain

“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”

Chuck Palahniuk, “Diary”

One thing that I’ve observed in my three in a half years of being in high school is that we train ourselves to withstand high levels of emotional pain, especially young women, in our intimate relationships. No matter the offense or disrespectful action that our partners commit against us, we continue to stand by them without any recourse or reaction. Even as these actions become more and more of a pattern we continue to go back to the people that hurt us the most until we accumulate unbearable emotional baggage that prevents us from ever being compatible with another person.

Stupid QuoteBeing trapped into anything is destructive. It kills your spirit, weakens your self-esteem and makes you bitter. But we’ve become so used to pain and disappointment that the concept of a good person that’s on point and about their business that also cares for you is foreign. Isn’t that insane? My response to that redundant mindset brings me to a metaphor that I thought of as I was writing on my debut novel The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson (available now). If you witness someone you’re friends with burn themselves on a stove, you’ll run to their aid and check to see if they’re alright and need medical attention. They’re fine though. The first time is an accident.

But they keep burning themselves on that exact same stovetop. Every time they do you become less and less concerned, or at least I hope you would be.  It’s in human nature to shield ourselves from what hurts us. Our senses aid us in doing so. Why does this change in relationships? How do we change this narrative?

I discussed this with Tumika Cain, award-winning author of Seasons Of Change. She gave some insight on the situation that even enlightened me, showing her vast knowledge of the realm of relationships that’s dually reflected in the pages of her novel.


Randall: Tumika, I saw a quote on Facebook recently that said “sometimes the butterflies that tell you you’re in love but the pain.” I understand some adversity but I feel like pain is a strong word! Do you think pain and turmoil is necessary for a growing relationship or is it a sign that you need to leave at the earliest convenience?


Tumika Cain: There are no perfect people, so at some point we all fall short and hurt each other – whether intentionally or not.  In relationships, there is the good and the bad that comes with it.  However, when it comes to a person deliberately mistreating or abusing another person, that is where the line is drawn  The whole premise behind love is that it’s selfless, it’s giving, and it esteems the other person. Love requires commitment, fidelity, sacrifice, compromise, and selflessness. A person who abuses another is obviously not considering what’s in the best interest of their partner.  Too often women stay with men who demean, abuse, neglect, cheat and a host of other attributes that are directly the opposite of what it means to love. It is with great hope that we stay long after the signs have presented themselves telling us that it’s time to go.  We hope the person will change.  We hope the negative behaviors will stop. We hope that he will go back to how he may have been before the mistreatment began.  And in all of this, we forget that we are important, that we have value and that we don’t have to stay with someone who won’t do their part. 


Randall: In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good relationship?

Seasons Of Change Tumika Cain: As I mentioned earlier, love is selfless as a basis, but a good relationship should include some (if not all) of the following attributes:

 Unconditional – we need to go into the relationship accepting the other person for  who they are. Everyone has deal breakers and if the person is functioning in a place  that is a deal breaker, don’t get involved. It’s much better to walk away before it gets  started than trying to change someone later on.

 Selfless – We live in a culture of selfish people who don’t take the time to think about  the needs, wants or desires of anyone other than themselves.  That does not work in a  relationship.  There are two people in a relationship and both of them matter. Which  takes me right to my next point.

 Giving – There has to be a balance in relationships. If one person does all the giving  and the other does all the taking, the relationship is unbalanced.  It is important for  both partners to give and to take, sort of like an ebb and flow. It will not always be  balanced because we’re at different places at different times, with those needs varying  depending on the circumstances.

 Esteems the other higher than themselves – This principle, I think, flies in the  face of everything we are taught in our culture. In a world of narcissism and what’s in  it for me, to say that we esteem someone else higher than ourselves is a foreign  concept.  When it’s done correctly, it creates the perfect balance because if I am focused  on meeting your needs and you are focused on meeting my needs, then both of our  needs are being met pretty consistently.  The problem comes in when you are focused  on you and I am focused on you (and vice versa) or when each partner if focused on  self, no one is considering what’s in the best interest of the other.  We should be

Forgiving – Because we are imperfect being, we all fall short and need to be forgiven. Forgiveness helps us to not get bitter and resentful.  When a person truly forgives, they do not throw the infraction back up in the face of their partner or keep talking about it to other people.  They let bygones be bygones.

Patient – We all come into relationships with our pasts, expectations, and shortcomings.  To expect two people to be on one accord all the time without truly learning each other is absurd. Even the way we communicate can be very different. We need to be patient with ourselves and with each other as go through our learning curves.  There will always be something new to learn and apply because we are constantly changing and evolving.  Patience will always be a necessary ingredient in a healthy relationship.

Kind – Have you ever noticed how people talk to each other? Sometimes I just cringe.  We can be so cruel and thoughtless to the ones we love and nicer to complete strangers. Our words need to minister grace and be soft.  After all, a soft answer turns away wrath. We can diffuse a lot of circumstances by just remembering to be kind to each other and not treating our partner differently that how we’d like to be treated.

Compromise (but never at the expense of one’s morals, values or safety) – No one is right all the time and no two people want exactly the same thing at all times. We have to give some and we have give up some.  If we can remember that both people in the relationship are of equal importance, it would help when it comes time to reach a happy medium.  Not every battle is worth going to war over. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, do I want to right or do I want to be happy?

Good listening skills (we need to hear what the other person is saying and how they are feeling. This includes body language.  We’d get into far less scraps with each other if we learn to listen to what the other person is saying and wait for the appropriate time to bring up an issue.)

Freedom to move, grow and make mistakes (we all make mistakes and life is a series of lessons that make us grow up as we pass them. There has to be freedom to not be perfect without the proverbial foot coming down on the person’s neck for making a mistake. )

Protecting (a mate should be protective of their partner’s feelings, their person, the reputation)

It possesses a level of privacy (it is not everyone’s business what is going on in your relationship with another person.  Too often we blab to family and friends and those people put their two cents in and make things worse instead of better for the couple.

Accountability (a person who is not held accountable to anyone will do whatever he or she wants to do.  Accountability helps keep us in line. We are less likely to behave any kind of way when we know that we’ll have to tell someone else what we’ve done.)

Respect ­– Everyone wants to be treated with respect. Men have an even greater need for respect because it’s how they were designed. This can sometimes be a fragile road to travel because men and women are wired differently, we don’t always know what the other considers disrespectful. This is where learning and listening to your mate helps a great deal.



Randall: Tell us about your award-winning book Season of Change?

Tumika Cain: Season of Change is a dramatic work of fiction that tells the story of Alicia and Avery Ayers. On the surface it looks like they have everything: they are attractive, wealthy, well-respected within their community and careers, and have the trappings of success that money can buy. They make it their business to keep up appearances, but behind closed doors their world is swiftly crumbling as unresolved issues from both of their pasts come back to haunt them. Each has done the best they knew how to sweep their issues under the rug, but never actually dealt with anything.  As it is with life, that which we don’t deal with will always come back around….usually at the least opportune time.  They are faced with real issues and reach a fork in the road where they have to take a real look at themselves, at each other, at their lives and make a pivotal decision. 


Season of Change challenges stereotypes, exposes issues with the Black culture here in the United States, as well as shines a light on severe issues of domestic violence. Even though the issues are multi-faceted and the read is intense, one is not left without a sense of hope, redemption, forgiveness and the chance for a better tomorrow.


Randall: Was there a real live motivation behind the novel? If so, what was it?

Tumika Cain: Season of Change is a fictional piece of work that was written to give a voice to those whose lives have been touched by these issues, but have yet to find their own voice. This is their story, in part it’s my story, and unfortunately, it’s the story of many. While completely fictitious, it was written to be a catalyst for my own healing after being exposed to some of the issues therein.


Randall: Is the concept of a storybook relationship realistic?

Tumika Cain: A while ago someone asked me if I believed in happily-ever-after endings. My response was “Yes. To the degree that you are willing to work on the relationship, that is the level of happily-ever-after you will receive.” We live in a time and in a society that covets having everything right now. All too often I see people striving to have bigger, better, and newer, while never stopping a moment just to enjoy what they already have.  It’s like we’ve gotten to the point where we don’t take the time to nurture what we have to the fullness of its potential. The journey is just as important as reaching the destination.  We go into relationships talking about breaking up.  That is ridiculous. Even the trees we see outside gain strength by weathering adversity.  Is there such a thing as a perfect life?  Absolutely not, because we are imperfect people, living in an imperfect world, but we can be blissfully happy within ourselves and with each other if are only willing to do the work.



Randall: What other projects do you have coming up?

Tumika Cain: By the end of first quarter 2015, I will have two more books out.  On the Pulse of Morning is part two of the Seasons series. It’s a much softer storyline and I am really enjoying writing this book. The Heart of a Woman is my next poetry collection and it will come out around the same time.


In addition, my book club is sponsoring an event on June 6. 2015 called Say What?? Book Club presents Brunch with Your Favorite Authors where 9 of this year’s featured authors will join us and the attendees for an afternoon of fun, fellowship, good food and great books. It’s a book signing and opportunity to meet and greet with the authors.  Our special guest for the event is NAACP Image Award winning author, Beverly Jenkins.  We are all looking forward to and tickets will be going on sale soon so be sure to check it out.


I’ll be hosting a new internet radio show called In the Spotlight starting in January for authors looking for more media exposure.


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

Tumika Cain: You are born with unique gifts, talents and abilities that have to be cultivated.  On your journey, not everyone will understand the goals, dreams and vision you have for your life, but you have to pursue your passion, regardless.  The goal when we reach the end of our lives is to leave here having fulfilled our purpose in life and with few regrets. While tomorrow is promised, it’s not promised to me or you, so each day make dedicated and deliberate steps towards fulfilling your purpose and making your dreams come true.  Don’t worry about who hasn’t done it before you.  When we rise and shine, we give others the freedom to do the same.  Determine that you will live this life full out and know that as you continue on your journey, everything you need to make it will be presented at the proper time.  You can do it!


You can find Tumika Cain at:





www.SayWhatBC.com will be live by the end of 2014



I also have two blogs:




The Randall Barnes Experience

-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 out now! Make sure to go get it!

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

Setting Relationship Standards

“Nowadays, I like to keep it classy.  But, even if I was like I was back a couple of years ago, I definitely wouldn’t fight over an ugly, brain-dead, high school dropout. You wouldn’t even catch me with a guy like that. I have places to go with my life and being with someone who doesn’t share my ambition will only hold me back.”

-Aaliyah Anderson, from the forthcoming young adult novel “The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson”

As a teenager, one thing I see on a regular is people conforming to the negative influences that surround them. It’s so disheartening. Look at me, a soon to be published author at the age of seventeen! I saw how the odds are stacked against me as a young black male and I decided to go against the grain and chase prosperity by any means necessary.  Is it that hard for young people my age to do the same?

Surprisingly, it is.

deal-breakers-or-unrealistic-expectationsLiving in an urbanized city where hope is foreign unless you rap or play in a national sports league, I can sympathize with the fellow members of my millennial generation. Not only can I understand their struggle (as mine is virtually the same), I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help my people reach the promise land. I’ve started passing knowledge along to my peers in school and they’re happily receiving it. However, they still fall victim to the monstrous pitfalls that even many adults fall trap to. So allow me, with my new position as an UI writer, to give my readers a daily nudge in the right direction to achieving success.

One of my favorite books has to be The 48 Laws of Power. It’s one of the many works of literature that I believe every person who wants to achieve major triumphs in their lives should have in their library. Law ten of the book is one that should be dually noted as we bring up the topic of setting clear, concrete relationship standards. It states:


You can die from someone else’s misery-emotional states are as infectious as diseases. You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are only precipitating your own disaster. The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you. Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.”

For years, I argued with my people that I considered my friends that hanging around and dating the wrong people would be counterproductive for more reasons than one. While they laughed and mocked me, I made a concerted effort to be the type of positive brother that a young woman’s parents would be enthusiastic to meet. I also schemed on ways to carry myself with an intelligent swagger and still get major respect from the young people I see every day.

It’s safe to say that my attempts worked.

I’ve never been one of those immature guys that equated sexuality to manhood. Because of this, I’ve stood out amongst my peers. While I once shunned it and tried to fit in with the infectious, unlucky brothers that are the epitome of what The 48 Laws of Power said to avoid, I started to embrace it. As I started to accept that I was a BMB (Business Minded Brother), I separated from people counterproductive to my goals. With them off my back opportunities and prosperity seemingly found me!

Unlock the King or Queen that’s inherently inside of you. Do so by integrating these principals into your life:

  • Reevaluate your circle. If your friends or acquaintances aren’t furthering your cause, consider cutting them off.
  • Associate with a large amount of BMBF (Business Minded Black Folks). If they avoid you, maybe you need to take some time out to evaluate yourself! I mean, you attract what you are…….
  • Know who you’re dealing with. If the person you’re in a relationship with (intimate, casual or strictly sexual) isn’t on the up and up don’t suffer in silence. You don’t deserve to be around a negative person like that!
  • Never conform your relationship standards at any time. When I say never I mean never!

Do you have any questions, comments or concerns? Was I right or wrong on this issue? Do you want to join the focus group for my novel The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson? I would love to hear from you! Contact me directly at:

Email: thediaryofaaliyahanderson@gmail.com

Kik: @AuthorRandallB

Ask.Fm: @YoungandGiftedBooks

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

Check out a preview of my novel The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson on Wattpad! It’s dropping soon!