Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy 2015!!

#WriterWednesday - 2015 Tentative Publishing Schedule

What a blessing it is to live to see another year ushered in!! I am so excited about 2015!! Below is my tentative publishing schedule (projected publishing dates may change). I am thrilled to share more of my stories, and I can't wait to hear what my readers think about them!!

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  • January 27, 2015 - Ain't Nobody
Blurb: With her biological clock ticking like a time bomb, Alex Weaver issues her long-time commitment-phobic boyfriend an ultimatum. Soon, things are back on track, and Alex is well on her way to her “happily ever after.” That is, until she makes a discovery that rocks her to her core. When Alex decides to take control of her future, she begins to make some life-altering decisions that set her on the path of fulfilling her goal of having a family. But will she be able to deal with the consequences?

  • March 2, 2015 - Home
Blurb: A family emergency brings former rapper and current real estate mogul, Ivan Spencer, back to his long-abandoned hometown. While there, he must deal with his confused mother, his elderly, philandering father, his flaky sister, an unreliable aunt, and a face from the past who makes him question some of his past decisions. All he wants to do is to get things squared away and return to his life, but as it turns out, he must deal with his own issues first.

  • July 6, 2015 - Summertime (A Novella)
Blurb: J'Nay Walker is a talented singer, driven toward success by a promise she made to her late mother. One gloomy day, on the tail of some disappointing news, tragedy strikes, threatening not only to derail her plans, but to end her life and sends her on an unlikely journey with an unlikely love.

  • September 1, 2015 - September (The Christina Dandridge Story)
Blurb: Born to an interracial couple in Arkansas circa 1960, Christina Dandridge’s life was tumultuous from the start with things only growing worse as the years passed. Wrought with abuse and abandonment, Christina’s life is a journey of ups and downs and trials and triumphs. This is a companion novel to the Been So Long series, chronicling the life of Mona Lisa’s mother and setting the stage for the dysfunction that plagued the lives of both Mona-Lisa and her sister, Cleo.


I also have a story in mind with a Christmas theme, and I would like to release another flash devotional. We shall see!!

What are your reading, writing, or publishing plans for 2015? Comment below and share!!

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014: Year in Review

2014: The Year in Review

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2014 is almost over. That is just mind-blowing to me!!! Well, in honor of the ushering in of a new year, I thought I'd share what I accomplished this year. Here goes!

1. Published 5 books, including my first stand-alone nonfiction title:
2. My books became available in the library in my hometown!!
3. Published 2 books without any prior promo but have decided that since I'm not Beyoncé, that was not a good idea for me. Catching readers off-guard at the end of the month after they'd already spent their book dollars = lower sales than anticipated. The positive was that there was no pressure to meet a set release date, but I'd rather have the sales.
4. Enrolled 2 books in KDP Select to decent, but not spectacular, results. Not sure if I'll be enrolling any more books in the program.
5. When You've Been Blessed (Feels Like Heaven) hit number one during a free promo!!
6. Consigned my books with a local book store, We'll see how it goes :)
7. Was nominated for several Reading Warrior Awards by the BRAB (Building Relationships Around Books) Book Club!!!
8. Conducted a self-publishing workshop at my local library.
9. Was featured in the largest newspaper in my state as well as my hometown newspaper.
10. Was chosen to participate in my state's literary festival (in 2015).

What did you accomplish this year? Comment below and share your news!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

#Book Blast and #Giveaway - God Has Spoken (Christian Fiction)

Author is giving away Two (2) autograph copies of God Has Spoken and One (1) $25.00 Amazon Gift Card. Enter contest below. 

Author: Theresa A. Campbell 
Book Title:  God Has Spoken
Genre: Christian Fiction
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Urban Books; 1 edition (November 25, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1601626819
ISBN-13: 978-1601626813

About The Book


After finding the biological mother who abandoned her as a baby, learning the identity of her birth father and her biological brother, Dupree is left distraught and betrayed. Like a volcano about to erupt, she vows to have nothing to do with her newly discovered family--so help her God! However, if Dupree's mother, Tiny, has anything to say about it, Dupree won't be able to keep that vow. 
How does a former teenaged runaway become a wealthy, sophisticated business executive? Tiny's quest for happiness and independence in Kingston, Jamaica, has taken her on a life-altering journey through hell. After a vicious attack and a serious sickness that leaves her fighting for her life in the hospital, Tiny prays for death . . . but then God speaks. Will she listen to His voice? What exactly is He saying?

Mama Pearl tiptoed slowly toward the old cars, her steps hesitant but determined. The first few cars she looked into were empty. She continued toward the back when a bad odor filled her nose. With her face twisted up, Mama Pearl took deep breaths as she continued walking.

A scream lodged in her throat as she approached the last car. “Oh, dear Lord,” Mama Pearl whispered in shock. Two pieces of sticks, resembling legs, were hanging out the opened back door. Her heart slamming against her chest, Mama Pearl walked closer and saw the scrawny, young girl shaking uncontrollably in the backseat. She smelled like rotten garbage. Tears filled Mama Pearl’s eyes.

Mama Pearl tiptoed slowly toward the old cars, her steps hesitant but determined. The first few cars she looked into were empty. She continued toward the back when a bad odor filled her nose. With her face twisted up, Mama Pearl took deep breaths as she continued walking.

A scream lodged in her throat as she approached the last car. “Oh, dear Lord,” Mama Pearl whispered in shock. Two pieces of sticks, resembling legs, were hanging out the opened back door. Her heart slamming against her chest, Mama Pearl walked closer and saw the scrawny, young girl shaking uncontrollably in the backseat. She smelled like rotten garbage. Tears filled Mama Pearl’s eyes.

Mama Pearl quickly rested the box in her hand on top of the car and leaned inside to look at the young girl. Suddenly, two pair of red, haunted eyes stared up at her, piercing her soul.

“Help me,” the weak voice begged a little above a whisper.

Mama Pearl gasped loudly and pulled her head out of the car. She cushioned her weak body against the car as her jelly feet felt as if they were about to crumble. “Lord, dear Lord,” Mama Pearl muttered. “Dear Lord, dear Lord.”

Mama Pearl was not a stranger to the homeless people scattered all over Kingston. She was a long-standing viewer of the poverty that hit so many Jamaicans and only seemed to get worse, day by day.

Her heart bled as she turned and stared at the sick child again. She looked as if she was a minute away from death’s door.

Tiny rambled some gibberish and moaned in agony as sharp needles pricked her all over her ice-cold body. Her teeth chattered, and her eyes rolled around listlessly in her head.

About The Author

Theresa A. Campbell is the author of the captivating novels, "Are You There, God?" and "God Has Spoken." She was born and raised in Jamaica West Indies. She received her bachelor's degree in business administration from Baruch College, and a master's degree in business administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Theresa has had a deep passion for reading since she was a child. It is her desire to inspire readers by writing stories from the heart to uplift their faith in God.

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Tour Hosted by WNL Book Tours

Author is giving away Two (2) autograph copies of God Has Spoken and One (1) $25.00 Amazon Gift Card. Three winners will be randomly chosen.
How to enter: Please enter using the rafflecopter widget below.

Contest ends: January 2, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author Theresa A. Campbell and is hosted and managed by Paulette from Write Now Literary Book Tours. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send an email to Paulette @

Sunday, December 21, 2014

#Book Blast and #Giveaway - Unbound Hearts (Interracial Christian Romance)

Author is offering Two $10.00 Amazon Gift Cards Giveaway
Two Winners will be randomly chosen via rafflecopter
Contest ends: December 24, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
Genre: Interracial Christian Romance
Author: Michelle Lindo-Rice
Unbound Hearts (Able to Love Book 2)

unbound (1)

Would you hire the person responsible for your losing both your legs? 

Before he lost both his limbs, Jasper Orion was on his way to being voted Most Valuable Player in the National Football League. A man of faith, his faith in God remains unshaken and he starts his own business. With God’s leading Jasper decides to hire Charmaine Evans, the woman responsible for his demise. But, unexpectedly, Jasper develops feelings for his newest employee. He longs to hold her in his arms. Wheelchair bound, will Jasper’s love for Charmaine motivate him to walk again? 

A backslidden Christian, Charmaine Evans’ ambitions left her broke, unemployed and a social pariah. Guilt-ridden, she returned home to Port Charlotte, FL to lick her wounds. To Charmaine’s surprise, Jasper not only offers her forgiveness but also a job when no one else would. Charmaine marvels at Jasper’s faith while grappling with her own. Bound by her past, will Charmaine learn to accept God’s plan for her heart and her life?

Read The First Chapter:

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Michelle Lindo-Rice enjoys crafting women's fiction with themes centered around the four "F" words: Faith, Friendship, Family and Forgiveness. Her first published work, Sing A New Song, was a Black Expressions featured selection. Originally from Jamaica West Indies, Michelle Lindo-Rice calls herself a lifelong learner. She has earned degrees from New York University, SUNY at Stony Brook, and Teachers College, Columbia University. When she moved to Florida, she enrolled in Argosy University where she completed her Education Specialist degree in Education Leadership. A pastor's kid, Michelle upholds the faith, preaching, teaching and ministering through praise and worship. Feel free to connect with her at You can read her testimony, learn about her books, PLEASE join her mailing list, or read a sample chapter at

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Tour Hosted by WNL Book Tours

Follow the Tour:

Prize: Two $10.00 Amazon Gift Card for Two winners
Contest ends: December 24, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author Michelle Lindo-Rice and is hosted and managed by Paulette from Write Now Literary Book Tours. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send an email to Paulette @

Friday, December 19, 2014

Year End #Reading Recap and Christmas Book Wishlist

At the beginning of this year I set a Goodreads reading goal of 50 books for myself. I've read 36 so far. 

© Dana Bartekoske Heinemann | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Here are my top ten 2014 reads:

I thought I'd also share ten of the books on my Christmas Wishlist:

What are your top reads for 2014? What are you looking forward to reading in 2015?
 Comment below and let me know!!

Until later... be blessed :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#Book Tour: The Other Man


The Other Man -- Book Two of the Sins of the Flesh Series
eLectio Publishing, released December 16, 2014
Genre: Inspirational Fiction/ Romance

About The Author
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Parker J. Cole is a writer and radio show host who spends most of her time reading, knitting, writing, cooking, and concocting new ideas for stories. Her first novel, Dark Cherub, won Best of Spring Reading 2013 from eMediaCampaigns. She lives in Michigan with her husband and their beloved dog, Sarah.

About The Book
book cover 

 Leah Westwood loves her husband Jacob with all her heart, even as the smoldering glances of her ex-flame Vincent Miller continue to affect her. What she once shared with Vincent threatens to rip apart the bonds she is trying to build with her husband. Jacob's heart belongs to Leah, but his body refuses to accept that. Rachel is the one who has been his mainstay at the most difficult times in his life. How could he leave her alone? Vincent wants Leah back and all he has to do is watch and wait as Jacob and Leah's relationship unravels. Ultimately, Leah must make a choice . . . between fantasy and fidelity.

Connect with the Author
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Tour Hosted by: WLN Book Tours
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

TV, Movies, and Lessons in Writing

I am an avid believer that writers should first be readers. I've been a reader since my mother stacked those Little Golden Books up in my room. I've always loved stories and fairy tales. And I have no doubt that my love of reading was largely responsible for shaping me into a writer. But I've also learned a lot about writing from watching TV shows and movies. There is a lot to learn about dialogue, plot, character development, and story structure from watching TV shows and movies. After all, they all began with a script or screenplay written by someone, somewhere.

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I have also been reading whatever I watch for years by activating the closed captions on my TVs. Having the closed captions flashing on the screen drives some people crazy, but I honestly can't watch TV without them. I even read subtitles on Hulu and Netflix. And I can't tell you what I've learned about dialogue tags and descriptive words. It also helps with grammar and spelling.

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Here's my list of the most "writer educational" shows or movies and what they've taught me:

  • From the show, Blacklist, I have learned about character development. Red Reddington is a complicated character, but thanks to excellent development, we know him. And to know him is to love him, despite the fact that he's pretty despicable. Now that's some good writing when you're compelled to root for the bad guy! 
  • Want a lesson in pacing? Watch Scandal. The edge-of-your-seat action woven throughout this show is the stuff true page-turners are made of. You can't look away for a minute or you'll miss something. And believe me, you don't want to miss a thing. 
  • For a good illustration in non-linear plotting, check out How to Get Away With Murder. The plot shifts from past to present and back effortlessly and proves that your timeline can jump around without confusing the viewer or reader...  if you do it well. 
  • For a lesson in tension, do what I did--binge watch all ten million episodes of 24. 24 was easily one of the best TV shows to ever air in my book. And the mere premise of it screamed TENSION! Something horrible has happened. Only Jack Bauer can save the day. But there's a bomb or a loved one in peril or Russia is out to get us at the same time. Tension, tension, tension. Everything, and I mean everything, is done with a sense of urgency. And you feel it. The development of Bauer's character was excellent, as well. You know Jack Bauer, you know how he thinks and what he's willing to do in any given situation.
  • Want to know how to grab the reader's attention and hold on? Want to learn how to shroud your story in mystery? Need a crash course in world-building? Then mosey on over to Netflix and check out Lost. From the first episode, I was hooked! No matter how implausible the plot grew, I couldn't stop watching. The world of that island pulled me in and wouldn't let me go. The array of characters was excellent as well. 
  • Need to brush up on creating suspense? Go knock on Christopher Nolan's door. Okay, to me he is a master at what he does. Have you seen Inception? If not, go watch it now!! It is a mind-bending, suspenseful masterpiece!! 
  • A complicated, convincing love story is hard to create. Well, Shonda Rhimes and crew have done a pretty good job with Olitz. They're in love, Fitz is married, Olivia is the side chick, yet we still root for them because we are strangely convinced that their love is tragic, but real. Now that's some good writing. 

So now you might wonder how watching these shows or movies will translate into better writing for me or you. Like anything else a writer does, this is merely research. What you have to do is pay attention to the emotions these writers evoke through their work and do the same. In short, just write with the intention of moving the reader. Trust your voice. And don't be afraid to think outside the box. Uniqueness is the framework for success.

Be sure to comment below and share some of your favorite, well-written shows. What have you learned from them?

Until later... be blessed!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

#Book Tour - The Shift (Christian Fiction)


Genre: Christian Fiction
Paperback: 342 pages
ISBN-10: 0991039955
ISBN-13: 978-0991039951

About The Book

book cover

There is a sense of urgency in the atmosphere as God is transitioning what the world has deemed impossible and unbelievable into the possible and the believable. Don’t be alarmed by the "sudden" moves of God. Pastor Douglass and his family have been positioned for such a move but because of the dense fog of deception that seems to surround them, some in the Douglass family have created their own beliefs, fabricating their own sense of self; negating the truth, God’s truth, even when truth is staring them in the face. They, like many, are living lives devoid of the knowledge of who they really are and robbing themselves and those they love of their true identity and freedom. Deeply embedded lies from enemy have blinded eyes, impaired hearing and hardened hearts and Angels from the army of God have been deployed. The assignment: the execution of God’s divine design. Dreams, supernatural revelation and actual attacks from man's ultimate foe will expose all and confirm God’s plan for Xion, Veronica, Zeborah, Bo and Pastor Douglas. Can they handle the truth and surrender? Will the infrastructure of unbelief crumble? The lives of the Douglass family will never be the same and neither will you, because of THE SHIFT !

My Review

In THE SHIFT, a family's legacy of lies and deception threatens to utterly destroy it. Author M. Ann Ricks, has woven a vivid tale that highlights the power of sin and the beauty of redemption. I especially enjoyed reading her depictions of the goings-on in the spirit realm. THE SHIFT is a very relevant and compelling read.

4 Stars

About The Author
author pic

M. Ann Ricks, (Melissa Ann), is a Christian Fiction novelist residing in Bear, Delaware with her excellent husband and two awesome sons. She is a graduate of Rider University and formerly a national accounts insurance executive. Using Jesus Christ as her example, as He shared many parables, she creates stories with fictional characters that contend with real life issues and inserts the Word of God to communicate the genuine and unfailing love of God while making it abundantly clear that Jesus is the ONLY answer. M. Ann is determined to tell the world how wonderfully awesome Jesus Christ is and can be in our lives if we just allow Him to be. She is honored to be used by God to spread His message with the stories she creates with the leading of the Holy Spirit, knowing that He will provide her with stories and the insight that will lift up the name of Jesus as He promised that if He is lifted up, He will draw all men to Him. She is the author Awesome Wonder: The Gift of Remembrance, The Son and THE BLOOD DONE SIGNED MY NAME.

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Tour Hosted by Write Now Literary

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

#WriterWednesday - Book Spotlight: A Daughter's Rage

About the Book:

Sixteen-year-old Penny can't rest in peace. She has come back to set the record straight. Aside from her personal vendettas and the love of her homosexual son, this multitasking kid has shocking paranormal news and an alarming homicidal request for 50-year-old maintenance man, Ronald Jackson. 

“Why me?” the behemoth of a man asks himself. He isn’t willing to get on board, nor is he mentally prepared to deal with the rage of the murdered teenager. 

Ronald is caught completely off guard by the secretly kept love his pint-size, younger co-worker Pradine has for him. She soon has him swept off his feet, much to Penny’s jealous objection. The two vie for his attention and fireworks ensue while surprise after surprise flavors their dangerous journey. 

Will either make it out alive? Will Ron fulfill his destiny?


I met her August 1985, in a discount department store. Her long red ponytail stopped just short of her waistline, which blended perfectly with her red silk jogging suit and red open toe high heels. She was poetry in motion. The lights from an overhead light fixture shined on her while she was comparing items. Her creamy white skin was a pleasant contrast against the bold red. She was as clean as a bar of ivory soap. Her fragrance was that of fresh flowers, which had me intoxicated. It was love at first sight and smell.

Not long out of tech school with a respectable degree in building engineering and at six feet and four inches, two hundred and thirty five pounds of ripped muscles, I was an alpha male all the way. I watched her as she walked up to the aisle. I envisioned her next to me while riding with the top down in my candy apple red Firebird with her hair blowing freely in the wind. She was pushing a shopping cart loaded with school supplies, which led me to believe she was a teacher. I couldn’t remember any teacher I'd ever met that looked like that. I circled around in order to have a face-to-face encounter. 
Then, there she was.

“Wow,” I mumbled and stopped in my tracks. I hadn’t noticed the white framed glasses or her perfectly painted fingernails and toenails, all of them painted white. Some kind of strange mental lapse paralyzed me for a few seconds. My confidence, strong muscles, and especially my legs, weren’t working as well as usual. The closer I got to her, the weaker they got. The fight or flight hormone kicked in, but it was too late. We were face to face. I reached for her hand and tried to introduce myself.

“Hi, my name is Vohn... I mean John… I mean Ron.”

Looking back at our meeting, I would think me pegging the names of her sons would have creeped her out, but it didn’t. Actually, a little time after that we laughed about it and chalked it up as a pleasant omen.

With my hand in hers, she said, “You’re shaking. Are you okay, Vohn John Ron?” Her tenderness and unassuming approach put me at ease right away.

“Yeah, that’s what too much caffeine will do to you,” I clumsily responded. She had me pegged. She knew I was under her good-witch spell, so she prodded me a bit.

“Are you sure caffeine will do all that to you?” she asked and then threw me a lifeline by taking the lead. “Let’s try it this way. My name is Cindy and which one of the three is yours?”

“It’s Ron,” I said. We talked for a while before I asked her on a date and the rest is history.

The young love hard. And I came to find out in Pradine's case it was her high school sweetheart and their unborn child. She lost both to tragedies. Him to a fatal car accident and the child to a miscarriage. Heartbroken, but not hopeless, she was confident Mr. Right would immerge from the shadows and they would live happily ever after. Whenever we would talk, I’d catch her tearing up from time to time, especially concerning family matters and holidays. Although exceptional in my eyes, she was no exception to the proverbial rule: Into each life, rain will fall. She had her demons too. When her demons got the best of her and she broke down, I was there.

I'd wanted a few kids of my own, but due to physical difficulties with Cindy, the love of my life, it was not going to happen for me.

Fall had arrived, but summer was saying its last goodbyes. The day had been muggy and warm but cooled to a comfortable seventy degrees Fahrenheit by the time I hit the highway headed to Cindy's house. It was a slow and easy hour’s drive from the Southside of St. Louis to St. Clair County, MO. It was Friday and I was looking forward to spending the weekend with Cindy, since it was her weekend to host.

The wind at sixty miles per hour in a top down convertible was freedom…freedom….freedom! I reflected back on the week. Neither Pradine or I had heard anything else from Penny since Monday night. Why she was being silent, I was not sure. Maybe she was waiting on us to follow her instructions to go to the asylum and check on the boy. Or, maybe she hadn’t shown her face to prevent from choking Pradine. We both were pretty tough cookies. Me, a black belt in karate and she, well she’s just tough anyway. The warrior gene was alive and well in us. Yet, we kept sweeping that visit under the rug. We could hardly talk about it the whole week.

Maybe it was fear. But of what? I asked myself. It was possibly the unknown, dark urban legends the asylum was known for that made it hard for us to talk about it. Like the one that said patients checked in but never came out – never to be seen or heard of again.

Purchase Link:

About the Author:

Ronald Harvey Gordon, the youngest of seven, was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. He was not given a day’s notice when at the vibrant and youthful age of 45 he was thrown into the torture chamber of depression and anxiety. He was even led to death’s door twice. Mentally and physically, he was unmercifully humiliated by the disease and was considered unfixable by the medical community. Not willing to be a victim, he fought his way back to sanity. He credits his indomitable spirit to three events: His new birth when he heard and believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the unintimidating persona of the greatest boxing heavyweight of all times, Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield when he fought “Knockout Monster,” Iron Mike Tyson, and the heroic stance of his dearly departed mother and sister against cancer. Unearthing a buried treasure, his ink pen, it screamed for him to write… write… write. Upon the inspirational advice of the dearly departed Maya Angelou to pursue his writing with passion, he followed through and the result is A Daughters Rage!

Friday, December 5, 2014

New #Nonfiction Release - Flash #Devotional

About the Book:

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." 
Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV 

While our Heavenly Father is an unchanging God, change is inevitable for us as we travel the earth in our fleshly bodies. And since it is inevitable, it would behoove us to learn to embrace it rather than resist it. However, change is uncomfortable. And who wants to be uncomfortable? But there is often a blessing in being uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, the most wonderful blessings are often found beyond your comfort zone. Oftentimes, we fight change when God is merely trying to position us for a miracle or, at the very least, a blessing. 

In this short devotional, Author Adrienne Thompson shares insight about change and highlights the importance of obedience to God using her own personal experiences. 

This is the first in her Flash Devotional Series and her first stand-alone, nonfiction title. 

Purchase Links:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

#WriterWednesday - Autumn's Child Book Tour

About The Book

"I am hurting. Fractured in places stitches can't heal." 

Autumn’s Child tells the desperate story of Layla, as a young and naive twelve year-old girl. Over ten critical years, her life quickly changes like the colors of the trees in autumn. The accidental death of her parents forces her to abandon her religious, middle-class lifestyle. She moves to the inner city of Chicago with her grandmother and aunt, her only living relatives. Layla tries to approach her new life with optimism, but the perfections of her past life haunt her tormented journey. After coming to grips with the reality over the years that her only aunt despises her, Layla soon discovers that she may secretly hold the keys to helping her aunt’s diminishing health in her hands. Layla’s faith and sanity are continuously tested as she matures throughout each season of her life. She stumbles through her new found reality while learning how to play the distinct set of cards she’s been dealt. Layla’s neighbor and best friend, Shay, helps guide her from adolescence into adulthood. Autumn’s Child chronicles a life on the opposite side of the coin; where friendships grow out of tragedy, and the pressure of a marginalized life weighs heavily on pure souls. Layla must make many compromising decisions, all while perpetually asking the reader, What would you do?

Purchase Links:

Book Excerpt-Chapter Four

We exited the freeway, I mean expressway, and got off on Independence Boulevard going north. The streets seemed to have a dim halo at the peak of the day. Sara’s long, strawberry blonde hair was all I saw as she “ohhed” and “ahhed” out of her window. Exasperated she said, “Look. Look, LaLa. They’re playing jump rope with two ropes. How do they do that?” I put my head down and started to hum an old tune.

“LaLa, we’re almost there.” We approached a tall, two-story brick building on a street with so many people outside you would have thought it was a church picnic. Towards the end of the sidewalk, water from a fire hydrant sprang loose and there were teenagers in tee shirts running through the stream. Small children in diapers sat in puddles of water and buckets were being filled with the water. Everyone seemed so happy except for me. As we pulled up front, Ms. MacNair exhaled and looked at the both of us in the backseat and said, “I guess this is it. You two grab your things, lock the door, and hurry to the house there.” She pointed to a gray tombstone building. Ms. MacNair walked swiftly to the door with Sara and me trailing behind with the few bags I could bring on the plane. She rang the doorbell and knocked simultaneously while glancing at me. I saw a thousand lies in her eyes, some of which I knew, but most I didn’t. We waited at the door as she rang the bell over and over again.

“You two locked the car doors right?”

We both nodded our heads and held on to each other. The air tingled my nose as if the city of Chicago was trapped in an invisible bubble and was being injected with deadly toxins and nothing within those entrapments could get out. I felt its permanent musk penetrating through my skin, branding me its own. As we waited, Ms. MacNair tightened the grip on her purse whenever someone walked past or when a car drove by. Her face reddened like a tomato during harvest as she looked into her purse for the paper to reconfirm the address, “Come on, someone. Please,” she said to herself.

“Mom, if no one answers can Layla come back to California with us?” Sara asked, crossing her fingers that rubbed gently against mine.

“No. She has her own family,” she shouted unconsciously.

The screen door opened and I saw a bigger, greasier, and louder version of my mother. I stared at the women who had stolen my mother’s eyes and were using them to haunt me. Sara and I look up at her as we stood in the doorway as if we were waiting for tickets to a horror movie.

“You must be Layla,” she grabbed hold of my arm and pulled me through the entrance. Taking hold of my shoulders she embraced me tightly. I was gasping for air when she finally let me go. Sara abruptly took hand as we walked through the apartment. There was a picture of my parents on their wedding day on the mantle; that was before they had found God.” My dad held a Champaign glass as he sternly wrapped his other arm around my mommy’s belly.” There were also my school pictures lined up on the mantel in a defined row. As I aged, year after year, my images had been greeting strangers in a place I’d never been. Ms. MacNair and my Aunt Libby sat on the plastic covered couch, but Sara and I stood.

“Oh, I gotta show you to yo room, baby girl.”

Everyone spoke like my mom in this city, but Aunt Libby especially. She drew words together in rapid speech, the end syllables of words dropped or slurred together.

The room that would now belong to me had an eerie feeling. It was small and had white walls. A mattress and box spring with old, green and yellow flower print bedding was pushed against one wall. As soon as we sat down, the hinges of the bed growled and crackled like hungry stomachs and there was a window by the dresser leading to a small gangway that defined our space and the neighbor’s. The buildings were so close together that if I reached my hand out far enough I could have probably touched the stones of the neighboring building. I started to take my Bible out of my bag, hoping that it would force some light into this bleak home and placed it on the bed.

“That’s yo Bible?” Aunt Libby asked me as she stood in the doorway.

“It was my… my mom’s. The Bible’s mine now. She left it for me.”

“Well I’m sho glad that ain’t all she left ya,” Aunt Libby said with a laugh.

Ms. MacNair shot her a disapproving glance, her blue eyes squinting together in a quick stare.

“I hope you put it to good use, ‘cause we don’t read much of the Bible around here. Now I’m gonna let you alone to do whatever you kids do, but don’t go meddlin’ with nothing around here. This is a big city, not like that little half a town yo mom ran off to. God rest her soul. I don’t know how my little sister run off and die and leave me with her kid. Oh well. You’ll like it here. Just don’t go meddlin’ with nothing. Y’all want something to drink? You girls?”

She came back with an orange, tangy drink that made my jaw sour. But before Ms. MacNair and Aunt Libby left the bedroom to go sit back on the plastic couch and talk she said, “You know, this was yo mama’s room before she ran off with yo daddy to ‘Cal-e-forn-i-a.’ I caught em’ making you right there in that bed.” She pointed, “That bed. Yo mama wasn’t always so holy.”

I looked up at her and saw darkness. She was a pretty fair skin woman, no make-up needed, but darkness was all I saw.

“My mama always served the Lord!”

She took the bags from my hands and placed them on the ugly bed before walking past and saying, “Obviously you didn’t know yo mama.”

I was angry, hot, heated, fuming. “Oh yeah,” I said, “Well my mama didn’t know you!”

She walked away saying to Ms. MacNair, “I know you didn’t bring no loudmouth, back talkin’ child in my house?”

“She’s just a little feisty now. All this is new to her. You have to work a little with her, just until she gets use to her living arrangements and her new beginning. I promise. My little Sara and Layla have been friends for years. She’s a doll. Just give her a little time.” Ms. MacNair talked timidly as if she was afraid of rejection, like the smallest move would have changed her life forever.

Ms. MacNair came back to the bedroom, stood in the doorway as we peered out the window at my view of the bricks from the next building, and motioned Sara to come join her in the hallway.

“Yes,” Sara asked as I listened at the door.

“After you girls are finished putting Layla’s things away, make sure you take back the clothes she borrowed from you. Okay, princess? And be sure you two play nice.” Ms. MacNair whispered in her smug, tone that I had become accustomed to those last few weeks.

“But… but, Mom, those are our friendship clothes. Plea… please, Mom, I already have one. That’s my one from last year, remember? I can’t fit it. Pleeese. We need friendship clothes.”

“Alright, but no more gifts for a while. I don’t want you getting use to giving your nice things away.”

Sara came back into the room and I hurried to the window and continued looking out.

“It’s not that bad. We just need to fix it up a little,” Sara said.

“What’s not that bad?” “The room. We just need to fix it up a little.”

“Like how?”

“Like, oh my God! We could totally start by cleaning up and getting rid of all this clutter.” Sara looked up and said, “Sorry. Didn’t mean to say God’s name, but you know what I mean, right?”

“Whatever. It’s no big deal. I don’t know why I ever cared anyway.”

There were boxes of old pictures, used clothes, and paper. We both began to put the boxes in the small closet and pushed them to endless corners, but it was still bad. A little better, but still bad. Ms. MacNair and Aunt Libby were talking grownup talk in low tones when we came from the bedroom to go to the bathroom. As I waited for Sara to come out of the bathroom I heard a cough coming from the back by the kitchen. When I looked up, I saw a woman not much bigger than me emerge from a mystery room by the backdoor.

“Gran, Grandma.” I said, but actually asked.

She wobbled closer with her frail legs. Her hair was the color of fresh snow and she had those eyes, too, my mom’s eyes, but they were forgiving, not haunting at all. I walked over to her and held her strong hand as she held onto the kitchen table with the other.

“Oh, baby, it’s been so long.” We embraced and it was the closest my spirit came to letting go, to finally feeling freed.

“So, so big,” she said.

“How are you, Grandma?” I repeated her name over and over in my head, “Grandma. Grandma,” and it felt so good.

She slowly sat on the chair closest to what I assumed to be her room.

“Oh, I’m alright. Doing just fine with my grandbaby coming for me.” The fan in the kitchen window blew her housecoat away and I got a glimpse of those bonny legs. I was caught in the slavery of her skin, identifying with every wrinkle and deep crevice. The wrinkles on her face accented her beauty, like fine designs on the clothes of the rich.

“Oh,” I stood up, “this is Sara, my friend from California.” Sara stepped forward and politely said hello.

“Are you the nice young gal that’s been so good to my baby?”


We talked for a while about our plane ride and all the nice things she remembered about me until the two in the front finally came to check on us.

“There’s one of those snowball stands across the street. You two go over there and get um.” Aunt Libby lead us outside and pointed to the stand where a line of soaking wet kids stood in the blazing sun before a middle-age women serving crushed ice in foam cups with different color juice syrups for a quarter. It must have been obvious that we were new in the area because groups of kids stood around just looking at us both. This was the first time in our childhood that Sara was the minority instead of me.

The day ended and Sara left in a wild protest. She cried then I cried and Ms. MacNair took a strong hold of Sara’s forearm and pulled her towards the car. The last thing I saw were Sara’s hands and face glued to the back window as the car rolled away. Everything that had been official was now gone and I stood on the front porch until night came and I waited for someone to drive me too away from that tainted picture I was forced to live.

About The Author

L. Nicole Murray is a creative writer by passion, training, and profession. She is a Columbia College graduate with a degree in Fiction Writing and Marketing. Nicole’s dual Gemini personality helps her pursue creative writing as a personal profession. Nicole explores the creative landscape of the mind to craft fiction out of real emotion. She currently writes short stories, novels, poems, and screen plays. Autumn’s Child is her first novel.

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