Saturday, August 30, 2014

Words of Extinction. . .


I certainly hope you've enjoyed the majority of your summer!  School's back in session and another year is closer to its end.  It seems like yesterday I was writing a blog post about school back in session and here we are again.  Where did 2014 go?  I realize more and more the older you get the faster time goes, so there's no time to waste!

While on vacation, I learned that even though I was living my fantasy life, the world was still moving and when I returned, reality quickly settled in.  I turned on the news and I was sorry I did.  There were more shootings that happened in the first fifteen minutes I was up trying to get ready for work.  It was then that I realized what each of these horrible stories had in common.  Humans live carelessly.  We abandon caution.  Whatever happened to owning up to our responsibilities?  Oh. . .wait a minute--we don't take responsibility.  

Responsibility is a word that should be removed from the English vocabulary.  There are only a handful of people that actually use the word correctly, present company included, but most of us don't know what the word means or if we do know, we don't exercise its meaning.


That's what I realized when I turned on the news.  Every story I heard, with each getting worse than the last, not one person was willing to own his/her responsibility in their actions. It's so easy to place blame on others or point the finger in someone else's direction, although three of those fingers are pointing back at you.  People today just do whatever comes to their mind without giving any thought whatsoever--just careless and inconsiderate.

As I slowly get back into my regular routine, I just shake my head at how we behave anymore.  'Responsibility' is a thing of the past.  'Caution' is something we don't mind risking. 'Inconsiderate' is what most live up to.  We're doing a perfect job at destroying ourselves. Little by little we lose our righteousness and embrace wrongdoing.  That's the way of the world--pretty sad if you ask me.

No matter how much madness I see going on around me, I will stay focused and positive.  I tell ya, many don't make it an easy feat.  For all of those who went back to school, I wish you a great school year.  If you're looking for books to add to your fall reading list, definitely check back with us next weekend for AAMBC.  They always bring great books our way.

Until next time, try to stay safe and Happy Reading!





Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Looking for a Club to Hang Out In?
Try your Local Library!

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

200 Posts and Counting. . .Celebration!


Wow, can you believe summer is almost over?  Where did the time go?  The years seem to be floating by so quickly, it's mind boggling sometimes. Mello & June, It's a Book Thang! would like to thank our fans for being a part of our crazy journey. I remember when Kim got the idea to start the blog based on our names.  You certainly don't think she came up with that all on her own, do you?  Who do you think gave her the idea?  Me, June, that's who!  I woke her up out of sound sleep for months until she decided to write my life down.  To think, we started this blog with only five followers and we were so happy to have them.  We're celebrating our 200th post since our birth in 2009.  We have since grown to have about 104 followers and hundreds of thousands of page views and visits.  We couldn't be more pleased with our success.

There isn't much we haven't covered here at Mello & June from books, guest authors appearances to world events.  You name it, if it's on our minds or yours, we'll find a way to bring it to you.  It's hard to believe we've actually had 200 posts.  Many blogs come and go, but we're still hanging in there strong and wouldn't change our journey for the world.

So, in celebrating with Mello & June, we decided Kim needed a break from the grueling ordeal of writing, but don't take that the wrong way.  We know she eats, sleeps, breaths writing, but I know everyone needs to get some rest to recharge so she can come back bigger and better than before.

This fall, we plan to bring you new voices to the literary scene and some you've heard from before with new work in progress.  And speaking of which, we're excited Kim is finally working on the much awaited third novel she's been promising to write for the last three years.  It's about damn time!  Well, folks, it's actually happening and she's doing well.  Any time you'd like to know what stage she is at, check right here on her Writertopia widget and see how many words she's accomplished.  

As much as we've been trying to figure out what it is she's writing, it's so hush-hush and we can't seem to get a glimpse into what she's doing, but she tells us her fans will love this book. She's taking some risks on a subject matter that she's avoided for many years and decided now was the time to put out there some things she's been wanting to get off her chest.  We don't know about you, but we're excited to see where her colorful story takes us this time.

As a recap, Mello & June, a Musical Romance Soundtrack Novel followed us through a fifty year relationship.  If you don't remember, we were introduced to you back in 2009 wherein Kim took some of her favorite R&B songs and turned them into chapters which told the story of our love.  And who could forget after delving into the 80s, which is the timeline we were set in, she decided to take us back even further to her favorite decade of the 70s in the suspense thriller, Silent Knight.  It was a dark story told through six children's views with our protagonist, Clarence Knight, the famous film maker went back home to the projects to make a documentary on his growing up.  Unfortunately, for Clarence, he ended up unearthing a deep rooted secret that turned his world upside down.



Now that you're brought up-to-date as to where Kim left off with her two previous novels, she leaves us hanging on this third.  Well doesn't that beat all!  I did get her to admit she had been dealing with personal matters she needed to tend to which caused her to stop writing. You certainly can't create people like us when your mind is elsewhere.  I learned Kim can be very difficult to manage when she's trying to do her writing thing.  We fought lots.  I truly wish there was more we could tell you, but Miss Thang promises this book is really going to hit home for many people, especially the sistas?  Umm, she got this sista wondering? Her novels usually read like movies and she said this one is even more dramatic than her first two.  But, as you know, Mello and I will always be her first love. Speaking of which I wonder why Rene & Angela's My First Love didn't make it into our soundtrack chapter?  No matter, the songs she chose told our story beautifully.

Kim asked me to advise you she's taking some time off and will be back at the end of the month preparing for September's AAMBC selection of novels.  Again, we thank you for your love and support, as always.  Mello and I can't wait to report to you what she has up her sleeve.  If you happen to know, let a sista know!  (LOL)  We hope you're enjoying your final days of summer before school starts back.  If you haven't read our story or Silent Knight, make sure you download them and add to your book shelves.  We thank you.

Until next time, Happy Reading. . . This is your favorite couple,  


Mello June


Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

When God Says "Yes You Can"
Who are YOU to say No?

Happy 200th Posting to 
Mello & June, My First Love!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Men Made of Stone --By Logan Lo


F«««««

In a world where circumstances can dictate the course your life will follow, does it mean we can't decide to change its direction? If it weren't for evil, would we know what being 'good' means? In this life, you must have balance.  And who knows better about order than an organized gang.  When a child is young, for some, they don't sit down and decide, "Hey, when I grow up, I want to be a gang member in organized crime."  Sometimes, it's just the way the cards are shuffled.

Mark Han operated a computer store in Chinatown, NY, wherein an interesting young man entered the store to purchase computer chips.  This was at a time when computers and the internet were being cultivated in the 90s.  Mr. Han didn't have any reason to suspect anything was wrong in his store--just another would-be customer. And it also didn't hurt this customer sealed their deal by dropping an easy $5,000 on the counter, further solidifying the contract.  Han was pleased he'd be able to use the money for his son's education.

Meanwhile, Ben waited outside his grandfather's home for his father to pick him up and take him home.  It was very unusual for his father to ever be late.  Ben figured he must have had a last minute errand and was running a few minutes behind. Unbeknownst to him, his father was at the store being brutally beaten which eventually led to his murder.  Being from a close-knit community, someone contacted Ben's grandfather to advise that his son, Mark, had been killed.  Unfortunately, he was left with the horrifying task of informing his grandson his father would never be coming home to them again.

On the day of his father's funeral, he refused to cry. It wasn't until he asked his grandfather if he could be alone with the casket before his father was lowered in the ground.  Ben broke down and made a vow to avenge his father's murder.   Ben set his sights on getting even with the person or persons responsible for murdering his father.  Here, Ben made the decision to begin his life in organized crime.

The journey the reader ventures down is one of violence, greed and misunderstandings. Ben, who later received the nickname 'C' for 'Crazy' earned the name rightfully.  He became a ruthless assassin of sorts on a mission to take down all the FGs "Five Ghosts of the East and West" of Chinatown.  

Souls became broken; blood painted the streets; spirits lost.  People that Ben thought he could trust turned out otherwise for some.  Unknown heroes came out from behind the shadows to assist Ben.  When all is said and done, there will only be a few standing--for only the strong survive!   The ending was superb!

Lo left no stone un-turned.  The story moves quickly and what's nice is he gives you a cast of characters in the beginning of the book.  Make sure you bookmark that page (for those with capabilities.  Some eReaders  don't do this).  I had to go back a couple of times to understand what each level of the gang activity meant.  Once I got the hang of the characters and who they represented to each gang, it was on and crackin', while I munched on popcorn gettin' ready to kick ass and take names!  The reader will most definitely, without a doubt, feel the pain!  Ooooh yes indeedy!  My adrenaline was on 500!  What an incredible high!

 
This story was well written and I loved the lingo between the different gang members. I would not suggest reading this book if you are of the squeamish variety.  There is plenty of bloodshed and the way some of the members die will leave you ready to hurl. OMG, downright vicious, but so deserving, if you know what I mean!  I couldn't get enough!!!!! (LOL)

I loved this novel!  Outstanding edge-of-your-seat-heart thumping-ready-to-kick-ass-type of action! You will root for the good guys even though they're bad. Doesn't matter, each of these characters bring something interesting to the table for the reader to take notice.  When the small stories begin to melt into a larger picture, you truly begin to see just what really is going on, and more importantly, why! Logan is a gifted writer and has a unique way of telling a story which brings it to life.

If you haven't read this, or was wondering about taking a chance on reading it, GO FOR IT! You will not be disappointed!  Buckle Up 'cause you damn sure are in for one hell of a ride! This is definitely, hands down, a Five Star good read!!!!!


WEEKEND'S BOOK AFFAIR! PRESENTS

A few weeks ago, an author by the name of Logan Lo contacted Mello and June about reading a book he'd written.  What I instantly liked about Logan was his approach.  He took the time to check out my reading habits and read past reviews I had done on the type of book he had available.  That really impressed me because I had never had an author who actually took that kind of time to find out what I enjoyed reading.  At that point, even if he had written a dud, I still would have given it the respect it deserved just from the way he presented himself.

As you've just read above, I totally enjoyed this novel!  It has Logan's own flare to it, but reminds me of literary works of yesteryear such as Mario Puzo's The Godfather.   In fact, Logan shared with me when he saw my review on The Godfather he knew I was his audience.  Wow, to have someone think so highly of your opinion spoke volumes to me. Needless to say, Logan and I have struck up a great internet friendship and he has one hell of a sense of humor.  There are several sections in his novel that I fell out laughing.  It wasn't all fighting and anger.  It had its funny moments which I find books of this nature need that balance.  If it were all just about revenge and murder, the story would lose its appeal, but Logan managed to keep the story flowing and engaging while adding humor. What a nice touch!

Since I'm excited about this book and getting to learn a little about Logan, Mello and June requested an in-depth interview about The Men Made of Stone and about the man himself, Author, Logan Lo.  So, without further ado, let's get to know the man behind this fast-paced novel.


GETTING TO KNOW AUTHOR, LOGAN LO

 
1. The Men Made of Stone was very well written. Your characters were so believable and your knowledge of the inner workings of the gangs in Chinatown was amazing! How did you go about researching for this action-pack novel?

Thanks - that’s high praise from someone that reads as much as you do. Well, the core of every good story is some bit of truth. There actually were two gangsters that ran around a major modern city with huge swords – but in London in the 1950s and not NYC in the 1990s. They were the Kray brothers and I remember thinking, “What if they were here in New York? And what if they were part of the Asian gang scene?” I think a lot of great stories start off with “What if?”

That’s one side of the story. The other side came from growing up in the bloody 80s and 90s of NYC. At that time, a gang called the Green Dragons refused to play by the old Chinatown rules and tried to start their own gang, separate from the established system, which was a major part of why NYC was so violent at the time. I took these two stories and blended them together to make something of my own. Interestingly, the story of the Green Dragons is being made into a movie right now with Martin Scorsese called, “Revenge of the Green Dragons.” It’ll be interesting to see what he does with the same germ of a story.

2. I’m such a huge fan of Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. You stated to me you wanted to pay homage to The Godfather, which I feel you demonstrated perfectly. Out of all the great classics you could have chosen to pay homage too, why The Godfather? 

Me too! I felt that The Godfather was such a great book about family and organized crime and it set the stage for all Italian-American mafia stories. Now the terms of omerta, godfather, and mafia are such a part of the tapestry of crime novels. But there’s no touchstone like that for Chinese organized crime, which has been around for just as long. 

So I wanted to write a work of fiction that made this particular slice of organized crime as accessible to my readers as Puzo did for his readers. He accomplished this by focusing on themes that people could relate to and characters that people cared about, all within the context of some pretty dark material. That’s difficult to do – but he did, of course - and that's something I aspired to. Hopefully readers will think I accomplished the same goal.

3. When writing a book dealing with violence, there are bound to be characters the reader will fall in love with that get murdered. What is the process you go through, as an author, on how best to know which characters should stay and which ones must go?

That’s a really great question. When you write, the characters begin to have a life of their own and you start to care about them. When I plotted the whole story out, I had an idea who would die and what would happen but as I wrote the story, I didn’t want them to. I liked them. But at some point, it would have been a very different story if some of the characters didn't die because this was necessary to move the story along. The master of this is George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones who said, “I want you to be afraid to turn the page (and to do that) you need to show right from the beginning that you're playing for keeps.” Because life is about playing for keeps and if I can kill one character that you loved, you’ll be invested to find out who makes it and if that life really mattered at all.

4. In line with question number three, when you do make the decision how your characters will end up, are you concerned with the reader’s perception? 

I’m less concerned with the reader’s perception than I am with the story ringing true. Can a person really be in 20 gun battles and not get wounded or die? Can a small gang really fight larger, more entrenched, organizations without the right people and money?

There’s a line in the book based on something I once heard someone say, which was that Chinese stories end sad. There’s something about the usual American stories where the guy always gets the girl and everyone lives happily ever after. But that’s not the way life is. And that’s why I think The Departed – based on the Chinese film, Infernal Affairs – really shook a lot of people. They weren’t used to that type of story, where the hero is killed. Likewise, with The Godfather, you’re thinking that the Vito and Sonny are going to make everything alright. But that’s not what happened and the reader has to continue reading to see, “OK, this is like real life - where’s this whole thing going?”

5. Despite some of the violent scenes, you managed to put a great deal of humor into the story. One thing I truly appreciated was how you were able to talk about race relations in a way that wasn’t offensive. One character in particular made a comment, “he was WWC” and another asked what does that mean, and he said, ‘Walking While Chinese.’ I fell out laughing because being African-American, I can relate to this, as many times my people refer to it as DWB—Driving While Black. Some people may not see the humor, but there were several humorous areas that made the reader think. I’m curious, how did your race of people react to the racial epithets some of the characters used? 

It’s a real thing, isn’t it? People actually say things like DWB or WWC. I think the job of an author is to tell a story and sometimes that story has people that are narrow-minded or ignorant, and this all comes back to that goal of writing something believable where the reader in invested in what happens. 

As for my Asian friends that read the book, they loved it for the same reason I think you did. “I totally see that!” 

6. I’m a huge fan of ‘blood and guts kicking ass taking names’ type of novels, which this novel certifies hands down! What were some of the challenges you faced writing this story? Trust me, you brought the pain! That had to be interesting to actually write it with such intimate detail. Tell our readers what Logan goes through to write such raw and gritty scenes?

I write a pretty well-read blog; when I was still single, I had over 500 daily readers. In it, I never cursed and just talked about my life. When I wrote my book, a number of my blog readers bought the book and read it. Some couldn’t finish it. Others remarked that it wasn’t what they expected.

That’s the thing with writing - you’re not writing about you, you’re telling a story about someone and something else. Stephen King, I’m told, is one of the nicest people you could meet. But if you read him, you assume he’s a psychopath. 

When I was a kid, I used to have to carry two wallets; one with a few bucks to give to a mugger and one to actually use. When it comes to violence, I was never cool enough to be in a gang, but I was on the receiving end of a lot of violence growing up. I always wanted that violence to mean something and in a way, it did, as it ended up in the book.

7. How many years have you been writing?

I suppose as soon as I was able to put a sentence together as a kid. We all learn how to write and draw as kids. Some of us just never stopped, I suppose. 

8. If you could be any of the characters you’ve invented, who would it be and why?

My favorite character of the book is Danny the Priest. In some regards, he’s quite simple. He loves his pistol, he loves his gyros, and he loves his friends. In other ways, he’s quite deep – he never kills on a Sunday, is deeply religious, and has his very defined sense of right and wrong. There’s something about someone that sees life very simply yet knows there’s more to it.

9. Are you an author full-time or part-time? If part-time, what do you do for a living and why did you decide to write?

I think everyone dreams of making enough money doing what they love that they can just do it full time. For now, I’m a lawyer in the big city, but I like to say that we are what we constantly do. Boxers box, swimmers swim, and I suppose a writer writes. John Grisham once said that, as a lawyer, he wrote on legal pads in between court cases whenever he had a moment. I think he did that because, while he made money as a lawyer, he was always a writer. That’s pretty much what happens most days: I find a free moment and bang out a conversation or a scene and I save it for something else in the future.

10. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Oddly enough, I teach a sword and knife class! It’s something I picked up after I started the novel, purely by coincidence. I also wrestle but I’m really terrible at it.

11. As an author, often times we’re asked who our favorite authors are. This time around, I’d like to ask who some of your favorite ‘Independent’ (not well known) Authors are?

I was actually just mentioning to a friend of mine that I missed the old LiveJournal. Right now, Facebook has essentially replaced it as the social networking site but there was really no place as good for long form writing as LiveJournal. Some of the people I read wrote some just brilliant things and I actually wrote a few of them, encouraging them to take their materials and put it into books, but I don’t think any of them did. 

But I do have to say that, when it comes to true crime, TJ English has got to be one the best. He’s not so much independent as not all that well-known but he actually is one of the few authors that wrote about Asian-American crime in NYC – as well as Italian and Irish – and really seemed to get it right. Pick up his Born to Kill or The Westies for some really compelling non-fiction crime.

As for fiction, most of the Hard Case Crime series are modern classics and I’ve enjoyed a few of them.

12. The publishing world is constantly evolving. What made you decide to self-publish as opposed to using a traditional publisher? 

I used to be a technology writer for CNET and worked there for years in technology. The ability of people to generate high quality content on their own with publicly available tools is something I always try to take advantage of. I think that it just makes more sense to at least test out the waters on your own before anything else.

13. How long did it take you to write The Men Made of Stone? 

I like to tell people that it took 12 years to write about 50% of it and two years to write, edit and finish the rest. When I started writing the book, the 1990s were just a few years in the past, but life and work kept getting in the way. When the market turned in 2008, I lost a lot of clients and so I thought, “If I’m ever going to finish this book, now’s the time.” So I devoted a solid year to getting it right.

14. Will the public be hearing from Logan Lo in the near future? If so, can you tell us some of your projects? Do you have a timeline as to when your next work will be available? 

I would hope so! I’ve been working on a follow-up idea to TMMOS for a while now but I actually took a bit of a detour from crime fiction lately.

I was single for a while and my blog was mostly about my single life. So I took a lot of the things I saw and did while single – I’ve since gotten married to my awesome wife - put them into two books: A Great First Date and A Great Online Dating Profile. Very different stuff from TMMOS but, as I said, writers write.

But I’ve since returned to my follow up story and I’m hoping for at least a short novella in the next year or so – I’ll definitely keep you posted!



-------------------------------------------------------

Mello and June would like to extend the sincerest Thank You to Author, Logan Lo, for taking time out of his very busy schedule to sit down and rap with us.  Do you see, ladies and gentlemen, why I have so much respect for him?!   You can't help but to feel as though you know him personally.  I urge you to download a copy of his book on Amazon or pickup a copy wherever books are sold.  

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon:  The Men Made of Stone






Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

When Others Say You Can't,
Show 'Em YOU Can!









Saturday, August 2, 2014

Keeping it Light, But Simple. . .

Hey Everyone,

It saddens me to say we only have a few more weeks left to summer.  Where the hell did it go?  OMG, the thought of fall being around the corner terrifies me to no end. I'm sure you parents are getting ready to start buying school clothes?!  

Wow, summer truly doesn't last!  So before school's back in session and vacations are mere memories on a photo, check out AAMBC's latest authors.  Parents listen up! If you have any kids about to embark on college or high school, hell. . .no matter what age they are, this book is definitely a must read.  It's a true memoir about the life of Dr. Anthony Dixon who earned his college degree while living with a secret--the Thug Life!

And ladies, want to spice things up and bring a little drama in your life?  Well. . .in a book perhaps or possibly a movie, but not our real lives, right?  No matter, Keyanna's Living in Fear is going to make things happen!   Before you get totally in 'school' mode, you've got to add these to your end of summer's reading list.  Two dynamic novels!  I can't wait to delve into 'em myself!

So, to learn more about these authors and their great bodies of work, please make sure you go out and pick up a copy, or get those downloading fingers ready to depress the "download now" on your eReaders to begin your reading journey!  Ya'll already know what this is and how we do. . .so let's get 'er done!  

P.S.  Since so many of you have been inquiring about my writing progress on my social media networks, it's hard for me to answer all of you, so I've decided to put a writing meter on the blog.  You'll find the cartoon couch potato on the lower right hand side of the blog. Just scroll down and I'll keep it updated so you know how far I've come.  Again, thanks so much for your love and support!  Here We Gooooooooooo. . .


When a young man grows up with advantages—a good home, good parents, and educational opportunities—the last thing one would expect him to do is to embrace the thug life. That’s exactly what Anthony Dixon did. During his years as a student at Florida State University, he straddled two worlds: the world of an academic and the world of the streets. And the streets led him to a place he didn’t want to be.

Dixon went straight from his university graduation to state prison, where he spent five-and-a-half years examining his life. And what faith and introspection taught him took him all the way to the hallowed halls of Indiana University, where he earned a PhD.

Written in a gritty, compelling voice, this cautionary tale boldly crosses class and generational lines, appealing to teens adults alike. His story will change the way you think about the life choices you make.

Excerpt:

I am far from your average ex-convict. I was raised in a middle-class household. My father recently retired from a university after teaching for 35 years. My mother retired as a principal of a public middle school, while both of my siblings attended college on academic scholarships. In fact, given my background and upbringing, the odds against incarceration were in my favor. The question then became how. How did someone like me find myself incarcerated? I realized, while I sat in the county jail awaiting trial, that I did not just end up there. I was on the road to prison long before I actually got there. It was not one bad decision one night. It was a culmination of events; and if I truly wanted to make this my first and last time, I needed to figure out what happened. As far as my childhood was concerned, I realized that there were several factors and two major events that shaped my early troubles.

The first major event that occurred in my childhood was our move to a farm. When I was six years old, my father moved us outside the city limits to a rural farm in the county. Although I was six, I remember parts of that day vividly, but what I remember most was looking out of the back window of my aunt’s VW Beetle crying, as my friends waved briefly then continued to play.

The immediate negative effect of our move to me was most evident in my oldest sister. She was beginning high school, so the move “ruined” her socially. She began to find a scapegoat to vent all of her frustrations. Unfortunately, I became her scapegoat. We would have terrible fights. I could remember always trying to get a punch in before I got tossed across the room and my face scratched up. My other sister and a cousin, to this day, still remind us of the night I threw a fork at her only to be beaten and tossed. Many years later, she revealed to us that she would have nightmares about me retaliating and was often afraid to come home from college because she was afraid of what I might do to her. I realized later in life that she did not really have hatred towards me; she just vented her frustrations with moving and living in the countryside on me. In her eagerness to leave the countryside, she began going to summer school so she could graduate a year early.

My younger sister found another way to cope with living in the country: she mentally escaped by reading. After my oldest sister left for college (I was ten), I would begin to stay in the room with my younger sister, but that lasted for only a while. I would play any game that she wanted, as long as she did not leave me by myself. I remember finally getting fed up playing with dolls. I really wanted a brother to play with, so I attempted to make her into my brother. When that failed, my resentment led me to begin to vent my frustrations out on her and we fought constantly until high school. I was jealous that she had spent so much time with a “sister,” while I yearned for a brother. In time, playing with me became secondary to reading. Also, I recognized that reading was her “thing to do” at home and began leaving her alone while she read. We did not become close until high school.

The television became my escape. Other than that, I simply endured loneliness. I watched any and everything that I could between 6 am and 12 pm. The show Jeopardy became my favorite. I still watch it religiously today. I remember in college, I had people sitting around my apartment drinking, smoking marijuana and trying to beat me at Jeopardy. Even in jail, I had other inmates watching it with me.


GET TO KNOW ANTHONY E. DIXON, Ph.D:


Anthony E. Dixon, PhD is a native of Fort Valley, Georgia. In 1994, he received a Bachelor of history, and African History, with a minor in Library Science/Special Collections and Archives. In Science degree in History with a minor in African American Studies from Florida A&M University. In 2001, he received a Master’s of Applied Social Science from Florida A&M University with a concentration in History. In 2001, he received a doctoral fellowship from Indiana University’s History Department where he majored in the African Diaspora. His studies included African American H2002, he received a Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship to Michigan State University’s Summer Cooperative African Language Institute, where he studied the African language Bamana.

Where was Dr. Anthony Dixon raised?
Dr. Anthony Dixon was raised in Fort Valley, Georgia, a rural town in Southern Georgia.

Dr. Anthony Dixon received his Ph.D. from what prestigious university?
After receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida A & M University, Dr. Anthony Dixon earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University.

What was Dr. Anthony Dixon’s “street” nickname?
During his days as a violent criminal and drug dealer, Dr. Anthony Dixon was known as “Pretty Tony.”

What incident led to Dr. Anthony Dixon’s decision to stop selling crack?
Dr. Anthony Dixon stopped selling crack as the result of a life-changing experience: looking into the desperate eyes of an addict that reflected more a cry for help than a desire for drugs.

What bone did Dr. Anthony Dixon break in a car accident while fleeing police?  While Dr. Anthony Dixon was fleeing the police with two accomplices, he was involved in an automobile accident and broke his leg. One officer observed, “He’s going one way and his leg is going the other.”

What was the length of Dr. Anthony Dixon’s 1995 prison sentence?
Originally sentenced to the maximum 15 years in state prison, Dr. Anthony Dixon served a total sentence of five and one half years.

What type of classes did Dr. Anthony Dixon teach while incarcerated?
Having discovered a love for teaching, Dr. Anthony Dixon taught GED classes to other inmates while incarcerated.



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Tia Green came from Kalamazoo, a small town in Michigan. From the time she was a child, Tia had known exactly what she wanted out of life and had already dreamed about how to get it a thousand times over. Tia had always planned on attending the University of Michigan with her childhood friend where they both wanted to become nurses. She worked hard in high school and made sure she got good grades. Eventually, That hard work paid off, She was admitted early to U of M with a full scholarship. After going on the college tour, life changed for her in ways she would have never believed… Ace was the guy that everybody dreamed they had. He was smart, sexy, and athletic, not to mention, the star of University of Michigan s football team. See, Ace turned heads wherever he went, and people were always striving for his attention, but Ace could care less. He was a player who didn t believe in giving his heart away to any female due to his childhood, but that all changed when he met Tia. She was everything he had ever wanted, and most importantly, she reminded him of his late mother whom he lost at a young age. Ace thought Tia was perfect for him. He thought he would finally get the family he had always wanted. He never imagined she’d betray him, especially not with the only other person he loved… Tia and Ace started with a fairytale romance, truly in love. As true colors bleed out from the cracks of their exteriors, the couple discovered that their fairytale romance was turning into a painful nightmare and the dream filled partnership was on its way to ruins.

Excerpt:

“Bitch, do you think I’m stupid? I fucking heard you say, ‘That was fast’ when I was knocking on the door just a minute ago, so who the fuck were you talking about? And why are you in a room anyways?” he questioned, chocking me harder. I started clawing at his hand, trying to pry it off my neck, but his grip was too tight, and it was getting harder for me to breathe. He wasn’t letting go until I told him who was in the room, but I’ll be damned if I admit to anything.

“Please…let me go,” I whimpered, still trying to pry his hand off.

“Please, what?” he screamed. I can’t hear you, Tia!” He looked me in my eyes choking me harder with every word. “If I find out you’re here with somebody, I’m going to kill you and him. Do you hear me?”

I started kicking my legs and trying to push him off me, but Ace wouldn’t move. Then everything went dark, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up to him standing over me, slapping my in the face and yelling my name.

“What happened?” I asked, looking around the room, out of it. His hands slid to his sides as he towered over me.

“You passed out,” Ace said, peering down at me. He stopped slapping me and stood over me.

“That’s because you wouldn’t stop choking me,” I snapped, rubbing my sore neck.

Just as I finished my sentence there was a knock at the door. I already knew who it was, but I was praying Ace didn’t hear it and he would just go away.

“What was that?” Ace said looking around then turning towards the door.

“Nothing,” trying to act like I didn’t just hear anything, but then it happened again, and it was no was no mistaking the knock this time.

“Somebody’s at the door,” Ace said, his voice menacing, “Let’s go see who it is.” He walked to the door.

I already knew I was in deep shit. I know when this door opens, its over for me, I thought as I sat on the bed, rubbing my stomach. I haven’t even told him I’m pregnant yet, but at this point, it’s really too late. He’s not going to believe it’s his, and when this door opens, I’m dead. As I looked at the door and saw that Ace was already turning the knob, my heart sunk in my stomach and I started shaking. Wanting to run and hide, but I knew there was no use. Whatever was coming my way, I had to prepare for it. The door opened, and the two men in my life stood face- to- face. I could see the pure fear and shock wash over my lovers face.

Ace stood there for a minute in silence, and then calmly closed the door, leaving him in the hallway. He turned towards me with nothing but hate in his eyes. He started walking my way. I just sat there hanging my head and wondering how I got into this situation. I was supposed to be at college, living the young, fun, and party life, but instead I was here, fighting for mines. Tears formed in my eyes as I thought about that tour that changed my life forever.


GET TO KNOW KEYANNA


Keyanna was born and raised in Kalamazoo, MI, she has always been into school but never knew exactly what she wanted to do. She graduated from Loy Norrix High School in 2005 with high honor and went to college where she studied Criminal Justice at Kalamazoo Valley Community College first then went on to get her bachelors at Western Michigan University where she doubled major and graduated with two majors in Criminal Justice and Social Psychology. After going through a bad situation Keyanna decided to write about it where she discovered her love for writing and that’s how her debut novel “Living in Fear’ came to life.

Questions:

1) What made you start writing?

I started writing for therapy. I was going through a bad relationship and didn’t have anyone to talk to about it, I would have usually read a book in this situation but I decided to put it in a book instead. No that does not mean my book is an autobiography, it means it fiction based on a little fact.

2) Give us an insight into your main character, why is he/she so special?

Tia Green is a high school senior, she na├»ve and a little innocent. She gets good grades, never had a boyfriend or even kissed a guy until Ace comes along. Tia fell head over heels for Ace as most of us did for our first love, it’s just too bad things changed in a blink of an eye and dreams started to become nightmares.

Tia is special because she’s relatable. How many females have lost themselves in what we thought was love? 

I know too many and Tia is no exception. Tia is an example of how quick things can change and one wrong decision can change your life forever.

3) Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas come from real life events, I’ll take something that happened and expand on it. Not necessarily, something that happened to me but maybe something that happened to one of my friends.

4) Do you read often, if so who’s your favorite authors?

Yes, I love to read. Reading has been my passion since about middle school, the first book I ever read was dope fiend by Donald Goines. It was so descriptive it was like watching a movie in my head and that’s when I fell in love with books.

I love to read Wahida Clark books, she’s my favorite author along with Deja King. I also love Nikki Turner, Ashley & JaQuavis. That’s just to name a few, there’s so many other authors I read and I discover new ones every day.

5) Do you write every day, if not how often?

No I don’t write every day, sometimes I go weeks without writing. I binge write as I call it meaning I write nonstop for a few weeks straight, leave for a few week then come back and finish.

6) What’s the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing about writing to me is incorporating more than just your main characters. For me I could have wrote about Ace and Tia all day but they had to have friends and a family. Making sure everything flowed and the timeline was right was also a challenge.

7) What are you working on at this moment?

I’m current working on the sequel to “Living in Fear” which should be out next year, along with my third novel not related to this series that I haven’t titled yet.










Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

YOUR Life Matters. . .Make it Count!




Sunday, July 27, 2014

An Author's Note. . .

Hello Everyone,

Many of you have reached out to me to inquire about my latest novel.  I'm happy to report it's coming along nicely.  I have about fifty pages completed and that may not seem like a lot to you, but I'm here to tell you that's PROGRESS!  Especially having not written a damn thing worth mentioning in three years.  So kudos to me!  (LOL)  This novel is different in that my chapters are much shorter, but still giving you the best drama that only I know how to spin all too well!   Trust and believe it will be well worth the wait!

The story I'm telling is not something I would normally write about.  I'm writing on shear faith and my wild imagination; however, having said that, as I mentioned to you before this story is really writing itself.  It's coming with such an ease, it's frightening to a degree, but I'm thrilled to be getting something on paper.

I want to send a special SHOUT OUT to all my supporters and fans who have hung in there with me and haven't given up on my talent.  I've learned a great deal in these last three silent years and I suppose that's a good thing.  My characters are taking me down a path I wasn't quite sure I was ready to embark upon, but I know they have my back.  As I mentioned to you before, I feel exhilarated and ready to go down the literary path again, something I thought was a thing of my past.  My writing is much stronger this time around and I realize, finally, that with each book comes its own set of challenges but growth and maturity also are brought forth to the table making writing fun for me again.


I credit, in part, my absence from the writing scene due to the shenanigans I see in the publishing and/or literary world.  I was so turned off by the things I saw being done to other authors it made me question whether this was something I wanted to continue to do.  I have many thanks, to you, my fans, for constantly hounding me about writing again and wanting to see how I've grown.  It's truly a blessing to have many of you show your love the way you have.  I can't thank you enough for entrusting in my abilities as an author to give you the type of entertainment you seek.  

Also, many of you have come to expect a new blog post every weekend and believe me I try to make sure I have something new for you each weekend, but as you see, I've been writing, and when the bug hits me, I've got to roll with it.  I do not want anything to stop my flow--seeing as how my flow had all but stopped.  I do not ever want to deal with that again.  It's my prayer to the writing Gods that they never allow me to go through such a slump.  My main goal is to stay focused and try not to worry about what I see happening around me.  I realize now I allowed a lot of negativity hinder my growth and therefore I lost my way.  I cannot and will not let that happen to me again.  

As I've told you before, writing is a crazy process.  The talent does what it wants to do when it wants to do it.  I cannot say for certain when my latest work will be available for your viewing eyes, but I can say it will be sometime within the next year or so.  If it's sooner, I will certainly keep you updated.


Ok. . .I hope this answers a few of your questions and know that I'm hard at work getting 'er done!  Hang in there, as you know I am.  Again, thank you so much for your kind words and support.  I look forward to rapping with you soon.  

P.S.  Please make sure to stick around and check out AAMBC this weekend.  You know I try to bring you the best of what the Indie world has to offer.  There are many of us out here and I think it's safe to say on behalf of all Indie authors, we appreciate your support!

Until next time, Happy Reading!






Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Bringing Words to Life. . .