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Author | Blogger | Workshop Facilitator Visit my website at www.authordeelawrence.com to learn more about my romantic suspense novel, Gotta Let It Go, which is set in Baltimore. Connect with me online @authordeelawrence (Facebook) and @thewritepen (Twitter). Thanks for visiting with me today!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Review of the Play, Animal Farm (Baltimore Center Stage)

A few weeks ago, I saw George Orwell’s "Animal Farm" adapted as a stage play by Ian Wooldridge and directed by May Adrales. Although I read the novel many years ago, seeing the story unfold on stage brought back the imagery of a powerful, revolutionary and political struggle of this satirical tale.

It was interesting to watch the pigs who initially joined a struggle as one voice turned on each other as soon as they got a taste of power. The world as we know it today is filled with such hate, strife, poverty, political smoke screens, harsh labor conditions, etc. and the director did a great job of bringing this to the stage. This story is as powerful and relevant as it was in 1945.

The actors did an excellent job in breathing life into this story! Two thumbs up!

Cast members:

·                     Melvin Abston – Napoleon/Ensemble

·                     Francis Cabatac – Ensemble

·                     Jonathan Gillard Daly – Benjamin/Pilkington/Ensemble

·                     Surasree Das – Ensemble

·                     Deborah Staples – Clover/Ensemble

·                     Tiffany Rachelle Stewart – Squealer/Mollie/Ensemble

·                     Brendon Titley – Sonwball/Minimus/Ensemble

·                     Stephanie Weeks – Major/Boxer/Ensemble

Check out the trailer and a photo of the actual set below:

Monday, April 9, 2018

Interview with Min Carenda Deonne (Lady C), Author of Perfect Patty Messed Up Devotional

Author’s Bio:  Min Carenda Deonne (Lady C) was born and raised in Baltimore, MD.  She received her Marketing Degree from The Fashion Institute of Technology.  Lady C received her license to preach in August of 2007.  Min. Carenda is a vibrant and pulsating speaker who has a heart for women.  Her motto is, “Don’t live life on the premise of impression, but live life on the promise of impact!” Min Carenda not only enjoys encouraging others through the word of God, but is an author of three books. (Soul of a Poet, The Wait to Success (Contributing Author) and Perfect Patty Messed Up Devotional).  Lady C also owns a Christian women’s magazine entitled FAR (Far Above Rubies).  Min Carenda does a weekly Podcast (the Lady C Show) Tuesdays at 8:30pm EST and also has a weekly prayer call Wednesdays at 8:30pm EST.  In addition, Min Carenda does a yearly women’s conference that brings a message of hope and a ministry of deliverance.  Lady C is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  Above all, Lady C is committed and devoted to her love for Christ and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Michael Anthony McCray Sr.

DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
MCD: There are so many of us as women who put unnecessary pressure on our lives. We appear to have it all together, but struggle with real life issues.  This devotional searches the heart of women who are hard on themselves, especially if and when they make mistakes.  If Perfect Patty could forgive and be honest with herself, she would find wisdom to move forward gracefully, even through her flaws.  This 40-day devotional challenges you to STOP crying over spilled milk!  Put your pride aside Perfect Patty and let healing begin.

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
MCD: I honestly don’t have a particular author or book that influenced me.  I personally read an array of subjects from self-help, spiritual and even political genres. 

DL: How long did it take to write your book?
MCD: It only took one year for me to write Perfect Patty Messed Up.  This book is a refection of myself and life experiences. 

DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
MCD: I did not write an outline.  I truly flowed organically.  I have something they call “stream of consciousness.” I could be driving to the grocery store or watching something on TV and suddenly words, thoughts and ideas just began to flow like a running faucet.  Therefore, I must keep a note pad and pen and the smart recorder app close by always.  If I don’t capture it at that exact moment, I will lose it.  I am also a creative person so having an outline would give me extreme writer’s block.  I would also tape myself and play it back later.  This not only allows me to tweak my writing but put thought into my content to challenge my readers but also give clarity.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
MCD: I do not listen to music when I write. However, I listen to music before I write.  I am a huge fan of wrestling.  Before I preach or write, I listen to the theme music to wrestler, Somoa Joe.

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
MCD: You must not only know your target market or niche group, but you must know their lifestyle.  When you know one’s lifestyle you have an opportunity to market your book and message your target audience on multiple platforms.  Don’t just put your money in one media outlet but discover and define the lifestyle of your target audience, and place marketing material and information multiple places and or venues that they will see, hear or watch.  Also, have a marketing plan. 

Writing your book is not going to yield a profit, but a plan will.  Be strategic and relentless in your planning. Do absolutely whatever it takes to stay focused on your marketing plan. The key is not to do your plan once your book is published, but prior too.  In addition, social media is great but always have a call of command for your audience and be consistent.  Last but not least, branding is imperative.  Study someone who has branded themselves well and implement ideas that would work for you. Oh, and how can I forget the importance of having a strong graphic designer. I would tell any author, don’t cheat the cover of your book; a high-quality cover makes all the difference in the world!

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
MCD: Do not depend on family or friends to support you.  Don’t rely on your “click” or the in crowd to support you.  The key to success is introducing and talking to people outside of your comfort zone.  If you only focus on the people you know, you have just limited your measure of success.  Also, I am a big fan of having a mentor.  Don’t focus on this person becoming your friend, but instead someone that you can be accountable to.

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from Perfect Patty Messed UpFear Not!

Perfect Patty has the tendency to place limitations on herself. Truth be told, even though Perfect Patty is a very confident woman she also is at times very fearful.  She knows the word of God and quotes quite frequently the scripture that says, “for the Lord has not given you the spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Many people that know her would never guess she succumbs to FEAR. However, there are many occasions that Perfect Patty had so much FEAR she thought she would faint. 

Fear continues to limit her.  Fear has caused Perfect Patty not to enjoy the fullness of her life and blessings.  She has the “What if” mentality. What if I fail? What if I don’t succeed? What if it doesn’t work out? What if my plan doesn’t work?  These fearful cognitive thoughts create boundaries, that keep her from moving forward. 

If Perfect Patty doesn’t have full control she feels the weakest.  However, it is in the letting go that she will gain so much power.  If Perfect Patty would just learn how to let go, it would be the most monumental moment in her life.   She will see a whole new array of colors. Colors that she didn’t knew existed.  It’s time for Perfect Patty to rise. 

It's worth burying FEAR so that you may conquer! You will have a different mindset than you've ever had before.  You will experience love that you never experienced before. You will experience life that you never experienced before.  Write that list. That list of FEAR’s you must conquer. Write it and look at it and say, “By God’s grace, I will conquer.”  Never say never.  It can place a wall to where your destiny is leading you to.  Never is a powerful word and should only be used sparingly.  It should not be a word you use freely.  Using the word never is a substitute for I can’t.  No! YES YOU CAN!  Write those things that you are fearful about and say, “I will never say never. This too I shall conquer.  This too I shall have victory, This too I shall prevail.”  It’s time for you to experience some things of color that are right there waiting for you. FEAR NOT!


O Lord, anoint me for my destiny journey. Remove any roadblock of FEAR in my way.

DL: What’s next for you?
MCD: Writing another book with my spouse. To expand the book and magazine to an international platform and continue to preach, with power, the word of God! I will not stop until Perfect Patty Messed Up and Lady C Ministries is a household name.

DL: Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?

·       Website: www.farenterprises.biz

·       Facebook: Pefect Patty Messed Up and Far Enterprises

·       Twitter: @faraboverubmag or @cdpgem

·       Blog: www.ladycspeaks.blogspot.com

·       Book Buy Links: www.amazon.com or www.createspace.com

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Review of Never Again Once More by Mary B. Morrison

This novel is the second in the Soulmates Dissipate series. This time the storyline spanned several years where we see Jada and Wellington living separate lives, Jada giving birth to Darius, him going to college, dropping out, becoming a womanizer and the drama continues. Throughout it all, Jada and Wellington are still pining for each other although they were married to other people.

After Jada’s mother died she decided to come clean about her feelings for Wellington and fessed up to Wellington that Darius wasn’t his son. Despite knowing this, Wellington still loved Jada and Darius as his son. In the end, Jada and Wellington remarried to the chagrin of scorned ex-lovers.

I totally get that sometimes when you find your soulmate you can go to the depths of the world to be with them but the message was a bit mangled in this novel. Overall, it wasn’t a bad read and I would give the next novel in the series a try.

My favorite lines:
“I hear congratulations are in order.”

The tone was sharp and rather cynical. Hopefully, Wellington wouldn’t lower the volume, because she could hear the person on the other end.

“You must have the wrong number,” Wellington responded.

“Oh, I never have the wrong number when it comes to you.”

Silence lingered; then Wellington said, “How dis you get m y new number? Look. Don’t ever call me again. I’m happily married now.” Wellington sat up on the edge of the bed and rubbed his head as his penis slumped over his balls. Wellington shook his head from side to side.

“Who is it?” Jada impatiently asked.

Wellington signed heavily, stared directly at Jada, and frowned. Jada took the phone.

“Hello. Who is this?’

“Enjoy the honeymoon while you can, because I never signed the divorce papers. Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, Melanie roared.

 Rating: 3 stars

Monday, March 26, 2018

Interview with Earl Sewell, author of Lenny Gray

Author’s Bio: National bestselling and award-winning author Earl Sewell has written over twenty novels and has had his work featured in several anthologies and magazines. He has won literary awards for the novels The Flip Side of Money, Keysha's Drama, and Maya's Choice. In addition, the American Library Association placed several of his teen titles on its widely distributed Reluctant Readers List. 
Sewell is also a voice-over talent and has narrated several books written by other writers and has done voice-over work to promote products and inspirational videos.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Columbia College in Chicago and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in creative writing from Goddard College.

Earl is also an endurance athlete who has finished a number of marathons and Ironman 70.3 triathlons. Additionally, he has completed a cross-country bicycle tour from Red Wing, MN, to Bar Harbor, ME.
DL: What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
ES:  Perhaps the biggest inspiration for writing Lenny Gray was the genealogical research I did on my paternal grandparents. I wanted to give some sort of deeper understanding of the circumstances and situations they had to live through. Although Lenny Gray is presented as a work of historical fiction, it is deeply rooted in research.

DL: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
ES: The first book that comes to mind is Zora Neale Hurston’s book Their Eyes Were Watching God.  I loved this book because I felt like I knew her characters. They felt like they were both friends and family members. They were flawed and complex but undeniably lovable.

DL: How long did it take to write your book?
ES: I worked on Lenny Gray on and off for about 5 years.

DL: Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
ES: For Lenny Gray I used an outline. Since the book travels forward in time from 1918-1951 there were a number of historical events that I had to accurately time like the Spanish Flu Outbreak, the Great Flood of 1927, and boxing match between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling to name a few.

DL: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
ES: This is an awesome question.  Yes. For this work I had to listen to music for a number of reasons. 1) Listening to early 20th century music from the Mississippi Delta helped to transport me back to the era.  2) It helped me to nail dialect and how storytelling was performed during that era which was invaluable during the time I was in the booth recording the audiobook. Here is a link to some songs that I listened to during the production of the book.

DL: What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
ES: Perhaps the biggest key to the success of a book is leveraging social media. There are so many platforms that are available.  From websites to podcasts it is much easier to get the word out about a book.

DL: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
ES:  Study the craft of storytelling and create a work that will be worth a reader’s time. When someone picks up a work of literature it should have something to say to the reader that informs, enlightens, or transforms them on some level.

DL: How about sharing an excerpt from Lenny Gray
ES:  I’ll do better than that. I’ll share a link to where you can hear a 4-minute excerpt about Lenny Gray.

Set in early 20th century Mississippi, Lenny Gray yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within. She has known from an early age that she is meant to live a better life, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women and, particularly, African American women.

Lenny Gray is set in motion when she attempts to escape from marriage to a loathsome man. Under the cloak of nightfall, Lenny rushes towards nearby train tracks to begin her walk north towards a better future. Before long, she is caught by Curly, the father of her unborn child, who gives her an ultimatum.

DL: What’s next for you?
ES:   I have a number of projects I'm working on. I’m currently in the process of narrating several books for other authors.  At present I’m narrating a book called, When God Gives Us Spring by a Canadian writer. The book is a work of historical fiction that follows a man from slavery to freedom in Canada with the help of Quakers. The story takes place between 1805-1865. Once that’s done, I will start narrating a young adult book called, Kissing My Best Friend’s Brother. After that, I will be working on my next book tentatively titled, Someone From The Past.

DL:  Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?

·      Facebook:

·       Twitter:

·      Book Buy Links:

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.

Listen to the S.T.A.R. Book Club discuss Lenny Gray

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Women Writers Rock!

On Saturday, March 3, 2018 I participated in the Black Writers’ Guild “Women Writers Rock” panel discussion at the Enoch Pratt Library (Edmondson Avenue branch). The other panelists included: Janice Adams, Margaret Pagan and Minister Carenda Pittman and the discussion was moderated by BWG’s President Jim Wright.
I had so much fun being on this panel and meeting my fellow panelists. We talked about what inspired us to write our books, the challenges we faced in bringing our books to life, what advice we would give to aspiring writers and so much more. The audience was engaged and had lots of questions for us. It was a such great afternoon!

Check out the Baltimore Times article secured by Cherrie Woods, my publicist for this event:

Here are some photos from the event:

Here's a video clip of me reading an excerpt from Gotta Let It Go: 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Social Media Marketing and You!

Once you have written your book and decided which publishing route you want to take, it’s time to market your work. And one of the best ways is through social media marketing. It has a wide reach and it’s a great way to engage in building your brand and generating buzz for your book.

My recommendation is that you select maybe 2 or 3 platforms that you are comfortable using and be consistent in your communication with your audience. If you decide to use more than 3 platforms, you can schedule your messages by using Buffer, Hootsuite, etc.

As for me, I use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and my monthly e-newsletter to engage with my audience. However, you may find that other platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat may work better for you.

In addition, if you want to maintain privacy in your life you can still use social media to your advantage. So, go ahead and get started on your social media marketing by reading this article - great stuff!  


Monday, March 12, 2018

Interview with Diane Wilbon Parks, author of The Wisdom of Blue Apples

Author’s Bio: Diane Wilbon Parks published her second and most recent collection of poems, The Wisdom of Blue Apples, and is one of six PG County Poets whose poems have been highlighted in Bowie and Oxon Hill, Maryland Libraries, Metro Building 3, and College Park Community Center for Dr. Sues’ Book Festival. Diane is also a visual artist and is currently exhibiting her art in Metro Building 3 in Hyattsville, and will be exhibiting her art in Oxon Hill Library, March 2018.  Diane has been a featured poet in Washington DC, VA, and MD. Diane read at a Cultural Academy For Excellence event with gifted musicians and award-winning poets. Diane also celebrated reading and recording for Grace Cavalieri’s "The Poet and The Poem” at the Library of Congress; holds a degree in Information Systems Management and is an U. S. Air Force Veteran.   

DL:     What’s the inspiration for writing your book?
DWP: Everything inspires me to write. As a poet, I hear the world’s heart beat and have to write in cadence with it. There is a lesson waiting on the other side of decisions, experiences, laughter, pain, etc., my most recent book speaks to the wisdom found in the lessons of all life experiences.

I am awakened by what is happening in the world socially, politically, spiritually; I am intrigued by squirrels gathering acorns, the flow of rivers and the rocks that sparkle underneath them, the melting glaciers, birds building nests from borrowed things, and new and old relationships. I am influenced by the stories that we continue to write from the pages of our lives – hence, the writing of the book, The Wisdom of Blue Apples.

DL:     Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
DWP: I would have to say that there were many authors who I’ve enjoyed reading as I was growing up, but I don’t think that there were any direct influences.  

I still enjoy reading poems from my favorite poets:  Gwendolyn Brooks, Franz Wright, Rita Dove, Nikki Giovanni, Lucille Clifton, and Sonia Sanchez. Each of them found his/her voice in his/her poetry which certainly has been a great influence in having your unique style and distinctive voice.

DL:     How long did it take to write your book?
DWP: The Wisdom of Blue Apples took about two years. Since, I write poetry daily, it was a matter of selecting a variety of poems that deposited a bit of wisdom, a bit of hope, some guidance, laughter, introspection and pain. I wanted the reader to experience life, its lessons and see wisdom and dedication in art of writing, while reading my book.  

DL:     Do you write with an outline, or just let it flow organically?
DWP:  Everything flows organically in my writing, I find truth there. At times, I realize that there is pain from truth, but there is also freedom that lives beyond your truth. I enjoy the surprises of letting my poems write me.

DL:     Do you listen to music when you write? If yes, is there a theme song for this book?
DWP: I cannot write with music. Actually, it has to be completely silent in order for me to write. There are so many whimsical things floating around in my head, I have to be in an isolated space, completely silent and alone when I write. So, there is no music or theme song for my book.

DL:     What are the keys to success in marketing your book(s)?
DWP: I think that you have to be willing to introduce your book everywhere you go. I’ve had successful book launches, was invited to book club meetings to be the featured author, created my own book tour, continuing to accept invites on being a featured Poet, and sharing updates on Facebook.

DL:     What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
DWP: To understand your writing style and be true to it. You will be influenced by others, but your writing will have its own signature that will pave roads and highways only meant for you to walk or drive.

To journal daily and read. Whatever your genre is - research best writers in that category and learn from them. Let those before you teach you the way. But make sure you stay true to what your message is.

DL:     How about sharing an excerpt from The Wisdom of Blue Apples?
DWP: Here are two short poems from my book:

You play inside musical notes

that slip away to have coffee,

then linger at the base of crescendos

like drums leaving tunnels inside me.

The chord of my vein is

traced with legends of you

slanted in prepositional phrases - of love,

crooked like elbows, misplaced on purpose,

hanging out of shelves, and sentences, and me.

There’s an unnatural syncopation of rhythm

that happens when I balance

you over the bridge of London

where thoughts turn into songs.

Why does it rain in my head when I think of you?

My hair becomes long, heavy, wet leaves and

my head, a turntable of droopy love songs.

Your voice coils around the first star and

the most intimate part of my ear –  the drum,

and waits for the base of your voice, then beats, the moon.

There is an eighth note that slips away to dance with you

then quickly turns into a promise and a sheet of music.

I beat the moon at midnight, fetch the north star from the sky,

place it neatly on your pillow and curl inside your ripened notes.

The Puddle

At the root of barbed wire,

all things are convinced of something;

Even the insistent

puddle sleeps with the assuredness

that it will fester into something more than raindrops.

DL:     What’s next for you?
DWP:  Here’s the line-up:

·         I’m completing a Chapbook of Poems.

·        I am currently exhibiting my visual art in Metro Bldg. 3 in Hyattsville, Maryland and   Oxon Hill, Maryland Library.

·         I will continue to read and support Poetry Readings throughout the DMV.

·         The biggest news of all, I will be publishing two children books in 2018.

DL:     Where can readers find out more about you and your book(s)?

·         Facebook: Diane Parks

·         Book Buy Links: www.amazon.com

It’s been a pleasure having you here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

So, You Want to be Published!

One of the tips I posted a few weeks ago was to conduct your research on your subject matter, people and places but it also applies to researching how you would like to present your work to the world.

With that being said, if you are looking to publish the traditional or the self-published way, there are things to consider before you take the leap. These include how much creative control you are willing to give up, how much you are willing to spend, how much marketing help you are looking for, the type of print distribution in bookstores you are looking for, etc.

This article does a great job at diving into the pros and cons of the publishing world. So, please read carefully to determine which publishing route is right for you. Also, there’s nothing wrong with using a hybrid approach if that works best for you!


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Nine Manuscript Editing Software Programs to Consider

Some people like to write and edit using a pen and paper while others enjoy the ease of using the computer. If you belong in the latter group, then this article comparing nine manuscripts editing software programs is right up your alley. Some of the versions are free and if you give a donation, you will get some added benefits. 

Good Stuff! Check it out!


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Review of Resurrecting Midnight by Eric Jerome Dickey

WOW, just WOW. EJD didn’t disappoint in the fourth installment of the Gideon series (Sleeping with Strangers, Waking with Enemies, Dying for Revenge). This time, when international assassin, Gideon is approached by his former lover and grifter Arizona for a job offer in Miami things go awry and he becomes indebted to Scamz, her lover who saved his life. The job takes Gideon to Argentina to locate and get the “package” that contains material that another group would kill to obtain and protect. This group, aka the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (the Beast, Medianoche, Senor Rodriguez, and Senorita Raven) is a deadly force to be reckoned with.

What happens throughout the 442 pages is a roller coaster ride that introduces the readers to some characters that scratch, claw, lie, cheat and kill to get what they want. I really liked the introduction of Shotgun and it was great to see Hawks (assassin and Gideon’s lover) and their leader, Konstantin in action.

In midst of it all, Gideon learns some truths about Catherine/Thelma (former prostitute) the woman who raised him that takes him into a tailspin and makes him question whether Medianoche (Midnight) could be his father. And if that’s the truth could he kill him.

There are very tense and emotional moments in this roller coaster of a non-stop thriller that makes you see just a glimpse of humanity in the characters which didn’t last that long. I know, no time to be liked in these novels. Anyway, EJD’s description puts you in the various locations so you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch everything the characters are experiencing.
Some readers may find that EJD went heavy on the description but I didn’t mind because I got lost in the locations (slums, opulence of some places, clubs, etc.), the storyline, the dialogue and the action. And of course, I love EJD’s history lessons and back stories and that he makes you reach for that dictionary – I certainly did on a few occasions – lol

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this non-stop thriller of a novel from start to finish. The twists and turns were quite surprising without spoiling it for those who haven’t read it. I can’t wait to crack open the fifth installment, Finding Gideon, that’s sitting on my book shelf right now! YES!
Two thumbs way up! A must read!

My favorite lines:
        I yelled out my panic, told Shotgun to start making his way down the stairs, told him to move as fast as he could because it was about to get ugly. Real ugly. I kept my eyes on the people in front of me while I picked up their weapons, threw them out the window, let them fall down into the mud. I made them all get down on the floor with their backs to me and their faces turned away. Otherwise I'd get shot or stabbed in the back as I tried to escape. Had to keep my eyes on them as I crawled out the window. On the one-foot-wide landing, the stairway wobbling underneath me, I saw Shotgun had made it halfway down.
       I didn't move. My weight and his weight might rip the stairs from the wall
       Had to wait for him to clear the winding and weakened stairs.
       Heart racing, briefcase tin hand, I listened. The rain. The storm. 
       Somewhere behind those clamors were the echoes of hooves.
       Not horses, but frantic Horsemen charging through the slums, racing this way.
Rating: 5 stars