author advice, authors, erotic romance, erotica, fiction, interviews, romance

In the Words of An Author: An Interview With Melissa Bender

Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?

Not really. As much as I love to read, there hasn’t really been anyone who’s stuck out influenced me. I think many writers are talented, but I have always followed my own writing style.


Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?

This is the hardest question ever! All of them have some crazy hold over me. There isn’t just one who is my favorite, but if I had to choose then maybe Oliver.. His wife was absolutely insane and he came out stronger on the other side!


Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.

Work scenes! Why do they need to have jobs? It’s fun to a part, but studying different careers to make sure you have it written correct is a bit time consuming, although, you learn something along the way.


What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?

Hearing feedback. I love to hear what people think of my stories, and if they love them and tell me, then that’s just amazing. If they feel the emotion I put into the book, then I am very happy.


What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?

Keep writing. Don’t give up. Just write! Write! Write! I wish someone would have told me I wasn’t wasting my time when I first began to write novels. That’s why I kept it a secret!


Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.

Oh yes! I have an outline of what my story will be about and then I character plan. I search the internet for photos and information regarding my story, then plot out each chapter, writing next to each what will happen in each chapter. It’s the one thing I do with each story


Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

I wanted to be a beauty therapist… Then I wanted to be a forensic investigator like on Bones and Criminal Minds! I worked in retail for around 10 years before I had kids and then focused on writing and having a novel published as my first goal.


If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I don’t really know who I would want to speak to. It would probably be my grandma who passed away a year ago. I’d like to tell her all about the exciting things that have been happening to me since she’s been gone.

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authors, books, horror, interviews

In the Words of an Author: An Interview With Ellie Douglas

Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?

Stephen King is my biggest influence, having grown up reading his books and being inspired by horror.


Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?

Dr Felix Bloom from my latest novel just released Fear Inducer. Why? Because he is pure evil, exactly how I imagined him to be. He’ll be hated by everyone, which is what I wanted.

Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.

The in-between scenes. I find that the most difficult. Not really sure why, perhaps since the character is between murdering it’s difficult for me to give them something interesting. So I work a lot harder on those scenes to perfect them 🙂

What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?

Great question, the most rewarding part of being an author is finishing the book.

What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?

Research. It is so important to research whatever topic you are writing about, even if you think you know all there is to know about it. Learn more. Be the master of that topic so you can write better about it. Professionally better.


Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.

Not really, I don’t have any kind of writing ritual. Some days I feel like writing and other days I don’t. I go with the flow 🙂

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Yes, as early as the age of five. I have always wanted to be an author 🙂


If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Michael Landon, why because I grew up watching him on the telly and he instantly become the father figure I didn’t have. He was the dad I wanted, he inspired me, he was so wholesome and delightfully amazingly talented. He would be the one person I’d love to chat with if I could bring him back to life I totally would 🙂



Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?

Ethan could feel hot, then cold venomous liquid shooting inside his leg. He bit his bottom lip and kicked the cobra in the face, but it refused to let go. Using the bat, he bashed it hard on the top of its head twice, before it finally let go. Holding the bat tightly, so tight that his knuckles turn white, he raised it high and slammed it across the cobra’s head. Then he quickly swung it into the side of its face. The cobra’s face jutted sideways and Ethan heard the wet crackling sound, as it made contact with the bat.
He hit it again and again. Each time he made contact, Ethan’s ears wished he could drown out the chilling, blood-curdling, cringing sound of each bone breaking, like snapping chicken legs with pliers, echoing in the pit. The cobra’s face was pulverised. Its blood spurted like a fountain, hitting Ethan in the chest and neck. The flesh on the cobra’s face had split, exposing its smashed in skull. The mouth had separated from its jaw. Its two fangs just dangled outward, bent at an awkward angle.


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authors, books, ficiton, interviews, Uncategorized, urban fiction

In the Words of an Author: An Interview with Koffi Hallman


Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?

Yes. Walter Mosely, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, among others too long to list here

Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?

Max BLAKK from my 6 Degrees Of Hustle Series, because he is absolutely pure steel nothing gets the best of him.
But Koffi Majors, in Death Of A Thug, has this adaptability to him that is to be envied.
Donna McCafferty is a pit bull in a skirt as an attorney.

Bob Staks & Lisa Woodman, in Body Count, are both opposite ends of a spectrum who’s lives are forced together for survival.

I actually have relationships with all my characters, even minor ones, so they’re actually like my kids.

I try to make sure I’m worth the price of admission to my readers so I give them people they can relate to & root for & against so it’s actually difficult to pick just one.


Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.

No, because I follow the story line and whatever it calls for in order to bring the best out of each particular scene so they are one- not separate, so there is no difficulty only a clear picture of what I want to convey to my audience and how I want them to feel about that .
Many writers tell me they experience writers block or can sit for an entire weekend and draw blanks. I don’t have that issue (knock on wood).

Because I actually have relationships with my characters. As a writer I Am The God Of my Universe.
My stories and characters all live within that universe.
So I don’t have to invent them just have to stop that lady on the street; she will tell me her name, her story, and a lay out of the town so by visiting different areas I can change story dynamics. A long time ago a teacher, Mrs. Troy, who taught English convinced me I wasn’t crazy when she told me I was a writer the voices I was hearing where characters introducing themselves to me and I needed to listen! Worked wonders for me! Shout out to Mrs. Troy!

I guess that’s why my writings are so descriptive



What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?

People who’s lives I touch that share my talent and allow me to provide an escape from their world to mine if only until they close the pages. I try to ensure that ride is as great as I can make it.

And when your fortunate enough for someone to purchase your book and they really enjoy it!!!

And they say they’ve read multiple times and it’s like a new experience each time and they find things they missed initially.


With Series like 6 Degrees Of Hustle Series
I throw you curve balls for multiple titles

The Suspicion Series (Takes Of Max BLAKK)
I do it for 47 titles each will have the word Suspicion somewhere in the title there are 47 books in the series the 1st is Deadly Suspicions


What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?

Write write write ! Don’t obsess over Small details (character name, setting, etc…)

Concentrate on the story!

The better the story the bigger the fan!

Believe that each time you write and write for fans of your work and if your looking for a publisher check out the folks at
492 Publishing House Inc they’re all inclusive packages put Authors First


Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.

None to speak of other than my Characters talk to me. I actually let my characters explain their stories to me as they see them happening! So I actually become the narrator to my audience and they can feel the emotion because it’s genuine

This is actually how it affected this particular character

That’s why the emotions in my book are real they are told from a place of a character this actually happened to.

I have a novel I’m writing now I’m 2 chapters in and the main character who is telling the story still hasn’t told me her name ,yet with the things that have happened to her in these two chapters makes me excited to know who she is… hopefully that feeling translates to my audience

That’s what allows them to not put it down. Especially if it’s based on true events as with the 2017 Winner of the Walter Mosely Award for African American Fiction, Death Of A Thug.


Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Well, I’ve always been a writer of sorts. Poems, short stories, plays, raps, what have you. I wrote a poem and my English teacher submitted it to a contest and I won.

I then realized I needed to write on a larger scale. It wouldn’t be till years later when I would actually be in a position to put paper to pad and I actually got to tell an Amazing story that actually happened and I got to Fictionalize it without incriminating the innocent or further incriminating the guilty. To do such with an artistic flare that allows people from all walks of life to actually be able to take an in depth look into a world many didn’t know existed and to paint a picture they could understand and enjoy.

I feel that fully expresses my talent as a Author.

So Far I’ve won (2) awards including
the Walter Mosely Award for African American Fiction for my Current novel Death Of A Thug.
I’m Extremely Proud of that one


If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?


Ask him where we went wrong what we can do to fix it to the benefit of all mankind.


Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?


I can provide the link so you can look inside and read excerpt for free on Amazon

But I have to warn you once they cut you off

Your going to one click it because it’s a must read that is hard to tear away from

authors, books, christian fiction, fiction, interviews, urban fiction

In the Words of an Author: An Interview with Sherylynne L. Rochester

Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?

There are many authors that have influenced my work. Frank Peretti is a huge influence. The spiritual aspect he gives with the spiritual warfare is just amazing. I love Brad Meltzer. He’s one of my favorite thriller conspiracy authors. I also love Vanessa Miller. She’s an amazing writer under the Urban Christian Fiction genre. They all have influenced my work.


Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?

That’s a hard one. It’s between my first book Sasha or my latest book Lailah. But if I have to choose it would be Lailah from God Send Me My Husband. She’s my favorite because she is just like the majority of single women today. She shows you what she deals with as a single woman. You get to see her insecurities, her choices, and the consequences of not waiting on God.


What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?

The most rewarding part of being an author is when readers come back and say that my books have really helped them. I love hearing how people have turned their lives around because of the books I have written. Also, hearing that my book made it to Iraq and even a prison in the U.S. has been so rewarding to me as well.


What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?

The advice I would give to authors just starting out in their journey is to just write and put your best work out. Writing in today’s world is hard and will be hard but keep writing and don’t give up. Write a good story and self-publish it. Do it now because now is the time to follow your purpose in life. When you step out and follow your purpose, watch what God will do when you write.


Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.

Mostly, I just pray before I write. I want to make sure that when I write that it is inspired by God. He gives me what to say and I write it down.


Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Definitely not. My dream was to become a Worship leader and to sing around the world. I am a worship leader but I haven’t had the chance to sing around the world just yet. But, I never thought I would be an author with four books written.


If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I would love to have a conversation with David from the Bible because he was a psalmist and a great writer. He was also a musician. So, I would love to sit and have a conversation with him and learn everything that I could.


Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?

God Send Me My Husband Chapter Excerpt

Sherylynne L. Rochester

I really wanted to see Miles again, but I hated first dates. I do all this grumbling about having one and now that the time is here, Im a nervous wreck. I guess I am nervous because of all the bad dates Ive had recently and over the years. I didnt want to think about it right now, so I wondered about what Miles would be wearing. Not to lump all Africans in the same bucket, but most African men are always dressed to the nine when they go out. Was I underdressed? Its just ice cream. I didnt want him to think Im fat and a slob. I loved getting dolled up. I decided to overdress for the occasion but just enough that I didnt look out of place. The entire drive there, I was thinking about what questions I should ask and what Miles might say. I practiced my laugh and my good-listener face.

I arrived early to the place on purpose so I could find a place to stand while I waited. Big girls needed more room and I couldnt get caught with my butt overflowing off of a little chair. So, I found a comfortable spot to stand. I checked my phone over and over in case Miles was trying to contact me. I didnt want him to think I stood him up.

I saw him walking up. He was wearing a Henley, khakis and loafers. Ooh, he is so fine but a little too skinny for my taste. Yes, he was fit but he needed a little bit more weight along with the muscles he had. I liked my men big with muscles. Thats fine, once he tasted my cooking, Ill add some meat to his bones in no time. I waved him over when he walked throw the door. I hugged him. Whatever cologne hes wearing should be a sin. Even though hes not a big guy, I loved that I dont feel overly huge in his arms. It is like I fit perfectly in his embrace. Oops, he just kissed the side of my cheek. Do I kiss his back? No, hes just saying hello. I needed to stop thinking so much before I ruin this date.

You look lovely,he said showing those pearly white teeth.

Thank you. You look handsome as well.

Oh, well thank you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet you here. Im sorry its not more formal and I am sorry for it being so late too. I couldnt find parking and had to park in the parking garage down the street.

No, this is fine. No need to apologize. Its Manhattan and theres never any parking on the street. There’s only parking in the parking garage. Plus, it takes some of the pressure off. And I love ice cream.

Good! Have you been here before?

Yes, I have. I go to the one in Brooklyn though but Ive been here too.

They have great ice cream. I take my niece here anytime were in the city. They make great Ice Cream Shakes too.

Mm, maybe Ill get one of those.

Cold Stone Creamy a great place to have freshly made ice cream. I havent been to the forty-second street location in a while but I loved the fact that if you gave a tip theyd sing to you. I gladly gave them a tip and true to fashion I got a song out of it too. I got the Love It Pink Lemonade Sorbet mixed gummy bears, yellow cake, Reeses peanut butter cup, and rainbow sprinkles. Its a fat girl trying to get skinnys dream. Out of my peripheral vision, I watched Miles. He didnt bat an eye as I ordered nor did he make a face like Chanel would. Yes, my creations and tastes buds were weird but it tasted so good going down.

Miles smiled at me and I smiled back. Miles then orders a Strawberry Banana Rendezvous as a Gotta Have It with rainbow sprinkles. To top it off he also asked for Reese peanut butter cup. I wondered if that was his first choice or if hes trying to show me we have something in common. We took our creations and begin to eat.

Wow…a man after my own heart,I said licking my spoon.

I love Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. I can eat those all day every day,he said watching me with his eyes.

I didnt get to have ice cream often thanks to the meal plan Chanel had me on but a Love It from Cold Stone Creamy wouldnt kill me.

As we walked out the door and down forty-second street enjoying the scenery, I checked out Mile’s hand for a ring. I’ve learned to check. I was out on a date with a married man once a few years back. He had forgotten to take his ring off evidently and had a lot of explaining to do when he tried to hold my hand at the table of the restaurant. I paid my portion of the check and bolted. I wasnt going to hell with him and I surely wasnt going to be a mistress. But as far as Miles, there were no ring and no mark that he may have slipped it off and put it in his pocket to come out here tonight. I was relieved. Maybe God had sent him to me?

As I continued to take small portions of the sorbet, I wondered what he sees in me. I thought of that movie Shallow Hal. I know I shouldnt be putting myself down like this but when youve been single for a long time and men have hurt you, these thoughts flood your mind. Ive heard some men have weird fetishes and I dont want to be anyones sick sexual experiment. Its hard for some men to look past all this body and he didnt at all seem embarrassed to be walking with me down forty-second street. I tried not to analyze it too much.

You know I was nervous about tonight,he said.

Really? I was nervous too,I said.

He smiled. I mean Ive been on some bad dates and I am glad so far this one is going well.

I couldn’t help but chuckle.

Whats so funny?He asked.

I’m laughing at all the bad dates Ive had,I said, wiping my mouth.

Oh, Ive had more than I can count. I remember this one girl, named Tyler. She was supposed to be very promising. We made plans to go on a date after talking on the phone for weeks. I was excited until I got there and had the surprise of my life. She was there and so was her grandmother. Not once during the date did she explain why she was there. I had to pay for the both of them. I mean, at least she could have let a brother know.

This guy named Thomas was a bad date for me. That man had the nerve to give me a three-dollar budget to eat at Starbucks. Now you know a small cup of your favorite Starbucks drink is way more than three dollars. There was no dollar menu there. You guessed it, I had to pay for my food. But at the end of it all, he proceeded to tell me he wanted to have kids with me. Excuse me were the only words that could come out of my mouth. He could only afford a three dollar date, how could he afford kids?I said.

He laughed. “Let’s see, one girl, named Taylor left to go to the bathroom. She came back twenty minutes later very drunk. I didnt even know you could get drunk that fast. Well, I quickly ended the date and as we were leaving and in her drunken stupor, she revealed that she had multiple felony assault charges from stalking.

No way,I say, laughing in shock. But this one to me tops it all. His name was Tad and he said to me that we were going to the most expensive place in town. It was McDonalds. Ok, I have no problems with McDonalds. Someone I knew had a first date at McDonalds and they were married until he passed recently. So, I was open to it. But guess what, I had to pay. Then he had the nerve to call me a slut, and that I wasnt even worthy enough to be with him or worthy enough to be taken to a place like McDonalds. Yes, he said that and I walked away balling my eyes out when I got home.

Wow, Im sorry,he said with concern.

Then there was Travis, the guy that left to go to the bathroom and never returned. That hurt my heart. I guess he didnt like what he saw, but whatever,I say, shrugging my shoulder and trying to hold back the tears.

I’ve truly had my share of bad dates too, both from online dating to just meeting girls in regular places, so dont you worry and I like what I see,he said rubbing my back.

I smiled. “Thank you. Such a fine guy like you having bad dates, its unbelievable.

Oh, you think Im fine, huh?

Youre alright,I said.

All the dates Ive been on never turned into anything but disappointment but it is cool because if they went well I wouldnt have met someone as awesome as you,he said winking.

I melt when he winked at me. My stomach filled with butterflies.

Dating is hard and I guess thats why I was nervous too. Ive tried speed dating, online dating profiles, social media apps, meeting people at the supermarket and other places but I havent found my knight in shining armor. The dates Ive been on were true disasters. I guess now I can look back and laugh at what a train wreck they are, but it surely wasnt funny then.

I hear you.

I always wondered why I got the bad end of the stick. One thing I did learn was to avoid anyone whose name started with the letter T. I am so glad your name didnt start with a T or I would have headed for the door.

No, you wouldnt have. You couldnt resist the Miles,he said, enjoying his ice cream.

Yeah, okay,I said. Well, Im thankful for every bad date because it taught me what I dont want in a man and what I do want.

After talking about our bad dates, we walked in silence. It was a beautiful night. I was so glad to be out on a date that hopefully wont end badly like the others did.

So whats on your mind,he asked.

Well, I dont like to waste time Miles, so forgive me if this is a bit forward. Are you looking for a committed, long-term relationship?

He looked down at the pavement and now hes smirking. Oh boy, here comes the, ‘let’s take it one date at a timething guys do when they didnt want to say, no. My heart sunk.

Its not forward. Im glad you asked because thats on my mind, too. Im looking for a wife. Im not getting any younger and want to get married and have a family. I just wonder if Im good enough for you.

I want that too,I said, smiling.

God, is this my future husband? I asked myself. This is too good to be true. I tried not to smile so wide. I didnt want to look overly excited and scare him off.

Tell me about your previous relationships,I asked.

He smiled again. They just didnt work out. I was in a relationship with this one lady for nine years.

Really, thats a very long that.

Yeah it was but she cheated on me.

Wow, really, that sounds like what happened to me.

Someone cheated on someone as beautiful as you.

Yeah,I said licking my spoon again.

Well, its their lost,he said.

I nodded in agreement. Yes, their lost.”

So what is the number one thing youre looking for in a man?he asked.

I thought about that for a moment. The number one, most important thingthat hes a devout Christian.

I was going to say the same thing about the woman I’m after.”

I stopped and stared into those deep, dark brown eyes and saw a little slice of heaven there, too. Maybe all hope wasnt lost. To find a man who wants me to be as submissive to Christ as he, is a beautiful thing to have. Its the type of relationship Ive been dreaming of and wanting.

Being with a man whose heart isnt in Christ is just difficult and Ive had my heart broken so many times, I just want to start off on the right foot,I said.

I understand. I’ve had my share of bad breakups too. The next person I call my girlfriend will be my wife. I take that seriously and I mean it too.

I nodded. So what else are you looking for in a woman?

Well, I am looking for a woman that knows how to handle someone like me. I can be a bit much at times. I want someone that will be with me through it all. That wont leave me when times get tough. You know the song, Can You Stand the Rain?

Oh, I love that song,I belted the song out right there on forty-second street. Miles stands there amazed. He wanted to hear me sing, so there. He looked taken aback.

Wow, you have a lovely voice,he says, finally finding the words.

Thank you!I said taking more of my ice cream. This sorbet was everything I needed right now.

Your voice is so pure. You should be on the radio.

I smiled at the thought. Since this afternoons talk with the girls, the singing bug was returning.

I’m ready to settle down,he said.

Me too! Its so hard to find people my age who are ready to take that next step. I didnt want to be someones second wife or a childs stepmother.

I hear you, well Ive never been married and also do not have any children. I assume you are in the same boat?


Good,he said.

So Miles, tell me what are your short term and long term goals.I felt like I sounded like an employer, but I needed to know if he had the foundation Im looking for.

He laughed before answering. Youre the first girl—excuse mewoman to ask me that,he paused to think it over. Well, my short term goal is career oriented; to get more people who want and need loans and provide more products as well.

I cut him off. You must have a lot of money and what type of products do you sell?I had to ask to see what type of financial state he was in. It might have been weird and bold but I needed to know.

Yes, thanks to my dad, I have a hefty amount. I sell pharmaceutical products to physicians. I go to their office and tell them about the new products and sell it to them.

Something inside me wants to question it more but I don’t. “And your long term goals?

My long term goals is to be a billionaire. Some in my field have become billionaires and that is my goal.

Interesting,I said. I didnt want Miles to think Im a gold-digger. You can have the same problems crying in a Prius as you can in a Maserati. I just wanted a man who is faithful to God and his family. So what are your views on relationships? How do you feel about a monogamous relationship? Do you want kids?

Lailah, slow down. We have plenty of time to get to that, my Queen.

You are right,I said a little disappointed. Was I moving too fast?

But to answer your question, I only want one woman and one woman only. I know a lot of people think African men want multiple wives but as a Christian, I want to follow Gods way of life. I want kidslots of them. I come from a big family and I loved growing up with so many brothers and sisters.

He grabbed my free hand and kissed it. His kiss on my hand was soft but urgent. My queen, Im glad I met you. We have so much to talk about and so much to see together.

I couldnt believe it. So quickly I was being swept off my feet. Was this really happening? Were my prayers being answered?

He smiled wide, his deep brown eyes crinkling slightly at the corners. I took all of him in, he was tall and thin, yet his muscles rippled underneath the tight shirt he was wearing. I was quickly falling for this guy. But was quickly snapped out of it when another warning flooded through me.

Let his actions catch up to his words,said the inner Voice.

I didnt want to hear that at this moment. I just wanted to enjoy it. God please, I thought, dont ruin this for me. Dont say now. I dont want to be lonely any longer.

After saying that in my head, I felt as if God backed away a tad bit. I just wanted to be loved by a human beinga man. You did say, God, that it isnt good for man to be alone, I rationalized to myself.

There was no answer.

Lailah,” Miles said snapping me out of my talk with God.

Yes,I said.

This may be a bit bold and a bit fast but I am going to do something I have never done ever in my life.

What was he going to do or say? I wondered. Was he going to propose? Its too soon, I thought. No need to think that. Although, Ive heard of many people who got married a week after having their first date. But no, dont over think it. Stay in the moment Lailah.

Okay?I said, wondering and questioning him with my eyes.

I know this is fast…” he said pausing again. I have been thinking about this since our conversation Saturday. Im usually a quick and fast guy and maybe I should slow down but I cant. Will you be my girlfriend?

I stopped and took it all in. We just met. This is our first official date. I searched his eyes. He must want something. No, he just wanted me for me.

Lailah, I am sorry for being forward but I am getting older and I dont have time to waste any longer. Will you be my womanmy girlfriendwhatever we are at this age?he asked laughing. I know girlfriend sounds so grade school but you understand what I mean.

I smiled and buried my face into his chest. God couldnt have written a better love story, I think. All this worrying for nothing. God had this planned out all along. This was better than a fairytale. This was amazing. I already couldnt wait to tell my future children.

Yes, of course, I will.

Miles wrapped his free arm around me as I had already done the same.

Hey,he said. Look at me.

I looked up at him. Looking deeply into my eyes, something clicked. I stared into his eyes longing for our lips to touch. Slowly, he leaned in with his lips half opened and kissed me with all the passion in his heart. His tongue created a chill in through my body and it traveled down my spine. I felt the electricity pulsing through my veins. This kiss engulfed us as we were so close I could feel the heat of his body warming mine.

I hadnt felt this way in a long time. I clung to him as he let go. I clung to him like a lifeline.

He again looked at me, his eyes squinting and his mouth smirked in this smile that made me know he was thinking something.

What?I asked.

He took in a breath and said, That was magical.

I smiled and said, Yes it was.

I forgot who was around us and where we were. This was something I had always prayed for. I had finally found my husband. He did say that the next person he called girlfriend would be his wife. Finally, I said to myself, Thank you. Thank you. God, if Miles is meant to be my husband, show me the way. Show him the way as well.

It seemed too good to be true. That was the phrase that filled my mind. Maybe it was but for right now I was happy. Happy to be taken and happy that someone wanted me.

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authors, books, children's literature, ficiton, interviews, kids books

In the Words of an Author: An Interview with Renato Rizzuti

Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?

I like to think that no one author was a direct influence on my work in that my style is uniquely my own. However, there have been authors that inspired me to write. The great masters like William Shakespeare are a true inspiration. Fringe authors like Samuel Beckett are also an inspiration.


Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?

I will answer that question like when an actor is asked to name their favourite role they played. A common actor response to that question is, “The next one!” I say the same in that the next character that I write will be my favorite. As a side note, I have grown to really like Toddy the Tomcat because he is indeed a “cool cat” that “dreams of rat flavored ice cream.” Toddy is my pet character!


Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.

From a technical point of view, I would say that I do not find any scenes difficult to write. From an emotional point of view, I would say that emotional charged scenes are the most taxing on me. I mean scenes like deep love poetry or scenes where a character is experiencing emotional upheaval. My emotional investment pays off in one sense in that those scenes can be emotionally cathartic and therapeutic.


What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?

Shakespeare’s King Lear said, “Nothing comes from nothing.” As a writer, you are in essence, creating something out of nothing. It is the act of creativity that is so rewarding in its self. It fulfills a deep desire to create, to make something out of nothing. It is a basic human artistic need. Being able to constantly fulfill that need is the most rewarding part of being an author. Of course, it is also rewarding when other people like your work!


What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?

Be constantly writing! Be constantly submitting your work! Be constantly trying to get published! Never give up your quest! Never get discouraged by “rejection!” Rejection is only a reflection of one person’s or one committee’s opinion of your work! There is somebody out there to illuminate your creation! Believe in yourself!

Constantly try new genres of writing. Constantly be reading different genres of writing. Keep growing as a person! An interesting person makes for an interesting writer!

Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.

Yes, I do. Rituals are very important in daily life. Whenever we have to do something important we either engage in a formal ritual or an informal ritual. Of course writing is very important in my life therefore, I have a writing ritual. My writing ritual has changed over the years due to different factors such a pre-computer writing ritual and post computer writing ritual. I will explain my present day writing ritual.

First of all, I schedule my “writing time” for days when I will have a large chunk of time to write. I give my pet rooster the morning off and like to wake up naturally on a writing day! Early morning is my ideal time to write when my brain in still in a “alpha wave” state! It is also the quietest time of day in my household. I turn on the computer and get my coffee and glass of ice water. I go through “ordinary” things like checking email first. Then I refer to my writing “notes” whether they be written down or swirling around in my head. I then go into the physical and mental part of writing. I usually “edit” as I am writing. I can easily spend hours writing, pausing only for short breaks for coffee refills! I then let my writing “simmer” for hours or overnight just like cooking a great tomato sauce! Then, back at it another day!


Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Yes, it was! I have been always been fascinated with words. Even at a pre-school age I used to speak to my “imaginary friend” in a language that I invented! It was perfectly normal for me at the time!

As I went to school, I became in love with reading! I studied English literature at university and became a Drama and English teacher. Of course, I had to do my own writing! Some of us could “teach and do” contrary to the old cliché about teachers! I am a published author now and fulfilled a long standing desire to be an author!


If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

It would definitely have to be William Shakespeare! I am sure we would have a long and fascinating conversation! I would want to ask him all sorts of literary questions and also ask him for literary advice. Since Shakespeare was also an actor and I am also an actor, we could discuss acting at great lengths. I would love to hear his witticisms and “jokes!” It would be a rollicking good time!


Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?

Yes, I will leave you with a poem from my children’s book: “Toddy the Tomcat and Other Tales.” It is the title poem: “Toddy the Tomcat.” The book is available from in many international languages and also as an audiobook from My video about the book and my reading of the poem can be viewed:

Thank you for an enjoyable interview! You asked excellent questions!

Toddy the Tomcat

Toddy the tomcat
Ate a big, fat rat
He had nine lives
And many wives
He was a proud father
But he did not bother
To stay home and play
With the kittens all day
When it became night
He would disappear from sight
Toddy liked to roam
Far from his home
In search of female cats
And big, fat rats
To keep him frisky and content
On a night well spent
Toddy was so happy
When he’d take a nappy
And he would pleasantly dream
Of rat flavoured ice cream

authors, children's literature, ficiton, interviews, Uncategorized

In the Words of an Author: An Interview with Nicole Russin-McFarland

Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?

As a newbie filmmaker, my primary focus is to write material that I can later turn into animated work once I am more established. If anything, nobody influences me. My influence is creating stories that treat young people as the intelligent adults they are. Children have brains. They deserve good storytelling, less artificiality on the way things are presented to them, and a lot more jokes.

And yes, answering the most common question, my very own big bad wolf penned his memoirs long before some Leonardo DiCaprio movie came out called The Wolf of Wall Street. My story is a lot cooler and funnier for younger audiences! Sorry, Mr. Scorsese!


Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?

Aladdin Todd Jackson, the title character in my book The Big Bad Wolf Strikes It Rich! Fairy Tale Wall Street Memoirs, is really relatable. He isn’t perfect. Animated movies and children’s literature right now is about these fantasy, cutesy characters. We don’t have anyone with a real life profession. Aladdin has been poor and rich. He knows what it’s like to struggle, but he relates to being disrespected because he is rich – which many stories don’t talk about either. Regardless of his wealth, his richness is never part of the story. His personality is really vibrant and out there. He is nice and moody. Aladdin loves making money on Wall Street, soy milk, friendship because he’s been lonesome, and living at his Ritz-Carlton hotel condo in lower Manhattan.

He doesn’t eat pork and was wrongly accused of triple homicide with the three little pigs’ murder at the start of the book. We get to see how he ends up changing around his incorrectly bad reputation smeared by the pigs onto a real career path. He starts out not knowing how to make do with how skilled he is with money and makes a career out of it. And, he’s really silly! The book is like a children’s ridiculous take on those old 80’s Donald Trump money saving books all of America bought then. Aladdin is sweet though, unlike Mr. Trump, and his quirks make him a lovable friend to all at the end.


Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.

A lot of what I write is based on my own reality or something I have witnessed in someone else’s reality, good or bad. Everything gets changed a lot to where you don’t know what I am talking about. Some of the things that happen to Aladdin in the story are real. I once had a guy where I just gave him my cell phone number, and he called me a minute later in front of me. Of course, this got written into Aladdin’s story!

Aladdin is a lot like me in some aspects, despite our clear differences like how I am not a stockbroker. Someone might think with Aladdin the big bad wolf’s situation he should be out partying at clubs and being a total snob, yet all he cares about is where he can find a good slice of pizza or doing something stupid with a fellow group of immature people. He could hang out in his office, or he could go through time into 1800’s Manhattan and meet a green witch. Aladdin isn’t entirely me. He is a true New Yorker, therefore, he has really rude remarks and blurts out all kinds of things you shouldn’t say. He almost got fried by a laser beam for asking someone her age!

The Evil Queen in the Snow White portion of the story is, unlike me, from Europe, yet like me, complains about everything. Can you believe she ordered a huntsman to go after someone because the diner waitress brought mustard instead of ketchup? How dare they!? Looking back, I hope to expand upon some of these characters the day I get the film version of The Big Bad Wolf Strikes It Rich! going. They are all so unique and human-like. Every one of them has good and bad. The Evil Queen is based on me during my worst moments.


What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?

Authors have copyright legal protection you don’t get with a screenplay. Of course, anyone can always steal elements of your work. Stealing your work at large, down to detail, as many people have had happen? You can really take someone to court for doing that if you have a pre-existing novel and audiobook out.


What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?

First, know that if you are of the female gender, your chances of being rejected by a major publishing house are leaps higher. You can find an article I read online somewhere how a girl submitted her fake book everywhere as male and female aliases. The fake male author received responses almost right away; the female fake pen name received rejections or was ignored.

Secondly, be like a businessperson. Know your legal rights and financial rights with a contract. Everyone thinks they should not speak their minds. Authors are willing to give up everything to see their book on a shelf somewhere. With most sales being online, few if any books ever make it to the marketplace.

Point three, know that New York Times bestselling books are misleading. To get on that list, you have to be with a specific publishing house, selling your book in a small number of bookshops. You can really skew the results. Have your boyfriend come and buy all the books with his friends in these shops, and you’re a “bestselling author!” Congratulations! The real bestselling label comes from sales. Sell a million dollars worth of books, and you have real bragging rights.

Final point I can think of, most major book publishers pay you an advance because they take most of your royalties. I know a guy earning $20 per month from his popular book because he took an advance. Please, know your financial rights. Your art is worth something. You’re better off renegotiating with that big publishing house, finding a smaller place, or going solo.


Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.

My brain functions primarily via other artistic formats. Paraphrasing an awfully corny music meme I saw the other day, writing is not my forte, music is! I’m an amazing composer and was always good at flute and stuff like that. And, I think I’m going to be a pretty good movie director, particularly once I get to the point where I have a big animation house with animators doing all the work in my head one person cannot pull off. As a writer? Well, oh, perhaps a SCREENWRITER, where things are direct to the point. Writing an actual literary work, in which one needs to be descriptive of everything and not so much what’s going on in front of the camera or animated world? Wow, a struggle for me! My only solution was imagining myself talking it out verbatim, as one might hear real conversations. How might a sleazy stockbroker wolf who’s actually really sweet at times write his book? Like this. Exactly, like this! The real conversational flow one might hear from the mouth of an actual New Yorker, someone born and raised there, who now works on Wall Street.


Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Are you kidding?!?! No way! I felt so bad this one day at school. I was in second grade, paying full attention to a local children’s book author from Chicago in our school cafeteria. She came in to tell us what being a big time author is like. Because I was paying attention – and I always did, always do to people who deserve respect – she called me out in front of everyone. “That girl over there in the pink jogging suit? She looks like she’s going to be a writer when she grows up! She’s paying attention. And wearing glasses!” I sat silently. The very nice writer said: “Whoops. I think I embarrassed her!”

I hated glasses before that. This, being called out as looking like a writer, made me despise them. I began breaking my glasses all the time. Who wanted to look like a writer? I felt like shouting, “WRITER?!?! Me!??!?! I want to be like….!!!!! Marilyn Monroe, her, or those old movie stars! Making movies and writing them, and, ohhhhh!!!!” Because I thought Marilyn Monroe and all the old film stars got to wear sexy makeup and glamorous retro dresses but were writing and directing the movies. I didn’t know what being a movie director was called. I also wanted to be like Madonna in the “Human Nature” music video, slithering around in a latex catsuit for a music video, or Janet Jackson, dancing and looking so carefree as she sang.

Writers weren’t glamorous!

When I got to meet Jackie Collins when she went to Chicago, and I interviewed her, I told her this story. She was like, “What?!” And, “Writers do lead lonesome lives…I don’t get to meet people when I’m writing. I stay inside or write by the pool.” I did clarify to her, “No, this was me when I was SEVEN YEARS OLD. I don’t feel this way now! And you’re so pretty. You are not my seven year old idea of what a writer looks like.”

So number one off that, we need to teach kids, being a writer doesn’t equal ugly. And wearing glasses can be cool. I’d love to see media portray intelligence as attractive. But yeah, my honest first impressions of being an author were not good. The nice author coming to my school being so frumpy didn’t help. Again, I was seven. I’m a lot more feminist minded today and don’t judge women by appearance anymore as an adult; please understand this. 😉


If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Wow, I would love to meet Peter Jackson! I imagine taking him to Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills, which is probably close to his house. First, because I’ve been professionally bothering Thomas Keller the chef who owns all the Bouchon’s since I was 20. I’m the biggest fan, definitely of him, Wolfgang Puck, and Emeril Lagasse because I dream of having healthy food products that taste good and their staffers are so amazing. So get that out of the way. After I tell Mr. Peter Jackson of how awesome the tomato soup combo is and we go all foodie on everything on the menu, I would talk to him about his Lord of the Rings trilogy and ask him questions about his amazing cartoon he did with Steven Spielberg called The Adventures of Tintin. Quite possibly the most lifelike cartoon I’ve ever seen. He seems really shy but entertaining to chat with. We could talk about his house in New Zealand. All kinds of stuff. How he sold his apartment to Taylor Swift. I mean, it’s his conversation. I’m really Mr. Jackson’s guest, therefore, having to do whatever he wants. I wish he would do more animated movies. Mr. Jackson set the bar really high for film trilogies. What I love about him is he left it there. No “Lord of the Rings Go to Malibu and Strike Back” situations. A good story needs to be left as is.

Want more information on Nicole Russin-McFarland? Follow these links and get to know her!





authors, ficiton, interviews, urban romance

In the Words of an Author: An Interview with J’Diorr

Author J’Diorr stopped by for a chat. Read on to learn more about her, her books, and the art of her craft.

Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so who?

Yes, there is an author who influenced my work. My publisher Mz. Lady P. I look up to her in more ways then she knows. She’s my inspiration of who I want to become, be better than in the book world. I say be better than because anytime I say I wanna be like her, she corrects me and tell me she wants me to be better than her. This woman is so strong. She had endured so much and overcame it all! I know first hand on how one can lose everything and gain it all back plus more. She’s a great author and exceptional publisher. I love her so much. I had no idea about writing when I started. I just knew I was damn good at it and she took a chance on me and allowed me to be the first author signed to her company. For that I am grateful, blessed. Thank God for her daily. She’s unique, one of a kind.

Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?

Out of all the characters I’ve written my favorite is Mr. Shaheed “Choppa” Jones. That man, that man! Lol. He’s so charming and sweet but has a rough side to him as well. He loves wholeheartedly and is sincere. He’s loyal, puts his family first and will do anything to keep a smile on his woman’s face. He’s simply amazing. He’s what I want in a man. Lol.

Are they any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones why?

Yes. I actually have a very difficult time writing sex scenes. Lol. I don’t know why it’s so hard. It’s like I want it to seem real. Like you’re literally standing in the room with the two characters and able to see everything if that makes sense. I tend to think about my older brothers and pray they don’t read the sex scenes and put me on punishment afterwards! Yes, I’m grown but my brother’s are terrible. Lol

What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?

The most rewarding part of being an author for me is the relationship I build with my readers! I absolutely love each and every one of them. The fact that I can write something that people can relate too is amazing to me. My inbox is always blowing up with readers saying they can relate to this part, or this part of the book made them cry, laugh, scream etc… because they experienced something close to it. I love them. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you can touch so many lives through pages in a book.

What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?

My advice to other authors just starting their journey is to stay consistent. Make your readers know and remember who you are. Stay in your own lane. Don’t give up! Your book may not do what you thought it would. Takes notes and come harder with each and every drop. And last but not least, other authors can be your friends granted, but never forget they’re still your competition!

Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.

Yes, I actually have a writing ritual. I made up a hand shake with my four year old daughter, Julianna that we do right before I start writing. (I actually included this handshake in my next release) After the handshake is over, she kisses me and tell me, “good luck mommy.” After I’m done writing we do the same handshake over again, she kisses me and yells “Good Job Mommy.” It’s so cute and something I really look forward too before and after writing. lol

Was being an author something you always wanted to do?

Yes. Being an author was always something I wanted to do, never thought I would. Lol I remember reading all types of novels and seeing the page at the end asking to send in your synopsis and first three chapters. I always looked at the page and never did it. All of my essay’s in school started off with an attention grabber; which was a short story I made up relating to whatever topic I was writing about. I remember teachers telling me I was great at creative writing. I always wrote, all day, every day, and anywhere. That was my go to thing whenever the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I’d just write and bleed ink all over the pages until I felt better. Writing is my life; it’s all I know.

If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

If I could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead that would be my grandfather/father Sidney L. Crout. He passed when I was twelve. He gave meaning to the quote, “A girl’s first love is her father.” I would simply thank him for taking on the challenge of raising his granddaughter as his own. I would thank him for adopting me, giving me his last name and taking on the challenge of raising another child when he didn’t have too. I would tell him all about my novels and how much I’ve grown with writing. I would give him a big kiss on the cheek and tell him I’ll forever be daddy’s little girl.

Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of you work?

Yes I would. This is an excerpt from my latest release Can’t Compete Where You Don’t Compare.

Chapter 1: Niara “Nia” Hicks

Mama, please, please stop!” I screamed out holding onto the rails of my bed. I was sleeping peacefully until I felt ice cold water being thrown on me. My Hello Kitty nightgown was sticking to my skin. The once dirty but dry pink sheets my body laid on top of were now soaked. I was shivering so badly you could hear my teeth chattering. The shivering wasn’t just because I was cold; it was from fear as well.

I didn’t understand…

Why was this happening to me…

I did nothing wrong…

I felt her hands wrap around my ankles before I was pulled out of my bed and to the floor. You would think I would be used to this by now, but I wasn’t. Balling up in a fetal position, I waited for the blows to come but they didn’t. I still felt her presence over me. It was like she was daring me to move… daring me to say something, so I didn’t.

I laid there and prayed. I prayed that she would leave and that the abuse would finally stop. I was only eight years old, and I was getting the backlash of the hatred my mother held in her heart for my father. He left two years ago on my birthday.

I always heard them arguing about my mother’s drug use, but I didn’t think nothing of it. I was a child and was always taught to stay in a child’s place. The day of my sixth birthday party, I kept asking my father where my mother was, but he never responded to me. I think he made his mind up right then and there that he was leaving.

Making it back to our house, I expected to find my mother there with presents, but she wasn’t. I saw the worry on my father’s face, as he called her, for what seemed like, the millionth time and still didn’t get an answer. He put me on the bed and rubbed my curly hair.

Happy Birthday, Princess. Daddy loves you.”

He told me how much he loved me and that he will always be with me. I laid there looking at him until my eyes finally closed, but I woke up to the sounds of them arguing in the living room. My mother always accused my father of having another kid, but that wasn’t true; at least, I didn’t know of any sisters or brothers I had.

It all happened so fast. They started fighting, and there was a loud knock at the front door. The next thing I knew, my father was being taken by the police, and I was crying for them to let him go. I didn’t want my father to leave us. Most of all, I didn’t want him to leave me with her.

The next day, he came back to the house, packed his things, and left. He didn’t even notice that I had my small, Minnie Mouse backpack ready and waiting. He just walked right past me like he didn’t see me. No matter how hard I cried, or how loud I screamed for him, he ignored me. He walked right out of the door and didn’t even say goodbye.

From that day forward, my mother started abusing me. She told me that she hated me and that I messed her life up. She told me that, the reason my father left us was because I was a mistake, and he couldn’t stand to be my father any longer.

Didn’t I tell you to stop making all this damn noise in my house?” My mother asked looking down at me breaking me from my thoughts. Finally getting the courage, I looked up at her. It was the middle of the night, so I had no idea what noise she was talking about. I could see the white powder on her nose, and her eyes were big. Her lips were split and bleeding from being so dry, and hair was all over her head.

At that moment, I knew she was high.

Mama, I didn’t-”

Before I could finish, she jabbed me in my side. I wanted to scream out in pain, but I knew that would only make matters worse.

I’m sorry, Mama,” I said, slowly backing away from her. I watched as her dangling hand twitched, which held the lit cigarette. I’m sure she could see the fear in my eyes, and I could feel it in my heart.

Didn’t I tell you not to call me that?” My mother said to me.

I’m sorry, Oceane,” I said, putting my head down waiting for the blow that I knew was coming. Whenever I called her mama, she hit me. Still to this day, I didn’t understand why.

Don’t be a sorry bitch all your life, Niara.” I looked up at her with my eyes filled with tears.

I swear, you remind me so much of your no-good ass father. You’re gonna be just like him… dumb and pathetic. Maybe, I should have swallowed your ass instead of going through thirty-six-and-a-half hours of torture just to give birth to a pain in my ass!” Oceane said while blowing cigarette smoke in my face.

Instantly, I started to cough as I backed further away from my mother. I fumbled around under my pillow until I found what I was searching for. Trying to control my breathing, I looked at the number on the back of my asthma pump and realized it was almost empty. Taking the top off, I was about to spray two puffs into my lungs until my mother snatched it away from me.

Oh, what’s wrong? Baby, can’t breathe?” Oceane giggled, looking at me, her very own daughter, struggling to breathe. She squeezed the inhaler, and I watched as my medicine released then disappeared into the air.

Four… I thought to myself counting the numbers of puffs I had left.

I started taking short breaths reaching out for my pump. It felt like my lungs were on fire. Oceane inhaled more smoke and blew it slowly in my face again. Closing my eyes, the tears slid out the side, and I coughed harder, only this time it was uncontrollable.

Mama, please.” I cried out, as the tears rolled down my face. I grabbed at my throat looking up at her. I knew that if I didn’t get the medication into my lungs soon, I was sure to have an asthma attack that my inhaler wouldn’t be able to fix.

My lungs started to burn, and my coughs got more intense. The sharp pains that traveled through my chest hurt more with each breath I desperately struggled to take. I continued to grab my throat as the tears rolled down my face. She started to laugh and threw the asthma pump at my feet. I crawled over to it, and it seemed like the closer I got, the further away I felt it was.

I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” I managed to whisper still reaching out for my pump. My mother kicked it away before flipping me over and sitting on my chest.

Die bitch! Just die! No one will save you. No one even loves you. You’re better off dead!” Oceane yelled out wrapping her arms around my throat. She squeezed tightly as I continued to cough. I started gagging as the room started to spin. I heard my name being called, but I didn’t see my mother’s lips moving. The only thing I saw was a wicked smile on her face before she spoke again.

Die, Niara! Die!” My mother yelled, as she continued to choke me, and oddly, I heard my grandmother’s voice…


Nia? Are you ok?”

Nia, baby, wake up.” My Grandmother said shaking me.

Instantly, I sat up in my bed holding onto my chest. My body was soaked from sweating. I looked around, and everything was spinning. I was taking extremely deep and short breaths. The lights were bright, and my vision slowly started to settle. I gazed into my grandmother’s eyes, happy that I was at home with her and not with my mother.

It’s ok, Niara. It’s ok; it was just a dream, baby. It’s just a dream.” My sweet Grandma Rose said hugging me.

But Big Ma, it-”

Shh, baby, it’s ok. I’m here. You’re safe, Niara. No one will ever hurt you, again, I promise.” She said hugging and holding me tightly.

Why does this keep happening?” I cried looking up at her. I could see the tears in her eyes as well, and I knew I was asking a question that she didn’t have an answer to. I hated holding onto the things that I was meant to let go, and sadly, these memories were one…

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