Monday, March 21, 2016

Do I Make This Stuff Up? - Rhonda McKnight

Do I Make This Stuff Up?



One of the perks of being an author is that I get to attend book club discussions with readers. There’s one question that I can count on being asked at every meeting. And that’s “Are any parts of the story true?” The reader is usually wide-eyed and excited, nearly sitting at the edge of their seat in anticipation of my answer. Surely, they want it to be yes and I almost want to say it is so they can be satisfied with my answer, but that would be a lie, not fiction. I shrug and give the disappointing answer, “No, I make this stuff up.”

When I write, my goal is to “touch the heart of women” through my stories. My characters are on a journey. By the end, they find God’s truth for their life.  Finding God’s truth…there’s nothing fictional about that. There’s nothing fictional about the hurt or the hope or the love or the prayer or the sacrifice or any of the other actions my characters experience. I don’t really make that stuff up. I’ll use my 2016 Emma Award nominee, Live A Little, as an example. Live A Little is the story of Raine Still and Gage Jordan. Raine and Gage have something in common. They’re both struggling with a major life change. Raine is grieving the death of both her parents. Having lived a sheltered life with them, she now has to exist in a world that was filtered through their experiences and she’s completely unprepared for life without them. Having no other relatives, she finds herself alone in the world. Gage’s family situation is the opposite of Raine’s. He has a large family of siblings, both his parents, and a host of extended family members that love him. But he’s returned home after fourteen years of military service, most of them spent in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Injured, he’s been discharged and forced to return to a world he’s only been connected to through emails, letters, and short visits. Gage left a piece of his soul overseas and he’s not sure how to get it back. These two people meet on cold winter night and their spirits connect in places that are much deeper than physical, for they are two halves that need something to happen in their lives to make them feel whole. They both need a reason to live. They need hope.

Have you known anyone with a similar situation? Maybe they aren’t grieving or a recently returned from war, but someone struggling with depression or even in the grips of a deep depression? Have you ever known someone who wanted to end their life, and you couldn’t love them enough to convince them to live? Maybe I’m describing you and you’re thinking, “Rhonda, there’s nothing fictional about any of this. Depression is real.” Trust me, I know that it is. I have people in my circle that struggle with depression and even thoughts of suicide every day. I wrote this story for them and because of them. Their struggles are a very real part of my life. So, you see I made up Gage and Raine, but I didn’t make up the heart of their story. I didn’t make up their struggles with pain and sorrow or their fear of not knowing what tomorrow will bring or even the voice of the enemy that whispers, “Give up. Life is not worth living.”  I make this stuff up, but I also live a little between the pages. I hope you’ll read Raine and Gage’s story and live a little with them.



An excerpt from Live A Little

Raine Still and Gage Jordan run into each other on a cold winter night. Will the chance meeting save one of their lives?

Raine passed a large black Hummer with an Army bumper sticker. The license plate read Gage J. It was a sexy car. Just like him, she thought. Gage Jordan. Nothing about him had changed except for the better. He still had dark eyes, smooth skin, deliciously long dimples, perfect teeth, and impressively broad shoulders. 
Raine knew Gage was in Charlotte. She’s read it in the local newspaper. He’d been awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart and they were pinned on him by the Vice President himself at a reception at the V.A. hospital. The article stated he was discharged and had plans for a second career in the public sector. Raine knew a Purple Heart meant he’d been injured. She figured he must have post-traumatic stress disorder or something you couldn’t see, because with the way that suit and wool coat hung on him, no one could tell her there was something wrong with his body. 
She sighed and pulled her own coat tighter. The last thing person on earth she needed to be thinking about was Gage Jordan, but she couldn’t help it. He was the jock she’d had a crush on in high school, the soldier she’d shared her first dance with and the only man she’d ever had a date with.
She smiled at the memory of that dance. His mother, whom she’d been talking to when he made his approach from across the room, had thrown them together. Raine remembered he’d had a determined look on his face, no doubt on a mission to convey some message. He whispered in is mother’s ear and then before Evelyn Jordan left she handed her off to him and said firmly, “This pretty young woman has been holding up the wall for too long. Dance with her, son.” Gage didn’t hesitate to invite her to the floor. After all, the disc jockey was playing Brown Sugar. Even a confirmed gospel music only addict like Raine knew that song. Less than sixty seconds after they moved onto the dance floor, the tempo of the music slowed down and If Only For One Night by Luther Vandross reverberated through the speakers.
“You don’t mind this song, do you?” he asked. She surmised the question was a mere courtesy, because Gage took liberties before she could respond. He placed his hand on the small of her back and pulled her closer to him. Raine saw her life flash before her, but not in a way that scared one to death. Her own wedding, marriage, and children came to her in flashes of light. In those five minutes, she lived every dream she had ever had. And then Gage disappeared into the cabin of a military flight to a war thousands of miles away. 

Book Synopsis

Raine Still has never had much of an identity outside of being the daughter of the old hippie couple that own Hope House, a transitional housing facility in the worse part of Charlotte, North Carolina, and that had been okay with her until her parents died and left her alone in world.
Gage Jordan is a decorated solider discharged from the army after fourteen years due to a physical injury, but the emotional scars are far worse than anything he’s rehabbed from. He has a great job lined up and a mass of support from his family, but something is missing and he’s starting to feel like it’s Raine.
Gage thought his wounded heart had issues, but Raine’s pain is much deeper. If something doesn’t give soon they will never have a chance at love. Can he convince her to see that “hope” and faith are the balm she needs to heal her hurting soul?

Buy Links
Barnes and Noble http://alturl.com/h3bcr

About the Author
Even as she pursued degrees in Textile Technology, Organizational Leadership and finally, Adult Education, Rhonda McKnight’s love for books and desire to write stories was always in the back of her mind and in the forefront of her heart. Rhonda loves reading and writing stories that touch the heart of women through complex plots and interesting characters in crisis. She writes from the comfort of her Atlanta home with black tea, Lays potato chips and chocolate on hand. At her feet sits a snappy mixed breed toy dog. She can be reached at her website at www.rhondamcknight and on social media at www.facebook.com/booksbyrhonda and www.twitter.com/rhondamcknight and www.blackchristianreads.com where she has joined with nine other Christian fiction authors to introduce her stories to the world.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Celebrating 'Making It Real' -- Synithia Williams

After five years in prison, Kareem Henderson is starting his life over. Though business is good at his barbershop, his goal is to open a high-end gentlemen's salon. But the road back is rough, and he needs connections in the society he once snubbed to make his dream a reality. He just never expected his second chance to come from the sexy female barber he hired last year.

Patrice "Neecie" Baldwin escaped the pressure of being the perfect daughter in one of North Carolina's most prestigious families to live life on her own. When family responsibilities call her home, she fears going back will expose her to the pressures that nearly ruined her. Neecie needs a shield, and tall, handsome, bad boy Kareem seems impenetrable. So she offers him a deal: If he'll pretend to be her fiance, she'll introduce him to all of her well-connected relatives.

But the more time they spend together, the more the irresistible attraction between them builds. They're from such different worlds, but can this fake relationship make the cut and become something very real?

Buy Links:

Author Biography:
Synithia Williams has been an avid romance novel lover since picking up her first one at the age of thirteen. It was only natural that she would begin penning her own romances soon after. She's a native of South Carolina and now writes romances as hot as their southern settings. Her first novel, You Can't Plan Love, was published by Crimson Romance in the summer of 2012. She's written and published eight, novels since including her popular Southern Love and Henderson Family Series. 

Her seventh book, Making it Real, was listed as one of the Must Read Romances of 2015 in USA Today. Her first release with Harlequin Kimani, A New York Kind of Love, released in January 2016. She's married to her own personal hero and they have two sons who've convinced her that professional wrestling and superheroes are supreme entertainment. You can learn more about Synithia by visiting her website, www.synithiawilliams.com, where she blogs about writing, life and relationships.

Social Media:
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/synithiaw/

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Diamond's Literary Tea Party -- Deborah Fletcher Mello

On Saturday, February 13th the ballroom of the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, NC was awash with pretty dresses and BIG hats as fourteen writers and their book fans participated in my first annual Diamond’s Literary Tea Party. The event was born from one of my favorite childhood memories – playing tea party with my late grandmother.

My grandmother was a fascinating woman. She always insured that our tea parties were lavish affairs with her best china, our Sunday dresses, the white gloves and of course, a pot of hot tea! It was every little girl’s dream come true! We’d sit and laugh and talk about everything near and dear to my heart which meant we talked books and the stories fascinating to me at the time. That Saturday, I was able to recreate the joy of those memories.

Tea is considered the most social beverage in all the world. The ceremony of sharing tea sets the table for friendships to flourish and relationships of any age to be cultivated. Throw in great books, the authors who write them, a reader’s love for the written word and you have the ingredients for an extraordinary experience!

I welcomed authors at varying stages of their writing careers. The lineup included, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Morgan Billingsley, Iris Bolling, Cassandra Durham, Renee Daniel Flagler, Cheris Hodges, Denise Jeffries, Jackie Lee, Lutishia Lovely, Dana Sanders, Railyn Stone, Jacquelin Thomas, and Lisa Watson. LaSheera Lee, a literary phenom, was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the event.
There is always a level of anxiety that comes with hosting any big book event. 

But the minute I stepped into the venue and took in the elaborate floral decorations and the exquisite table settings I was that little girl again, excited and energized about the story-telling I knew was going to take place!


Kicking off the afternoon each author strolled from table to table to meet and greet the readers who had come to support them. Then with LaSheera asking some thought provoking questions they all shared snippets of themselves as they talked about their books and their writing journeys. They sipped tea and spilled the tea and like so many in the room I was in awe of the talent there in that one space.

The success of my event was directly related to the efforts of the women who support me and hold me up and who worked tirelessly to ensure everything went off without a hitch. They helped bring my vision to fruition and I am so blessed to call them friends and family. Deborah’s Diamonds are my street team, eleven women who help me promote myself and my writing and who do so out of the goodness of their hearts. Cynthia Culp-Miller, Louise Brown, Jennifer Copeland, Kay Edmondson, Jackie Williams Ferriere, Tracy Hale, Nanette Kelley, LaVerne W. Perschell, Toni Bonita Robinson, Regina Sherece Sanders and Reshemah Wright are my Diamonds. Precious, rare, multifaceted gems with few weaknesses and many strengths! These women rock and I love them to pieces!


Author Iris Bolling (left) with Deborah at Tea party
I look forward to doing tea again! We are already planning for next year’s Diamond’s Literary Tea Party and will also be bringing a mini tea party to Kianna Alexander’s Fall into Romance event in Orlando in October. With each party I hope that participants walk way learning something new about an author they love. That they discover an author they might not know and that they meet new friends to share the memories with!

~~ Deborah Fletcher Mello