"Read My Lips" is the new initiative began in November 2006 to encourage reading and writing among those both young and old. We want to help feed a passion for the written and spoken word to help individuals continue to mold the future. Want to know how you can be featured? Contact us at cawebb4@juno.com or 601.896.5616.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mississippi Artists of "Hiphop & Books" Featured by Sixshot.com

With history being made with Hiphop & Books this week, Conversations Book Club & TRU Publishing are glad to see the national media taking notice of our campaign to encourage staying in school and the importance of reading.
READ ARTICLE ONLINE HERE: http://www.sixshot.com/articles/10926/
Pull Up The People: Hip-Hop & Literacy Project
Posted: 4/23/2008 9:26:17 AM by Souleo

Reading is a fundamental skill that many within the nation's urban communities are not equipped with or fail to practice.  The Conversations Book Club & C-Murder's TRU Publishing recognize the issue of illiteracy and are conducting a 25-state Hip-Hop & Books Tour.  The tour begins this Saturday, April 26th. 

The project begins in Mississippi and will travel throughout the United States.  Tour stops will be hosted by Cyrus A. Webb (President of The Conversations Book Club), with entertainment from rising rap artists Trill, G-Money, and Lil' Half Ounce.  You can also expect special guests including C-Murder and Jacki-O on select tour dates.

Sixshot caught up with Trill, G-Money, and Lil' Half Ounce to discuss the need for literacy, lack of mainstream media support for positive hip-hop causes, the books that changed their lives, and more.

What inspired you all to become part of the hip-hop and books tour?

Trill:  This gives me the opportunity to expand my music to different areas and states as well as promote these books.  Both of them go hand in hand.  So it's just two birds with one stone for me.

G-Money:  I was inspired by the chance to get to different states and let them get a feel for my music; at the same time to talk to the youth and put the word out there.  Some people think that hip-hop music is a bad influence so we want to encourage something positive.

Lil' Half Ounce:  I think the tour is gonna help expand our visibility.  Most artists don't think to try and do something to give back to the kids.  Every kid got to have a dream but some people dream small.  If you're gonna dream, dream big.  A lot of kids drop out of school to do hip-hop thinking that they're gonna be the next artist, but they don't know what the industry requires.

Hip-hop now requires so much. The labels require you to rotate on so many different stations; so you need education in business and management.  I majored in computer science and switched to mass communications.  So this gives us an opportunity to save lives and keep kids from coming out of school. 

In your observations and experiences what do you find to be the main causes of illiteracy in urban communities?

Trill:  Reading is not being promoted as something that the kids need to do.  These kids don't feel like reading is important.  So it takes somebody who they look up to, to let them feel like reading is cool or it is important.

Lil' Half Ounce:  I think that everybody talks about all the places they donate to, but you have to see where they put their money at.  There hasn't been enough giving back.  I think Atlanta is doing well because they support their community; they get the younger kids involved.  So the hip-hop community needs to reach out more.

Trill:  I don't feel like in Mississippi we support one another as well as we need to.  They will support another state quicker than their own and that's hustling backwards to me.

The media often focuses solely on the negative news from hip-hop and rarely covers the positive stories.  So have you received enough mainstream support from the media for this cause?

G-Money:  Not at all!  I feel like the money twists things up.  I ain't gon' sugarcoat it but the thing that they do—the media doesn't put that out.  So all the kids know is about hip-hop artists going to jail.  You see the news and every time you hear something about a hip-hop artist—they doing this and that.  But they don't talk about the good that they do—so the kids really don't know.

Lil' Half Ounce:  I see these young kids in urban communities with guns.  When I was young I grew up in [the] projects and we had guns; but I was smart enough to say that I'm not gonna do the same things my boys did.  I tell kids that you can brighten your future. Don't dwell on what happened in the past. 

What is the one book that has changed each one of your lives?

Lil' Half Ounce:  Death around the Corner and The Adventures of the Ghetto Family by KwameDeath around the Corner paints a picture of my life. 

I can picture myself as the character in the book and I have friends like those in the book.  With Kwame's book it taught me that you never know what the future holds.  So I don't make plans; I deliver by faith.

Trill:  The Art of War.   It's taught me that life is not checkers; its chess and at all times you need to know what your next move is.

G-Money:  The Bible.  It allows me to look at things in a whole different way of how I carry myself in life; how I treat people; and it gives me so much more humility.

At the end of the tour what are you hoping to leave people with?

Trill:  I hope that it keeps more kids in school, saves some lives, and inspires people to be better people in whatever they choose to do.  I also want them to know that whatever you do it takes hard work. Many people don't see the hard work it takes to get there and people need to know it takes a lot of hard work.  It can be done but you have to be focused, positive, and surround yourself with those types of people.

G-Money:  I hope that people pull away from the negative activity and get involved in the community.  I want to see more after school programs.  So after we do our music we will do a speech and let them know to be educated.  If you want to do music you need to read the contract so you got to educate yourself on reading and language.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Our Conversation with author Portia Cosby

With hundreds of new books flooding the market every week selling a gimmick, it is refreshing to find a novel that delivers substance and quality. That is what you will find in Portia Cosby's TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE. A book that is all-too-real for so many people today, it chronicles a journey that no one would choose to take but so many are forced to tread. Cosby shows both maturity and sophistication in her debut novel, and by the end of the story she tells you know one thing: this is by no means the last time you will be hearing from her.

Conversations Book Club chose her book as one of its "Readers Choice" Selections for 2008. Here is our conversation with the woman who is giving others in the literary game a run for their money.

Portia, thank you for your time. I have a lot I want to discuss with you, but I want to first talk about inspiration. What inspired you to not only write your debut novel TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE but see it through to the end?

 I saw part of a news report about a lady who was raped. I don't think I paid attention to the details, but immediately, I thought, "What if a black girl was raped?" In our community, we usually don't discuss that type of crime. The majority of our reports involve shootings and drug dealing. I wanted to dispel the misconception that African-Americans don't deal with issues of that nature, but entertain as well. I saw it through to the end because I felt the story was necessary and I enjoyed writing it.


There are so many people out there who might see your book and say "I can do that," but don't put forth the effort you have done to make the dream a reality. Why do you think so many don't take advantage of their God-given talents?

I'd say it's either because they realize writing a book is a lot of work and don't have the drive to finish, or they just aren't passionate about their craft. I eat, drink, and sleep my characters and their stories. I'll be at work and think of a random quote or situation for a character that I have to write down ASAP.  What would I do with that information if I wasn't determined to place it in a book where it wants to be? I would go insane!


I see books as a voice, the author's way of conveying a message to readers. When you were growing up was it obvious to others what we are seeing today?

Throughout high school, I used creative writing as a way of conveying messages. I wrote some hard-hitting poetry for English class, and I'd write random plays about relationships and whatever else my imagination could contribute to that topic. One thing that stands out in my mind is a project I turned in for health class. We learned about HIV and had to write a report about it. After getting permission, I turned in a three-page poem that included all the information required and it even rhymed. Although a lot of my classmates remember my love for writing, I don't think they ever imagined I would publish a novel like I said I would.


How much did what you saw or experienced as a child impact the Portia Cosby that stands before us now?

 In some way, I guess I draw from many experiences in my childhood. The main thing that is reflected in the Portia Cosby you see today is my ability to recognize the complexities of a person. If you notice, most of my characters are extremely complex. You think they would act one way in a situation, but instead they surprise you. For example, Regina is a successful corporate lawyer with tons of money, but Tameka stripped to pay for most of her college expenses.  Alexis is one of the hardest females you'll come across, but she's a softie when it comes to her relationship with her sister.


How did you come up with the story line of the book?

 The actual storyline came from nowhere! Although I was inspired somewhat by the mention of sexual assault on the news, TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE is so much more than that. Tameka's name popped into my head first, and I knew she had to be the main character. I already knew her personality, how she looked—everything. I wanted her to have a complex relationship with a longtime boyfriend, and he had to be a bad boy. Once I figured out TJ's character and created Alexis as her crass sister, the story took off. Life is about relationships and conflict. I want all of my stories to feel real, so that was the formula I used to create TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE.


In your book TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE you allow us to get into the character Tameka James. Why did you decide to write in first person, and was it hard for you putting yourself in situations that she faced?

 I wrote Tameka's story in first person because I feel the story has more relevance with her narrating. There is more emotion with that perspective. The reader cares about what happens to her because he/she knows what makes her happy, what makes her mad, and what makes her cry. Whenever adversity arises, they want her to get through it and maybe even scold her for some of the choices she makes. Also, I wanted the reader to have questions and find out certain information when she did. The other happenings that she didn't know of but I still felt were necessary to include were written in third person so the reader could understand why the other characters acted and reacted in certain ways.

It was definitely hard to put myself in some of the situations she faced because I had to feel her emotions, some of which were pretty disturbing.


Kenny Blue, an author I had the pleasure to converse with a year or so ago, said in a blurb on your book "Too Little, Too Late proves that some consequences don't happen by choice." Do you think that books like yours keep us from judging people's circumstances by just what we see on the outside? I think TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE offers a different perspective. In the few pages before anything bad happens, readers already feel like they know Tameka. They feel connected to her. So when she and TJ are confronted by his enemies, the reader understands why she was out with him in the first place. When she gets the news from the doctor, they feel her devastation because they know she didn't acquire HIV by her own doing. I hope people read this and wonder what circumstances placed others in the predicaments they are in. I want them to realize that everything in life isn't so cut and dry.


There are a lot of issues that you raise in the book, but one of the most dramatic is the way the main character became infected with HIV.  There is such a stigma with that disease in our community, why did you decide to address it the way you did?

I addressed it that way because I hear so many of my friends and associates speak negatively about STDs, and they have no clue about the different ways the diseases can be acquired. Countless times, I've heard that someone is nasty, promiscuous, or dirty, when the truth of the matter is we don't know how they ended up with the infection. Furthermore, we tend to put a face to a disease. Tameka is drop dead gorgeous for a reason; you wouldn't look at her and think anything was wrong. Because she has a nice body, dresses well, and doesn't "look sick," most guys would have unprotected sex with her in a heartbeat. Things happen, and unfortunately HIV happened to Tameka in a way she never expected.


After the book was finished, why did you decide to self-publish it?

I tried the traditional route, and it was a headache. I spent so much time trying to convince agents to believe in my work, when I've believed in it from day one. Self-publishing had become widely accepted, so I figured I'd go that route and get this story out there.


What was more difficult for you, the actual writing of the book or the business side of the business? Writing the book was a breeze compared to handling the business aspect. I believe that's because I'm a born writer—not a born businesswoman. I'm learning, though, and it's really not as difficult as I thought it would be when I really think about it. Writing SUPPOSED TO BE is much more difficult than TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE, though. I don't know if it's because I have so many other things going on now, but it's definitely a different experience.


As a published author, what is your main target group as far as a reader base and what do you hope they get from the story?

My main target group is African-American women between the ages of 17 and 35, but in my experience so far, the majority of my readers are much older and they love the book. I hope that young ladies especially recognize aspects of themselves or their friends in Tameka or even Alexis and put more thought into choosing men, friends, and ultimately their destiny. Young or old, male or female, I want one universal message to be clear: One simple decision can change your life forever. You won't know whether it was a good or bad decision until the ball has already started rolling. Once that happens, it's too late to go back.


 Portia, what's next on the horizon for you. To me, it would make a great play or short film? Have you thought along those lines?

I've definitely thought along those lines. TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE was originally written as a movie, and I went to film school for the sole reason of learning how to make it into one. Hopefully it will be on the big screen in a couple years. In the meantime, I'm writing the second installment to the Situations & Circumstances series, titled, SUPPOSED TO BE. Alexis takes over as narrator and shares what's happening in her life. Her friend, Tiffany, is also a major character. Even though it picks up where TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE left off, it is a story all its own, and you know Alexis is sure to keep you entertained.


 Again we appreciate your time. How can our readers find out more about you and your career?

They can go on my website, www.portiacosby.com or my Myspace page, www.myspace.com/portiacosby. Readers who have feedback to offer can always feel free to contact me by email at feedback@portiacosby.com. Thank you for giving me the chance to converse with you, Cyrus! I appreciate all you do to help self-published authors gain more exposure.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bestselling author Kwan talks with Conversations

He has gained a tremendous amount of respect in the literary game in a short period of time, however, with his success he is even more grounded than before. Bestselling author Kwan is enjoying the praise for his gift, but he is not resting a moment. Already looking forward to his next book to be released later in 2008, he is thinking ahead to his next move in the industry. In this interview, he talks about those who doubted him, how the business has changed and what newcomers in the publishing game need to be aware of.

K’wan, thank you so much for taking out the time to talk with Conversations. For those who are just becoming introduced to you, tell them a little about yourself.
My name is K’wan, pronounced Kah-Won. I’m the author of several novels (Gangsta, Road Dawgz, Street Dreams, Hoodlum, Eve, Hood Rat, Blow & Still Hood) and contributing author in three anthologies (The Game, Flexin & Sexin, From The Streets To The Sheets).

You have really set a new standard for urban literature since you have been on the scene. Do you feel any added pressure with each new book?
Pressure? Good question. I mean, the more popular you become the more people expect from you. It puts you in situation where your next novel has always got to be better than your last and your numbers steadily increasing, which I think I’ve dealt with pretty well. People are always looking for you to fall off or miss a step, but thankfully I’m still hanging in there. But at the end of the day, I write for me and I write for my readers. So if they’re happy, I’m happy. I’d say they’re pretty pleased with me so far, wouldn’t you?

I have seen and read some interviews with you talking about your success. I find myself curious about how your family’s view of you has changed since the first book. Have they always been supportive of your choosing writing as a career?
Honestly, nobody believed me when I initially said I was writing a book. I was always somebody who went through different phases and changed trying to find where I fit in the grand scheme of things, so everyone assumed that this was just another phase. In the beginning the only two people who really showed support were my mother and my uncle Eric. My mother always told me that I could do what I wanted in life, and my uncle Eric would let me come to his house every morning at 5am and use his computer. I would lock myself in that little apartment from 5am to about 6 or 7pm just working. That’s how I was able to really sharpen my sword. When I had actually succeeded in getting my book out it shocked my entire family. Now they’re very supportive. My grand mother and my aunt are pleased because I was on a high road to nowhere before I discovered this gift. They’re proud of me again.

What first attracted you to writing? Did you always know that was your calling?
Not at all. My mother was the writer and I was the artist. This was how I was initially supposed to make my fortune, or so everyone thought, because I’m very good at it. I draw, paint and can work with clay. Art schools started courting me during my freshman year in high school, but I was more interested in getting rich over night than furthering my education. My first book, which was a vampire novel was written for fun while I was riding cross country in a car. Because it was only for fun, I shelved it. I didn’t start seriously writing until my mother got sick. Back then, it was my therapy, but somewhere along the lines I realized that I was pretty good at it, so my passion grew. As my mother got sicker, my talent began to increase seemingly over night. Its as if she was passing her talent along to me as a parting gift. Even after my first book came out I still didn’t see it as my calling. It wasn’t until my second or third book when I began to notice how my words touched people, and it was then I decided to take it seriously. Nine books and three anthologies later it still amazes me.

Over the past few years what is considered “Urban Lit” or “Street Lit” has evolved. Do you think the market is becoming saturated?
Very much so. When the genre first resurfaced there was only five out us doing it, now it seems like there are twenty books per week flooding the market. I don’t knock people for wanting to tell their stories, but a lot of cats are only in it for a dollar and putting out sub par material. The damaging thing about that is that it makes it harder for the truly talented to get noticed. If you only have fifteen dollar and five or six books to choose from you don’t always chose correctly. You might pick up a book that sucks and it could turn you off from going back to give another author a break. If you do it out of love, that’s fine. But if you’re just doing it because it’s the new hot thing you’re gonna fall flat on your ass. Stay in your lane, this isn’t for everybody.

Our organization has had the opportunity to work on promoting the G-Unit Books with our partner Waldenbooks. How did you get involved in that growing franchise of books with 50 Cent?
The editor at the time reached out to me through a friend of mine. They had put out I think three G-unit books, and though they were good and the authors they picked up had wonderful talent, the novellas didn’t really embody the grittiness of New York, which is what G-unit was looking for. They needed an author who could capture the New York underworld and who better than a product of the New York Underworld? So when I heard the call to arms I answered it.

You communicate through your fans a great deal through Myspace. It was there that some of us first got a chance to read some of your erotica. Do you feel as though you are reaching a new market by turning up the sex?
Yes. I think that by me doing erotica it not only presents a new challenge, but it shows people that I’m not just a street author, I can write in any genre. I am an author, period.

K’wan, tell us about the latest book.
Still Hood is the follow up to my Essence #1 best seller Hood Rat. It’s a sequel, but its an totally different story than the first. The reason I called it a sequel is because it features characters from the first one, but it’s not the same story. This one centers around a young high school girl named Dena who thinks she’s got the world all figured out, until she meets Black Ice and finds out that all that glitters isn’t gold. It’s a hard lesson about fast young girls who peruse gangsters because they’re turned on by the fast life, but the fast life doesn’t offer much other than heartache and death.

Have you been surprised as to how fans are happy you revisited some of their favorite characters and introduced them to new ones?
Not really. I knew that people fell in love with some of the characters from the old book, so I brought them back to answer open-ended questions. The book dealt with old characters, but it was really centered on the new ones like Dena, Sharon, and Shannon.

What is next on the horizon for you? Any movies in the works?
Sure, I’m gonna do some movies when people stop trying to insult my intelligence….(laughs)At the end of the day I’d love to see all of my work adapted to movies or plays, but only if its done correctly. No, you can’t have my work for a song and a dance, and no I don’t want the story to solely be about young kids with their pants hanging off of their assess shooting people up. My books are deeper than just what is on the surface of them and I want the movies to be the same.

For those who might be reading this discussion, what advice would you give for aspiring writers or those who have finished projects and might just be sitting on them?
DO NOT JUMP OUT THE WINDOW FOR THE FIRST OFFER SOMEONE THROWS AT YOU!!!!!! Nine times out of ten it’s fool’s gold. I know this first hand. This is a dirty game, or at least it has become one. Do your homework. Research the net, books, and ask plenty of questions. Check out different houses that specialize in your kind of novel and see what the criteria is, and who they have on their roster. Get at the authors and ask them about the treatment of the house and exposure. If you’re trying to make the leap into the major’s on your fist joint, which is rare, get a good agent. You have to know what you’re getting into before you jump into it. If not, you could find out that you got pimped on your first joint and it’s a mistake that will haunt you until the end of time.

Thank you again for your time. How can people get in touch with you or stay abreast with your upcoming projects?
People can contact me through my myspace page (myspace.com/kwanfoye) or email me @ kwan@kwanfoye.com.

Our Interview with Bestselling author Daaimah S. Poole

How far will you go to get what you want in life? For many there are no boundaries to what they will do to have success---but what is the real price in the end? This is just one of the things we have to consider with the latest novel by Bestselling author Daimah S. Poole. She is quickly becoming not only a veteran in the literary game, but someone who is known for quality as well as quantity when it comes to giving her readers exactly what they have come to expect: A good read.
This is our conversation.

Daaimah, thank you for taking a few moments of your time to talk with Conversations. With ALL I WANT IS EVERYTHING, you have written a feel-good book that I'm sure will discussed quite a bit in the New Year. Before we talk about the book, though, let's get our readers acquainted with you. Tell them in your own words who Daaimah S. Poole is.
I am the author of six books ranging in topics from following your dreams to gold digging. I’m also a mother of two sons ages four and twelve. I love reading blogs, magazine, and vacations.

You wrote your first novel before you were even 20 years old. Does that mean that you always wanted to write? What got you started?
I’ve always wrote since was like in the third or fourth grade. When other students were doodling, I was writing. However, I never completed an entire book with a beginning, middle, and end until my first book “Yo Yo Love”. I had hand wrote the story, but once I saw it typed, I was like wow this is like a
real book. I just kept at it. In the beginning I didn’t even have the dialogue separated I just wrote and wrote.

The story of Kendra Thomas is something that I feel a lot of young women--and maybe even young men--in the entertainment business can relate to. How did the idea for the main character develop and what led to the storyline?
My inspiration came from parts of my own life. I can remember when I was rejected for three years or when people said “Oh you going to write a book. Yeah right.” I also wanted the expose the ills of the music industry. So many times you will see the most talented person and listen to their CD and think why
the hell is this person not double platinum. Why don’t people know about this person? Also, I wanted to show that nothing in life comes easy. People see that Alicia Keys is a successful artist, but they don’t know she had like two deals fall through before she made it big. Or that Kanye West had a hard time getting signed. Even 50 Cent was dropped and passed all around before he found success.

You told the story in 1st person, actually getting us in Kendra's thoughts. Along the way did you find parallels with yourself and the struggles she was facing?
Yes, there were parallels in the fact that she didn’t give up on her dream. Like Kendra I wanted to give up so many times. People around me were like okay, so this writing is nice, but you graduated college now get a real job. I didn’t listen and just stuck with it. It was hard in the beginning because it didn’t pay the bills.

I tell people that the literary industry can be as complex and political as the entertainment industry. Would you agree?
Complex yes. Political no, that hasn’t been my experience. It is definitely who you know in a lot of businesses, the literary industry is no different. However, if you have a good story it can’t be ignored. It may not be instant success, but word of mouth really works. I think the literary world is always looking for new voices.

At the end of the day, Daaimah, what do you want your readers to take from the decisions that Kendra made and the outcome that followed?
Your destiny is up to you. With faith and determination you can do anything. Don’t give up on your dreams,and keep naysayers, haters, dream killers out of your life.

There are some that believe, like Kendra, that you are supposed to give up yourself to pursue what you want in life. What would you say to them?
No, I don’t believe giving of your self the way Kendra did, as far as sexual favors. You want success knowing okay, I didn’t hurt anybody, I didn’t sell my soul, I worked my ass off and I’m successful because of that. If you cheat your way to the top it is not authentic.

You are also a mother, Daaimah. If you were talking to your own children about success and the trappings that can come from it, what advice would you give?
This is an interesting question because I think parents tell their children things they know they should be doing themselves. I would tell my children that they should remain humble even if they are very successful and for them never to get comfortable because they have more to achieve.

What is coming next for you. Is there a tour in the works?
I would like to go places, I haven’t been able to get to before. I haven’t been in the south like to Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee etc and other cities like Detroit and Los Angles.

Thank you again for your time. We are expecting many more entertaining and educational novels from you in the future. How can I readers get more information about your upcoming projects?
My websites and Myspace: www.DSPBOOKS.com and www.myspace.com/dspbooks. Next up is a “A Rich Man’s Baby” It’s about two women that wake up one morning and say the hell with working. They decide they want to get pregnant by someone rich and get child support checks.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Watch Conversations Interview with Author Sylvester Stephens

Bestselling author Sylvester Stephens recently spent time with Conversations Book Club promoting his book THE OFFICE GIRLS. Watch the exclusive interview below:
Bestselling author Sylvester Stephens seen here with Savvy Book Club President Rose Wright.
Missed any of our exclusive discussions? Watch them below!
Bestselling author Dedra Johnson
Bestselling author Allison Hobbs
Bestselling author C-Murder
Bestselling author Jonathan Richardson
Bestselling authors Shelia E. Lipsey & Daphine Glenn Robinson
Bestselling author Brenda L. Thomas
Bestselling author Voncele Savage
Bestselling author Diane Dorce
Conference call conversation with Bestselling author Andrew Neiderman

Watch Conversations Interview with Author Dedra Johnson

Bestselling author Dedra Johnson recently spent time with Conversations Book Club promoting her book SANDRINE'S LETTER TO TOMORROW. Watch the exclusive interview below:
Missed any of our exclusive discussions? Watch them below!
Bestselling author Allison Hobbs
Bestselling author C-Murder
Bestselling author Jonathan Richardson
Bestselling authors Shelia E. Lipsey & Daphine Glenn Robinson
Bestselling author Brenda L. Thomas
Bestselling author Voncele Savage
Bestselling author Diane Dorce
Conference call conversation with Bestselling author Andrew Neiderman

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Bestselling author Joy King talks with Conversations Book Club

Bestselling author Joy King, a native of Toledo, Ohio has quickly become one of the most celebrated authors of the past couple of years. With her titles Dirty Little Secrets, Bitch, Ride Wit' Me, Hooker to Housewife, Bitch Reloaded, Mr. Satisfaction, These Are My Confessions and Diamond Playgirls that what is considered urban literature has a new Princess that will not be giving up the throne anytime soon.

Joy, Thank you for taking out the time to talk with Conversations. Let's talk about your success for a moment: Has it surprised you how readers have latched on to you and don't seem to want to let go? Yes and no. Yes, because this business is so stiff right now. It's not the way it used to be where you would have a handful of African American authors and everyone would flock to those books because their choices were limited. Now you have so many authors and it's tough to shine and get a loyal audience.  And No, because I feel like I have a fresh new voice that captures the essence of my generation, which makes me happy.
Was it obvious to you and others early on that you were going to end up an author? No. Growing up I always loved to write poetry and I wanted to get into television broadcasting. But when I started writing my first book a few years ago, I knew this was something I was supposed to be doing. I totally loved putting my own spin on a story and I still do.
What do you use for inspiration for your storylines? Wow, my Bitch series is strictly coming from my imagination. When I created the character Precious, from day one I wanted to have a lot of fun with her. My other books are inspired by being around people in the entertainment industry and the crazy mess that goes on behind the scenes.
There has been much discussion about crossing over in the music industry with it comes to race. Do you think your books have done the same when it comes to readers? Honestly, although I would like to have everyone of any race to read and enjoy my books I believe that in today's market with the book game being so saturated, you need the streets to love you before anybody else will check for you. But I remember when I got my first deal with St. Martin's Press an editor told me to first target and concentrate on my market because it's enough of them to make my books a success—the others will come. To me that's the truth.
With the bestsellers you have written, is there new pressure to live up to a certain reputation with the new book? Oh goodness, I always feel the pressure with a new book and it comes mostly from me. I never want to disappoint my readers and when I'm writing I always say to myself, "Will the readers enjoy this, will it hold their attention?" It's difficult because I feel so grateful that I have a career doing what I love and I have the support of my readers to thank for that blessing.
Instead of asking you if the books are based on actual people and events, I want to ask you which of your characters in what book is more you? Out of all the characters I've written about I would say I can relate to Tyler Blake the most. She is very flawed but yet you know she's a good person. I kind of see myself that way.
Authors like yourself get feedback all the time from your readers. Can you share with us one of the remarks that has stuck with you? The positive feedback I get always stays with me and puts a smile on my face, but there is one remark that I found very interesting. A reader said that they loved Hooker to Housewife and it was very well written, in fact too well written for me to have ended the story like that. Man, I got a lot of hate mail for how I ended that book.(LOL) But wait until Superstar.
Joy, can you tell us about the new book? I have a few. In 2008 I will complete my Bitch series. Part 3 will drop in April and it's called The Bitch Is Back. Part 4 will drop in July and the final chapter will come out in December. I'm so excited and I hope my readers LOVE it!! Superstar the sequel to Hooker to Housewife will also be coming out, I'm thrilled about that too!!
You will be working with Conversations during 2008. Where else can our readers expect to see you in the new year? I will be embarking on a full fledge summer tour so look out I might be in your city. Once I have the complete dates I will post it on both my website and myspace page.
Thank you for your time, Joy. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? Yes, to all the aspiring writers please focus, that is so important. You have to take time out each day to better your craft. Have an idea in your head what direction you're trying to take your story before putting it on paper so you're able to begin the process of creating a flow. And remember, never feed into negative criticism, the only person that can stop you from accomplishing your dreams is you.
What would you like to say to your fans? Thank you so much to all the fans that support my work and send me emails. I so appreciate the love and I can't express how much it touches my heart when you ride for me as an author. Hugs and kisses to all of you!! I hope I make you proud in 2008.
You can find our more about Joy by visiting www.joykingonline.com or our Myspace page at www.myspace.com/joyking.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Conversations/RAWSISTAZ.com reveal this month's featured authors!

Conversations Book Club, in association with RAWSISTAZ.com is pleased to announce the authors that are being highlighted during the month of April 2008. Since we celebrated Women's History Month with fabulous women who are blazing a new literary path, it was only appropriate to make April our time to show that men are doing their part to educate, entertain and inform as well.
APRIL 2008 SPOTLIGHTS: Bestselling authors Caleb Alexander, Kevin M. Weeks, Tony Lindsay and Rodney Lofton. To read the interviews, visit this link: http://rawsistaz.com/BMR-Conversations.htm
Did you miss any of our exclusive interviews? To read the articles by Conversations Book Club featured by RAWSISTAZ.com from February 2008 and March 2008 click here:
C'mon. What are you waiting for? JOIN THE ADDICTION: Get hooked on books!