Oh my, school's back in session and I'm still wondering where did the first eight months of 2014 go? Wow, if you aren't even halfway to reaching your reading challenges, you don't have too much time to play catch up. We're at the end of the year, and you should be close to meeting your goal, if not updating it to go over what you originally set. No worries, if you've slacked off some, we'll forgive you this time, however, get your butt back into reading gear! And speaking of which. . .boy of boy do we have some great novels to bring to you this September. There is something here for err'body!
School may be back in session, but what better way to condition the mind than with reading a good book--keeps your mind sharp, active and focused. Did you know people who read lead more interesting lives and are better at decision making? Of course, there's always exceptions to every rule, but hey, why not put yourself in a class of good people! Read, it's great mind exercise! So, you already know how we do, let's get to it. Here we gooooo. . .
Every child is created in the image of God, and every child carries this amazing gift of greatness inside himself or herself. But children hear mixed messages on a daily basis—about life, about the world, and about themselves.
In Growing into Greatness with God: Seven Paths to Greatness for Our Sons and Daughters, author and mother of three boys Janet Autherine encourages kids to see themselves as unique and amazing—already blessed with what they need to succeed in life and achieve their God-given dreams.
Readers learn how to grow in love, faith, courage, leadership, happiness, gratitude, and confidence through the inspiring stories of Bible heroes such as Abraham, Sarah, David, and Hannah. Each chapter includes a brief summary of two Bible stories, with reflections on each, and concludes with three action-oriented suggestions on how to put the lesson into practice.
Dreams are essential to life, and kids need to be inspired and encouraged to live life to the fullest. Growing into Greatness with God offers biblical examples of how people have nurtured what God has planted in them and teaches kids how to do the same in their own lives.
Get to Know Author, Janet Autherine:
Autherine was born in St. Thomas, Jamaica, and immigrated to the United States when she was twelve. She grew up in Philadelphia and she went on to study at the Pennsylvania State University and Boston College Law School. After launching her law career, she was eventually drawn back to the sunshine, and she now lives in Florida with her husband and their three sons.
Autherine continues to practice law, waking up at the crack of dawn to cultivate her writing. Her juvenile nonfiction book Growing into Greatness with God is inspired by her own experiences growing up in Jamaica and her goal of raising her sons to recognize and nourish what God has planted within each of them.
What was the inspiration for your book, Growing into Greatness with God?
In the book, Growing into Greatness with God, the words of wisdom that accompany the stories are inspired by all the advice given to me by my mothers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and all the “old souls” that entered my early years. I grew up in a house where family, faith, good food and hard work were celebrated. A two bedroom house was home to three generations. It wasn’t unusual for an 11 year old to walk 1/2 mile to fetch water before school, walk home, get ready for school, walk at least 1/2 mile to school, be respectful and attentive, participate in field day, take the long walk home with friends (not forgetting to stop and say hello to all the neighbors), pick fruit or dig yams for dinner, complete homework assignments, and end the day by having dinner and fellowship with family. That was my daily life growing up in Jamaica. I didn’t fully appreciate it back then, but I certainly do now. I want children to have confidence in the fact that they are unique, amazing, born with greatness and can overcome any obstacle.
What is your spiritual background?
I gained my confidence in a little church in St. Thomas, Jamaica, called the Hampton Court Seventh Day Adventist church. That church was the cornerstone of the community and it was where I learned and recited bible scriptures, sung gospel songs and recited poetry. It is where I made some of my best childhood friends, picked cherries from the best cherry tree in town and listened to the sermons that inspired me to keep God the center of my life. Love the Lord God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself is my guiding principle in life. My family currently worships at a beautiful Episcopal church in Florida.
How does your new book, Growing into Greatness with God: 7 Paths to Greatness for our Sons & Daughters, relate to your spiritual journey?
The book, Growing into Greatness with God, was born from those early bible study groups in church. The stories of young David (the boy who defeated the Giant), Daniel (a man who stood without fear among lions), Solomon (the wise king) and Ruth (the loyal friend), as well as many others, all resonated with me. We were too poor to afford the latest toys and there was no television in our home, so these characters became my heroes. We were poor but it didn’t define our lives; we were rich in love, faith and community, and we had big dreams.
Your book is titled, Growing into Greatness with God. How do you define greatness?
We are all unique beings, so greatness will mean something different to each person. I think greatness is finding your natural talent, fueling it with passion, planting it in well nourished soil, and toiling in the garden until it breaks through the earth and reaches for the stars. You must then use everything that you have achieved to serve others. Service is the heart of greatness; for me, there is no greatness without service.
What do you think about the culture of bullying in our schools?
It breaks my heart that fear instead of love is consuming some of our children. I say fear because most bullies are acting based on their own fears and insecurities. They seek to feel better about themselves by hurting others. When children feel whole on the inside, there is no need fill that void in their spirit by hurting others. Unfortunately, we cannot always protect our children from mean-spiritedness, but we can empower them with the knowledge that they are unique, their thoughts and feelings are important, that God is with them even when they feel alone and they can overcome any obstacle. I hope that in some small way Growing into Greatness with God can help children shine a positive light on themselves.
How can parents use your book, Growing into Greatness with God, to inspire their children?
As a parent, I know how helpful it is to have a book that sparks discussion with your children. Each chapter of the book offers stories, practical advice that kids can relate to, and actionable wisdom. As an example, the chapter, Growing in Love, teaches kids not to focus on their outward appearance but the love and beauty in their hearts. Kids are encouraged to identify the things that they love and to follow their dreams. Parents can help their children with the “action” items in the book, such as – perform an act of kindness for a stranger, write 3 things that you love about yourself or establish a pen-pal relationship with a child in another country. The book ends with 24 questions kids and their parents can answer together, or teachers in a classroom setting or bible study group can moderate.
What challenges did you face as a student?
In 1982, I moved from Jamaica to Philadelphia to live with my mother and my brothers. I had to adjust to a new country, a new household and the typical middle school anxieties. I was a shy, introverted child and I struggled to find my voice; it didn’t help that my voice had a very strong Jamaican accent. For many years, I didn’t speak up as much as I needed to – I feared saying the wrong words and getting into trouble; I feared being teased because of my accent; I wasn’t familiar with the sound of my own voice. Fortunately, my upbringing gave me a quiet confidence; I was raised to believe that I was a good person, a good student and that I could achieve anything if I was willing to work hard. This is why I believe that we should empower kids with the confidence to believe in themselves and their strengths at a very early age so that they can face any challenge.
We are all on a journey to realize our dreams, what has been your path?
I went to Murrell Dobbins High School, a vocational high school and followed the business track. With my typing and short-hand skills, I was prepared to be the best administrative support staff member in Philadelphia. That was my plan B. College was not an option for me; it was a requirement. I always knew that I was going and when my older brother, Mark, encouraged me to attend Penn State University, I jumped at the chance to follow in his footsteps. I connected with the Caribbean Student’s Association, joined a vibrant church and happily settled into life in Happy Valley. It was there that I discovered that, at heart, I was a peacemaker. I ditched my Business major and chose Labor and Industrial Relations, a choice that would lead me to law school at Boston College- I discovered that I wanted to help people solve problems and a legal education enabled me to do so. Writing is allowing me to share my journey with others.
About 8 years into my legal career, I was blessed to be appointed as an Administrative Law Judge for the District of Columbia government. It was the dream job that allowed me to hear cases, issue decisions, and participate in mediating disputes. My voice was heard in the courtroom and in written decisions but in a quiet, substantive manner that would make any introvert happy. When you find that thing that you are passionate about, it frees you up to live a well-rounded life. I now spend my time raising my three boys, writing and reading inspirational books, practicing law, participating in religious and community life and running as often as I can.
Growing into Greatness with God focuses on empowering children; what lasting message do you want to leave with children and parents who read this book?
Growing into Greatness with God is about finding the unique talent that God has blessed you with, nourishing that skill and using it to be of service. My journey began in a small town in Jamaica and is being realized in the United States. It started with the wonderful bible stories that allowed me to believe that with God everything is possible. It began with the principles of faith, family, hard-work, community and bonding over good, healthy food. I hope that the book reflects those principles and that everything that I have learned on my journey, thus far, can help a child realize that he or she was born with greatness. I love to spread that message so when my schedule permits, I gladly speak to children’s organizations, non-profit organizations, and the children’s ministry at churches at no cost. Please do not hesitate to contact me. I would like every child to know that regardless of your circumstances, you can become all that God has ordained for your life.
Find the Author:
Website: Growing into Greatness: http://www.GrowIntoGreatness.com
Amazon: Available for purchase at http://www.Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Growing-Into-Greatness-God-Daughters/dp/0991200004
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Fatima Williams is the owner of All Natural Hair Salon in Washington, D.C. Her best friend Lauryn and her cousin Sheba are her business partners. Fatima had an epiphany. She desires to empower black women by motivational speaking and traveling across the country.
As Fatima moves further into her destiny, her inner circle has dwindled. Frustrated that she is an eternal girlfriend, her boyfriend Ephraim of five years is too busy climbing the corporate ladder. To make matters worse, Lauryn and Sheba will not commit to the cause. The best season of her life is turning into a lonely one.
Marvelous Are Thy Works is an inspirational story about natural hair empowerment, self love and relationships.
“Ladies, I want to hold a quick meeting,” Fatima said, calling for their attention. “We need to discuss the future plans for the salon.”
Lauryn and Sheba sat across from her in the waiting area.
“I want to build our brand and take things to the next level.”
Sheba and Lauryn gawked at each other, then looked back at Fatima.
“Go on. Tell us more,” Lauryn responded.
“I’ve been planning a speaking tour to educate black women across the country about natural hair care. I want to educate on the transitional stage to wearing natural hair.” Fatima opened her binder, reached over Sheba, and handed the presentation to Lauryn.
“Sounds interesting,” said Lauryn. She elbowed Sheba, who bit down on her lip without uttering a word.
Fatima beamed. “Lauryn, open the business plan!” she urged. Then Fatima stood to her feet and started pacing before them with conviction in her eyes. “Black women need to be enlightened about the benefits of natural hair. Right, y’all? We were just talking about this a little while ago.”
Get to Know Author, Meiah Shaun:
Meiah Shaun is an inspirational author and freelance writer. She is a graduate of LeTourneau University. She is a native of Orange, Texas and currently resides in Plano, Texas. She started writing poetry at age eight.
Meiah Shaun is the author of Marvelous Are Thy Works, a Novella (VC Publishing, 2014). Meiah Shaun has a special interest in empowering African American women to self love and to embrace their natural hair. She and her twin sister rock Sisterlocks. Her fraternal twin sister is thirteen minutes older than her.
Meiah Shaun is featured on Ezinearticles.com as a platinum level author penning articles on numerous topics such as inspirational, spirituality, goal setting to shopping and product reviews.
Meiah Shaun enjoys writing, reading, cooking, jazz music and making scrapbooks.
What was your inspiration for writing Marvelous Are Thy Works?
I am passionate about the natural hair movement. I love empowering black women to accept and wear their natural hair.
Have you had any experiences or life events that are related to your book?
Yes, I decided in 2007 to stop chemically relaxing my hair. I discovered during my journey that my natural hair is very beautiful. I embraced my 4b/4c hair texture with all of it kinks and coils. I received compliments from people of all races on my natural hair when I wore an afro, braids and two strand twists. I currently wear Sisterlocks. Black men constantly shower me with compliments on my Sisterlocks.
Wearing my natural hair renewed my self esteem and gave me more confidence as a black woman. There is nothing to fear about going natural.
Can you identify with the protagonist in your book?
I identify with my protagonist, Fatima Williams, in that black natural hair is unique and beautiful. It is God’s perfect craftsmanship and black women should be enlightened about the benefits of wearing their natural hair.
What author(s) have inspired you as a writer?
For Marvelous Are Thy Works, authors Lori Tharps and Ayana Byrd were inspirations to me. They wrote the book titled: Hair Story, Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. Their book inspired me to go natural when I was seeking answers for my hair loss, breakage and low self esteem.
Also, author and innovator Dr. JoAnne Cornwell is an inspiration to me as I proudly wear Sisterlocks. Dr. Cornwell’s book titled: That Hair Thing is a must read for black women to educate themselves about natural hair and sisterlocks.
How has your faith influence you as an inspirational author?
Writing is spiritual to me as I pray before I sit down to write. I ask God for direction and for him to use me as a vessel to bless and inspire others.
How have you developed as an author?
I write and journal regularly. I work on multiple projects such as articles, devotionals and on my second manuscript. I believe that working on several projects can prevent writer’s block.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
The title is taken from Psalms 139:14 (KJV). It’s one of my favorite bible verses for self love and self esteem. God makes us for a purpose and we are perfect in his image.
What type of environment do you prefer to write?
I like to write at home. Sometimes I prefer quietness and other times I put on my headphones and listen to jazz music and write.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
I want to go to London. It is one of the top cities in the world for vegetarians. I am no longer a vegetarian but I still desire to sample London’s vegetarian cuisine along with some fish and chips.
Find the Author:
Amazon.com Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Meiah-Shaun/e/B00KYGN8X6
Amazon.com Book Direct Purchase Link:
Business Address For Sales Inquiries:
P.O. Box 1344
Frisco, Texas 75034
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Being the daughters of the most notorious drug kingpin in the Midwest, hustling runs through Beau and Bella Jones’ veins thicker than blood. But when their father is killed, the sisters are left to fend for themselves. Accustomed to the lavishness their dad’s criminal activities once afforded them, they refuse to allow their quality of living to deteriorate. So Bella and Beau do what they were born and bred to do—they hustle.
Hustling is easy, and for years the sisters live luxuriously doing just that. But chaos ensues when someone fails to stick to the script. A brush with death is all it takes for Beau to want to abandon the hustle for a peaceful, normal life. Bella, on the other hand, does not see quitting as an option. She remains knee-deep in the game until she falls in love and wants out.
But ghosts of hustles past soon return to haunt them, threatening to tear their worlds apart and ultimately ruin them. Bella and Beau have two choices: either hustle their way out of catastrophe, or watch their happily-ever-afters become casualties of the hustle.
Nonstop parties, sex, and fast living are all a part of the game’s allure. But the crazed stalkers, deadly car chases, and murders that come along with it are much more than the sisters bargained for. Bella and Beau quickly learn that what started out as a means to an end doesn’t mean anything if you have to risk losing yourself and everything you love in the process.
“You want to fuck me?” I ask the pasty-skinned white boy who is trying to sweet talk me out of my panties. He nods his head yes. “Well, at least go get me a drink first. Damn.” The boy runs off to get us drinks. I can tell from his eagerness that he is a freshman, just starting his college year here at Notre Dame. Eager to party, eager to get white boy wasted, and eager to fuck some hos. I glance at my sister and roll my eyes. Beau is with a tall white boy. To be so short she is steady attracting tall guys. I whisper to Beau, “Man, this is so fucked up. Daddy only left us 50 G’s.” I grit my teeth.
“Damn, Daddy didn’t get murdered on purpose. Shit, it’s not like he intentionally left us only with $50,000. The feds took everything when they killed him,” Beau whispers back. Beau is delusional. Daddy was the top drug lord in Indiana. Usually people in that occupation don’t have a long life span. Daddy should have known better and stashed away more money for us to survive on in case he was ever killed or jailed. Instead, he left two high school teenagers to fend for themselves. I don’t think I can forgive him for that.
Yeah, $50,000 sounds like a lot of money, but it really ain’t shit. After paying for rent, private school tuition, and other living expenses, that $50,000 is dwindling quickly. I’m not trying to be homeless and hungry. So here we are, hustling just to get by; letting strangers be all up in our faces and touch us. It creeps me out. I will never forgive our father for leaving us like this.
“How much money do we have left?” I ask Beau as I watch the pasty white boy making his way through the crowd of partygoers with two red plastic cups filled with spiked punch.
“Not much. Did you have to buy that hooker outfit?” Beau asks, gesturing to the Prada dress I’d bought earlier that day.
I shrug my shoulders. “What? It was on sale.” The pasty white boy finally makes his way to us. “Kenny likes my dress,” I say loud enough for him to hear me over the music. The dress was an investment to catch the attention of rich white boys and it is paying off. I rub his chest to prove my point as I grab one of the red cups from his hand.
“My name is Kevin. And, oh yeah, I love it.”
I take the other cup from his hand and give it to Beau. “Kenny. Kevin. Whatever. In an hour or so your name will be Oh, God! Oh, God!” I laugh and the tall white boy Beau is with looks at her with excitement. I can see from the imprint in his pants he is ready to leave this kegger and get the real party started.
I watch Bella get into the driver’s seat of Kevin’s Jeep. “Greta!” I yell at Bella before she pulls off. She winks. I want to make sure she has her gun with her just in case shit goes bad. I got a little .22 strapped to my left thigh. I feel the cold metal and it makes me feel secure, even though I hate carrying guns. I know I have it if I need it. Shit, I should have reminded Bella’s trigger-happy ass to keep her hands off Greta unless absolutely necessary.
“Man, I’ve never done anything like this before,” Phil says as his long, skinny fingers grip my ass tight.
“Mmmm, me either,” I moan, rolling my eyes. This shit is crazy. What have I gotten myself into?
“What you say?” Phil yells into my ear. He is so gone. I am sure he won’t remember shit in the morning. “Umm, I got like $300 on me right now. That’s enough, right?” He starts digging in his pockets. Shit, if that is all the money we can expect to get each time, Bella and I are going to have to do this a whole damn lot or think of something else.
“What the fuck? Do I look like some low class bitch to you?” I stop on the sidewalk in front of his hunter green BMW. “My fucking shoes cost more than that.” I look down at my Valentino heels.
“Yeah, they do look expensive. They are nice,” Phil smiles at my shoes. Hell yeah. He’s in a Beemer, rocking a Rolex, and he can spot some expensive heels. He got money. “I got a lot more money at home, though,” Phil slurs.
That’s what I’m talking about. Show me the money. “Good, I’ll drive.” Phil walks closely behind me and I can feel that his dick is hard and ready as he presses it against my ass. I snatch the keys out of his hand. “Lets go,” I say, hopping into the driver’s seat.
I feel butterflies in my stomach as I drive. I can’t believe I’m doing this. This is not how I imagined life at 16. I am sure this isn’t how my parents imagined my life, either. Hell, I never thought I would be orphaned due to both of my parents being murdered by the time I was 16. Man, Bella and I have had some fucked up lives. Her mother overdosed when she was two years old. My mother was murdered when we were 10. And our dad was killed earlier this year. Fuck it. Here goes nothing.
I feel Phil’s hand on my thigh as we pull up to his apartment. I got undergrad and law school to think about and the scholarship I received isn’t going to cover all my expenses. Not to mention both my sisters and my grandma have to be good, too. Hustle it is, then. Bella and I got to do what we got to do to make this money.
About the Authors:
Donisha Derice is an up and coming author bringing her creativity to life by penning tales of fiction. Born and raised in Indianapolis, IN, Donisha had only dreamed of being two things: a lawyer and a writer. Receiving degrees in Paralegal Studies, Criminal Justice, and Public Management, she worked as a criminal defense paralegal for over four years. After realizing she no longer desired to become an attorney, Donisha decided to follow her other dream. Her first novel, The Hustle, was completed while Donisha’s plate was full with motherhood, college, and her full-time job. Writing a book and receiving a publishing deal all within a year, Donisha knows she has found her true passion and calling—and it is in writing.
What makes The Hustle different from other urban fiction novels?
It’s not just urban. It is a tale of two lives that many people from different backgrounds can relate to. We have all made bad choices and mistakes thinking we can get away with it. This story shows how our past can always affect our future.
Are there any parts of the book drawn from your own lives and experiences?
Donisha: Yes, for the Beau’s character she is loosely a physical description of me—especially the bowlegged part. My grandma does say I am very bowlegged. Also, Beau’s love of music, especially Tupac; I reference Pac and his music a few times. One of the important details of the book (I don’t want to give away too much,) but when I was around 19 or 20 one of my uncles sat me down and told me about an over the counter product that if placed in a drink has the same results of a date rape drug. Another thing is that Jai is an attorney and I am a paralegal that once dreamed of being an attorney, so one of the characters having a legal profession made total sense.
Jai: Not really. I will say I have had my fair share of bug-a-boos and was even followed once. It was pretty scary, but nothing to the extent of what Bella went through. And I definitely never tased or pistol-whipped anyone. But I do wish to have a purple pistol like Bella.
If you could pick any actors to portray the characters of The Hustle in a film adaptation, who would you choose and why?
Okay this is a good one:
Beau – This one is easy. Taylour Paige (Ahsha from Hit the Floor.) she is an up-and-coming young actress and definitely has the look.
Bella – To fit the look of Bella it is hard to come up with a young actress, but we think Evelyn Lozada from Basket Ball Wives’ daughter, Shaniece Lozada, has the look. Maybe she will start acting by the time our movie comes out. (Fingers crossed.)
Clifford – Rick Ross definitely was our inspiration for this character. We wanted readers to think of a big handsome guy, but we don’t know any more since he’s been losing so much weight. We may need him to put on a couple of pounds.
Real - Lance Gross…no explanation needed J. He is a good actor that is growing and evolving into different roles.
Beau and Bella’s dad, Beaunifide Upendo Jones – We definitely will have some flashbacks with him just to have Dennis Haysbert play this role. He has the voice and he is fine.
Give us an idea of your writing process, working together as co-authors.
We both visualized each chapter in our minds as if it was a movie scene. When it came to writing, we each wrote one of the characters and had meetings to discuss which direction each sister was taking to make sure we were flowing well. It was amazing how easy it was for us to write together. When we disagreed, we’d just throw on the boxing gloves and duke it out until one of us tapped out. No, just kidding. We would talk it over and if we couldn’t agree, whoever’s character it was won. It is just really fun to have someone to develop the story with. It is also good to have someone there to pull you back when you go too far. (Side-eye, talking about you, Jai.)
When you’re not writing, how do you ladies like to spend your free time?
(Look at each other and laugh.) Writing is what we do in our free time. We are both very busy with our lives.
Jai: I am attorney, enough said. But seriously, there is a large amount of time that I put into my legal work. So in my free time I don’t do anything but write because that is what I love to do.
Donisha: My downtime is also spent writing. I am a single mother and my children come first. So after taking care of them and all the fun and games with them, I write. I have great family support so when my family has the kids, I just love writing.
What inspires you to write?
Jai: There is no greater inspiration than life and love. It’s funny how an idea will just pop into my head out of nowhere. It must be God. For instance, I can see a homeless person on the street and imagine his story and his life if it was a book. I see everything as a story.
Donisha: God and my imagination and my love of stories inspire me. I find it amazing how God works in our lives and I love seeing it and knowing it could be nothing but God. So life and everything in it inspires me to write. The ups and downs, the journeys we take. I love to see a real life story and envision how it will play out.
What is next for you two?
Promoting our book. We want everyone to learn about The Hustle and enjoy our first (but definitely not our last) book. We are working on our next book now and have so many different ideas. We want to explore different genres and just have fun doing what we love and sharing it with the world.
Find the Authors/Buy the Book:
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer
The Only Thing Standing in Your Way. . .
Is Standing in Your Way!