Saturday, November 7, 2015

It's About to Go Down. . .

What's Up my Intellectual Minds?

Can you believe it's November already?  Weren't we just saying how much time we had left to the reading year, and now we're down to about eight weeks left.  Holy Cow! Where the hell did 2015 go?  Umm, when you figure that one out, please enlighten me! (LOL)  

And since we're talking about November, you already know what this is, right?  It's the first Saturday in the new month and that can only mean one thing!  Oooh yeah, our favorite African-American Book Club, AAMBC, is in da house strong this month and boy do we have some goodies for you to take in.  There are four (count 'em) four books to select from ranging from any and everything you can possibly imagine.  So I tell y'all what!  Go to your favorite quiet space, have drink in hand, kick back and let's get this party poppin'!  Yazzzzz!

In Life Virgo had two choices, living their way or living her way. She realized that she would lose herself doing it their way and begun to wonder if she could take her life back doing it her way. Determined, she set out on a journey to find the answer.

Virgo put everyone and everything first and learned the hard way what unappreciation was. The day finally came when she took a long hard look in the “mirror” and realized that she had to change.

Her mirror told her that “only you can make you happy and everyone else contributes to your happiness.”   Now the challenge will be who you choose to put first.

Vernon L. Byrd is a life coach and the author of the book, “Virgo, She Did It Her Way.” The book is based on his own life story.

Mr. Byrd wrote the book to encourage and inspire individuals not to allow their past to determine their future.

A survivor and witness of life’s twist and turns, Vernon is living proof that struggles and people do not have to tear you down.

No matter what you go through or what has happened to you, only you can hold yourself back from achieving your dreams and wanting more out of your life.

Mr. Byrd speaks to various groups and organizations on subjects such as abuse, taking your life back, striving when enemies are holding you down and using “The Mirror.”

He conducts workshops and seminars designed to empower young women and uplift their self-esteem.


At age 10, Virgo had to learn how to provide and sacrifice. She was taken from Philly to Florida by her mother and was put in a world of confusion. So the story begins:

Virgo lived with a very abusive step father who was jealous of her because she was an honor roll student. He took his jealousy out on Virgo as well as her brother and sisters. Virgo’s step father especially took it out on her mother. Her mother would get beat everyday and he would steal her hard earned money.

Virgo sisters were being molested by him and she didn’t know that this was wrong at the time. The step father would peek in the bathroom door while they were taking a bath. Virgo started noticing every time her sisters would leave their mother’s room they had money. Virgo’s sisters would take the money they got and share it with her and their brother.

Her sisters told Virgo it was a secret how they were getting the money. They told Virgo the secret and it went on for some time. 

Until one day when Virgo’s sister wouldn’t share with her and she thought she would get her back by telling their mother about the secret. When her mother came home, Virgo sat her down at the kitchen table and told her what she thought was a secret. Virgo’s mom was very upset and called the police. They locked up the step father for 30 days.

But since Virgo’s mother didn’t want to press charges on him, the cops let him out with a fifty foot around kid’s restriction. In time their mother went back to him despite the restriction. Virgo and her siblings had to take care of themselves since their mother moved back in with him. At age eleven, Virgo had to make sure her brother and sisters were okay in the streets, since they had to be outside from the hours of 7:00am to 11:00pm. The children could only be in the house from 11:00pm to 7:00am because those were the hours he worked. Virgo had no choice but to start learning how to steal. She only stole food so they could eat because their mother never sent them on their all-day outing with anything to eat. They would walk 50 blocks to another city to stay at the beach. Since it was an all white beach, they weren’t allowed to be there, so they walked around the parking lot. One day they saw a white lady they knew and she used her membership so they could remain on the segregated property and be safe. By stealing to make it, it became a habit for Virgo and she started doing it to make money. She didn’t realize at the time, she was at the entry level of being a “HUSTLER”.

Get to Know Vernon

Vernon, you claim, “You can overcome life’s obstacles by looking in the mirror.” How do you define “The Mirror,” and how do you know your claim to be true? 

The “Mirror” is an honest reflection of you. Studies and personal experience show that when you look at yourself and tell the truth, you tend to get a clearer picture of  what matters most to you in your life.

This brings us more into your personal story. What was your life like before you had the astonishing experience that you have called “The Mirror?” 

Before I finally looked myself in the mirror my life was full of depression and stress because all I did was blame others for my failures.

What was it like when you loved yourself for the first time?

When I began to love myself It felt like the weight of the world left my shoulders and also gave me a clearer understanding of what I had to do to change my life for me.

Was the change easy?  What steps did you take to make the transition?

No the change was not easy. I had to go from someone that always focused on others to focusing on me. The 4 steps I took to make my transition are what I call R-A-W-T. (Realize, Accept, Willing To Change and Take Action).
What was your life like after that moment?

When I started implementing the R-A-W-T process into my life it was like I walked out of a dark place and began to see that life was worth living and realized that “Life Is Good All The Time.” It also gave me the ability to make better decisions and focus on the things that I want for my life.

Tell us about your new book, “VIRGO – She Did It Her Way?”

The book is about the journey through life for a young female that gave her life trying to please others and all of life’s issues, hard decisions and wisdom that she encountered as she evolved into a woman.
What else are you doing?

I’m preparing to start the “Love Yourself Unconditionally” tour.  This will consist of speaking engagements, seminars, workshops, books, book signings, motivational CD’s and merchandise. 

Is there a website where people can get more information about you and your schedule?

Buy the Book/ Find the Book:

book can be purchased at

Contact the Author

email address:

press release link:

Get Your Read On!

"The strongest among us are the ones who cry behind closed doors, have the ability to smile through silent pain, and fight battles that are obscured by shame.”

For Sierra, Alex and Latrice, the innocence of childhood was lost at an early age. The three cousins transition into womanhood carrying a secret that would influence their lives and threaten to destroy their family. Choosing significantly different paths as they struggle to deal with the psychological effects of abuse, the three are eventually driven apart. Through a series of unlikely circumstances, the heroine of the story, Alex, reconnects with Sierra and Latrice. The meeting would ultimately set the stage for atonement.


​ “Why, Keith?”

She didn’t ask if he was guilty, she simply asked “why?”

​Everyone looked at her as Keith looked at the floor. Suddenly it all made sense. His mom must have known about his sick attraction for little girls all along. Incredible, I thought, trying to put everything into perspective. If she knew her son was capable of such horrible things, why didn’t she do something to protect us? The silence was uncomfortably thick, and then all of a sudden my grandmother made a statement that was barely audible, but I heard her.

"Aw shucks, y’all stop all this nonsense. That boy is just like his granddaddy. Peabody was the same way.”

I couldn’t believe it! Just like that he was justified. Recalling a scene from The Color Purple, I guess Miss Sophia was right when she said, “a girl child just ain’t safe in a family of men…”

​“Sure was,” my grandmother’s sister chimed in.

​Finally, my mother spoke.

“Sierra, how could you let him do that to you?”

This would become one of the worst days of my life. It is permanently etched in my mind and replayed on a daily basis. I never know when the thoughts will come and I haven’t determined a specific trigger. The images just suddenly appear and I’m held captive by my own mind until they fade away.

Get to Know Angela:

Dr. A.L. Smith read her first full-length novel (The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner) in the third grade and it spawned her passion for reading. According to Dr. Smith, the hallmark of a great story is the resounding presence of a character that transcends the final pages of the book.

Dr. Smith is a native of Frierson, La. She attended Grambling State University on a basketball scholarship and later joined the school's Army ROTC program. Upon graduation in 1996, she became the university's first Army ROTC cadet to receive a commission in the Army Nurse Corps. She's a practicing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist with a Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice degree from Texas Wesleyan University. Her research study ("Evidence-Based Selection of Sedation Agents for Patients Undergoing Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography") was selected for publication in the 2016 edition of the Journal of Gastroenterology Nursing issue 39 volume 2.

In 2010, she participated in humanitarian relief efforts during the devastating earthquake in Haiti and provided anesthesia services to a countless number of victims, many of whom were children. This experience would have a profound impact on her views concerning socioeconomic disparities here in the U.S. and countries abroad. She's a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and takes seriously the organization's motto "Service to all Mankind."  "In as much as you've done to the least of the..." is her personal motto.

1. What was the inspiration for your first novel?

Some years ago, I attended a book club meeting in Atlanta Georgia, where I was surrounded by a group of extremely intelligent and successful women. Ten women were present and nine of them shared personal stories of childhood abuse. Surprisingly, a majority of the women were sharing their stories for the first time. Fear and shame were the common denominators which led these women to suffer in silence. This would become the primary inspiration for writing my first book.

2. What process did you use for character selection?

The characters are largely a product of my imagination but they were created specifically for the purpose of demonstrating some of the potential effects of childhood abuse, which include drug and alcohol addiction, low self-esteem/promiscuity and relationship dysfunction.

3. Is there a particular character that you identify with the most?

Alex, hands down. I found myself channeling many of my personal ideas and emotions concerning dysfunctional relationships through her character.

4. The urban fiction genre is an extremely competitive market and seems to be growing by   leaps and bounds. What are your thoughts concerning the future of the industry?

Competition is essential for growth in any industry. The urban fiction industry is overflowing with an abundance of talented authors and avid readers. I believe the urban fiction market has the potential to sustain itself.

5. What are the keys to success for urban fiction authors?

Capturing and maintaining your audience is most important. I'm still new to the author side of the industry and still trying to build my brand. However, I listen to the readers. Currently, the most critical commentary is related to the issue of repetitive story lines and a perceived lapse in the overall quality of finished products. The urban fiction genre is extremely unique because it embraces a particular set of characteristics, issues and circumstances that are consistent with urban life. Therefore, it stands to reason, these stories will be repeated time and time again. In light of this reality, an author's ability to recreate these stories in a unique fashion with attention to detail and quality will ultimately determine individual progression and long term success within the industry.

6. What is the primary message for the Behind Closed Doors Series?

According to recent statistics, one in five girls and one in twenty boys are subject to some form of childhood abuse. Sexual abuse is often hard to identify due to the lack of physical wounds and the veil of secrecy which further obscures the crime. Without a doubt, my primary goal is to increase awareness concerning this issue and provide victims with a platform for healing.

What are your future plans as an author?

Behind Closed Doors 2: Redemption is scheduled for release in the coming weeks and I'm currently working on my third project which is a stand-alone urban fiction/medical thriller. The production of my trailer for Behind Closed Door 2 was an extremely exhilarating experience for me. I'm currently exploring some ideas concerning the production of "movie-like" trailers for other authors.

Find the Author and the Book:




Twitter @akangela1

Facebook A.L. Smith

Instagram @akangela1

Trailer for Book 2

Watch “Behind Closed Doors - Official Trailer (2)” on Vimeo:

Unleash Your Inner Author!

Jamillah and David Lamb are the dynamic couple behind the successful off-Broadway play, Platanos Y Collard Greens, which has enjoyed more than 10 years running. For years, they have worked side by side, 24/7, to create and build their business. And, not only have they not killed each other, their love has grown stronger. Now Jamillah and David share their recipe for romantic success.

This insightful relationship guidebook is part love manual and part diary as the couple explores important and intimate topics. Speaking from both of their voices–separately and collectively.

Perfect Combination: Seven Key Ingredients to Happily Living & Loving Together is not a book of relationship theory – it’s a practical guide that provides the recipe anyone, man or woman, single, engaged or married, can use for love . Jamillah & David tell their story with a sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious, honesty. It is the warm, true-to-life style combined with road-tested advice that makes this book on love and relationships so unique and so valuable.

Get to know the Authors:

Jamillah & David Lamb are the husband and wife team who own Between The Lines Productions, Inc., a company they developed in 2003 to inspire and bring the joy of laughter to people, which has produced the long running Off-Broadway show, Platanos Y Collard Greens. David was born in Queens, NY and raised in public housing in Astoria, Queens. He attended the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and New York University School of Law. He is the playwright of Platanos Y Collard Greens, a piece that grew out of his experiences growing up in the Black and Latino communities of in Queens and the South Bronx. Jamillah Lamb grew up in Chicago, in the same neighborhood as First Lady Michelle Obama. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in economics from Wesleyan University, she went on to Harvard University, where she gained her Master degree in Public Policy. She uses this background in the daily operations of Between The Lines Productions, Inc. Jamillah always loved theater and shares David’s passion for creative work. David loves being married business partners and parenting with Jamillah. They live in Brooklyn with their wonderful little girl. For more information about Perfect Combination: Seven Key Ingredients to Happily Living and Loving Together.

1. “Love like kids, act like adults” is your motto.  What do you mean by that?

We have all been blessed to see how openly and beautifully children love, without fear of rejection or embarrassment. Seeing this, we can’t help but break into big, broad smiles when a child expresses their love. Despite these broad smiles, however, most of us turn our own love lives into a Quentin Tarantino movie and “get medieval,” “get even,” and “get over”. We forget to love the way we once did, instead we build massive, reinforced fortresses around our hearts to protect us from hurt. Complete with moats (baggage from past relationships) and knights (friends and family who, filled with their own past relationship baggage, advise us to protect ourselves and not open ourselves). Unfortunately, while we believe these fortresses protect us, in reality they are prisons that imprison our love and leave us unable to genuinely give and receive love.

We say no more, it is time to make the greatest prison break since Shawshank Redemption.

Here’s an example, we playfully call this the screaming greeting. When a small child is happy to see you walk through the door, you don’t have to guess about it the joy comes out as their little voices rise and they run and hug you. Now have you ever come home after a long-day at work and greeted the one you love without any greeting at all or worse yet a grumpy greeting, each of you distracted by the mail, the work day, the television, the phone or the thousand and one other things that distract us. Well—stop it! That is merely a façade another way of putting a fortress around your heart to protect yourself, but instead has turned into a prison inhibiting your love. Next time the one you love comes home after a long day of work greet them with the enthusiasm that your love deserves: run up, hug them and shout out your love for them. It will shake off the blues and bring you closer, you will find yourself cheered up and longing for them even more.

2. How do you keep the spark in your relationship?

Loving Like Kids is a living, breathing philosophy for us. We go on spontaneous dates—doing what we want to do in the moment, and we have no limit on public displays of affection (no matter how embarrassing.)

3. What are your fundamental tips for making a relationship work in your opinion?

First, Let Your Past, Be Your Past. One of the keys to being happy in a relationship is to be in that relationship. We all carry emotional baggage from past relationships around in gigantic duffel bags and oft-times those past relationships poison the current relationship we are trying to have.

You can never see the potential of your future, if you are always viewing it through the lens of your past. One of the most complementary things that someone has written about Perfect Combination was that the book inspired them to not make the next person pay for the last person’s mistakes, but instead to always put their best foot forward in a relationship and to leave the baggage behind wholeheartedly embracing a new opportunity to “get it right”. That is our message – that love and happiness are not elusive. They are accessible, but they begin with a ready, willing and able self, strong enough to make the journey and take the trip.

4. How did you meet?

We actually met at work. David worked in the New York office and I worked in the California office.

Yes, one week after starting work I noticed a picture of the company’s retreat from the year before, and my eye immediately went to Jamillah. Something told me she was going to be my wife. I know that love at first sight is a Hollywood cliché, but for me it was a very real experience.

A month later we had our company retreat in California and David and the rest of the New York staff came out to California. I have to admit that when I saw him there was instant electricity.

It took her ten years to admit that!

5. Now I know you two are in love, but like all couples there have to be disagreements sometimes. How do you handle disagreements?

Many relationships fall apart because the couple doesn’t know how to handle disagreements. We have seen couples explode over something as small as which movie to see on Saturday night. What we’ve found is that it’s not the things you disagree about that break couples up, but the ways in which couples disagree. We urge everyone to take Dr. Martin Luther King’s advice and “learn to disagree, without being disagreeable’.

6. What is the quality you like most about the other?

His sense of humor and youthful attitude. He keeps me laughing, all the time. And his belief in and support of me.

Her sweetness. People say you end up marrying someone like your parents and for us its true, even though that was not our intention, but the first time I walked into Jamillah’s apartment and saw a painting of trees that she had worked on, I thought, this is really bizarre, because my mother is one of the great tree painting enthusiasts in the world.

It’s true, and I don’t know how it happened, but David is a blend of both my father and step-father – the good parts.

And her support of and belief in me.

7. Most people think that working together actually will doom their relationship, but for you two, working together has made it stronger. How has this come about?

Originally we planned to produce our play, Platanos Y Collard Greens, for one weekend. We both had full-time jobs and thought that it would be a fun thing to do on the side, but when the audiences came that first weekend, they fell in love with the show and it took over our lives.

Suddenly we were managing a company of twenty actors and dealing with drama on and off-stage. We had to learn how to manage people and not let the stress of doing that damage our relationship. Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends & Influence People became a handbook for managing people and surprisingly we learned things that improved our relationship, one very important thing we learned is that people crave appreciation. When we first began working together we didn’t appreciate that fully and would sometimes take each other for granted without even realizing it. Once we learned this lesson in business we began making sure that we showed each other how much we appreciated each other, and it made our relationship better.

For information about Jamillah and David, visit their website Perfect Combination is available at and other online booksellers.

Find the Authors:

Get the Book:

Reading and Knowledge (a Perfect Balance)!

Carnal Chloe is this season’s guilty read, as it is a story about carnality. Yes, that weak flesh in you and me. And especially Chloe C, and she is naughtily hoping her new friend Jay B. She meets him and is instantly ready to have a little adult fun. You see, yesss. You see . . . well . . . as soon as she can get rid of her pesky client Shelly . . . the thorn in her eye.This is the story about a girl who was not looking for love or Mr.Right. Nope, Chloe C was the anti-girl: she didn’t have the desire to be anyone’s wife. Instead she was just looking for a good shag, and good shopping: gifts, trinkets, trips, cash, check or credit. You get it, sponsorship, fun for the night. And if it was fancy fun . . . maybe even . . . fun for some time . . . but fun . . . only fun . . . and of course the best fun . . . receiving funds . . .yes, FUN . . . definitely nothing serious . . . and certainly in fact . . . nothing for life. No. None of that. SHE WANTED NOTHING TO DO WITH A HUSBAND OR KIDS . . . as she didn’t want to chase after the little sticky handed things . . . nor did she want to answer to a man who thought he owned her because of a ring. No. She wanted to live the fabulous life and be selfish-no babies and no marriage. That is until that day in August of 2013 when she met Jay Blackwell . . . and he put something different on her mind. Love . . . family . . . forever?

Read as Chloe C. takes you through the crazy course of events from the day she was reintroduced to love . . . after damn near fifteen years of dodging it. And oh yeah, please forgive her . . . sometimes she can be a bit crass-that mouth! Ooh. Watch out . . .I caution you to read at your own risk.

Get to Know Chloe:

Ruckiya Ross is a wife, step-mommy and child of the most high GOD. While her professional background is in speech-language therapy. Naturally, a creative spirit at heart, she is a founding member of August Bloom: a high-style floral and event design company that has been featured in many media publications: CS Modern Luxury, Uptown Magazine and Essence Magazine.

Having used her creative juices to design flowers for celebrities like Chicago Bulls Star Derrick Rose and BWLA star Malaysia Pargo and many high profile organizations like Chicago Urban League and Jack and Jill of America. She has now decided to put her floral design business on hold and focus her creative energy on storytelling.However, with no formal writing training, she describes herself as a reader who by the GRACE OF GOD was able to write a novel.

1.Why do you not like to refer to yourself as a writer?

Because having no formal writing training…I just see myself as more of a reader who was fortunate enough to be able to write a book. I do see myself as an artist though. But I will say this…seeing the actual finished product, I am certainly starting to embrace the label of author. It is kind of a big deal, huh? He he. *black girl blushing*…ALL GLORY BE TO GOD.

2. Well since you’re not a writer, what made you write Carnal Chloe?

I had just gotten laid off from my day job and I was trying to figure my next move. My background is in education,so initially I was focusing my attention there. But like two days before I started to write this story, out of nowhere (or maybe it was GOD trying to tell me something) my mind really started racing with thoughts of this character. It was so bad that it was keeping me up at night. Like seriously, the voice of Chloe Carter was on repeat in my head. I could not get these one-liners out of my head. Stuff like, “If I guy wants to get close to me, he has to be writing checks or banging out backs”…It was not until I set down at the computer and the words started to flow outwardly that I was able to get Crazy Chloe out of my head.

3. Is the character, Chloe Carter, your alter ego?

Absolutely not. Yeah, I am crazy but I am just regular crazy–think, sensitive artist crazy. Chloe Carter is next dimension crazy. She is a real trip (like I need a vacation after dealing with you type of trip). Put it like this, she is so crazy she actually thinks she is a real person. For real, the girl needs help…matter of fact, I am going to just let her answer the rest of these here questions. You’ll see…

4.  Well, who is Chloe Carter?

Chloe Carter is that bitch. The baddest one. Indeed, I am her and she is me. A dope chick from Chicago…real estate broker by day…and pimp by night. Well, used to be. But I get more into that when I tell you my story–you gotta buy the book for the juicy deets. But while we’re on the subject of the book, you know, I actually resent the fact that little Miss Ruckiya is sitting here trying to act like I am a figment of her imagination. How disrespectful is that? Like I am the REALEST you will ever meet. I should slap her…but I won’t cause she knew what was good for her–she made sure to acknowledge me on that book cover. Yeah, she better had.

5. Okay, so who is the actual author of ‘Carnal Chloe’ ?

Technically, Ruckiya Ross.I’ll give her that. She was the one who slaved away at the computer writing out this tale for your reading pleasure. But it is still my story doggone it, so like I said, she knew what was good for her and she gave me my proper credit.

6. So Chloe, you say, it’s your story, but Ruckiya is the author…well, how did she get access to your story?

This is going to sound crazy as hell. But whatever, can’t say I care about your opinion or anybody else’s for that matter (Well, maybe Jay Blackwell’s, but whatever) as I was saying…I channeled her from the “fictional, crazy dimension” I live in–yeah, it sounds bonkers right? But it’s true…I got all up in her head like a mind ninja and made her write this story. That’s why she thinks I am a figment of her imagination. Yep, I’m just that slick with it.

7.  Well alright…last question, what is your favorite book?

Are you asking my, Chloe Carter’s, favorite book…or Ruckiya Ross’s favorite book? Mine personally, I have two: “Coldest Winter Ever” and ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’…at this point in life, Ruckiya is pretty vanilla, she would probably say the Bible. Not that I don’t like the Bible–seriously I love me some Jesus–I am just specifying for the purposes of this interview.

Purchase Links~

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Creativity is Color Blind!