My Black History spotlight this week is on Terry McMillan, one of the most successful writers of our time. She is the  author of several magazine articles, and six bestselling books, two of which, Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, became blockbuster movies.

Terry began her writing career in 1987 with the publication of her first novel, Mama, which started out as a short story. Terry followed the advice of members of the Harlem Writers’ Guild who told her that Mama ought to be a novel. After six weeks, she’d expanded her short story into a novel of over 400 pages. Terry sent her collection of short stories to Houghton Mifflin, expecting to get some free editorial advice. It turned out that Houghton Mifflin was more interested in Mama, which she’d mentioned briefly in her letter. Terry sent them some pages from the book and they loved it.

Here’s the opening line of Mama: “Mildred hid the ax beneath the mattress of the cot in the dining room.” Who wouldn’t want to continue reading after that?

For me, this is where the story of Terry’s rise to fame really got my attention. The writer of the article in encyclopedia.com says that typically first novels don’t get a lot of publicity. I can relate. But, the article continues, Terry was not about to let her hard work go to waste. When the publishers told her they couldn’t do more for her, Terry struck out on her own. She wrote over 3000 letters to bookstores, universities and colleges, and by the end of the summer of 1987 she was scheduled for several readings. Instead of waiting on her publicist to arrange her publicity tour, Terry did it herself. By the time Waiting to Exhale was published in 1992, Terry McMillan had become a sensation. The movie grossed $66 million.

So, what lessons can we as writers learn from Terry McMillan?

1. Read. Terry discovered the beauty of reading from working in the library. Prior to that, she had not been exposed to books by black writers. In an interview, Terry says she felt embarrassed when she came across a book by James Baldwin with his picture on the cover. After reading the autobiography of Malcolm X, Terry  realized that black literature was nothing to be ashamed of.

2. Study. Terry attended Los Angeles City College, where she immersed herself in African American classics. She then went on to the University of California at Berkeley and pursued a Master’s degree in Film at Columbia University. She also attended McDowell and Yaddo artist colonies.

3. Take advice. Had Terry not listened to the advice of the Harlem Writers Guild, she may not have published Mama, which launched her writing career.

4. Take charge. (This is my favorite) Don’t sit back and wait on others to do everything for you. Had Terry waited on her publishers to handle all her marketing for her, Mama may have fallen flat and her career may have never got off the ground.

In reading about this great, contemporary African American author, I feel proud to be a writer even though I have not begun to scratch the surface of what she has done. Still, she has motivated me, and I daresay other writers, to strive to be the best we can be. For that, we owe her a debt of gratitude.

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Langston Hughes photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1936.

As you all know, February is Black History month, the time when we celebrate the achievements of black folk here in America. As I researched on Google for an author to feature this week, I came across Langston Hughes, famous playwright, novelist, poet and social activist. Of course, I’d read many of his poems (who hasn’t?) but never knew that  I shared the same birth date – Feb. 1 – as this illustrious scribe.

Born of mixed heritage – his paternal great-grandfathers were of European descent, while his maternal great-grandmothers were African American – Hughes took pride in his African-American identity and stressed this in his work.

While in high school in Cleveland, Ohio, Hughes wrote for the school newspaper, edited the yearbook and began to write short stories, poetry and dramatic plays. He wrote his first piece of jazz poetry — a literary art form in which the poet responds and writes about jazz — “When Sue Wears Red” while still in high school.

Hughes’ first book of poetry “The Weary Blues” (1926) features the poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” which became a signature poem. In 1930, he won the Harmon Gold Medal for Literature for his first novel, Not Without Laughter. Hughes went on to write many short stories, novels, essays, works for children, autobiographies, plays, and later formed a theater troupe in Los Angeles.

Although a major influence during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, Hughes was highly critical of other Renaissance men such as W.E.B Du Bois and others who, he felt, were too accommodating of eurocentric values and culture. In addition to his literary prowess, Hughes racial consciousness inspired and united black writers not only in America but around the globe.  He had a major influence on writers  such as Jacques Roumain, Nicolás Guillén, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Aimé Césaire.  Hughes was greatly admired by young black writers whom he discovered and helped by introducing them to the publishing world. One such example is Alice Walker author of The Color Purple.

Reading and writing about this great man is like searching through an encyclopedia, trying to extract the most significant facts about his life and not knowing where to begin. The task is the same when it comes to his poems. However, I selected a few lines from The Negro Mother which is very touching to me and which, I believe, is so pertinent to these times.

 

Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun,
But I had to keep on till my work was done:
I had to keep on! No stopping for me –
I was the seed of the coming Free.
I nourished the dream that nothing could smother
Deep in my breast – the Negro mother.

You can read more of Langston Hughes’s work on PoemHunter.com

 

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(The Italian Saga, 5)
Women’s lit, NA, memoir
Date Published: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Kuki Publishing

 

 
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Italy, 1998.
What does it take for a woman to be happy? Not a man, like twenty-year-old Leda Balni was raised to believe.
Weary of gender culture, Leda enrolls in Genetic Engineering. Surrounded by new friends, science, and even a sexy genius, she forgets her troubles until her restlessness resurfaces…
In a whirlwind of Vespa adventures, college exams, Italian culture, rock, philosophy, and chemistry—both the inorganic and the sizzling kind—Leda deconstructs happiness and establishes her own rules to the game of life, but is there room for love?
The question becomes urgent when an old acquaintance from her past resurfaces in all his brooding magnetism, but he is bad news, and smart, rational Leda should know better than succumbing to attraction…
If you love strong female characters and heartfelt advice, don’t miss this witty, introspective, feminist novel, part romance, part self-help, but always realistic and inspirational.
 
** “Finding Leda” is self-standing and directed at an adult audience,though suitable for teens, but it is the fifth book in “The ItalianSaga” and there are references to Leda’s previous adventures.  **
** The books are a fictional memoir based on the life of author GB Amman, a novelist and molecular biologist born and raised in Italy.**
 
About the Author

Gaia B. Amman was born and raised in Italy. She moved to the United States in her twenties to pursue her Ph.D. in molecular biology. She’s currently a professor of biology at D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York, where she was voted “the professor of the month” by her students. Her research and commentaries have been published in prestigious, international, peer-reviewed journals, including Nature.
A bookworm from birth, she wrote throughout her childhood and won two short story competitions in Italy in her teens. Gaia is an avid traveler, and many of her adventures are an inspiration for her fiction. Mostly she is passionate about people and the struggles they face to embrace life. Her highest hope is to reach and help as many as she can through her writing and her teaching. She authored the Indie Author Guide, the LGBTQ sci-fi fantasy Linked—Will Empathy Save the United Terrestrial Democracy?, The Italian Saga, a series of four novels that follows Leda’s adventures from childhood through the end of high school, and the Sonder Series, of which you just read volume one. The books, light-hearted and funny at first sight, deal with issues like sexuality, divorce, friendship, abuse, first love, and self discovery.
Among Amman’s favorite authors are J.K. Rowling, Jandy Nelson, Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Antoine de Saint Exupèry.
 
Contact Links
Blog   
Purchase Link
RABT Book Tours & PR

My review:

Finding Leda is the story of a young college student trying to navigate the maze of college life and at the same time find her true self. She has made a lot of mistakes, (which young person doesn’t?) getting pregnant at fourteen, hooking up with the wrong guy, and now seems anxious not to repeat those mistakes.

I can’t say the novel has much of a plot. It’s the typical self-discovery-coming-of-age type of story, but I like the way Amman juxtaposes the successes Leda has discovering science with the progress she makes experimenting on her true self. Most of the novel reads like journal entries, and I think this style does well to give us a clear picture of what is going on in Leda’s head. The references to Italian culture help to add authenticity and depth to the story.

I recommend this novel to readers of YA and NA novels and have given it four stars.

I believe 2018 is off to a great start. There are so many exciting developments on the literary scene, and new books continue to flood the market. I’m in the process of reviewing Finding Leda, a New Adult memoir, and will post the review when I’m done.

I will soon be making Coming Out of Egypt available on Smashwords once more so it can be found on Barnes & Noble and other retailers. I think it’s time to expose it to a wider audience. Also, I plan to publish In the Promised Land, the third and final book in the Egypt series early this year. This book is as captivating as the first two and I’m sure you will want to tell your friends all about it.

And this brings me to my news of the moment. In the Wilderness, book 2 of the Egypt series, is on a countdown deal starting today until Sunday. If you click right now you can get it for .99c, so hurry before the price changes. In the Wilderness has received some great reviews. Here are a few:

This book is so superbly written! I think the cover does a great job of setting the mood. This story will make you think, make you feel, and just touch you in a way you did not expect.
Wonderful characters, multi-dimensional and believable. A plot that’s pacing is right on and captivating, there are just not enough good things to say about this book. GREAT NOVEL! – Texas Book Nook

Wow, I truly enjoyed Angela Joseph’s writing style in this novel. Sometimes it can take me a bit to get into a story, but I felt like the way this story flowed was effortless. I truly enjoyed Marva as a character from the beginning and understood her motives throughout the story.
The story itself progressed nicely. I didn’t feel like it was rushed or dragged. I liked the focus of the novel. – The Indie Express Review

Good, honest reviews are to authors what honey is to bees, and as an author, I welcome them. So, after you’ve read In the Wilderness, will you post a good, honest review on Amazon?

Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list where you can be among the first to know about updates and special offers.
Until next time, keep on reading!

Greetings from sunny, but nippy, Florida. I hope you are keeping warm wherever you are and getting ready to enjoy the festivities. I just want to take a few moments to thank you for reading my blog and giving me your support in 2017. And as we move into 2018, I want to assure you of my continued commitment to bringing you the best in what I, and other authors, have to offer.

If you have enjoyed following me during the year, let me encourage you to sign up for my mailing list where you can get the inside scoop on my books and giveaways. Also, please share this post with your friends.
Remember you can always follow me on Facebook at https://facebook.com/AJose6
Twitter: https://twitter.com/trincity
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/angela-joseph
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/aquild43/

Until next year, enjoy yourselves, stay safe and God bless.

Happy New Year!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. It is still the best time of year for me. I really knock myself out cleaning, cooking, baking, shopping and doing all the things that tradition dictates I should do. But this year things seemed a bit different. For some reason, the mercury didn’t rise on my enthusiasm, but I did the best I could.

On Saturday, the day before Christmas Eve, I left our daughter’s house where my husband and I had gone to spend Christmas and did something completely out of my league. I went shopping! In a store with wall-to-wall lines and shelves that reminded me of a pre-Hurricane Irma supermarket. But I stayed, hoping to get something to put under my daughter’s Christmas tree. As it turned out, I left the store hours later with two items, a bad case of frustration and a back that screamed for mercy.

After picking up a few items, I waited in line for about an hour and a half, before getting up to the counter. I told the cashier I wanted to get something from the locked cabinet for my husband. I left my stuff on the counter and followed the young man to the cabinet. Big mistake! When we returned, all my stuff was gone! Yes, gone! I approached a female employee who was gathering up every stray item in sight with the speed of an engine and throwing it into an empty cart. My face must have betrayed my ire for she gave me a look as if to say, “Don’t look at me.”

Long story short, I retrieved one item I’d bought for my daughter and that’s how I happened to leave the store with two items. I’d lost precious time and had very little to show for it. And so, my friends, maybe that’s the reason I got sick on Christmas Day. I came down with a nasty case of the flu – runny nose, sneezing and headache. I am a little better as I write this, but I think I learned my lesson. At least for this year.

As I look back on my almost futile shopping trip, I ask myself why did I do it. Was it to please my loved ones or to please myself? They would not have loved me any less if I hadn’t got them a Christmas gift. They are used to me giving them stuff, not only at Christmas but all through the year. Spending time with my loved ones and letting them know I love them is far more important than any amount of toys or baubles I could have bought.

To my fellow writers, and readers, let us reflect on what is really important -in our relationships as well as our work. Until next time, remember “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

If you enjoyed this post, please share with your friends and sign up for my mailing list where you can get updates on special offers and giveaways.

When I first began plotting Coming Out of Egypt, I read a lot of books by other authors and experts on writing because I wanted to do everything right. Now I know I said in my last post that I’m a pantster and that’s true. I didn’t outline the story, but it just seemed to pour out of me. However, I wanted to structure it in a way that would grab my readers and hold their interest right up to the last page. I also wanted to incorporate some literary elements that would give depth to the story and make it stand out. You, the reader, may not be aware of them, but they are what lift the story instead of making it flat and boring.

One of the things I picked up from the writing book is the use of motifs. What on earth is that, you are wondering. First, let me tell you what it is not. A motif is not a theme. A theme is the central idea on which the story is based, neither is it a symbol, which might be an object or an idea that appears once. According to this article motifs are “images, ideas, sounds or words that help to explain the central idea of a literary work i.e. theme.” Motifs tend to recur throughout the novel.

In Coming Out of Egypt, I have used a few motifs. The weather -rain- is a motif in the book. The other motif is the bandana. When you read the book, you will see that my character’s signature piece is a bandana. She covers her hair with it most of the time. It signifies who she is and it supports the theme of the book.

If you are still looking to add to your Christmas gift list or just pick up a good book for your holiday reading, why not get a printed copy of Coming Out of Egypt? This book will captivate your heart and have you thinking about it long after you put it down. But the book is not all you get. You also receive a bandana, a tote bag with the cover design, pen and bookmark, all for fifteen dollars, including postage. If you buy the book online the cost is $12.95 plus postage. So, hurry and place your order to receive it in time for Christmas. Just drop me a line at aquildon@yahoo.com

Now I know that some people have a negative view of bandanas, however you don’t have to wear one on your head if you don’t want to. This young lady posed for me wearing one as a scarf. You can do that or use it in your holiday decorating. I tried a couple ideas that I picked up here and here,I must say I’m really pleased with the effect. I think you will be too once you try them.

If you don’t care for the print version of Coming Out of Egypt, you can simply purchase the kindle version here.

And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter where you can get updates on my books and other offers. Until next time, stay safe and be blessed.

Is your head spinning from all the Cyber Monday sales out there? When all is said and done, what really calms you after a long, busy day is curling up with a good book and your favorite beverage. So, take a few moments to click on my offerings for Cyber Monday. They range from Christian non-fiction to women’s fiction with lots of suspense and emotion. Here’s the first one:

Some of the women featured in Women For All Seasons played an integral part in the life of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas time. Read about Mary, the young virgin and the risk she took when she said “yes” to the angel and agreed to become mother of the Savior of the world. Then there’s Ruth, a woman outside of the Jewish covenant, but she became Jesus’s ancestor. Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha who followed Jesus and ministered to Him. All the stories are told from the point of view of each woman so you get an intimate view of how God used them despite their flaws. This book will make a great gift for yourself or a friend this Christmas.

If you read my blog, you would know about my first novel Coming Out of Egypt, book 1 of the Egypt series. This book received a five-star rating from Katherine Bennet of Readers’ Favorite. Here’s what she said:

The story flows beautifully and is truly written in a compelling way. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to read a well written story with fully fleshed out characters who feel very real. You will not regret a single moment of time you spend with Marva and June.

Other reviewers expressed similar views:
Solid book. Well written. Important topic. Engaging characters – C.M

Suspense kept me glued to my kindle – Amazonia

In The Wilderness is book 2 of the Egypt series. In this book Marva and June are older and a little more, well, you’ll see for yourself. Here is what one reviewer said:

This book is so superbly written! I think the cover does a great job of setting the mood. This story will make you think, make you feel, and just touch you in a way you did not expect. – Texas Book Nook

And another:
Wow, I truly enjoyed Angela Joseph’s writing style in this novel. Sometimes it can take me a bit to get into a story, but I felt like the way this story flowed was effortless. I truly enjoyed Marva as a character from the beginning and understood her motives throughout the story.

For Cyber Monday and a few more days you can get each of these books for .99c. That’s a great deal for some great books. Don’t miss out!

Sign up for my mailing list so you can receive updates on special offers for all my books and those of other authors. Until next time, happy reading.



Exposure
Sylvie Parizeau
(Incandescent, #3)
Publication date: November 22nd 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance

PHILIPPE-OLIVIER TISSEROT’s caffeine addiction is about to land him in uncharted territory and one hell of a ride. One that’s about to go viral.

Current status: Computer whiz to hacker to penpal.

Upgrade status: Lover.

Well, I’m still working on the lover part.

I’m just a computer geek studying at MIT. And now I’m in two places at once – the geek and the lover battling it out to get the girl.

The only problem is, my dream girl doesn’t know she knows me in either one of them.

Now I have to win her in both.

Please wait. Upgrade in progress.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo


Author Bio:

A paralegal by day and incurable romantic by night, Sylvie is a cross-genre, and she takes Happily Ever After very seriously. The End just isn’t in her vocabulary.

An incorrigible daydreamer, she now feeds her obsession with epilogues by concocting stories in which heroes deal with the happy from the get-go. Ready, or not. And she confesses under oath to loving every minute of it.

Sylvie lives her own Happily Ever After in the beautiful mountains of Les Laurentides in Northern Quebec, alongside her whole set of characters.

In between treks in their backyard wilderness, you can find them hanging out at www.sylvieparizeau.com

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Purchase:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Exposure-P-s-story-Incandescent-ebook/dp/B076YMH3RR/
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/exposure-sylvie-parizeau/1127329211?ean=2940154925980
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/exposure-95

My review

Secrets have a way of coming out in ways you least expect, and this is exactly what happens when P.O. starts out by nor revealing who he is to his dream girl, until he finds himself over his head in love with her and wondering how he can come clean. This beautifully-written novel begins a bit slowly, in my opinion, but picks up the pace when P.O and Aurele both realize that they enjoy talking to each other, albeit only on a technical level at first.

Aurele’s character is warm and touching and evokes reader sympathy right from the start. P.O. is what we might consider the typical geek – handsome and brilliant, yet lacking the confidence to approach the girl.

I truly enjoyed Sylvie Parizeau’s writing style and would have given the book four stars were it not for P.O’s liberal use of four letter words. As it is, I have given it 3.5 stars and would recommend this book to readers who are not offended by that type of language.

Another year is almost over, and as I look back on the past months, I am tempted to reflect on all the awful things that took place – hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism, mass murders – and according to the news media, everything was “the worst.” In light of all that, should we be thankful? I am still thankful – for God, my family, friends and associates and for the opportunity to reach thousands of people in cyberspace.
So, let us enjoy Thanksgiving, enjoy our families and friends and, yes, our food. Let us share whatever we can with those who are not as fortunate as we are, for it is in giving we receive.

To show you how much I care, I’m making Coming Out of Egypt, the first book in the Egypt trilogy, FREE from Black Friday until Sunday Nov. 26th.
Tweet: Get Coming Out of Egypt FREE #BlackFriday to 11/26 #womensfiction https://ctt.ec/swKZe+ B01FNJ5EIU

So, spread the word to all your friends and if you have not done so yet, sign up for my blog where you can get more updates and giveaways.

Blurb for Coming Out of Egypt

Set in the lovely island of Trinidad, Coming Out of Egypt tells the story of Marva Garcia, seventeen, and her sister June, thirteen, who were both sexually abused by their father. Following the death of their mother a year previously, Marva assumes the role of mother to June. Unable to tolerate their father’s abuse any longer, Marva accidentally kills him one night while trying to protect June from him.
This sends the girls’ lives into a further downward spiral as Marva tries desperately to elude the police, control June’s teenage hormonal escapades and hold down a job in a man’s domain. Will Marva be punished for her crime?
If you enjoy this book, why not pick up the sequel In the Wilderness so you don’t have to wait to see what happens next?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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