Saturday, August 4, 2012

YOU Know What TIME It Is!

Alright, Alright Now!  It's about that time to Showcase some of the Hottest African-American Independent Authors in the Book Biz!  Show Your Love for these Great Writers!  And don't forget, with Back-to-School around the corner, these would make a nice addition to all your electronic devices.  Let's Go!



SYNOPSIS:

Mack Mama has defied all odds and after being counted out by many she rises from the ashes of defeat. She served a total of 13 years in prison and after her last stint, she chose to concentrate on her music and literary talents. Her debut novel happens to be the story of her tumultuous life. “Make no mistake, I wrote my memoir not to glorify my lifestyle, but to save the children that are going down the wrong path. Hopefully they will say “If Mack Mama can change, so can I!”

Born addicted to heroin, and taught to shoplift by watching her mother steal to support her habit. Mack Mama was destined for destruction. When her mother died from the AIDS virus, Mack spiraled out of control. She was bitter, and disgruntled, using her mother’s death as an excuse to destroy her life. She became very vicious, and treacherous, as she adapted to the grimey streets of Brooklyn in the 80’s. Drugs, violence, and sex ,was the norm. Mack Mama partakes in it all. As she searches for her sanity, she purges her soul in this shockingly honest memoir. Mack Mama was well known for being a hustler, and lived a lavish lifestyle, but after various bids in prison she realizes that she wasn’t beating the system. She, was getting beat and wasting her life behind bars.

She suffered from domestic abuse from her spouse, who was nine years, her senior, and inevitably became the abuser in her relationships with women. Her last prison stint changed her life and started her on her road to redemption. TALES OF AN ORIGINAL BAD GIRL is indeed a page-turner and a revelation, about the author’s wild life. She describes her life honestly, and with raw detail, taking the reader into the story as witness to the insanity of urban life in the underworld of Brooklyn, New York.

EXCERPT:
This is the chapter that I really want my daughter and other young girls in the world to analyze and learn from. I ruined the first part of my life by making all of the wrong choices. I was using my mother’s mistakes and her life as an excuse to destroy my own. That was truly sad. I would never want anybody to repeat the mistakes that I made. I hope by telling my story, it will prevent young girls who can relate and dealing with similar situations from wrecking their lives.

I started selling drugs for a local dealer named Kelvin Martin a.k.a. Fifty Cent. He was the gangster from Fort Green projects who the rapper, Curtis Jackson, named himself after. I had decided to switch up my hustle because I was getting too hot in the stores. I took a shot at selling crack. I hated staying with my mother because of all the drug activity that she brought into our apartment. It became a crack den, and she started stealing from me to feed her addiction. My home had become a living nightmare. I just wanted to make a lot of money and get my own crib. I had dreams of getting rich by selling drugs, but boy did that turn into a fiasco.

I worked for twenty percent off of every hundred that I made, which was a measly amount for all of the risk that I took. Fifty Cent knew that if I got caught, I wouldn’t do anytime due to my juvenile status. My downfall was that I wanted to buy clothes from the crack head boosters and, before I knew it, I had dipped into his cut of the money too many times. I didn’t realize it until the shorts began to add up, and he brought it to my attention the hard way. Fifty sent Crime, one of his lieutenants to bring me to meet him. I was very nervous. He had never dealt with me directly, and I was intimidated to meet the infamous gangster. He was known for his ruthlessness, and I didn’t know what to expect. I was brought to a building in Farragut Houses, the projects where we sold the drugs, and then escorted to the roof for the meeting. It was all done in silence. I almost shitted my pants when I stood in front of him. It was not his stature, because he was all of fight foot three. He was a little man with a deep growl and, when he spoke, it’s almost like he was barking at you “YO, B***H WHAT UP WITH MY MONEY?” he barked. I almost collapsed.

“What do you me-mea-mean?" I stuttered, shaking uncontrollably. I knew exactly what he meant. My shopping had caught up with me, and I was about to feel it.

“Well since you don’t know what I’m talking about, how ‘bout I tell you, he stated calmly then roared, “I WANT MY MOTHERF*****G MONEY, NOW! B***H, YOU BEEN DIPPING AND YOU OWE ME FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS HOE!”
“I didn’t dip in your money. I swear to god,” I cried. I was beginning to hyperventilate. I looked at him and Crime wildly, trying to figure out how I was going to get out of the situation, and wondering why the hell were we having this discussion on the roof.

“I WANT MY SHIT, B***H! OR YOU ‘GONNA HAVE TO SUCK ME AND MY MAN’S D**K RIGHT NOW” I was horrified at the thought and sick to my stomach. My mind was racing and, all I knew was, I wasn’t going to suck nobody’s d**k.

“IT WASN’T ME!!” I yelled frantically, trying to convince this ruthless, cold-blooded killer that I didn’t steal his drug money. I started telling on the other worker, and blaming her for everything. I didn’t care! All I knew was I wasn’t going down by myself.

‘B***H, IF YOU DON’T COME UP WITH MY LOOT, I’MA THROW YOUR A** OFF THIS F*****G ROOF” he threatened, his growl as ferocious as a Lion when he attacks his prey.

“I will get you your money. Please don’t killllllllllllllll meeeeeee” I started wailing.  “B***H, SHUT UP! I’M GOING TO MURDA’ YOUR ASS IF YOU DON’T GET MY MONEY TO ME BY TOMORROW.” He dragged me to the edge of the roof, and squeezed my neck, and whispered in my ear, “Hoe, you better have my money” then he abruptly released me. Most importantly, he didn’t sodomize me, which I was forever grateful for. After telling my mother and my sister’s father, who was staying with my mom at the time, what transpired, they both managed to come up with four hundred dollars, so that I wouldn’t die. That was one time that my mother put me before getting high. She knew the situation was serious. Plus, with the reputation that Fifty Cent had in the streets, she wasn’t going to let her baby get hurt. I loved her for that.

That was the end of my stint as a drug dealer. I never tried that bullshit again. I was utterly traumatized. Ironically, a few months later, I started messing with him. This was not by choice, but by demand. I was visiting my best friend’s aunt when in walked my worst nightmare-Fifty Cent. I was in complete shock, and I nearly fainted. I was hoping to never lay eyes on dude again, but there he was, standing in the doorway with an evil grin on his face. “Come here, bitch! Long time, no see” He said smirking at me. “Hi, Fifty” I said meekly, hoping he would finish talking to his aunt. I had no idea that she was even related to him. He grabbed my arm and dragged me into the other room like a caveman, and then flung me onto the bed. The unthinkable was taking place and I couldn’t believe that his aunt was letting it happen. I mean, if a grown lady couldn’t control this madman, I didn’t stand a chance in hell. He was around twenty-four and I was a tender fifteen. That was definitely illegal. It was the norm for most of the drug dealers and hustlers in the hood to sleep with underage girls. It was never an issue because most of our mothers were either drug addicts or drunks. So who cared? Plus, no one who I associated with had a father figure in their home, so we looked for that guidance in the older guys from our ‘hood.

From that day on, I became Fifty’s girl, which only defined me as being one of the many girls he dealt with. I guess he liked my innocence, because I was definitely not in his league (at that time). I would never allow my fourteen year old, daughter who is eleven at the time of this writing, to date a twenty-four year old man. Mentally, a young girl is just not ready for the mind screwing (manipulation) that an older man can do to her.

That relationship didn’t last long. Kelvin Martin a.k.a Fifty Cent became a police informant after he was busted carrying a pistol. He snitched on several dudes in the projects and was hated by many. Shortly after that, he made an attempt to cross the wrong individual and, for that mistake, he was murdered. He was literally gunned down in a stairwell and left to die. That’s Street Justice! The eighties were definitely a wild era. It seemed like most of the hustlers in my projects had started to murder each other. I believe the crack epidemic played a huge part in the backstabbing and envy that caused a lot of the murders in Fort Greene. When money comes into play, it becomes a power struggle, and grimey behavior follows suit. The Pony Pack was the most powerful drug organization in my projects at that time, and the majority of the guys involved were either killed or locked up for the rest of their lives. Those who survived death, but lost their freedom, if you’re reading this, I urge you to be strong and grateful for your life. Don’t ever stop fighting for your liberty, because everybody deserves a second chance. To the few O.G’s (Original Gangsters) who made it and survived that era, while maintaining their freedom, I’m sure they are grateful.

The crack had my mother so gone that I would bring grown men into the apartment to sleep with them. I did that to get her attention, but she wouldn’t say a word. I got away with murder because she wasn’t in her right state of mind. Anyone with an addict for a parent knows that the roles sometimes reverse and the child becomes the responsible caretaker of the parent. Also, the child will take advantage of the situation by doing unacceptable things because of the impaired state of the parent. Basically, anything goes, because who cares? When you’re getting high, you began to mask your feelings and prevent yourself from being emotionally attached. I know that I’ve taken full advantage of my mother’s state of mind. I lost all respect for her and didn’t have much left for myself. I was on autopilot for self-destruction. The streets had matured me beyond my years, and I became affiliated with all the popular hustlers in Brooklyn. The gangsters and drug dealers all knew me and my partner Queenie. We earned reputations for being elite hustlers; not to mention, my reputation for busting my gun (shooting people), which I will elaborate about further in my autobiography.

I was bad beyond belief. I would get caught stealing and never considered stopping. I simply learned from my mistakes. Before I knew it, I had developed quite a rap sheet. Now, years later, I have over 36 convictions for various larcenies and misdemeanors, along with 6 felony convictions for various robberies and assaults. As of this writing, my last criminal conviction was for 65 counts of credit card fraud, which I pleaded down to forgery and unlawful use of credit cards. I was sentenced to five years in prison and served forty-two months. At that time, I was sent to a mother-and-child half way house for six months, where I reunited with my daughter. Altogether, my prison time totals up to thirteen years. I was a hot mess and the epitome of a bad girl, thus the title of my autobiography: Tales of an Original Bad Girl. I had decided not to dwell on the details of my scheming and criminal behavior, because I don’t want to inadvertently teach people how to hustler. However, I focused on the bad side of the lifestyle, hoping to discourage the would-be copycats in the world from taking the path that I once took in life.

On the flip side, I got away with more than I paid for and managed to live a lavish lifestyle. I’m a survivor who lived my life on my own terms. I have always been a renegade, but now I am happy to finally have order in my life. I don’t have to look over my shoulder and wonder if I will make it to the exit of a store without being apprehended.

After doing my last five year bid, I reunited with my daughter, and I was ecstatic! I can’t put into words how happy I was to be with my baby girl again. She was all I thought about while I was away. I’m so blessed that my best friend Queenie, who is also her godmother, raised my daughter in my absence. Queenie gave my baby the life that she deserved. My ex-husband had wanted custody of her, but I felt it would be better for her to live with her godparents who had more to offer. She lived in a beautiful home in Ohio, and enjoyed a great life while I was gone.

My ex-husband, on the other hand, lived with his mother in the projects, and thought that he could provide our child with the lifestyle that she was used to. He meant well, but I had to make a judgment call. With the hate and contempt that he felt for me, he would have surely turned my baby against me. The first two years of my incarceration, my daughter thought that I was on tour, and everything that her godmother bought her, she thought it came from me. She told her grand stories of me being a big star, and how I had to travel and perform all over the world to make money to take care of her. Whatever she gave her son, she gave my daughter, and those children were lavished upon. She even told my daughter that her father worked hard to send her money, and how he loved her so much that we would fight over who loved her the most. I thought that was generous of her, because, in reality, he didn’t send her any money to help with her care. Nor did he send me anything after all I had done for him, before, during, and after his eleven year bid. I basically dropped out of school, following him around from city to city, while he was on the run for murder. I stood by him during his incarceration. I even married him in prison, making it possible for him to have conjugal visits, and that was the thanks I got. Wow! Those are some of the reasons I can’t trust a man with my heart. I know this is a random thought, and I’m straying away from the topic, but I had to get that out of my system. I promise I will get back to my childhood.

My best friend instilled positive stories inside of my daughter to keep my memory alive for the years that I was gone and, also, to keep the existence of her father in perspective. I wouldn’t allow him to see her while I was gone because he wanted custody of her badly. The police told him that if he could get her in his possession, that her godmother had no legal rights to guardianship. I struggled with that decision, but I knew that Velvet would be raised better with Queenie. He would have had her calling some other lady “mommy” and that would have destroyed me.

I tell my daughter as much about my life as I feel that she can handle. I always tell her ‘Don’t turn out like me’. I wrote a song about it, and I hope it can be an anthem for all the hustlers (active and retired). The song lets the children know that whatever they may have done in life, it’s not the right thing to do, and how much more their parents want for them. I always say, ‘I did it all, so that my baby won’t have to do it’. When I was in the halfway house, I was selected to speak to the troubled at-risk teens in various schools, and I loved it. Public speaking is natural for me because I am a performer. I loved to tell my story, while hoping to prevent young children from choosing the path I did.

The gangs of today remind me of the different crews I used to run with. We ran to the streets because of different family issues. Most of us had addicts as parents; therefore, we found love and guidance from the misguided youths that we’ve met in the underworld. It is an advanced form of peer pressure, which is easy for one to fall victim to its influence. The allure of street life, violence and crime is like the ultimate drug. It’s twice as addictive, but the side effects and repercussions are lethal. The havoc it wreaks on your life is irreversible, because once you catch a case, that’s a mark on your life. Society views felons and ex-cons as being the scum of the earth. Period! The worst feeling is standing before a judge as he flicks through the various pages of my lengthy rap sheet. He glances at me in disgust, and silently forms his opinion of me from the hideous charges he has read. My life is summed up in a thick file that is called my arrest jacket. The definition of a jacket is an article of clothing that covers your person. My arrest jacket covers my life of crime. I just want to rip it off and shed myself of that negative image. I despise what I appear to be on paper. I pray that all the youth, those that are caught up in the addiction of street life, make it out before it’s too late. If not, they will end up wearing the jacket of shame for the rest of their lives. Just like I do! My only chance of peeling off a layer of that jacket is to make a success out of my life. With the help of this book, along with, my music, I can turn my sob story into a successful ending. Then I can say to my daughter that I’ve changed and made something of myself. I am an Entrepreneur. If I can do it, so can anyone else who desires to change. Do things differently and get different results. Don’t turn out like me. Turn out better!

Mack Mama is a self published Author with two titles released under her publishing house Star Status Publishing. Her autobiography is called “Tales of an Original Bad Girl” and tells the riveting story of her life. She tells her story with such raw honesty that you relive the pain she felt when her mom died of AIDS when she was only sixteen. She shares what made her run to the streets with such vengeance and all the fury she felt when she shot four people. She also diagnosis the insanity that she lived through and talks about the change she has undergone to become the woman she is today. She is a motivational speaker and shares her testimony with the troubled teens in schools around the country. Her autobiography includes 116 pictures and a Soundtrack. What better way to get to know Mack Mama. Read about her, enjoy the visuals, and hear her music all at once. “Daisy Jones” is the follow up novel and an incredible fiction sure to certify Mack as a genuine author.

Check out the soundtrack for her autobiography the self-titled cd “MACK MAMA” and see why she is truly what the Music Industry and the world needs. She has the total package, the look, talent to stand on her own lyrically, the business savvy to make her publishing company successful and the credibility to make her stories believable.


GET TO KNOW MACK MAMA

 


1. What made you decide to start writing novels?
I was incarcerated and had read numerous books. I decided I had a story inside of me that would be unique.  I was tired of the same old urban fiction. I lived the lifestyle that was often depicted in the novels I loved, so I am an authority on an authentic street story.

I wrote Daisy Jones and an author was born. I didn’t release Daisy Jones until after I wrote and released Tales of an Original Bad Girl. I wanted people to read my memoir and get a sense of who I am opposed to popping out the blue as another street lit author.

2. Why did you feel that your life story would be interesting?  I have lived a life few people could imagine. I have experienced drugs, sex and alcohol and wasn’t a rock star. My mom died when I was sixteen years old from the AIDS Virus and it rocked my world. I turned into a very bitter, disgruntled wild teen and ran to the streets with a vengeance.

I knew that my story could possibly save a life or deter a person that can identify with my situation from choosing the path that I ran down. I was mentally, emotionally and physically abused by my ex-husband who was nine years my senior.

I had a bout with post partum depression that I discuss candidly. These issues affect millions of women. My story needed to be told so I wrote it and poured my heart and soul onto the pages. I purged and shared my life with such honesty and raw emotion that people that have read it love me!

3. How much time did you do in prison?Thirteen years in total. I went from being the valedictorian in Junior High school to earning a degree from the school of Hard knocks. I ran in and out of prison like it was a time-share. I destroyed my record and let my family down time and time again.

4. What happened to your music career?
It never went anywhere because I did so much time. My music is my first love, I rap and sing and I put out a soundtrack with every book I have released. Tales of an Original Bad Girl has a soundtrack that sells on itunes called “Mack Mama”. The chapters in the book are the song titles on the cd. You read “Don’t turn out like me” and then pop in the song. It gives you the entire Mack Mama experience.

My books are like my husband that I love, they pay my bills and music is my lover, who makes me feel sooo good, but has no money. There was simply no money in it for me, although I am extremely talented. It is notoriously hard for females to make it in the music industry. I love books because even independently, as a self-published author you can make a living off of your writing.

5. What motivates you to write?My daughter. She is so proud of me and I want to continue to keep her beaming and bragging that her mom is an author.

6. What do you do to give back to the community?I have developed an online mentoring program to provide after care with the girls that I speak to during my speaking engagements. I felt like after I talk to the at-risk youth where do they go from there. If I had a mentor that I respected and believed that, they knew what I was going through, perhaps I would have listened. It sure would have saved me years of turmoil.

7. What would you like the readers to know?Take a shot on my books. I may be a new author but I won’t be going anywhere soon. I am a reliable brand. I have two new books on the way and I’m determined to make Star Status Publishing a household name.

I also want them to tune in to my radio show on Mack Mama’s World Radio on blogtalk, you would absolutely love my show. I have interviewed the best in the business. My shows are incredibly untamed and lively. Check me out. I also blog for Corner Store Magazine my blogs are interesting and gives you my spin on life issues and gossip.

Also, go to my mentoring site and donate to a wonderful cause. I love the children and am dedicated to doing my part in saving the at-risk youth from their ruins. It takes time, and finances to get them into positive activities, workshops and outings. I need help!

Thank you AAMBC for allowing me to use your platform to introduce myself to the masses.

Thanks to all my supporters and “fam” that purchase, follow, listen and spread the word about MACK MAMA. I love you all from the bottom of my heart.

Blessings, Mack Mama

Web-Links:



  



SYNOPSIS:
Archie’s Psalm is a glimpse into the life of a latchkey kid who is encountering situations that force him to learn about the changing world around him. A coming of age story with a carefully crafted narrative and subplot, Archie’s Psalm shows the transitioning world of a neighborhood in Memphis, TN ten years after Dr. King’s death. Through the setting, vivid character descriptions and moving storytelling a hot and humid southern neighborhood comes to life. Through the use of dialect and song the shifting tone and sound of the south reminds the reader of Zora Neale Hurstons’ novels. A work of literature that is artistic, powerful and important. A book that could become as relevant as Ann Petry’s The Street.

 EXCERPT:
 He told stories to pass the time. A simple man, never loud. Carried extra quarters in his pockets, about ten patch made pockets on dingy coveralls, a soft white shirt beneath the faded denim straps over his shoulders. The only look on his face I remember was like the quiet warmness after a summer rain. His half smile marked with crescent moons at the corners of his mouth and lines like folds in brown blankets at the corner of his eyes. His skin soft with bristled hair, even on his hands hair grew. He carried a walking stick sometimes, and walked through the streets each morning and each afternoon. Maybe to see what we was doing, us latchkey kids, us thugs. But we wadn’t so bad, just bored, and he knew that.

He told stories to pass the time, stories of uprisings, niggers, Tom’s, fools, white folks, but mostly it was stories about the neighborhood that stuck to me.

Me and the guys ran all over the streets bothering and startling the old folks. He just stood when we would ride by, looking at us act up. He never did nothing to us unless he found us being too mannish. Folks used to say he carried bricks, a small piece of brick in each overall pocket. He caught Lil Tony trying to scare Ms. Phillips once. He saw him and from what Tony said, “I was ridin right, ridin, Buck, I wasn’t even messin wit Ms. P. I ain’t lyin.”

“What’d he do, what’d he do?” I kept asking. Tony’s toughskins were scuffed pretty bad on purple knee patches. His palms was dirty with little scrapes on chubby hands. His jaws shook when he got excited.

“I ain’t lyin Buck, I ain’t-”

“Tony, what’d he do?”

“He threw one at me.”

“No he didn’t.”

“Yeah he did.”

“Did it hit you? Did it hurt?”

“You ask stupid questions Buck.”

“You the one that’s stupid. You know how Old Man Fishstick act when he see Ms. P.”

“Yeah but-”

“That’s why you got hit,” I laughed.

“Didn’t exactly get hit though, I just saw him raise his hand. So I jumped off my bike. He walked up an-”

“An he laughed at you an walked away, didn’t he? Don’t lie.”

“Yep, he jus laughed an walked off.”

“An he lef you sumthin?”

“A quarter.”

“Me too.”
‘Pretty Ms. P,’ was what he called her. Old Man Fishstick was what we used to call him. He always talked with Ms. P, but not much to many other folks. I even noticed him take out his folded red kerchief with the white designs on it to wipe his brow, before she would see him. He’d pull off his old blue hat and pull at the tufts of gray hair matted to the sides of his head. He’d even walk a little bit slower with longer strides. Such long strides I think would’ve been hard with a pocket full of bricks. I had found out that their wadn’t no bricks a long time before any body else. What it was, was quarters in small, cloth brown bags. But I didn’t tell nobody seein as he only had em every once in a while. Anyways, I asked him why he always fixed up himself, when he see Ms. Pat.

“Ya know what a peacock is?”

“Yes suh.”

“Find out why peacocks look like they do, an then ask me why, an I’ll tell ya.”  Still don’t know why peacocks look like they do, but I’m trying to get the answer.  Old Man Fishstick used to be scary to me. He still scare everybody else, but not for real scary. We knew he wasn’t gonna really hurt us. We would go by his house and yell at him. He’d be on his, one step up, lil wooden porch. Sitting on it plucking strings on a wood box guitar. Singing old songs bout, “Movin on, umm hmmm, movin on down de line. De train dun pass me up, an I’s too ol to git on board.” We’d run and shout his name, “Ol Man Fishstick, Ol Man Fishstick, Ol Man Fishstick.” He’d stand up and run at the gate holding a brick in his hand. We’d take off running an laughing. Twenty minutes later we’d be back.

His house was one of the few really old houses. It sat on the corner of Caldwell, where a potholed street separated it from the elementary school. Both the school and his house was across from the field for the park, where the slidin board, merry go round, monkey bars and lots of old concrete picnic tables was.

That field, in the summer, always had dragonflies floating across and it was lots of them. Like greenish-brown, fat mosquitoes darting back and forth. At night the dragonflies was replaced by lightnin bugs. Small with white butts that blinked on and off when the green, black wings would close and open. Momma said they had to light up or the flowers wouldn’t grow.

Ol Man Fishstick had a big backyard that was overgrown by about two inches. But he had a long planting bed where he grew stuff and a honeysuckle vine in there. One long vine that almost made a second fence. We used to sneak back there and get some of the yellow-white stems and pull them out to suck the juice. I had some honeysuckle by my apartment, but it wadn’t no danger in getting that. Besides, me, Lil Tony, Smoke, Skillet, Lizard and Tiger didn’t like staying that close to the house. We were the army of UltraMan, too fast to catch, too smart to stay by the house. If we stayed by the house we’d have to do chores for Smoke’s folks. So we went to Ol Man Fishstick’s place and bothered him.

Every time we went by, he’d be playing the same music with different words, “She don’t know babaaah, she don’t know my heart hurt sooo. Umm Hmmm. I said she don’t know babaah that my heart hurt sooo.”  His songs seemed sad, like his stories. But he never seemed sad when he talked. He’d raise his arms and wave his hands drawing pictures of words.

After taking years off to work in academia, I have finally begun this year (2012) to take my writing career seriously. I have been writing since 1995 and like many authors I thought my writing would take on a life of its own and I would be famous and people would be making movies about the characters I created. That hasn’t happened. I realize now that in order to build my career and attain readers I am going to have to really take a direct interest in getting people to discover my novels.

I think I have a very unique voice that people will come to respect and admire. I feel that my stories are different, not just because, but my stories are very different in how the stories are told. Most male writers that write in various genres write specifically for a female reading audience because they know those are the people who are reading primarily. I write to create characters and to see where those characters’ stories end. For me the writing process is a journey that combines the writer with each individual person in the story. When my characters hurt, I feel that and if I feel that then I think you will feel it when you are reading. My stories are primarily about men who are learning to be men. As a man who was raised in a single parent household, I think my life has generated a perspective that shapes my narratives. My stories are inspired by personal stories and things that I have witnessed. They are comedic, but each narrative has weight.

While you have a lot of writers to choose from, it is my hope that you will buy a book and give it a shot. I promise you will read something unlike any other novels out there. I also know that you will come away with something to discuss with other readers and friends. I think these books in regard to women readers, will give you genuine insight into the male psyche. In regard to men, these books will give you a voice and allow you to say, “That’s me.” I love getting feedback and I will respond to questions or comments. If you would like to get a better understanding of what makes me tick check out my updates on
www.cbpublish.com. Once again, thanks for stopping by and stay positive and motivated.
Christopher D. Burns, MFA



BIO:
Originally from Memphis, Christopher D. Burns joined the US Navy after getting into a lot of trouble as a teen shortly after graduating high school. Upon completing Aviation Electricians Mate school, Chris was stationed in San Diego, where he served in the military for four years and worked as an electrician on F-14 Tomcat aircrafts. When his military service was completed, Chris found himself trying to figure out his next move. He once again ffound trouble living in LA, so he moved back to San Diego and worked as a QA Analyst before being asked to play college basketball at San Diego City College. An injury cut short his basketball aspirations and led to visits to poetry readings in San Diego. At this time he began to write his first book, A Man’s State of Mind. He received an AA in Psychology from Mesa College (SDCCD) in 1997. Chris also began to work as a high school basketball coach and became one of the youngest head coaches in San Diego in 1999.

In 1997, Chris went on to attend San Diego State University where he earned a BA in English and a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. While attending San Diego State University, Chris wrote Stages: a handbook on men and relationships, 100 Black and White Questions (co-authored by Kevin Pendleton) and Archie’s Psalm (which later became his Masters thesis).

After graduating with his MFA degree from San Diego State, Chris returned to his childhood home of Memphis and worked for two years as an instructor of English at Historically Black College, LeMoyne-Owen College. He resigned to teach high school English, complete research on building writing skills, and to focus more on the CB Publishing website

www.cbpublish.com, Center Court Basketball www.centercourtbasketball.com, a sports and fitness website, and his footwear company ARCH www.arch-usa.com.

GET TO KNOW CHRIS

Chris Burns, you became a writer for what reason? I was inspired to start writing my freshman year of college. I was playing college basketball and working as a teacher’s assistant. One of the teacher’s at the school was a poet and invited us all to her poetry reading from her chapbook. When I got home, I sat down and started writing. I always told stories and I was a bit of a class clown in high school, so the writer was always there, but I guess I needed a push. I began writing poetry and one of the poems felt like a story so I kept writing and it became A Man’s State of Mind, my first book. I guess to answer the question quickly, I became a writer because I had these stories in my head and I just needed to get them out. Unfortunately it has taken me 17 years to begin working on my career.

Archie’s Psalm. That is an interesting title, where did it come from and what is it about?The title came from the original draft of the book. I attended San Diego State University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. During the fiction workshops I began submitting chapters to my classmates and the story didn’t really have a title. Like my first book the story began as a poem. I was going to get my MFA in Poetry so it was only natural that most of my stories began in this way. The chapters I was submitting were not labeled chapters. I was using verses from the Book of Psalms in the Bible to kind of inspire each section. My idea was to make the final chapter begin with a verse from Psalms. When I submitted the book as my thesis it was written this way. However, I had a serious Jean Toomer influence and the narrative felt disjointed. I cut a lot of the book and removed the references to Psalms, but kept the title.

When someone asks me now why this is the title and what it’s about, I can still say that it is about songs. Psalms are songs. Archie is one of the main characters in the book. He is an older man, kind of like the neighborhood sage. The book is built around Archie’s interaction with the main character Buck. Buck is a young boy on the verge of becoming a teen. Old Man Archie often sits on his porch and sings the blues while playing his guitar. Throughout the story Archie tells Buck stories that often parallel with what is happening in the text. His stories usually begin with a song.

The book is about the multiple layers that exist in families. It is about those hidden stories that every family has. Archie’s Psalm is also about the point when boys become men physically and how they learn to interact with girls and all of the problems that the world throws at them. The book is a commentary on a lot of different things and it will be interesting if people finish it and realize all of the things that have taken place.

Explain to us your writing style, how do you differ from whats current? My writing style varies. I play around a lot with character sketches and dialect. I don’t use a formula. I just make sure I am writing as much as possible. I do have a lot of influences and those influences come through at times. My favorite writer is Ralph Ellison, followed closely by Toni Cade Bambara and Zora Neale Hurston. There are random elements of Invisible Man in every book I’ve written. In my first novel, A Man’s State of Mind, I play around with setting and I never really tell you where the story is taking place; which allows the story to have the feeling that it could be happening right down the street from you. In my second book Stages: A Handbook on Men & Relationships, there is a comedic tone that is playful but hides a serious subplot. I got that from Zora. In Archie’s Psalm I also use a bit of Zora’s technique in using a shifting dialect. In Archie’s Psalm the exposition is written in standard English, but the dialogue is written in the voices I heard in my head from my childhood. Those voices always code switched. My mom would sound completely different talking with friends than she did on the phone with bill collectors.

I think how my work differs is that after 17 years of writing and just putting books out there without any promotion is that I haven’t had to write in a particular style because one of my books caught on. What I’ve noticed is that many writers stick with what gets them a livelihood, or what is going to make sure they stay popular. A person who writes urban fiction, sticks with that. A person who writes relationship books sticks with that. My work differs because I can’t tell you one novel that is written like Archie’s Psalm. No one is really writing and giving a voice to Black boys. Most stories are written for women because they read more than men. I write my books for readers and I write what is familiar because I want it to ring true. Archie’s Psalm is different because it finally gives voice to the boy that was, raised in the single parent household, raised in the neighborhood that was changing from the close knit Civil rights based black community to the neighborhoods on the verge of Reaganomics, crack and gangs. As simple as the story seems, it touches on a lot of the issues that affect our neighborhoods right now and it does all of this in the form of a coming of age story.

Your best work thus far, what do you think that is and why? My best work oddly enough is a work that I haven’t even mentioned and it is not readily available. It Often Deprives Me of My Sleep is a collection of short stories, poems, essays and a conversation with the muse, that I wrote for about 15 years. For the sake of this interview though I guess I will say Archie’s Psalm is the most important… scratch that. All of the books are important.

When I was in grad school I had a professor who told me to write for me. He told me that I shouldn’t worry about my race or background and that I should simply write. I could never get past that. Everything I write in some way has a point. Everything I write means something and attempts to cut you and leave a scar. I need my books to live and breathe. I want each book to give you a character that when you are finished you want that character to keep living.

If I did have to choose one of the books that people can actually buy and answer the question, what is my best work… it would have to be Archie’s Psalm. I know the book is hard to read and is not what is the norm, but I think the payoff for finishing the book and then discussing it will create an experience.

Tell us about your next line of work, what can reader’s expect from you? The great thing about never promoting my work is that everything is new and there are multiple titles for people to choose from. If you want something that will reach in and pull at every emotion, you can read A Man’s State of Mind. If you want to laugh and learn how to read men, Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships. If you want to get into something that reminds you of classic literature with a contemporary setting, read Archie’s Psalm. If you want to read about business I have a Kindle download named One Hour to Wealth that gives you the guidelines I used to launch my own sneaker company. I have in my computer right now a book that I am co-authoring titled Winter in Hip-Hop, a nonfiction book that deals with Blacks in the post civil rights era. I also have a work of fiction that is about a preacher who murders a gangbanger. There are other projects I’m working on as well, but who knows if any of this other stuff will ever see the light of day? If you want to keep up with what’s happening with me you can definitely read the blog on
www.cbpublish.com. I even do a Hi Lites section on cool places to visit in Memphis. I also write a fitness blog at www.centercourtbasketball.com that works in conjunction with my sneaker company on www.arch-usa.com. I like staying busy and I try to write in some form everyday.

How are you managing to write and then tell the world you have these great books you want them to read? I am not. That is why I don’t have a writing career. I have never taken my own advice about working on a dream in regard to my writing. This will be the first year that I have actively worked on promoting my books. I did do a little bit of promoting when I hosted an Open Mic, but not really. What I hope now is that people will see your interview and take a chance on my books. If they do, that would be great.

A book that can compare to Archie’s Psalm is? I think the closest relatives to Archie’s Psalm are The Street by Ann Petry and actually a short story: The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara. As many books as I have read I find it hard to make a direct comparison. I guess another title would be Stephen King’s The Body (the movie Stand By Me was based on this short story). I like the fact that I’m actually promoting this over my other books. I think it would be easy for me to push Stages or A Man’s State of Mind, those books kind of fall into the contemporary market. However I feel that people are ready to change gears.

Web-Links:

http://www.cbpublish.com

http://www.facebook.com/chris.burns.714

http://www.twitter.com/archbyccb

http://amazon.com/author/christopherdburns

http://www.cbpublish.com/author-christopher-d-burns-mfa/

cdburns@cbpublish.com




SYNOPSIS:

Cassandra Whitmore is facing yet another Valentine’s Day alone. Her love life is as dry as the Sharpie pen she uses to mark an even more dreadful day on her calendar—her upcoming 30th birthday. Driven by the maddening ticking of her biological clock, Cassandra is determined to meet, fall in love with, and marry “The One” within nine months.

When Cassandra accompanies her cousin to a night club, her Type-A quest to meet a man is quickly rewarded by a stranger’s velvety, baritone voice asking if he might occupy the seat next to her. He’s Nicolas Harte, whose good looks leave Cassandra speechless, but not for long. After mustering enough courage to strike up a conversation, she learns Nicolas is everything she wants in a man—smart, successful, and available. There’s only one catch: He’s “GU” (geographically undesirable). Nonetheless, Cassandra falls in love with Nicolas and makes the uncharacteristic decision to move from Los Angeles to New York to be with him. But Cassandra gets a rude awakening when she discovers there’s something rotten in the Big Apple.



EXCERPT:The Speakeasy is jumping; the line to get in is crazy. I don’t know how Cyn does it. I just don’t see what people find so enthralling about club life, but it must have something to offer or half the women in Los Angeles wouldn’t be standing in line shivering their butts off. Parked outside the club, I glance at the clock on my dashboard and see that it’s already ten o’clock. I could have sworn we were supposed to meet at nine. I would call Cyn, but I forgot my Blackberry at home, and I’m not about to use the pay phone at the corner gas station. I don’t know why I didn’t fill up earlier. I could have spared myself the close encounter with that homeless man determined to wash my windows. Poor guy. I can hear my pastor now: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ I know he’s probably gonna buy a couple of forty-ouncers with the five dollars I gave him, but I couldn’t help myself.

Okay it’s way past ten now. I guess Cyn got confused. I wish she would get here. After that disastrous date with Lawrence, I need a pick-me-up. And speaking of pick-ups, I can’t believe he expected me to pick up the tab. According to his mother, the only way to tell a woman’s not a gold-digger is if she pays on the first date. I don’t know why Lawrence signed up with the dating service. Clearly, he’s already married.

“Lord have mercy. You scared the mess out of me!” I scowl at Cyn, who just appeared outside my passenger door.  “Let me in.”

I unlock the door; she opens it and sits.

“Girl, you scared me.”

“Why are you so on edge? What’s up?”

“I guess I’m still reeling after that date I had with Lawrence, the mama’s boy.”

“I told you you’re wasting your money on that dating service. You need to ask for a refund. It’s been a year, you’ve been out with over a dozen guys, and it always ends up the same. What was that last one’s name?”

“Richard.”

“Yeah, Richard. The one who asked for a loan after two weeks. And then there was Doug, the crackhead…”

“Former crackhead. When I met him he was clean and sober.”

“Right. Somebody put that crack pipe in his briefcase. And don’t let me forget Theodore, who wanted you to have a ménage a trois with his ex-girlfriend on your second date, or was that Phillip? No, that couldn’t have been Phillip, because he was gay.”

“I get the point!”

“Okay, so I won’t mention the four or five other guys who could have worked out if they had only worn the right color suit, lived in the right part of town, or had the right number of frequent flier miles.”

“Cyn, please! I get it.”

“Do you? I don’t know why you’re trying to get married anyway. You just don’t know how good you have it, living your own life with nobody to get on your last nerve. If it wasn’t for Shelby, I would have divorced David’s big, fat, funky butt a long time ago.”

“You don’t mean that. But even so, I’m not giving up.”

“You know what they say about people who keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results?”

“I’m not crazy. But never mind that—where have you been? We were supposed to meet at nine.”

“You said ten.”

“I did not!”


We exchange looks and take a moment to size each other up. “Never mind. Just forget it,” I finally say, by way of an apology.

“Girl, that purple cashmere top is kickin’ on you,” Cyn says, her way of accepting it.

“You look good, too. Looks like you’ve lost some more weight.”

“It’s the black, but thanks anyway. We’d better head in. I need a drink.”

“I dunno, Cyn. I’m not feeling that line.”

“Please, we’re not gonna stand in line. I have a hook-up.”

“Good. Then I think I’ll have a drink, too,”

“Little miss perfect is gonna have a drink?”

I ignore Cyn. We get out of my Lexus, and all heads turn when she slams the car door. A couple of women, wearing lace front wigs give us smug looks from the head of the line. Cyn and I exchange knowing glances as we approach the long, velvet ropes separating us from the competition. Now that I’m out, I wanna have a good time. Cyn’s right—I really need to loosen up. I’m gonna really try to be spontaneous tonight. I laugh out loud at my own thoughts and follow Cyn closely as we brush past these ladies-in-waiting. I wiggle my nose at the scent of perfume and hairspray wafting through the air. I suck in my gut and hold my head high, all the while praying that Cyn truly does have a hook-up. I couldn’t bear to get to the front of the line and be kicked to the curb.

“Ouch. You stepped on my foot!”

“I’m sorry,” I say to a short girl in braids and hardly anything else.

“Come on, Cass!”

“I’m coming,” I say, trying to ignore the daggers and snickers coming our way. I stare at the back of Cyn’s head as she looks up at the six-foot-five gatekeeper with neck and arms the size of tree trunks.

“Hi, I’m Cynthia Townsend. Roberta and I work together.”

The bouncer crosses his bulging arms over a huge, barrel chest and sneers at us. “Roberta who?”

“Roberta Jenkins. She’s a social work—”

“Oh Robbie, okay. Sure, you right.” He points at me and asks, “She with you?”

Cyn looks over her shoulder. I guess to make sure it’s still me and not one of the haters we trampled en route to the head of the line. “Yeah, that’s my cousin.”

“Y’all good.”

“Thank.”

He parts the velvet rope, we high-five one another, and waltz into the club.

An author and playwright, Alretha Thomas is making her name through her pen. Award winning plays and wanting to help her community, Alretha’s background is as diverse as her personality. She started at the age of ten, when her 5th grade teacher picked and read her short story assignment in front of the class – that simple, loving act empowered a new writer. Continuing in high school, her numerous original oratorical conquests on the Speech Team led her to a journalism concentration at USC.

Upon graduating, Alretha soon realized that her interest in journalism was not heartfelt. While at the taping of a live sitcom, the producer noticed her and encouraged her hand at modeling. Modeling didn’t mean much to her, but it did lead her to acting and a NAACP Theatre Award Nomination (1993) for BEST ACTRESS. Alretha left acting and began to write full time. Her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre pieces—the community response was overwhelming.

This led to full length plays outside of the church. In 2002, The Stella Adler Theater presented A Shrine to Junior. The play was nominated for an NAACP Theatre Award and in 2004, Alretha’s play, Civil Rites, was the recipient of an NAACP Theatre Award. Her play Grandpa’s Truth ran at the Inglewood Playhouse in Inglewood, California in 2006, and was extended more than once by popular demand. Not only did radio station KJLH support by recommending this production to its listeners, but notables like the Mayor of Inglewood, Roosevelt Dorn, and music legends like Freda Payne and Stevie Wonder had critical acclaim for Grandpa’s Truth. This wonderful piece was featured on Channel 5 (KTLA News) by Entertainment Reporter, Sam Rubin. Additionally, in 2007, Alretha’s play, Sacrificing Simone had a successful run at Stage 52 in Los Angeles and was called “an inspirational crowd pleaser” by the Los Angeles Times and in 2009, Alretha’s ground breaking One, Woman Two Lives, starring Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show), directed by four-time NAACP Image Award Best Director recipient Denise Dowse, garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences.

In between plays, Alretha’s first novel Daughter Denied was launched in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country. Representing her book, Alretha has been the guest on many radio shows and television shows including San Francisco Public Affairs show Bay Sunday with Barbara Rodgers on KTLA Channel 5. In 2011, Alretha launched her second novel Dancing Her Deams Away, and it was also well received. Her third novel, Married in the Nick of Nine, is taking readers and reviewers across the country by storm. Alretha is currently preparing for the release of sequel to Married in the Nick of Nine. The Baby in the Window will launch in 2013.

GET TO KNOW ALRETHA:



Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
A: If you look up miracle in the dictionary, you’ll see my smiling face staring back at you. Nineteen years ago, if you had told me I’d be participating in an interview with AAMBC regarding my third novel Married in the Nick of Nine, I would have directed you to the nearest lost and found so you could hopefully locate your mind. There’s no way a young, black girl raised in a San Francisco housing project, with a sickly mother on welfare, and an abusive jailbird father could become a writer. There’s no way that girl, who finds her mother’s lifeless body on the living room sofa, at the age of fourteen, could even think about writing, let alone graduate second in her high school and get a scholarship to USC. There’s no way that girl, who becomes anorexic, bulimic, and falls prey to drugs and alcohol, could have any hopes of becoming a writer. Well, miracles do happen and with determination and faith in God, I was able to overcome my obstacles and fulfill my fifth grade teacher’s prophecy, that one day I’ll be a published writer.

Q: You refer to your books as your babies. Tell us how “Married in the Nick of Nine” was conceived and born.A: In early 2011, I began putting together a skeletal outline for a story about a young, smart, and successful woman who was determined to meet, fall in love with, and marry “The One” within nine months. Around the time I was writing the book, I was launching Dancing Her Dreams Away, so after writing about thirty-five pages, I put Married in the Nick of Nine on the shelf. Dancing Her Dreams Away launched June 2011, and I was laid off my corporate job of twelve years in September 2011!

The Friday of the week I was laid off, I decided to query agents regarding Married in the Nick of Nine, just to see if anyone would be interested. Usually I have to query about three-hundred agents before I get a handful of responses, so I didn’t expect to get any replies, let alone any positive ones. So I submitted one query letter to one agent. To my amazement, the agent requested the entire manuscript. I was filled with glee and dread because there was no manuscript. I barely had forty pages. But this was an opportunity of a lifetime, so like Bradley Cooper in Limitless, I started writing. He had NZT and I had faith. I stayed up writing the book for four days straight, and by the following Monday I received an email from the agent asking if the manuscript had gotten lost in cyberspace. I told her I would get it to her the following day. So four days after the manuscript request, and one week after being laid off, I had completed Married in the Nick of Nine. Long story short, I submitted the book, got great feedback, but no cigar. After countless revisions, more submissions, requests, and rejections, I decided to once again self-publish! And I’m glad I did. Just think if I hadn’t submitted that one query letter, Married in the Nick of Nine would still be on the shelf.

Q: Which characters in “Married in the Nick of Nine” are you most like?A: Wow! That’s a great question. I’m actually a combination of a few of them. I was very similar to Cyn in my twenties. I liked to party and like Cyn, I drank a little too much. I became more like Cassandra, in my late thirties. That’s when I got focused. There are aspects of both characters that I admire. I love Cyn’s free spirit and her tendency to say what’s on her mind. I love Cassandra’s determination and I admire how she managed to stay on point with her goals. She finished high school, went onto college, and now has a great career. I veered off the path during my journey, but thank God, I eventually got it together. By the way, I have a BIG crush on Nick! LOL!

Q: Is the life of a writer as you imagined it to be?A: I never imagined what a writer’s life would be like. I’ve always envisioned what I wanted my life to be like as a writer. My dream is to be well off, free from the 9-5 grind, writing books, plays, having my books optioned for movies, and being a part of those movies as a producer. I saw myself being a part of every aspect of the movie making process, from casting to the red carpet premiere. I also saw myself being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Entertainment tonight, and all the other entertainment shows. Am I there yet? No. But I’m having a ball getting there. LOL!

Q: What are some of your favorite books?A: There are hundreds. Top of my list is the BIBLE. Others that stand out the most are as follows: The late Bebe Moore’ Campbell’s, “What You Owe Me” and “Brothers and Sisters.” “Angela’s Ashes” by the late Frank McCourt. Terry McMillan’s, “Waiting to Exhale,” “Disappearing Acts,” “The Interruption of Everything,” and “A Day Late and A Dollar Short.” Wally Lamb’s “She’s Come Undone” and “I know This Much Is True.” “RL’s Dream,” by Walter Mosley, and all of Kimberla Roby Lawson’s books. Classics like “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker and “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. Too many more to list!

Q: If you could go back and change one day, what would it be?A: It would be the day my mother died and yes, the reasons are obvious. I know she’s within me, and I believe she’s aware of my life. I actually had a very vivid dream wherein she appeared to me and she was very happy. She smiled and she said, “I heard you wrote a book.” This was around the time my debut novel came out. The dream was so real. I took one look at her and burst into tears. I was overwhelmed seeing her and I cried expressing the pain that I had experienced in my life not having her around. She hugged me and I woke up. I jumped up and ran screaming through the house. “My mother came to me! My mother came to me.” My husband, who was already up, reached out to me, and I collapsed into his arms.

Q:What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
A: NEVER GIVE UP!

Web Links:




Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet
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