I’m on a cover and Pre-order the new book!

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I never thought I would get to be on the cover of a magazine, but all things are possible! Thanks to SORMAG and its wonderful force of nature publisher LaShaunda Hoffman, I’m on the cover of the Spring 2015 edition! You can read the feature article on me for free in the digital edition  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bzq-dQqIjFNpWmZKSkw3RkE2ZDQ/view

Order a print copy : http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/898495?utm_source=Digital+Mag+SPRING+15+&utm_campaign=Digital+Mag+11&utm_medium=email

 

Publication preview

 

Pre-order a copy of the anthology! Four wonderful authors: Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart and myself have written four historical romances to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth.  Juneteenth is when the folks in Texas came to understand that they were finally free from the bonds of enslavement. My story in it is called “A Sweet Way to Freedom.” and it’s a crossover story between my series featuring a graduate of Milford College and what happens when she comes to Winslow, Georgia as a schoolteacher and “hooks up” with the local troublemaker and juke joint owner.

The esteemed Beverly Jenkins wrote the forward and she tells you all about Juneteenth!

The esteemed Beverly Jenkins wrote the forward and she tells you all about Juneteenth!

It will release on June 1, 2015 and will be available across several platforms.

The Representative’s Revolt and a Revision of Republican history

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Our Republican historical hottie Virgil Smithson fights for civil rights in 1871.

Our Republican historical hottie Virgil Smithson fights for civil rights in 1871.

Sometimes I wonder if people who are in politics now know their history. The leadership of the Republican party was missing from the commemorations in Selma, Alabama yesterday. Do they know that in the wake of Reconstruction one hundred and fifty years ago that it was their party who led the fight for voting rights for the recently freed enslaved citizens?

In 1871 the year that The Representative’s Revolt takes place, it’s the beginning of the end of Reconstruction. That’s because the Democrats (yes, them) started to reassert their political authority by questioning and overturning the elections of Republicans to various state offices. They were able to overturn enough elections to ease their way back into political control, starting to end the gains the formerly enslaved saw at the start of Reconstruction.  As you might guess from the title, our historical hottie hero, Republican Virgil, weathers this political storm, but what about after that?

1871 was also the year that represented the first formations of the Ku Klux Klan.  The Ku Klux Klan, through the use of vigilante violence, helped to bring about the end of Reconstruction. They saw to it that violence against those who sought to make change increased manifold. Between Atlanta and Milford, Virgil certainly has enough enemies in place to do him some harm, but who will try it?  All will be revealed later in the spring…..

Ultimately, Reconstruction officially ended in 1877 with a political deal to settle the presidential election between Harrison and Tilden. However it was in 1871 that Republicans found their political dream for voting rights for all come to an end. It took nearly another hundred years for those rights to be restored.  Still, I have to wonder, with their absence from the proceedings yesterday, did the leadership of the GOP remember their history at all?

 

Keeping you posted

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It’s been quite a whirlwind week for me, and for those of you who haven’t heard the news, I’ll give you an update this week. I  promise that my historical posts leading up to the release of The Representative’s Revolt will come next time.  The cover may appear here on the blog somewhere in there, but you’ll be prepared by the time The Representative’s Revolt is released in April.

Ok then.

It all started off on Feb. 13 when Publisher’s Weekly released  a Valentine’s Day list by the wonderful Ms. Beverly Jenkins who posted her ten best historical romances.  I was thrilled to discover she included The Preacher’s Promise.  I’m so grateful to be listed there with giants, including Ms. Bev herself. Thank you!

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/65591-10-best-historical-romance-novels.html

This selection certainly did wonders for the sales number of The Preacher’s Promise.  I had planned a Book Bub ad for the following Tuesday and gave The Preacher’s Promise another sales boost.  I even got to chart as an Author in both the Religious/Spirituality category and even in the Historical category. I was stunned, but it was such fun!

Some of this recent spotlight attention has resulted in new opportunities for me.  You may be hearing these opportunities in upcoming weeks.  I just wanted to convey my thanks to each and every one of you.  I appreciate your support of my efforts so very much. God bless you all!

Meet Mags! Book #2 of Migrations of the Heart Cover Reveal

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The cover for the story of Margaret “Mags” Bledsoe has had quite a reaction, with a lot of people saying they’ve never seen anything like it.  There will probably be a similar reaction to her story as well.  Here then is the cover reveal for A Most Precious Pearl and an unofficial blurb follows.

Winslow, GA – Summer 1919

Asa Caldwell is an embittered veteran of The Great War. As a Negro, he received no thanks for his service, and only has a lost leg to show for his sacrifice. Dishonorably discharged because he did not obey orders of his commander, he is sure that God has abandoned him in his hour of need.   He feels as if he has nothing to live for. With little remembrance of his career before the war, as a crusading journalist for The Pittsburgh Courier, he believes he has no purpose in life. To rouse him to action and give him a purpose, a church friend tells him about a spate of lynchings occurring in Georgia, in 1919–the start of Red Summer.

Mags Bledsoe is a devout woman who, over the course of The Great War, had worked her way up to management level in the textile mill of her hometown of Winslow, Georgia. Now that the men have returned, she has to give up her management job and go back to the ranks of the regular workers. When Asa Caldwell takes her job at the plant, they clash, because Mags doesn’t want to give up her job and prefers doing things her way better. Asa’s presence undermines her plan of revenge against the mill’s owner for the lynching of her childhood sweetheart.

Neither one of them can fight the growing attraction for one another, nor can they ignore the events of the Red Summer of 1919. Will Asa find a purpose in life that will compensate him for his lost leg?   Will Mags want to give up her idea of revenge in exchange for a new life in a strange place? Do they know how God’s love and understanding is working to bring them together?

Coming September 8, 2015

F.E.W. Harper: the case of a forgotten black woman writer

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Another unusual thing about F.E.W. Harper is that there are a lot of pictures of her. She’s younger in this one, about in her 40’s.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, the greatest black woman writer was Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Yes, exactly.  Who?  And that’s the shame of it.  Anything can make such a seismic shift in over 100 years.  Or more.

Harper was a writer who wrote both prose and poetry in the latter half of the nineteenth century. She is credited with being the first African American (man or woman) to write a short story called “Two Offers.” If you have a chance to read it, it still holds up—the basic premise is that women shouldn’t marry for anyone old reason.  Keep in mind, she was writing this in 1856.

She was long credited with being the first African American woman to write a novel, Iola Leroy in 1892.  Scholarship showed someone else did it in 1859.  Still, even when that discovery occurred, scholars discovered Harper bested her own novel writing record when in the 1990’s it was discovered that she had published three novels in serialized form in the 1870’s in The Christian Recorder, a newspaper widely circulated in the A.M.E. membership.  Serialization was the same way Charles Dickens published his novels, and yet, no one forgot him.

This woman, born to free black parents in Baltimore could have easily lived her writing life without worrying about anyone or anything else. She did marry and have a daughter. This personal hallmark, coupled with her incredible output of multiple volumes of poetry, serialized novels, essays, short stories, and the success of Iola Leroy, was enough to keep any woman writer busy. But Harper also had a very busy lecturing career.  She managed in her public persona, to win friends and influence by lecturing against slavery.  After the Civil War, she continued to lecture…sometimes twice a day, on lecture for temperance, and the education and welfare of the freed slaves.  Not everyone was receptive to hearing a black woman speak in public in the latter half of the nineteenth century, but most who heard her heard her agree—Harper had a magic touch.

So why don’t we know her now?  Literary fashion changed in the United States after Harper’s death in 1911.  There’s also the “problem” that she was equally gifted in two different genres of writing.  Literary circles tend to prefer writers write one thing and stick with it.  Scholars question anyone who can do both—except for Poe.  He did both and didn’t get a hard time and we still know him.  Could it be that we have forgotten Harper and her achievements for other reasons?  Scholar Frances Smith Foster thinks so and says so in her introduction of the Harper compendium A Brighter Coming Day. “Harper is but one of many writers, particularly women, whose literary reputations have suffered because of this shift in values, or perhaps more accurately, the ascendancy of a literary elite in partnership with the publishing industry.”

Such an amazing woman would be a favorite poet of an educated woman like Amanda Smithson.  So when Harper comes to visit Milford College in The Representative’s Revolt, it’s very likely that these two women will find a great deal to bond over—including their daughters who are of similar age.  I hope you look forward to their meeting on the page as much as I do.

 

Go on The Mayor’s Mission

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You may have missed it in the Christmas holiday run up and the downturn afterward:  Book #2 in the “Home to Milford College” series was released! The Mayor’s Mission continues the love story between Virgil and Amanda and sees them through some rough patches in their marriage.

I’ll keep you posted as to when I have the print version uploaded!

Book 2 available now!

Book 2 available now!

 

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Mayors-Mission-Home-Milford-College-ebook/dp/B00RGVPM9A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420935944&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Mayor%27s+Mission

Nook:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mayors-mission-piper-huguley/1120968964?ean=2940149855735

My word for 2015

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I did not even notice that she put Shine in a different color thread. Wow.

I did not even notice that she put Shine in a different color thread. Wow.

I don’t know where the custom started, but it’s a good one.  Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, people will select a word that they hope will shape the year. My word in 2013 was Perseverance (the word of the year always goes in caps–lol), in 2014 it was Risk.  Given that 2014 was a great year in terms of my writing endeavors, I had pondered keeping my word, but then just the other day something occurred to me. At almost every point whenever I had a success in 2014–my second Golden Heart nomination, my books hitting the Amazon bestsellers lists, my two Emma nominations–I always felt compelled to apologize in some way for it. It has been a real struggle for me to just take in the high points without apology, explanation or even a slight feeling of embarrassment.

These emotional reactions have to stop.

So I have selected a new word for 2015 that I hope will help me with my issue–Shine.

Shine is a word that does have some negative meanings, even racially, but I’m going to explain what it will mean for me this year.

I was raised by a very wise woman who taught me to reach far and to seek accomplishment, but once those goals were attained, then the accomplishment should be downplayed so that other people would not feel uncomfortable.  My beautiful mother, who was one of the first black female business executives in the Pittsburgh area, steeped herself in this principle and I followed her example.  However, I’ve learned a particular codicil to this belief.

It doesn’t matter what you do or say, there will be some people who cannot deal with it.  I experienced this directly on Twitter when someone, who I thought of as supportive, engaged in subtweeting (talking about something that I said without referring to me directly). If someone has a problem with something that I’ve said, I would expect for them to engage me directly. So disappointing.   This experience convinced me that I need to do and say what comes from my heart.  No matter what, there will always be someone who has a problem. But that is their problem.  Not mine. I do not need to be, or desire to be, “in your face” about what I do, but I don’t believe my mother wanted me to feel embarrassed or apologize for it.  I know this is true because “This Little Light of Mine” was one of her favorite spirituals.

When my mother’s illness changed her appearance, my cousins wanted to honor my mother with a quilt where everyone created a block representing how they felt about her.  They were sneaky and made her make her own block that represented advice that she would give to the children of the family.  She chose to paint and embroider (in her creative way) the block that I’ve shown here.  It’s in the center of the quilt.  Also, as I reflect upon the true meaning behind her philosophy, there are other songs that she liked that were always referring to bringing light–“Shine, Jesus, Shine” and “We Are Singing for the Lord is Our Light.” Ahh.  Now I get it.

So. Shine. No more explanations or apologies about the choices I’ve made in terms of the publisher I’ve chosen to put forward the three Bledsoe Sister books later in 2015, no more embarrassment about taking Milford College into the 20th century this year, just–do it to bring light.

Embracing Shine will not be easy.  It was hard for me to even write this post.  It’s an every day battle to reinforce the belief that I have a voice worth listening to, or a point of view that matters. But I believe that Shine will help me with this in 2015. And it starts in 2015 with the first blog post that discusses the next Milford book–The Representative’s Revolt.  Onward and upward!