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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

BOOK DRAMA ~ AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT ~ TUMIKA CAIN



Tumika Patrice Cain is an award-winning author and media personality whose works center around the complexities of the human experience. Through her writing she takes a global look at issues that affect women and crafts authentic, well-rounded characters and plots so rich that are so relatable they feel like personal friends to the readers. She is also the founder of Say What?? Book club, book reviewer, contributing writer for The Belief Magazine, and former columnist/book reviewer for PEN'Ashe Magazine. Her works center around the complexities of the human experience and in uplifting the spirit. An assignment for a second grade class sparked her interest in writing that would quickly become her raison d'etre. As an educator, she wholeheartedly believes that each one should reach one; each one should teach one. Tumika is also a respected editor and publisher. When she is not writing, she may be found teaching writer's workshops, blogging, volunteering, and otherwise beautifying the world around her. She is the author of the award winning novel, When a Man Loves a Woman: A Season of Change; After the Rain...a Poetry Collective; and The Heart of a Woman: Poetry, Short Stories & Tekaisms. Book 2 of the When a Man Loves a Woman series will be released in April 2016. Her works have been published in a number of anthologies, magazines and periodicals. You may follow her on Facebook: Tumika Patrice Cain and on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest & Goodreads: @TumikaPatrice. www.TumikaPatrice.com

Tumika Patrice Cain is changing lives one word at a time...


What was the inspiration for "After The Rain: A Poetry Collective?"

I’ve been writing poetry since I was a young child. Poetry is my first literary love. After years of writing poetry, and being active on the poetry circuit, my mentor at the time encouraged me to put a collection together in book format. I started with a chapbook, Poeticus Grandioso, but wanted to do something even greater. After the Rain: A Poetry Collective is a deeply personal collection that is divided into four sections. It focuses on love and heartbreak, sisterhood, the plight of black men in this society, and spirituality. This life is not always a pretty one, yet after the storms have passed, there is a sense of renewed hope. After the Rain is my way of acknowledging the storms, yet also saying that there is hope for a brighter tomorrow. This collection and title are extremely significant to me for those reasons. This collection of poetry is a labor of love that had been a long time in coming. I am most grateful to be able to share this work.

Do you ever do poetry readings or spoken word?

A number of years ago I was very active on the poetry circuit. Life changes and people evolve. Priorities change. For quite a few years I’ve done only a minimal number of events, and then they were more in the line of featured readings and one woman shows. I am slowly getting back into doing open mike events. I have missed the energy of that environment and connecting with like minds and creative individuals. However, even when I wasn’t active on the poetry circuit, I’ve remained a great supporter and lover of poetry and of poets brave enough to share their talents.


In your novels When A Man Loves a Woman 1 and 2 are Alicia and Avery composites of people you know or original characters?

For starters, each of the books in the When a Man Loves a Woman series is a stand-alone, full length book with its own theme and characters. In book one: When a Man Loves a Woman: A Season of Change, we are introduced to Avery and Alicia, a couple who appears to have it all. They are successful, attractive, wealthy, esteemed in the community and in their professions. It’s a life anyone would pay to have, however all is not as it appears to be. They have both come into the relationship with unresolved issues that are unbeknownst to the other. These issues come back to the surface, demanding to be dealt with. Book one is a very intense, emotional story that touches on deep issues and challenges stereotypes. Yet with all of my books, there is the thread of empowerment and healing that runs through the story. These characters are not based on anyone that I know specifically, yet the theme of the book is based on a number of situations I’ve seen. It’s definitely a story that needs to be told.

In book two: When a Man Loves a Woman 2: A Love Divine, we meet Jacquie and Michael. Jacquie is an almost 40 year old woman who is single and childless. She has spent her life in the church and tries her best to live the “Christian formula,” only to end up disappointed, frustrated and hopeless. She’s never been one to go against the grain, but continuing on in her current state has left her far from hopeful that anything will change. Then she meets Michael. He is everything she’s been waiting on, although he comes packaged completely opposite than what she’s been told she should look for. He’s not looking for a mate, she’s has no hope to find one, yet when they meet, it’s obvious to both of them that this is a very significant meeting. Book two is what I call a true love story. It’s the love between a parent and child, between siblings, between best friends, between a man and a woman, and ultimately the love a person has for oneself, since it takes self love to be willing to change what isn’t working to embrace the blessings that await us. Book two is a much softer story than book one, but just as relatable and heartfelt.

Book three, due to release in December 2016, When a Man Loves a Woman 3: Second Chances, introduces Jade and Lawrence. Jade, a secondary character in book two, has lived through hell….and survived. After literally being left for dead, she realizes this chance she’s being given for a new life is a gift not to be thrown away. She’s broken, bruised, bitter and in need of direction, as well as tender loving care. Lawrence, a secondary character from book one, doesn’t know why he’s drawn to her. On the surface it appears as if their lives are polar opposites, yet in each other is the healing balm they’ve both been missing for quite some time. Book three brings back a number of characters from the series and concludes in a very satisfying way.

Through this series, I wanted to explore different types of love relationships between a man and a woman. Sometimes that love is healthy and beautiful, sometimes destructive. Still there are times it’s platonic, familial, intimate. But in all cases a man who loves a woman brings something significant into her life and those angles deserved to be explored.

Are we going to see more from them in the future, and do you feel as though your characters have matured?

Over the course of the three part series, we definitely see a maturing of the characters. At this time, I have no intentions to write about these characters beyond these three books, however, when I first started writing, I didn’t intend to have a series at all. So, I’ll just keep myself open to the writing process and see if these characters reveal that there’s more to their story that must be revealed.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

BOOK DRAMA ~ AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT ~ JULIUS JAMAAL MCLEAN




A native of South Florida, Julius Jamaal McLean is an African American writer, poet, and creator striving to encourage, influence, and represent the voice of young artists. Inspired by the work and creativity of African American writers like Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, his debut poetry book Harlem Nights and Footstep Blues evolved organically from a desire to create something relatable, impactful, and relevant to modern social issues and culture. Julius’ poetry is a way for him to speak from the perspective of those from his demographic who are not given the opportunity to speak for themselves often. His desire is for the sound of his own voice to ignite the passion within those of his generation and motivate them to express themselves in the same manner.

What age did the poetry bug bite you, and do you remember your first poem? 


I've always been a great writer since my younger years growing up. I wrote my first serious poem at the end of high school which was in 2007 and I was 18 years old. It was a love poem called "Me and You". It doesn't really compare to what I've done since but it was the start. I still have it and I can share a few lines from it: "You caught my attention/So I couldn’t be shy/You captivated me/You’re the sun in my sky." It's a simple a poem and something that I wrote for my girlfriend at the time, but I wouldn't really say that I caught the poetry bug at the time, although it was something that came together pretty naturally. I believe I've been successful at poetry because my thoughts are very poetic and metaphorical and I draw from so many different sources. I believe that our writing is a manifestation of our thoughts and if you are a deep or creative thinker, then you have the potential to be a great writer. The challenge is how well you are able to translate your thoughts into writing and I think that's what intimidates most people. I think that because of how I think and because I've always been a good writer, it was easy for me to transition to writing poetry. Being a member of the fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi and being involved in a lot of events on campus during my college years at the University of Miami really stimulated my growth as a poet. I began to write poetry for events that my fraternity chapter, Iota Chi, would have and that made me realize that I had the ability to write poetry well. After a while, I would just naturally come up with concepts in my head and draw inspiration from everything around me. Eventually, poetry became a part of me and I became better at taking my thoughts and translating them into poetic concepts.

Are you a spoken word artist as well, if so where do you perform? If not, why not?

I wouldn't consider myself a spoken word artist, although I have performed some of my written poems on several occasions and I'm not afraid to perform my written poems. I really just consider myself more of a writer than a performer and I think that there are certain skills that spoken word artists have that I haven't developed yet because I focus more on developing as a writer. I have nothing against spoken word because I do enjoy it, but I just enjoy the writing aspect of poetry more. I consider my performances as more of traditional poetry reading. I think I would have to hone my craft more as a performer before I could call myself a spoken word artist, but I take every opportunity to perform my work when I'm publicizing it because I feel that it is important to perform it whenever I can and I try my best to memorize everything and perform each piece to the best of my ability.

You have a healthy number of poems in your collection. How many poems have you written to date, and how long did it take you to choose specific pieces for 
Harlem Nights and Footstep Blues? 


I have at least 260 poems that I've started. Some are still incomplete and others are finished. I have many that I'm still fine tuning.I'm always coming up with and starting new poems even if I don't finish them. I like to do my poems in spurts and I'm always going back to revisit poems that I started, to make changes to them. Eventually, when realized that I had amassed a large collection of over 100 poems over several years, I decided to put together my poetry book. It didn't take long to select the poems to put in the collection because I knew which poems I really wanted to have in it and then I just put together a list of everything that could potentially be in my collection. Once I had my list it probably took a week to arrange the poems in the order that I wanted them in and then from there I made a few minor changes like removing certain poems or maybe swapping a poem with something else I was originally going to omit from the collection. The whole process of picking the poems, arranging them, and finalizing the order took just a few weeks at most, but the poems were written mostly over the last 3 years.



Excerpts of the two title poems "Harlem Nights" and "Footstep Blues":

Harlem Nights


What happens to a slave deferred from freedom?
 Do we need him?
Does he believe every lie
That we feed him?
How long can we deceive him?
How do we sleep at night
Knowing the nature of his plight?

Perhaps, it is more dangerous if he knows
Than if he doesn’t know
That he lies so low
On the totem pole.
After all, the bottom is more
Pleasant than limbo—
But for us lies are more
Pleasant than truth told.

 What happens to a lie deferred from truth?
 Does it hold,
Even after it’s centuries old?
 Or does it explode?


Footstep Blues

On a grossly neglected street,
Marching to his own imaginary beat,
I watched a Negro plant his feet.
Each step gave a glimpse
Of the paths he had tread.
His walk was a language
That I had read,
And few could understand
What it actually said.

I heard the horns
Of his gangsta bounce.
The sound of his kicks
On pavement drowned
Every other sound out.

Meanwhile, my walk
Danced to a slightly different beat.
Our signature styles
Collided on that jagged street.
In the midst of our percussive
Street melodies,
We nodded our heads
To acknowledge each other
As young black kindred.
Understood without being said,
Our music linked our telepathic threads.

Boogie-woogie
Bebop!
We grooved
And beat hopped
To street-feet hip-hop.

We spoke through footstep blues
And dope Nike shoes.
Footstep blues
And dope Nike shoes…
Footstep blues,
Jordan twos,
Gamma blues,
Ella Fitzgerald,
Satchmo Lou,
Langston Hughes…
Those footstep blues.

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Also available for ebook format on Apple iBooks, Blio, and Kobo Apps.
 author website: www.juliusjamaalmclean.com coming soon

 IG: @universaleuomo 
Twitter: @juliusjmclean  
                                 Tumblr: http://universaleuomo.tumblr.com/                                 

Friday, August 19, 2016

BOOK DRAMA ~ AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT ~ AJ WRITE


A.J. Write was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but now resides in Georgia with her husband and daughter. She started reading urban fiction books in middle school and fell in love with the art of writing. She also began writing poetry while in middle school where she was entered into a few poetry contests. It wasn't until years later that she finally decided to give writing a shot. After sending in her manuscript for what is now called A B-more Love to a few publishing companies she decided to sign with Lucinda John and her company Lucinda John Presents.

What sparked the idea for Three Kings Cartel: A hood Love Story?

 I was in the middle of writing A B-more Love 3 when the idea of writing about 3 brothers who finds love differently came to mind. I was very excited to write about it and didn't know it would become such a big success. I just wanted to show how even though they were a family they were different in many ways. I wanted to somehow make it where the readers could relate to those types of men. Love can be found differently and I came up with different scenarios as to how I wanted it to be portrayed.

Are Jace, Jackson and June based on people you know?

 Jace and Jackson aren't but June is. June is a character that's based off a very good friend of mine from high school. He's funny as hell and is a ladies man who doesn't think love is for him. My friend is older now but June is based off his younger days. Of course I have to put a spin on it but I think most will probably relate to June more than they did with Jace and Jackson.


How long did it take you to finish the first draft, and what was your writing process?
i
It takes me a month to write my books. I honestly don't have a process. I just write when I have the opportunity and when the characters are talking to me. I have to find time to write due to me having a very active 7 month old. Somehow I'm able to write a lot.


Who is your favorite character, and least favorite character and why?

 I can't say that I have a favorite character because I love them all. They are My babies. This was My favorite series to write, to date. I have a certain connection with these characters that I don't think I can part with anytime soon. My least favorite would have to be Jalysa. Even though she's a character I made up I really didn't like her. There's so many females out in the world who are like her and I couldn't stand her. Any time I wrote about her I think I typed angrily. She made my skin crawl some and not because of her circumstances but because of her character.


Synopsis
When you ask who runs Baltimore, there’s only one name that comes to mind: The Vincent Brothers. These brothers are known for their looks, charm, and crazy ways. There’s Jace, Jackson, and June; and in that order. The females lose their mind when the brothers grace them with their presence, but none have yet to capture any of their hearts. Tragedy struck them when they were young, and ever since then their hearts have been closed off to any female. 
Jace recently broke up with his long-time girlfriend, Jalysa. He didn’t love her, but he kept her around. He knew she wasn’t the one, but he was the one for her. Jace doesn’t care about much but family and his money. He had to be a man before his time to take care of his family. Jace wasn’t looking for love until his heart stumbled into the palms of India. There’s only one problem. Jalysa isn’t ready to let Jace go.
India moves to Baltimore in hopes of getting away from her ex-boyfriend Tank. She is ready to start over. It’s a good thing she had friends in Baltimore. India and Jalysa have been friends their whole lives, and Jalysa welcomed her with open arms. India has never been one to step on anybody’s toes until she meets Jace. India tries to keep her distance but can’t help how she feels. Tank is lurking in the shadows for his chance to claim what’s his again.

Read this story of love, deceit, and heartache. Will Jalysa ever let Jace go? Will Tank ever get what he feels belongs to him? Will India and Jalysa’s friendship remain the same once she moves to Baltimore? Who’s love will prevail in the end?






Chapter 3 

Jace 
Man shorty at the store was bad as hell. I knew she couldn’t have been from here since she didn’t know who I was and wasn’t drooling over me. But damn, when I say shorty was bad in every sense of the word, that was what I meant. I didn’t normally drool over no female. And she only had some sweats and a t-shirt on, but I could see shorty’s figure through all of that. She was short as shit, but I could make an exception. I couldn’t believe she didn’t take my offer up on going out to dinner with me. I had never been turned down in my life. Hell she acted as if her bumping into me almost killed me. That shit was funny, I must say. 
Baby girl was absolutely perfect, and I only knew her name. I knew I’d see her again and when I did I was definitely not taking no for an answer. She had to be like 5’4”. She had smooth ass brown skin. And she has a lot of fucking hair, but it looked great on her. I could tell it was hers too. I liked that shit. She was thick in her own way with a handful of breasts. Shit I realized I was still standing in the same spot just thinking about her until I heard my name being called. I looked around until I saw who was calling my name. “Jace. Hey boo. How you doing?” I heard. I frowned. Naw it wasn’t Jalysa, but it was another chick I used to mess with who was just as annoying as her. “What’s up, Tammy?” I asked dryly. 
She looked as if she was coming in for a hug until I said something. “Oooo, who pissed in your coffee?” She asked stopping in action. “Nobody. I got shit to do so what’s up?” I asked her. “I was just coming over to speak but also to ask you a question.” She said crossing her arms. “Ok what?” I asked. “I mean. I just wanted to know what’s up with me and you?” She started, but I didn’t even let her ass finished. I just walked off. I didn’t have time for her bullshit. I heard her calling my name, but I just kept it moving. Hell I didn’t even buy anything. I just left the store and made my way to the courts. I was late anyway. 
When I finally got there, I could see my brothers and crew out there warming up. I made my way to the court and as always these niggas started cracking. “Oh finally this nigga found the time to grace us with his presence.” Jackson said. “This nigga is going to be late to his funeral. I swear if I catch you walking down the aisle to your casket, I’ma shoot your ass.” June said. “Man, fuck ya’ll. I swear I got a legit ass reason for being late this time.” I said. “Oh I got to hear this.” Shawn, one of our homeboys, said. “Aye, nigga, shut up. You can’t talk with your five baby mommas having ass. I don’t know how you on time for any damn thing.” I said. 
“That’s cuz I got my baby momma’s in check. I don’t play that shit. They can try me if they want to. They know if their ass acts up they won’t be getting none of that Brazilian bullshit they put in their hair, none of them wack ass nail designs they get, or them funky ass name brand clothes and purses they like to stunt around with. They know the deal. Unlike you my late ass brother. I got my hoes in check.” He said. “My nigga.” June said dapping him up. “June, you got a lot of got damn nerve when you got bitches fighting over you all day every day.” I said. 
“See keyword there is they are fighting. Not me. I ain’t got shit to do with that. I get what I want and keep it moving. I don’t fuck with none of these bitches more than once. Nobody can claim or tame my ass. And no one ever will.” He said matter-of-factly. 
Tommy, another nigga from our crew, stood there shaking his head. “The fuck you shaking your head for, nigga?” I asked. “Because. I’m standing here with all you grown ass men and none of ya’ll can keep a chick for nothing.” He said. “Ahhhhh here this in love, pussy whipped ass nigga go,” Jackson said. “I’ll be all that because I got something none of ya’ll have, and that’s somebody in my bed every night. The same person at that. There’s going to come a time in ya’ll life where you come across the one. Now I know ya’ll situation. Hell I been through it all with ya’ll, but one of these females out here is going to lock ya’ll down.” He said. 
“Will somebody shut this Farrakhan ass nigga up. Don’t nobody wanna hear that shit. There is no pussy out there that can lock me down. I’m not having that shit. I can’t and won’t deal with the nagging and crying and emotions. And all that shit. Nobody has time for that.” June said waving his hands around all dramatically. “Ok now I’m not like them two over there. I believe there is somebody out there, and I think I found her today. Well more like she bumped into me.” I told them. “What the fuck you talking about?” June asked. “Man this little chick bumped into me literally in the store before I got here. She was rambling on and on about what happened, but she was cute as shit. I mean like fucking gorgeous, and I asked her out because she asked how she could make it up to me, but she told me no.” I said shaking my head. 
“You lying. For the first time in your life you was told no. Now how the fuck does that feel?” June asked crossing his arms. “Shit. I was shocked my damn self, but man when I tell you shorty is bad. I don’t even give a fuck that she told me no. I’ma see her again. I’m sure of that. And she said she just moved here. Ya’ll know how I roll.” I said. 
They all just stood there looking at me. “This nigga done fell in love already. I mean you always been some damn hopeless romantic and shit, so I’m not even surprised you sound like a bitch right now. I gotta see shorty to believe it. Until then I don’t give a fuck what your Johnny-come-lately ass has to say. Now let’s get this fucking game going. I got some pussy waiting on me.” June said. “Man your dick gon’ fall off.” Jackson said. “Nigga, you got some nerve. Don’t even get me started on your ass. Cuz this damn bonding time will be spent on me roasting all you niggas. So what’s up?” He asked smiling. We all started laughing, because we all knew June’s ass could go and wouldn’t stop. I would admit that the niggas was funny, but we ain’t got time for all that. I came to play and whip these niggas asses. 
“Aye who betting. I got five bands on each game.” Shawn said. “Oh this nigga betting big money I see. You must be feeling lucky today.” June said. “Just cuz your cheap ass don’t bet high don’t hate. And yea you right, I do feel lucky today.” Shawn said shaking his shoulders. “Shit I’m down. That ain’t nothing. Shit let’s make the shit even more interesting. We’ll double the amount each game we play. For you slow niggas that me ten bands the next game and twenty bands for the following. So how many games ya’ll tryna play?” I asked. “Oh ya’ll niggas really fucking betting. Well ya’ll know my cheap ass don’t carry much money on me for this fucking reason alone. I swear ya’ll niggas kill me with this shit. Who the fuck bets down payments on shit. The fuck I look like giving my hard earned money to any of ya’ll?” June said. 
“Man stop bitching. We go through this shit every fucking week with you only for you to end up still playing anyway. We know you’ll owe whoever if you have to. Shit that’s chump change to us all.” Jackson said to June. “Man, that’s chump change to ya’ll but that’s my money. I’m not flashy and I’m not with getting robbed and shit. I don’t care if we are running this fucking city. Ain’t a nigga gone catch me slipping.” June said getting serious. “I feel you.” Tommy said dapping June up. 
I looked at this nigga and shook my head. “Your ass act like you going broke anytime soon. Nigga, you have enough money to supply a few fucking states and your ass always acting broke. Niggas know who you are re-fucking-gardless. I’m not saying I don’t get what you saying, but damn, nigga, live a little.” I told him walking over to him and putting my arm around him. He immediately shrugged me away causing me to laugh. “Nigga, don’t be all up on me like that. I don’t know you like that.” June said laughing. “Iight niggas we been talking long enough. It’s time to play.”



Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review ~ Wretched Woman by Sammar Ally










 AN ENDING TAKES A LIFETIME TO REACH!

Time takes its toll on most; there is no escaping it. Waiting for God is no easy task, for the ticking of our clocks make for a noisy racket with intercepting memories and painful regrets.
Sybil King, an author of her time, a woman of substance, once admired, adored and loved by men, finds herself cheated and abandoned by her daughters and left to rot in a retirement retreat. Where once the world was at her fingertips, she now seems to be barely touching the world or her nearest and dearest. There is life, it seems, in old age; for she befriends a group of like-minded women, together they form a poker club wickedly called Wretched Women, or WW for short. Here the women break all the warden’s rules by sneaking in alcohol and cigarettes and use foul language as a form of rebellion, while reminiscing on past lives. The headmistress and her twisted past, the actress who has loved and murdered, the Moroccan prostitute, the exotic dancer, the widow of an Arab brute and the television presenter who is confused about her gender; these are the fine members of society that make up the WW. We reap what we sow, so be very careful; because the fruits of our labour come not as the organic delights to be enjoyed, but thoughts, memories and lurid shadows which follow us around and see us into our graves.




My Two Cents

Wretched Women is a beautifully written tale about karma and regret.The book follows Sybil King, and her colorful poker buddies as they relive their tumultuous lives. Sammar has a stunning writing style that has a mature fairy tale rhythm to it. I was transported to a world I've never been before, but it felt familiar and cozy to me. I had a smile on my face for the majority of the read. I felt as if I was right in the corner of the room with these women, watching the scenes play out as I sipped my wine. I enjoyed the passion, guilt, and audacity of the "Wretched Women," and I am sure you will too!

 
  5 STARS
  1. EXCELLENT PLOT
  2. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
  3. GOOD PACING AND SPEED
  4. PAGE TURNING SUSPENSE
  5. NO EDITING ISSUES
Review Copy Purchased by Reviewer
Review Posted to Amazon

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