Saturday, August 29, 2015

BLOG TOUR. . .Locket Full of Secrets

Greetings Intellectual Minds,

Welcome to this weekend's Locket Full of Secrets Blog Tour featuring Author, Dana Burkey. She's a talented writer offering her readers a refreshing new voice in the literary game.  To learn more about her and her novels, please check out the "Blog Tour" tab and find the banner also located on the right hand side of the blog.  

So, if you're looking for something different to read, why not feast your eyes on Ms. Burkey's latest novel, Locket Full of Secrets.  We're so lucky to have Dana!  Check out links and giveaways listed below.  Without further ado, get to know this up and coming talented author. Let's go. . .     


GET TO KNOW AUTHOR, DANA BURKEY






I graduated college from Youngstown State University in 2009 with a degree in theater and a minor in creative writing. I am currently living in Washington State in a little cabin in the woods with my cat Cato. I work full time at a kids camp, and spend my free time doing community theater and adventuring in nature! I am an avid geocacher, and love watching reality TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, and Big Brother! I am currently working on my next project that includes a few YA romances and a YA dystopian series!


How long have you been writing?

I started getting interested in writing when I was in 6th grade. Thanks to my English teacher who would give us fun writing prompts, I began really using my mind to create back stories and character ideas. From there I began writing poetry as a way to express my feelings, and then short stories to entertain my friends. In high school I began to realize my love for writing, so I started taking more writing classes and also classes where I got to read a lot of plays and books for class. Then, by the time I went to college, I knew I wanted to have writing as a part of my minor. So, I chose a creative writing minor to go with my theater major. After a long time away from writing after college, I published my first story just over a year ago. 

Do you research your stories or do you draw from personal experiences?
For my YA romance stories I mostly draw from experiences of my friends or myself. I add in some "what if's" along the way, but a lot of what I write is from real life. In the case of my most recent book Locket Full of Secrets, I did a ton of research. Since the events of the book take the readers to the site of the 1986 nuclear power plant meltdown in Chernobyl, Ukraine I had to make sure I had all the facts in place. It is a subject I have long been fascinated with, but I still made sure to brush up on all the facts going into writing the story so it would feel real for the readers. 


Take our readers through a typical writing day in the life of Dana Burkey? 

Although I write some during the week, I work full time so I tend to write the most on Saturdays. Usually I sleep in on Saturday, not rolling out of bed until around 10. Then, I go straight for the coffee pot! I get it going while I check my phone then fill up a massive cup before plopping myself in front of my computer. Over my first two cups of coffee I write as much as I can, starting with a new document on my computer so I do not get distracted with editing until the whole project I am working on is done. I will maybe make another pot of coffee, since mine only holds 4 cups, but I don't really eat anything until around 1 or 2 when I suddenly realize I have done nothing but write and drink coffee. I'll take a break while I make food, and turn on the TV for a bit if it was not already on in the background while I was writing. More than likely I will find a movie I have seen a few dozen times and put it on for the rest of the afternoon. I will pick a new movie while it is over, but it's always something I don't mind missing but enjoy enough to see yet again! Once I have some food in me I start to realize that I am not getting much else done, so I put in some laundry, or take a break to do dishes. I don't get too far usually, but I get a lot of writing done while avoiding more house work, so I am okay with that. I don't think about food again until quite late. It's usually around 8 or so, and despite not eating much all day I have to force myself to make food. I again go right back into writing, but it is a toss up as to weather or not I am actually making much progress. Sometimes I am super in the zone and writing a lot, and other times I am starting to end for the day. If I'm tired of writing, I will call it quits and watch a movie before bed. But, if I am really in the zone I might sit up until around midnight finishing. When I was writing Locket Full of Secrets last November, there were days I would writing up to 11,000 words in one Saturday. It helped me make up for days during the week where I could not write at all, and helped me write the whole first draft of the book in one month as a part of NaNoWriMo(National Novel Writing Month). 

What can you tell us about your latest novel without giving too much away? 

Locket Full of Secrets is at its core a book about a girl trying to rekindle a friendship with someone she has not seen in years. Claire is happy to welcome Olena back into her life, but it turns out to be a un-happy reunion when Olena kills a man then once again disappears from Claire's life. This time their separation is short lived when Olena finds Claire at college where she is finally starting to enjoy her school and her time with her new boyfriend Steven. Claire is not sure if she should give Olena yet another chance, but decides to help when Olena explains that she is in a lot of trouble since she killed the man that was sent to murder her. As the story unfolds readers will learn just how much trouble Olena is in, and watch as Claire and Steven do their best to help set things right. 

How long does it usually take you to write your novels?

When I write short stories and novellas I can often get them done in just a few days. Sometimes I can do an entire first draft in a weekend. For my longer projects like Locket Full of Secrets it can vary. I often start a project without knowing if I can actually finish it before I get distracted or my brain decides it needs a break for a while. In all, Locket took three years to go from ideas to the final draft, but the whole first draft was written in just a month. Currently I am working on a few projects that have been slow going for a while now. At least one of these will be my NaNoWriMo goal this year, so I hope to have it to readers before the end of the year. 

What sets your work apart from other authors in the same genre? 

I try to write things that the reader is not expecting. Why does the guy always need to get the girl? And why should everyone end up happily ever after? Sure, I like classic story ideas and fun elements of a genre the same as everyone else. But, I like to also throw in something that keeps the readers guessing and wondering what is coming next. And, just to be fair, I try to hint at things so readers who are smart will pick things up early on, and readers that don't see the signs ahead of time can go back and give it all a second look. 

What well-known author closely matches your style of writing and why? 

I don't know that my writing is the same as another author, but one author I really admire and look up to is Meg Cabot. The more of her books that I read, the more I want to entertain readers like she does. Her voice is very unique and fun in each new book, and the stories she tells have fun twists that readers do not always see. I hope one day I can be for readers what she has been for me. 

Did you go to school to learn to write creatively or did you discover your talent by accident?

I grew up in a home that was really creative, and really encouraged all creativity. I wrote for fun and for my friends for years, so when I went to college I decide to really explore my writing more. I thought about journalism for a little while, but knew that I was a fiction writing at my core. So, I minored in creative writing. It was fun to write in college, but my work was not well received. My classmates often criticized my work as being "young" and "juvenile." At the time I thought it meant I was not a good author, and stopped writing for quite a long time. But, as Young Adult fiction began gaining speed in the public eye, I realized it was the genre I had always been writing for, I just didn't know it! That realization gave me the courage and inspiration to start writing again, and also the desire to finally start self-publishing just over a year ago. 

Self-publishing has made it extremely easy for literally anyone to publish his/her own words, do you feel it helps or hurts the writing industry?

I think it has made it easy for authors to get their work out, and I think it is a great way to share your work. A few years ago I never thought I would share my work with others in this way, but now I am happy that I made the decision to try it out. I have loved the experience so far, and know that I will continue to write as long as I have more stories to tell. And if one day I get signed with a publishing house, great. But in the mean time I am not going to let the lack of a writing contract deter me from sharing my work with readers. 

The inspiration seeker or the inspiration finds you?

For the most part I feel that inspiration comes to me. I have a lot of ideas running through my head all day, so often little things make ideas for books spring up in my mind. I usually will write them down and then revisit them later to see if they are any good, or just something fun I thought about for a little while. In the past I have tried writing prompts to get me going on stories, but overall just wait for ideas to strike naturally.





SYNOPSIS:
After over 4 years, Olena comes rocketing back into Claire's life, changing everything for the worse. Picking up the shattered pieces, Claire is not sure who to believe. Is Olena who she says she is, or is she a killer to stay away from? Leaning on her new boyfriend Steven for support, Claire is faced with the choice on who to trust: a friend she barley knows, or a history lesson she barely remembers. Together, the three will begin a journey that will take Claire from the safety of her home to the last place she thought she would ever be: The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. With the wreckage of rector four looming behind her, Claire will have to see Olena's plan through until the end if she wants any chance of making it out alive.







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Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Being Creatively Inclined. . .
Keeps You Elevated.

Reach for the Next Level!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

An Oasis. . .

Greetings Intellectual Minds,

I'm sorry I've been slacking off. . .well, actually, I was on vacation and just got back and it occurred to me I hadn't scheduled a post for this weekend.  I'm sure many of you are getting it in too before the kids have to go back to school, or perhaps yourself.  I certainly hope you've enjoyed your summer thus far.  It's getting to that time when the weather gets cooler, but actually I almost couldn't tell.  Hell, summer literally just arrived at the end of July, if you want to keep it totally real! (LOL)

Anyhoo, I've been wondering if you've been keeping up with your reading challenges?  I've been a little bad this year, but through no fault of my own.  With electronics comes problems, and boy have I had my share of that mess!  I'll have to find a few short novels to read to catch up, but I'm sure I'll make up my time.  I think I may be six books down, but I have faith I'll get it together.

So, I'm going to keep this post short and sweet for two reasons.  First, I'm still coming down from my great break, and two, I'm a little sleepy and I think I'm going to take me a short nap before the day's out.  I finished cooking my dinner already so that I don't have to do it later on.  I'm getting myself prepared for the grind this week.  I can't wait until the end of next week because the Labor Day weekend will be here, and I could use that time off.  Trust me, no one is looking forward to that day more than me.  You need a stay-cation from the vacation!  Isn't that something?  You go away and need to be off another week to come down from that!  Crazy, but true.

Looking forward to the new season of Empire!  I hear it's gonna be even better than last, which I can't wait!  Welp, I'm gonna let you go!  Have a good week and we'll talk later this weekend!  Until then, Happy Reading. . .



Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

The Sky's the Limit. . .
or Does it Have to Be?



Saturday, August 15, 2015

Don't Blink Too Hard. . .

SYNOPSIS:

Over the past four decades, the landmark NBC hit television series I Dream of Jeannie has delighted generations of audiences and inspired untold numbers of teenage crushes on its beautiful blond star, Barbara Eden. Part pristine Hollywood princess and part classic bombshell, with innocence, strength, and comedic talent to spare, Barbara finally lets Jeannie out of her bottle to tell her whole story.

Jeannie Out of the Bottle takes us behind the scenes of I Dream of Jeannie as well as Barbara’s dozens of other stage, movie, television, and live concert performances. We follow her from the hungry years when she was a struggling studio contract player at 20th Century Fox through difficult weeks trying to survive as a chorus girl at Ciro’s Sunset Strip supper club, from a stint as Johnny Carson’s sidekick on live TV to tangling on-screen and off with some of Hollywood’s most desirable leading men, including Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, and Warren Beatty. From the ups and downs of her relationship with her Jeannie co-star Larry Hagman to a touching meeting with an exquisite and vulnerable Marilyn Monroe at the twilight of her career, readers join Barbara on a thrilling journey through her five decades in Hollywood. 

But Barbara’s story is also an intimate and honest memoir of personal tragedy: a stillborn child with her first husband, Michael Ansara; a verbally abusive, drug-addicted second husband; the loss of her beloved mother; and the accidental heroin-induced death of her adult son, just months before his wedding. With candor and poignancy, Barbara reflects on the challenges she has faced, as well as the joys she has experienced and how she has maintained her humor, optimism, and inimitable Jeannie magic throughout the roller-coaster ride of a truly memorable life. 

Illustrated with sixteen pages of photographs, including candid family pictures and rare publicity stills, Jeannie Out of the Bottle is a must-have for every fan, old and new.

Over the past four decades, the landmark NBC hit television series I Dream of Jeannie has delighted generations of audiences and inspired untold numbers of teenage crushes on its beautiful blond star, Barbara Eden. Part pristine Hollywood princess and part classic bombshell, with innocence, strength, and comedic talent to spare, Barbara finally lets Jeannie out of her bottle to tell her whole story. 

Jeannie Out of the Bottle takes us behind the scenes of I Dream of Jeannie as well as Barbara’s dozens of other stage, movie, television, and live concert performances. We follow her from the hungry years when she was a struggling studio contract player at 20th Century Fox through difficult weeks trying to survive as a chorus girl at Ciro’s Sunset Strip supper club, from a stint as Johnny Carson’s sidekick on live TV to tangling on-screen and off with some of Hollywood’s most desirable leading men, including Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, and Warren Beatty. From the ups and downs of her relationship with her Jeannie co-star Larry Hagman to a touching meeting with an exquisite and vulnerable Marilyn Monroe at the twilight of her career, readers join Barbara on a thrilling journey through her five decades in Hollywood.
 
But Barbara’s story is also an intimate and honest memoir of personal tragedy: a stillborn child with her first husband, Michael Ansara; a verbally abusive, drug-addicted second husband; the loss of her beloved mother; and the accidental heroin-induced death of her adult son, just months before his wedding. With candor and poignancy, Barbara reflects on the challenges she has faced, as well as the joys she has experienced and how she has maintained her humor, optimism, and inimitable Jeannie magic throughout the roller-coaster ride of a truly memorable life. 
 
Illustrated with sixteen pages of photographs, including candid family pictures and rare publicity stills, Jeannie Out of the Bottle is a must-have for every fan, old and new.



Review:

I have always been a fan of Barbara Eden. I never quite knew why I was so drawn to her? Was it her looks? Was it her charm? Was it the character she portrayed? Was it the cute cartoon depiction that opened the show? Although all of those things had me hypnotized, I’d have to say the thing that comes to mind is her realness. There’s something about her that she always personified the down-to-earth type of person, and after having read her memoir, I see I was right about her all along.

I remember the first time I saw her on I Dream of Jeannie and I loved her outfit, her silliness, smarts and charm. Of course, who could wait for her to say “Yes, Master,” and her famous Jeannie Blink. When you’d hear the little noise that signified she was about to blink, I’d get so excited. Call me crazy, but say what you want, that was good television! It was such good TV that you can find an old rerun of the show anywhere in the world at any given time--bringing forth new generations the opportunity to experience the Jeannie Blink and her sexy harem outfit. Factor in one of my all-time favorite authors, Sidney Sheldon, was the creator and writer of the show, so there goes two things that drawn me to the fantasy show. I used to sit and wish I had powers like Jeannie and her bottle she lived in was all that! She had that thing decked out. (LOL)

As usual, I always learn something about people when you read their life story, which is why I love biographies and memoirs. You get to hear, from the horse’s mouth, what really went on from their point of view and it also gives the entertainer the opportunity to clear the air and set the record straight on facts the media almost always blows out of proportion or takes their words out of context. One thing is for certain, Ms. Eden probably wished she could summon up the gifts Jeannie possessed when it came to her personal life.

She was married to the love of her life, Michael Ansara, who, like herself, was a great actor. They seemed to be a match made in heaven, by Ms. Eden’s own admission, and personally I think that she wishes things would have never changed between them. To be married to someone for fifteen years and have a tragic occurrence change the whole dynamic of what your family meant to you, is devastating to say the least. Having been forced to carry a stillborn baby to term knowing your son wasn’t alive, is absolutely horrendous to any parent. Unfortunately, at that time, she had no way of knowing she was suffering from Postpartum Syndrome because back then there wasn’t a label attached to it. The depression she went through took her out of her right mind thereby advising Michael she wanted out of their marriage. As much as he tried to keep their family together, she wasn’t having it. As I read her words, I got the distinct feeling that although her and Michael have new spouses they’ve been with for years now, if she could Jeannie Blink back there and change what happened, she’d still be married to Michael to this very day. 

I felt her pain as she talked about her son she and Michael shared that died of a drug overdose at the young age of thirty-five. OMG, I truly felt her words! It was moving and very touching. She truly opened up about the struggle she had with her only son and his drug problem. Even though she’s been married three times, what I love about her is she took her vows seriously. All the famous men who tried to get her to hop in the sack, she wasn’t having none of it, which is another reason why I respect her artistry so well. You can just tell she’s a no nonsense type of person. She was a square to some of her peers, but she was all business. It can never be said she slept her way to the top. She earned her acting chops the old-fashioned way without succumbing to the rigorous bullshit Hollywood puts forth. 

She openly discussed the problems on the set with her then co-star, Larry Hagman. I remember reading somewhere that he was a handful, and Lord knows she didn’t mince her words when it came to his behavior. It’s a wonder the show ever got off the ground. I loved her performance in Harper Valley PTA, the movie, and the television show adaptation. She still had that ummph! Even though I know she’ll always be best known for Jeannie, Ms. Eden is one hell of an actress and believable in whatever role she portrays. It’s no wonder she’s lasted this long in the business. I certainly hope Hollywood does a feature length movie of I Dream of Jeannie. It would be interesting to see who they cast to fill Ms. Eden’s shoes? ‘Cause trust me, those are some tough shoes to walk in. 

This was an amazing story with life’s usual ups and downs, but fun and light at times with all her stories of Hollywood's yesteryear.  Barbara Eden will always be a class act, in my opinion. She’s a star on and off the screen. You’ll love the photos she put in the book. If you haven’t had a chance to read this great memoir, please add it to your list. Mello & June give this novel five outstanding stars. May she always shine!


Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

We all could use a little Jeannie Blink in our Lives!



Saturday, August 8, 2015

Book Review: A Dog Fight. . .

SNYOPSIS:

Philosopher, Broadway headliner, fighter, felon—Mike Tyson has defied stereotypes, expectations, and a lot of conventional wisdom during his three decades in the public eye. Bullied as a boy in the toughest, poorest neighborhood in Brooklyn, Tyson grew up to become one of the most thrilling and ferocious boxers of all time—and the youngest heavyweight champion ever. But his brilliance in the ring was often compromised by reckless behavior. Years of hard partying, violent fights, and criminal proceedings took their toll: by 2003, Tyson had hit rock bottom, a convicted felon, completely broke, the punch line to a thousand bad late-night jokes. Yet he fought his way back; the man who once admitted being addicted to everything” regained his success, his dignity, and the love of his family. With a triumphant one-man stage show, his unforgettable performances in the Hangover films, and his new found happiness and stability as a father and husband, Tyson’s story is an inspiring American original.

Brutally honest, raw, and often hilarious, Tyson chronicles his tumultuous highs and lows in the same sincere, straightforward manner we have come to expect from this legendary athlete. A singular journey from Brooklyn’s ghettos to worldwide fame to notoriety, and, finally, to a tranquil wisdom,Undisputed Truth is not only a great sports memoir but an autobiography for the ages. 

REVIEW:

Words!  No one knows the importance of their impact more than a baby born on June 30, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York.  From the moment he set foot in the world, the stars had aligned differently.  To be told “you ain’t shit!” or “you’re worthless” and “you’re so dumb and stupid like me.”  Is there any wonder the trials and tribulations the ex-undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Michael Gerard Tyson, better known as Mike Tyson, had a rather chaotic life he’s led?

Mike’s mother certainly didn’t deserve the “Mother-of-the-Year Award,” but she gave Mike some very valuable lessons by ensuring her son would learn how to be a classic fuck up as he went through life.  Oh yeah, this is what every mother should want for her very own son!  Ummph, I’m surprised Mike has made it in life this far.  His beginnings were absolutely horrendous.  Having your mother beat on you for reasons only known to her; to having different men sleeping in their apartment with your young impressionable child watching.  He was cussed out on a daily and berated with unkind words and called every name but the name she gave him, and this made more than an impact on Mike Tyson.  He became the words his mother used to describe him.  Hell, why not go out and rob your neighbors, right?   Where’s the love?

That’s a good question, as Mike tries to find the answers searching through his tumultuous life as to why he is the way he is?!  What is he?  Many said he was an animal, and given the fact that he was known for taking a bite out of ears and an occasion thigh when the need arose, he was happy to have that bad boy persona.  Only problem with that was, he wasn’t truly happy with himself at all.  He had no self-worth, thanks to mommie dearest!  I like to give parents the benefit of the doubt because after all, they are human and of course they make mistakes, so I’m willing to turn a blind eye on some parenting, however, having said that, I cannot give Mike’s mom a pass.  What that woman did to her son was downright pure evil.  He still, to this day, struggles with his past deep-rooted pains all at the hands of his mother.  She never loved her son, at least that’s the perception I got from reading his life story.  And I’m positive Mike would agree with me.  She’s the reason for almost all of his problems.

Mike certainly cannot blame his mother for every mistake he’s made in life, and he’d probably be the first to admit that.  He’s made some very bad choices in life.  Going to jail at a young age was probably the best gift he could have been given.  For had he not gone, he would have never met his angels.  Cus D’Amato, his Italian adoptive father, life coach and trainer and Camille, his adoptive mother.  Thanks to his explosive anger, one of the probation officers took notice and told Mike he should channel that anger into the ring.  Who could believe that when Mike was a little boy, he was bullied and beat up on—“Iron” Mike Tyson bullied?  Say what?  Yeah, isn’t that amazing?  He didn’t start out as “Iron” Mike.  Not only was he bullied, but he didn’t exhibit the best hygiene and the kids literally ripped him a new one for not having the latest clothes and fads.  Never mind he was poor, kids can be brutal, and Mike certainly was the brunt of many of their jokes.  This turned him onto his criminal activity.  There’s always a devil lurking ready to give you your life’s lessons at a price.  Luckily, the cost was Cus and Camille.

Once he was taken under their wings, he began to do well and stay out of trouble, but one thing I noticed throughout the entire memoir, the “T” doesn’t just stand for Tyson, but more so “Trouble!”  It always finds him.  From his two failed marriages, to all the money he lost due to allowing others to handle his affairs.  No matter how much he tried to get out from under, trouble had a way of finding and engulfing his existence to the point he became a drug addict.  What better way to dull the pain of your horrible being than with drugs.  His drug of choice was Cocaine.  And Lord knows I don’t know why any woman in her right mind would sleep with him.  This man not only is a recovering drug addict, but he’s a sex addict as well.  He felt privileged because he was the Champ, had  more than enough wealth and women were a part of that equation. 

Mike went into great lengths describing all the women he slept with.  He told things that I felt was waaaaay too much information, but I guess he wanted to keep it very real with his fans and to set the record straight.  While I’m talking about one of my favorite fighters of all-time, I am going to say this here and now as I did back in the day.  I never believed, nor will I ever believe, that Mike Tyson raped Desiree Washington.  I defended him then and I’m still defending his honor.  I think its deplorable that this man has to register in every state he visits that he’s a sex offender because if he doesn’t, he can go to jail—all thanks to Desiree being upset that he dissed her!  He laid out the whole scenario and I believe every word he said.  I believed him then, so nothing has changed in my mind.  What I’d like to know is what happened to Miss Thang now?  She’s got to live with the lies she’s told.  This man has probably slept with more women than Wilt Chamberlain, and I’m not exaggerating.  He had no reason to rape any woman.  Now, could he be rude and downright nasty and impolite, oh yeah, you betcha, but rape—HELL NO!  I’ve never believed that and I never, ever will.  The only way I’d be a believer is if I saw it happen with my own eyes.  And I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, unless someone had video, which there isn’t any. 

Money makes people do strange things, and the more money you make, the more people act a damn fool, and with Mike, that was all too familiar.  Everyone wanted a piece of Iron Mike Tyson’s money—damn the man, just fork over the money!  Unfortunately, having all those millions and probably close to billions, he’s not that wealthy anymore.  In fact, he’s broke compared to what he was then.  Had he made smarter decisions and better staff working for him, instead of the entourage he sometimes hung around, he’d be living on easy street now. 

I did enjoy watching his one-man show The Undisputed Truth which Spike Lee directed.  It was outstanding!  I thought Mike did a great job, but unfortunately, I wish his memoir would have been edited down like his one-man show.  OMG, this book was waaaaaaay too long!!  I don’t feel his editor did a great job toning down all the extra stuff Mike was saying.  I appreciate that he was keeping it one hundred—I so get that, but there comes a time when you have to edit yourself.  The man talked about the same stuff over, and over and over again and it liked to drove me insane.   Wooo talk about #teamtoomuch!  Oh yeah, way overboard!  This book could have been about three to four hundred pages instead of over six hundred.  Those extra pages were all the interviews Mike did, literally and several chapters of him getting high.  He snorted so much coke, I caught a contact from reading it.  Jesus, too, too much!  All the women he slept with, too, too much!  From going to the bathroom and the whole nine, Mike, listen baby, too, too much!  Toooooo much! 

But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book.  I absolutely did, but I must admit I skipped a few chapters near the end because it just got to be so redundant and there wasn’t any point.  I learned a great deal about Iron Mike and I have to say, I’m glad to see he’s trying to get his life on point and stay clean.  I know it’s never easy, but you do what you have to do.  This was a pretty decent read.  Mello and June give this memoir four stars.  I think had this book been edited to a more reasonable level, this would have been a five-star read.  Best of luck to you and your family, Mike.  You’re still my Champ!



Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Sticks and Stones. . .
May Break my Bones. . .
But Names will Never Hurt Me?

Not True!  Words Can Hurt!

Be Very Careful How YOU Wield Them!



Saturday, August 1, 2015

This is How WE Do. . .

Hello Intellectual Minds,

Can you believe we're eight months into 2015. OMG, didn't we just start this year, and now we're fast approaching year end. Truly amazing!

Anyhoo, it's a new month and you already know what this is. . .that's right, it's AAMBC Time and boy do we have a great selection of books for you to sink your intellectual teeth into.  So without further ado, let's get this party poppin'. . .


Crossroad: a point at which a vital decision must be made.

On February 6, 2006, Precious Jackson had to make one of the most devastating choices that anyone has ever had to make; to live or die. Precious’ world was shattered as she peered at it through a broken mirror. Hiding behind a mask of well put together smiles and faces, Precious’ eyes told the story that burdened her soul. Warding off issues of abandonment, failed relationships, delving into poor decision-making due to a lack of self-confidence; and rescuing others from their problems, Precious was not prepared for the storm that was brewing her way. Not heeding the warning signs that God placed before her, Precious fell into emotional and spiritual bankruptcy. There was nothing left in her; Precious had pronounced herself dead!

In 2015, with a rejuvenated spirit for life, Precious reveals her journey. With a clear view of her authentic self, Precious explores and resolves the roots that kept her bound. Breaking free from past hurt and pain, Precious now experiences; love, laughter, strength and most of all, the courage to share her story. Knowing now that life will throw you curve balls, Precious reminds us that we sometimes create our own chaos.

“We have choices; we can stay stuck and play the victim role, or we can take responsibility for the decisions that we’ve made, learn from our mistakes, heal, recover and live our lives to its fullest potential!!” –Precious

EXCERPT

A MOMENT OF CLARITY

They say the first thing to do is admit that, your life is in shambles and I did. When I admitted to myself that I was tired of all the hurt and chaos that my marriage was bringing, a light began to shine. One Saturday in October 2005 is a day that will always be embedded in my brain. I was going through a vicious cycle of co-dependency. Trevon was “on one”—antsy, discontent and dis-eased! He’d spent all of his money and his habit was starting to spill over into our household finances, not to mention, my purse. Instead of dealing with Trevon’s dramatics, I went to the grocery store and wrote a check over the amount of the purchase so that I could get cash back to tide me over until I received my paycheck. That same night I came home from a children’s event that I attended with my nieces and Trevon was waiting for me as I entered the door. 

I could tell by his behavior that he’d been using but he still asked to use my car to go over to his homie’s house. Now let me remind you, I did say this man had been using all day. I knew because I was the one who gave him the money to cop some drugs and at that very moment, he was tweaking. Trying to be rational, I attempted to convince Trevon not to go anywhere since we hadn’t spent any time together. Just picture me, a woman who has never used drugs a day in her life standing in front of a person who is irrational and addicted to crack and trying to have a rational conversation. Being the master manipulator that he was, Trevon convinced me to let him use the car. He promised that he would be right back. As he walked out of the door, I yelled, “Please come back tonight because you know I have to go to work on Monday.” In my heart, I knew he wasn’t coming right back because having my car gave him the motivation he needed to stay out for four or five days like he always did. I still didn’t have the courage not to let him go. Sunday came and I decided to do some chores around the house. I popped in a video and listened to Bishop Noel Jones. My spirit weighed on me heavily and I felt convicted about the night before. That was when I knew something was wrong with me. 

My inner spirit began to speak to me and it was something fierce: Precious! What is wrong with you? How can you let that man continuously talk you into letting him use your car and you know he’s going to get drugs and stay out for three days! For me, this was my moment of clarity. You see, Trevon was not the only one with a problem; I had a problem as well. I allowed God to open my eyes and let me see my own reflection. I could hear the women at the Co- Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) meetings bearing witness about how they were able to build up their self-esteem by putting themselves first and knowing their own self-worth. I could hear one lady telling her story loud and clear. She spoke about how she put her life on the back burner to support her husband’s addiction. She covered up for him if he missed work. She lost her own identity because she was so focused on taking care of his problems and his needs. Her last statement was powerful and it resonates in my mind to this day: “I’m tired of getting the LAST end of the stick!” At that very moment, I could feel those words building me up. I, too, was tired of being tired. I made the decision to pack my bags and leave my drug-filled life. 

Precious A. Jackson of South Los Angeles is the author of Revelations: Unveiling the Mask. Born during a time where social prejudices were very relevant, she relied on the values instilled her to become an independent college graduate who reached back to lend a helping hand within her community. Teaching others to pay it forward became her motivation until she was taken on an emotional roller coaster ride when her doctor delivered the devastating news that she tested positive for HIV.

Not giving strength to her diagnosis, Precious knew what her next mission would be; to educate both men and women equally on the importance of getting tested and protecting themselves at all cost.

Adamant about bringing awareness to everyone, Precious has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, BET News Special and Newsweek, Essence and Ebony Magazines. In 2008, she was given the opportunity to travel to Cape Town, South Africa with Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Sister Circle, a program of the Diva Foundation that helps to create a global connection and movement with other women whom were infected with HIV.

The courageous Mantra that Precious shouts to the world comes from the words of Maya Angelou “Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” These words purposely filled her with inspiration and guided her on the quest to bring change among those infected and uninfected.

Today, Precious is empowering others to be courageous in announcing they are beautiful and helps them face their battles of self-esteem issues. Receiving the Social Service Provider Award from the Los Angeles County Women’s HIV/AIDS Task Force and a certification as a HIV Testing Counselor and Hepatitis C Community Educator’s trainer, Precious is always delving into the lives of others to help them survive.

Realizing that her education status was very important to her, she faced the thought of those who needed more than just a dose of a feel good moment. Precious put her pen to paper and released her life story of struggles and pain to show that if she can heal and recover, you can too!!


Get to Know Precious:


Where Were You Born?

I was born in San Bernardino, CA and was raised in South Central Los Angeles by my paternal grandmother and step grandfather. I had a good childhood growing up. My grandmother was a stay home wife while my grandfather was the breadwinner of the home. I had the privilege of having my grandmother participate in my education. She made sure I did my homework, attended every parent-teacher conference, and did what I call “drive-bys” she would come to the school unannounced just to check to see if I was paying attention in class. I was a good student, but I loved to talk so, I would get disciplined. Because of my grandmother’s strong believe in education, I excelled in school.

Is This Your First Book Project?

Yes, this is my first book that I’ve written and I plan on writing more books. The next book I’ll write will be about my childhood through my adult life and when I tested positive for HIV in 1998. After testing HIV positive, I decided that I wanted to empower women to stay HIV negative or if they were positive themselves how to stay healthy by telling my story of how I acquired HIV.

What Was Your Motivation For Writing Your First Book?

I’ve always been told I should write my book about how I acquired HIV and how I’ve become an HIV advocate powerhouse. I wasn’t motivated to write a book then because I felt people already knew about my story. Being the fact, that I’ve appeared on several news specials like K-Cal 9, BET News Special “Down Low Exposed.” I’ve been in Essence Magazine, Ebony Magazine and I also appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006. In 2013, I was talking to my good friend/brother Corey and we were discussing our life struggles and Corey discussed how he struggled with drug addiction. Corey explained to me a phrase they say in Narcotics Anonymous “full flight from reality” when he explained that phrase that’s when the light bulb went on. I knew then, I needed to tell my story of how I struggled with making wrong choices which lead to a physical altercation with my ex-husband and how I was able to heal and recover.

What Is Your Favorite Chapter? And Why?

My favorite chapter is “A Moment of Clarity”. In this chapter, I finally recognized not only did my ex-husband have a problem (drug addiction) but I had a problem, too (co-dependency). I enabled him to continue his lifestyle due to my need to be needed in a relationship and to feed my appetite to control. When a person attempts to control another human being this means that this person refuses to take responsibility for their own actions and decisions.

How Long Did It Take For You To Write Your Book?

It took me 1 year to write my book. When I started, I was motivated and excited and then I hit a low after writing about the physical altercation with my ex-husband. I became depressed not wanting to write so I stopped writing for 6 months. After my father became ill I started to get the motivation to write again, but then as his illness became terminal I didn’t have the time due to taking care of my father. After my father passed it was like I had a burst of energy and I plummet through until I completed the manuscript in April 2014. The book was finally released on May 5, 2015.

If a Person Would Like To Write a Book Would You Recommend a Book Coach?

I would recommend if a person has never written a book to sit down with a book coach. Seek out a book coach who has written books themselves whether they’ve self-published, or if they went through a publishing company. The book coach should have knowledge and resources on how to copyright your book, resources on book cover designers, editors, and discuss on a weekly basis your progress on your book writing journey.

How Do You Market Your Book?

I utilize social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and my website. I’ve also hired a publicist to help me email press releases about my book to past journalist who I’ve interviewed with from Essence, Ebony, Poz and HIVPlus Magazines. Also, my publicist will be booking book readings and signings at different venues.

Find the Author and the Book:


Amazon:






Synopsis – A sizzling melting pot of captivating, romantic, realistic, satisfying, and gratifying, Intimate Sessions 101 by Nadège is a collection of seven short stories that allow readers to totally immerse themselves in pure literary ecstasy — moment-by-moment, stroke-by-stroke. Each sexual adventure will leave readers delightfully pleased, yet yearning for more. Intimate Sessions explores encounters of the most steamy, risky, seductive, and romantic persuasions, surely to incite and quench your sexual thirst.

Nadège comes equipped with knowledge of what it really takes to make things hot, and she spreads that knowledge with Intimate Sessions, her first lesson. As readers journey through the tales, the feeling to put themselves in the stories cannot be fought. The stories may even be a source of inspiration for readers’ own personal rendezvous.

REVIEW: “Intimate Sessions” is a fast, entertaining, and adventurous read. It is a book that caters to the imagination and provides a platform of escapism to anyone that is blessed to read it. I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE in ANY walk of life. Author Nadege is a talented writer and I am fortunate to have read her first of many publications.”

Excerpt – We giggle softly, and he then lifts me so that I’m laid out across the counter top. After he removes my panties off his head, he spreads open my legs, ready to have his first taste of my honey. With gentle fingers, he exposes my waiting clit; he sucks and licks in slow, circular motions. With every lick, I moan in ecstasy. My honey seeps out and soon there is nothing but the slurping of his mouth. I grab the back of his head and push his face deeper. He is in a frenzy of licking and sucking, both of us moaning. He draws back his mouth and pants quick, hot breaths on my clitoris, creating the sensation of an air vibrator, driving me further into passion’s intense embrace. Overwhelmed by the sensation, I jump up and hit my head on the hanging lamp while trying to stop him, but he just pushes me back down with one hand.

I am cumming in intense waves, my body trembling with the pleasure of having my thighs squeezing him tight, barely letting him breathe as his tongue probes ever more deeply, hitting my g-spot. In the midst of it all, plates and glasses fall from the counter, shattering from all of our movement. I scream with fiery passion while grinding against his mouth, riding him hard. My cum flows like a river of honey from a jar, slow and sweet and thick, every nerve in my body singing with bliss. Turning him into a mindless servant of my pussy, his only need is to make me cum again and again and again.

Get to Know the Author, Nadège:

Born into a Haitian family of doctors, engineers, nurses and entrepreneurs, it was only a matter of time before Nadège tapped the potential of her family heritage. At the bubbly age of seven, she used her natural gift of leadership to organize and hire a team of employees to run her lemonade stands.

Like many women of today Nadège wears many hats; manager, publicist, artist developer, event coordinator and now writer. An entrepreneur with a diva style Nadège states, “I need to have options, I cannot be stuck in one category it only stifles my creativity.”

Receiving a Bachelor Degree in Communications at Northeastern University, Nadège never thought that life was going to shift her course. She embraced the challenge and started to publish her works online for friends’ eyes only, she began to receive positive feedback. Her desire to write grew along with her friends’ hunger for more of her exceptionally stimulating erotica titillation. In 2010, she was encouraged enough to compile her stories into a book called Initiate Sessions.

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

It fell into my lap. When I was in my late 20’s I said I wanted to write a book but that was it, I never did anything about it. Until 2005 when I was bored at work and saw that MySpace had a feature were you can post your thoughts and others can comment on them. That’s when I wrote my first short story, The Club.

2. How long does it take you to write a book?

It varies. When I started writing, I didn’t have a goal of writing to publish a book. I continued writing my very short detailed and intense sex stories because my online readers kept on wanting more. So whenever I was bored, I would write until I saw I had 20 short stories in my file. I started writing in 2005 and published in 2012. Now my second book, I started writing mid last year and I’m almost done.

3. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I got my ideas from my imagination, fantasies, experience, research, listening toother’s telling me their stories.

4. What does your family think of your writing?

They are all proud of my accomplished especially since no one had any idea that I was doing this. Some of them have not read my book because they said they don’t want to know how I think. Lol

5. Do you hear from your readers much?

I do, I get a lot of private messages asking for advice with their relationship. The most common question that I get asked, is “how much of these stories are your true experiences?” and I always answer “A writer never tells.”

6. What do you think makes a good story?

Character building and being very specific in the scenes. As a writer, I want you to be in the moment.

7. Are you working on an upcoming book?

Yes I’m currently working on my next book “It’s Not Complicated”. It’s a romantic/erotic novel, very different from my first book.


Find the Author and the Book:




The Trailer



Book is available on Amazon: paper back or kindle







When a simple drug bust turns into a shootout, Officer Danny Bryson s life is forever changed. He takes some time off to deal with the situation but when his money starts to run low, he is forced to return to work. Upon returning, Danny discovers that things have changed. Due to the economy, overtime is not as plentiful as it once was. With a kid on the way, Danny is now struggling just to make ends meet. In an effort to make more money, Danny, along with two fellow officers decide to start shaking down local drug dealers. Everything is sweet until they cross paths with Stacks Bronson, the Cleveland drug lord with an insatiable appetite for violence. Refusing to be extorted by dirty cops, Stacks flexes his muscle and wards off the crooked police. But when Stacks close friend and right hand man is killed in a botched shake down and the police department covers it up, Stacks snaps. Consumed with revenge, Stacks assembles an army and wages war against the entire precinct. The city isn't big enough for Danny AND Stacks and when it all comes to a head, a surprise third party will decide which one lives and which one meets their maker.

Excerpt:

First Starr Baptist church was filled to capacity. Sam Thornton may have been a scandalous low life drug dealer but based on the attendance of his home going service, you would think he was the most popular man in Cleveland. Paula set in front of the church as still as a statue. For the last 20 minutes her eyes had been glued to the coffin holding the corpse of her deceased son. Other mourners mistook her lack of tears for a show of strength. But they were wrong. She simply had no more tears to give. Gut wrenching pain ripped through her heart as she continued to stare. Ever so slightly she nodded her head in approval of the charcoal gray colored pin-striped suit she’d picked out for him to wear. The mortician had done a masterful job of making Sam look like he was merely asleep. Suffice to say Sam looked better in death than he ever had in life. 

Out the corner of her eye Paula spotted a large big chested woman making her way down the center of the aisle. She was wearing a loud turquoise blue dress that look to be two sizes too small. Mascara-streaked tears ran down her face. She was holding the hand of a small child who looked to be no older than four. The boys hair looked like it hadn’t been combed in days. His clothes were dingy and ruffled while his shoes, which had clearly seen better days, were torn and scarred. As she approached the casket Paula noticed for the first time the woman appeared pregnant. Paula was at a loss for words. This was the first time that she’d ever laid eyes on this woman. A sudden thought ran through her mind. ‘My God, is that my grandson? Is she carrying my grandbaby?’ Paula squinted her eyes and trained them on the boy. Just as she tilted her head to get a better view, the boy turned his head in such a way that she was able to get a clearer look. She gasped. Any doubt she had disappeared. Without a DNA test she couldn’t be sure, but looking at his face told her all she needed to know. 

The young boy was the spitting image of Sam. Paula’s heart ached. ‘Why would Sam do this? Why would he intentionally deny me the right to see my grandkids? I can’t believe he would…’ The thought stopped as she suddenly remembered an argument she’d had with him about five years ago. It stuck out in her mind because it was the only time she’d ever seen her son shed a tear as an adult. It was also the last time she’d taken a drink. Paula recalled vividly telling her only son that she had no use for a bastard grandchild and that the only way she would except any grandchild was if the mother and father were married. Pain and guilt shot through her body. She would give anything to take those words back now. Paula’s heart sank a little lower as she watched the woman lean down and kiss Sam on his forehead. She then ushered the child forward and whispered to him. “Say goodbye to your daddy,” she said. Although it was totally inaudible to the rest of the church, Paula heard it loud and clear. 

The tear ducts that had dried up in her eyes found their reserves and caused pain to flow from her soul. Paula let out an ear piercing scream as her cheeks became saturated with tears. Either the woman didn’t notice or didn’t pay her any attention because she simply grabbed the child’s hand and walk to find a seat. Paula wanted so badly to run to the woman and scoop her grandson up into her arms. he made a vow to herself that after the service she would approach the woman and make arrangements to spend time with her grand kids. She was also going to make sure that they never again wanted for anything. She was going to spoil them rotten. Nothing would be to good for them. Paula had money as would have no problem spending it on them. Trips to Cedar Point would be the norm. She would also use her considerable clout to get them enrolled into the best schools. “Don’t worry son. I’ll take care of them,” she whispered softly, staring at her son. Paula momentarily lost a breath as the funeral directors lowered Sam’s head and closed the casket. 

The Pastor then began the service by telling people how full of life Sam had been and how he’d known him since his pre-teen years. Of course he didn’t mention how Sam would routinely sell him cocaine to sniff. Or how Sam would sometimes rent hotel rooms in his name so that the Pastor could fulfill his sick, twisted fantasies of screwing under aged girls. By the time he’d got done singing Sam’s praises anyone who didn’t know Sam would think he was the best thing since plea bargaining. The funeral, short by most standards, ended with Paula walking up to Sam’s casket and gently kissing it just before the pall bearers carried it to the hearse. Her legs threatened to give out but Joyce being the supportive girlfriend that she was wouldn’t allow her to fall. Next came the part of the funeral that Paula hated the most. Going to the cemetery. The ride was by far the longest ride of Paula’s life. As they entered the gates of Evergreen Resting Place, Joyce patted Paula’s leg reassuring her that everything would be okay. Paula returned the gesture, causing heat to rush up Joyce’s leg. Knowing it was the wrong time and place for her sexual cravings to be acting up, she grab Paula’s hand as removed it from her thigh giving it a gentle squeeze and masking her desires. The two of them it out if the hearse and Paula’s legs tremble as they approached the gravesite. The Pastor zipped through scriptures of the bible faster than anyone expected. 

His mind was on his next door neighbor’s fifteen year old daughter, who he’d caught smoking a blunt in her backyard. The deal the two of them had struck up in exchange for his silence nearly had him creaming in his pants. After the final words were spoken, Paula and the pregnant woman with the child stood on opposite sides of the casket staring at it. It struck Paula as odd that the woman never even looked at her, let alone introduced herself and her child. What Paula didn’t know was that Sam had lied and told the woman that his mother was dead. Since the woman was too heartbroken to read the obituary at the time she still believed as such. The woman left first and Paula’s eyes followed her to a blue Ford Mustang. Paula quickly pulled a pen and piece of paper from her purse and jotted down the license plate number. She was determined to be a part if her grand kid’s lives. After making sure that her child was safely secured inside the car, the woman strapped herself in and started the engine. Suddenly, about fifty feet back from where she was parked, an engine roared to life. Tires screeched as an SS Monte Carlo tore through the cemetery road and skidded to a stop right beside the Mustang. Two older men who were crossing at that particular location met an untimely demise as the Monte Carlo slammed into them and propelled them both twenty feet into the air. 

They landed on an unmarked gravesite, dead. Paula watched in horror as a masked gunman jumped out of the passenger’s side and sprayed the Mustang with bullets. The death tickets being spit out of the Uzi shattered the glass and easily ripped into the human flesh. The screaming woman tried in vain to undo her seat belt and sling herself onto her helpless child. The bullets seemed to go in slow motion to her as she helplessly watched slug after slug penetrate her son’s priceless body. The child never had a chance as two bullets hit him in the face and several more crashed through his frame. The woman screamed her son’s name and flung herself across him in a vain attempt to protect him. She didn’t have long to grieve however as more bullets spit from the Uzi and hit her in the back of the head. They tunneled through and opened up the front of her face like a busted watermelon. The gunman jumped back into the car yelling for the thug driving to punch the gas. The driver weaved through the grass at a frantic pace knocking over various head stones along the way.

Get to Know CJ:


Author C.J Hudson hails from the east side of Cleveland where he grew up surrounded by crime, violence, and drugs. Determined to not succumb to that way of living, he attended Kent State university for one year. An avid reader for the past twenty-one years, C.J was introduced to urban fiction by his future wife when she gave him Carl Weber’s Married Men. Although he enjoyed his first urban fiction novel, C.J craved to read about the type of street stories that he saw on a daily basis in the inner city. That’s when he started going to Borders and searching out Street lit books. He quickly came across K’wan’s classic novel Gangsta. He then went on a reading barrage and read everything from T-Styles to Triple Crown novels. Shortly after that C.J was laid off from his job as a machine operator. While laid off, C.J. decided to try his hand at writing. After writing his first manuscript entitled Skeletons, he wrote the manuscript that got him a publishing deal, Chedda Boyz. Since dropping his debut novel, C.J has penned eleven more novels.

1) What do you feel is the biggest problem with the new authors coming out today?

Putting out unedited material. Now a days it seems like new authors are in such a rush that they fail to do one of the most important aspects of releasing a book.

2) What do you think about authors who write in more than one genre?

I love it. In my opinion, it shows the dexterity of a writer. It takes a special talent because not everyone can do it.

3) What do you feel is the biggest problem with Ebooks?

The fact that people can buy them, read them, and then turn around and return them. That’s some bullshit! There should be a four hour time limit on them, meaning if you have them for more than four hours you can’t return them.

4) In your opinion, how important is advertising?

It’s very important. You could have the best book in the world but if nobody knows about it, it won’t sell.

5) Name five authors you would like to do an anthology with.

Kwan, T Styles, Treasure Blue, June Miller, and J Tremble.

6) How long does it take you to write a book?

It depends on my mood and how much I’m feeling the book. Sometimes it flows like water, and other times it flows like molasses. I think Chedda Boyz was written the fastest, about a month and a half.

7) Do you think Urban Fiction/ Street Lit will ever get the props it deserves?

Probably not. People shun what they don’t understand. A lot of people are very hypocritical when it comes to something like this. They will watch a porn movie but won’t read Next Door Nympho because they will say it contains too much sex.

Find the Author:

Facebook handles: CjThewriterhudson & Author C.J Hudson
Twitter handle: AUTHOR C.J HUDSON
Instagram handle: AUTHORCJHUDSON

Ebook link:

Paperback link:





Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Knowledge is Power. . .
Get you Some!