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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Nominees For The 2012 Gospel Blue M.I.C. Achievement Awards Announced

For Immediate Release


Contact Person: Cyrus Webb
Phone: 716-239-4370 ext. 108
E-mail:
pr@nebopublishing.com

 

Nominees For The 2012 Gospel Blue M.I.C. Achievement Awards Announced

(Buffalo, NY) Brothaonline.com and Independent Gospel Artist Alliance congratulate all of the nominees and are looking forward to the announcement of the winners. The big night will be held on Friday, July 20, 2012 beginning at 8p.m. and will be held at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church-Cathedral (215 Las Gaviotas Blvd * Chesapeake, VA 23322). The Gospel Blue M.I.C. Achievement Awards is based on merit and works, not popularity. Applicants complete nomination forms explaining their achievements and activities during the past year. The information is independently verified and nominees and winners are voted by the Blue Ribbon Panel.  

The host of this year's event is none other than J'Michael Francois, Program Director, WXOK-AM in Baton Rouge, LA. Among the highlights of the night will be a special guest performance by Earnest Pugh aka Gospel music's balladeer. The event will also be streaming live online for people around the world to enjoy as well.

"This will be a night to really showcase the best in Indie music," says Charles Clark, Founder and Publisher of Brotha Magazine. The Gospel Blue M.I.C. Achievement
Awards is presented by Brothaonline.com/ Nebo Publishing and the Independent Gospel Artists Alliance.

 
2012 GOSPEL BLUE MIC AWARDS – OFFICIAL NOMINATION LIST

Category # 1
Independent Showcase Artist of the Year
1. Pamela Johnson
... 2. Derek Dunn
3. Christina Benjamin
4. Kevin Terry & Predestined
5. Stanley Johnson
6. Mark Williams
7. Robert E. Person

Category #2
Album/CD of the Year
1. Beyond Me – Stanley Johnson
2. Heart of Worshipper – Javon Inman
3. Destiny Resurrected –Pamela Johnson
4. Soul Sanctuary – Robert E. Person
5. Beyond Expectations –Angie Hall
6. Everything – Mark Williams

Category # 3
Single of the Year
1. "Hold On" – Derek Dunn
2. "Your Love" – Angie Hall feat. Vicki Farrie
3. "Even With Evil With Me" – Christon Gray
4. "Hiding Place" – Stanley Johnson
5. "Redeemer" – Javon Inman
6. "Good God" – James Murphy
7. "Master Can You Use Me" – Derrick Wright & Driven

Category # 4
Female Artist of the Year
1. Pamela Johnson
2. Angie Hall
3. Angela Donadio
4. LaRhonda-Marie
5. Christina Benjamin
6. Dianna Hobbs

Category # 5
Male Artist of the Year

1. Derek Dunn
2. Stanley Johnson
3. J. Newry
4. Christon Gray
5. Javon Inman
6. Mark Williams
7. Robert E. Person

Category # 6
Duo/Group of the Year

1. Derrick Wright & Driven
2. Kevin Terry & Predestined
3. Dejuan Adamson & Anointed Worshippers
4. Divine Nature
5. Gifted
6. Nu Purpose

Category # 7
Choir of the Year
1. Reach Project
2. Greater Refuge Ministries Choir
3. Tim Spady & Inspiration
4. Spring into Praise

Category # 8
Hip-Hop/Urban Artist of the Year
1. JSpence
2. Tawana Ross
3. Sharetta~Nicole
4. John Jay
5. Dianna Hobbs
6. B-Luv

Category # 9
Instrumental Artist of the Year
1. Diamond B
2. Syreeta Thompson
3. Daniel D. Johnson

Category # 10
Radio Station of the Year
1. WLOU- Louisville, KY
2. WECU 1570am - Greenville, NC
3. WMBM- Miami, Fl.
4. WNAP/AM-Norristown, PA
5. WXOK-AM-Baton Rouge, LA

Category # 11
Internet Radio Station of the Year
1. Yes Lord
2. Synergy
3. WPJC.FM
4. Christian Jukebox Radio
5. The PG Network

Category # 12
Packaging of the Year – Awarded to Graphic Artist
1. Gospel Artist: Javon Inman
2. Gospel Artist: Mark Williams
3. Gospel Artist: Syreeta Thompson Graphic Designer: Kelvin Chappell Designs
4. Gospel Artist: Pamela Johnson
5. Gospel Artist: JSpence
6. Gospel Artist: Derrick Wright & Driven


 
For more information about the event contact Jason Carter at 716.239.4370, ext. 103 or by email at info@brothaonline.com. Interested in supporting the event through an ad in the program's souvenir book? Contact Charles Clark at 716.239.4370, ext. 101. You can also visit http://www.indiegospelalliance.com.
 

Nebo Publishing * Southgate Road * Buffalo, NY 14215 * 716.239.4370

FROM ME TO YOU: To Thine Own Self Be True


I have learned the hard way the dangers that come from not being real with yourself and others--and it's not a pretty picture. The ironic thing is that we live in a world where what is imitation seems to be more relevant and accepted as the truth that we grew up hearing about.

Entertainment and sometimes those around us will try and sell us a different version of who we are and what we want than we might have even thought about for ourselves. There is also the pressure of trying to fit into a certain mold or idea, something else that leads to not just disappointment but a disillusionment of our very purpose.

What I have now come to realize and what I hope you will as well is that the best thing you can do is to resolve to be true to yourself and your own vision. It might be pleasing to others for you to put their own interests ahead of your own, however, there is no way you will not lose yourself by following that path. We've all heard the saying "To thine own self be true." Sounds easy, but it is one of those things that require work and patience.

In this issue of Conversations Magazine I wanted to capture the essence of individuals who were walking in their truth in ways many only think about. Musicians like Nick Camillo, Marla Mase and Nile Rodgers are enjoying immense happiness and personal success because they have identified the road that works for them and haven't deviated from it. Authors Alex Bledsoe and Darlene Collier are living examples of what happens when you are guided by purpose and not the ideas of others. Then there are stellar examples like Sonia Fuentes and Daved Beck that allow you not to just settle in life but go for each day with passion and gusto.

For you we all offer this encouragement: recognize that you are the person you were intended to be. Any changes that you seek should be to enhance who you are, not change it. Make sure that you are happy with the person you were created to be and that which is manufactured or conforms to the opinion of others.

If you can do this, there is no way you will be able to live any other way than inspired. Take up the challenge today!

Remember I want to hear from you. If you read something that moves you, let me know by writing me at cawebb4@juno.com or by calling 601.896.5616. Make sure to also bookmark www.conversationsmag.com and keep up with the comments on each story you see here. Together we can create the world we all want to live in, beginning with ourselves.

Until next time, happy reading!




Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine


(Webb is seen here above with Chitoka Webb, author of SOMETHING INSIDE OF ME during a booksigning at the Pearl Public Library in Pearl, MS.)

Eco-Stylist Danna Weiss: Living & Sharing A Conscious Life


by Cyrus Webb

There is something about individuals who are living a life of awareness. They seem to be more focused on not just where they are but their own contribution not just to the world but the planet itself. One of those individuals who has not only made tremendous strides in her own life and chosen to help others as well is Danna Weiss.

You've probably read about her or seen her on television as a stylist and person in the know about eco-friendly styles, however, she is also the founder of Conscious Jewelry,a line created with the intent to heighten intuition, heal, evolve and integrate and attract the frequencies of love, peace, and abundance into the body.

It's difficult not to have a conversation with Danna and not pick up on her energy and excitement for living and sharing what I call an informed life. She told me in the interview, however, that she started out as so many do. At one time she wasn't sure what she believed or who she believed in. At that time it was all about making it through the world, following her passion. As a teenager she had discovered a real love of crystals and gem stones. Though she didn't know at the time about the science behind them, they were fascinating to her.

Her interest led her to study fashion, and eventually she became a fashion editor, dressing celebrities for events. Danna was definitely living what would be seen as a fulfilled life, but she told me "I had no idea that I was the cause of what was about to happen to me."

What happened to her was she became seriously ill. "For six months I couldn't keep any food in my body," she related to me. "I was wasting away. It was then I began struggling to find answers." That journey led her to a deeper understanding of the environment and the dangers of what she was doing to herself. "So you're telling me that I am choosing to use things on my body that shouldn't be in our planet," she said to me, recalling the conversation she had with those who assisted her to a deeper sense of awareness of what she was doing not just to herself but to the environment as well. That was a turning point for Danna, and it led her to a more eco-friendly view of living and life. Through this Conscious Jewelry was birthed.

Using the very stones that had fascinated her early in life, Danna is able to provide an introduction to holistic healing and health. "I have learned how to bring up my energy level," she explained, through bold pieces that alter your electromagnetic field, and thus, consciousness. The crystals and gem stones promote a "feeling of positivity", making the same available in your life.

Danna shared with me that along her quest to understand her situation she discovered a book by a trusted physician that explained to the reader that there were over one hundred foreign chemicals in the human body. "This really woke me up to all of the illness on the planet," she said. She is now sharing with others how they can begin moving stagnic energy out of the body. assisting to spiritual and mental awareness.

This poses the question to all of us: what are we doing to live a more aware life? The answers are around us. We just have to choose to follow the example of individuals like Danna Weiss and seek them out. For her one of the most powerful lessons was this: "We don't have all of the answers." It is when we are open to the fact that maybe there is an answer outside of the norm then we can truly live with purpose and a genuine sense of living a life of awareness.

The website for Conscious Jewelry is www.consciousjewelry.com. Each piece comes with a card or cards explaining each stone’s metaphysical properties. Visit the website for more information.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

REVIEW: 96 Rocks by Ron Hummer*


One of the gifts that come from authors of fiction is their ability to be able to take what are real-life situations and making them easier to discuss and in some cases expose through their craft. In 96 Rocks we see a perfect example of this. The author Ron Hummer is able to tackle a subject he is very passionate about--- non-compete agreements---and wrap it into a story that includes believable characters,real-life situations and a mystery that will keep your attention to the end.

The premise and backdrop of the story---a radio station---had my attention right away because of my own years as a radio host. WKRX 96 Rocks is not just any radio station, or is it? There we meet Herman Pearson, General Manager of the station who is not about anything but his own position and the good of the station. This is where the theme of non-compete agreements shows us. The employees are basically locked into a play full of harassment, verbal abuse and the threat of losing everything if they don't tow the line.

As we have seen around the country this is too much for everyone to bear and the result is a dead Herman Pearson and the search not just for his killer but a way to deal with the issues that shackle employees of 96 Rocks and others in Anywhere, USA. We are introduced to Private Detective Ozzie Rivera. He becomes the voice of reason for readers as he works to discover what happened to Pearson and how the work conditions at the station may have not only led to this murder but could actually be putting others in jeopardy as well.

There is an obvious motive for the writing of 96 Rocks, but as a reader who knew very little about the restraints of non-compete agreements and how they tie your hands in pursuing other opportunities, I saw this as a way to not only learn something but enjoy a well-written story as well.

If Ron Hummer's motive is to raise awareness and please readers along the way, he accomplished both in my opinion. 96 Rocks does just that: rocks! And I think by the end we will begin looking at things a little bit differently when offered opportunities that look too good to be true.

* Review written by Cyrus Webb. 96 Rocks is available for download for only .99 on Amazon.com. Listen to Webb talk with the author on Conversations LIVE here: http://tinyurl.com/ronhummerinterview

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sean Kanan: Being The Bad Boy, Staying The Gentleman


by Cyrus Webb

It is one of those interviews that had my mother excited for days leading up to it. Sean Kanan, the man many have loved to hate on the hit daytime soap operas Bold & The Beautiful and Young & the Restless was coming on Conversations LIVE to talk about his acting career and new book The Modern Gentleman, Cooking and Entertaining with Sean Kanan. I was excited about the conversation as well, mainly because Sean has shown himself to be one of those individuals that is using his celebrity for good, bringing attention to causes like stopping bullying and empowering individuals.

When he came on the show I asked him about the gift and when he knew that being in front of people was going to be where he belonged. "When I was about fourteen years old I snuck into a comedy club and was amazed at how the comedians were able to use words to get the attention of the audience," he told me. "By the time I was sixteen I knew I wanted to be an actor."

Since then he has been seen not only on daytime television but in movies like Karate Kid and sitcoms like Happily Divorced.

"I think we have all heard the cliche: find something that you love doing and success will follow," Sean said. "I don't know what else I would do. I get paid to do what my passion is. The difficult part of being an actor is not the acting. That is the gift. The difficult part is the business of it, trying to find work."

This was an interesting part of the conversation for me. What Sean was saying is what I think so many fail to understand about gifts. We all have them, however, there are limits to how they are used and how far they get us. Sean put it this way: "We all say unless you are Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise you are just another actor trying to find a job. I really hope I will be able to continue to entertain others."

Another thing that Sean enjoys is traveling. It also played a large part in how he crafted his book The Modern Gentleman, Cooking and Entertaining. "Traveling is one of the biggest gifts in the world," he told me. "I enjoy it because it really shows you how others are living their lives. The wonderful sights and sounds. When I visited and lived in Italy for a year that really affected my sense of cooking."

Speaking of the book The Modern Gentleman, Sean was quick to tell my listeners and me that it was more than just a cookbook. I would agree with him. It includes some of his life lessons as well. One of those lessons is that men are more dimensional than we are sometimes given credit for. "I think guys have gotten a bit of a bad rap," Sean says. "We are a lot deeper than the way we are portrayed."

He also explained that he wanted to draw on his more than twenty-five years in Hollywood, imparting some of what he had learned. "I want to talk with guys about reclaiming being a gentleman without compromising your masculinity. Some girls might like the bad boy. You can be a bad boy and still be a gentleman." The book is not just for men, though. "I was raised to treat women with respect," explains Sean. "I want women to read it so they can have a seat in the center of the male psyche."

In the end Sean wants readers to know that this book is not about getting women into bed. It's about using food and entertaining as a conduit for connection. "Everyone wants to feel connected," he says, and this book can be a way of bringing that about.

Speaking of being connected, Sean has also started a contest. Help him get 100k followers on Twitter (follow him at www.twitter.com/seankanan) and he will pick a following and come to their home and cook for them and up to seven of their friends!

To stay in contact with Sean and his upcoming events you can also visit him online at www.seankananthemoderngentleman.com.

BLESSED: In the Beginning, Chapters 5-7


Just finding out about C. A. Webb's serialized novel BLESSED? Get caught up with the previous chapters at www.blessedbycawebb.com.

Now enjoy chapters 5-7...


Five
Evelina’s defining moment in history wouldn’t be her seducing Ezekiel James, St. in
the late sixties. She had been demoralized, defiled and misunderstood for quite a long time, and it had all begun with a simple question: ‘Is it really so?’
Members of the League were waiting on her when she came out the Standard Life
building. “Any news?” she asked the one who was holding the limousine car door open for her.

“Our contact in The White House believes the President is going to meet with the
leadership of the House and Senate as well as the Chairman of the Armed Services committee within the next few days. We’ll be monitoring the situation there and in Israel and keep you posted.”

The door was shut, and inside the car Evelina continued her briefing with two other
male members of the League.

“What are we hearing out of Chicago?”

One of the League members smiled. “They are simply devastated at their loss. The
James family is as beloved as Oprah there.”

The three of them shared a laugh.

Evelina made herself a mental note to stay abreast of movement concerning Ezekiel,
Jr., but she knew a great deal would depend on Ezekiel, Sr. and the President.
“How did things go with Michael,” one of them asked her.

Evelina was smiling again. “Michael was himself. He still has faith that the right
decision will be made.”

“And what do you think,” she was asked.

“I think---no, I know---that men will do whatever they must to protect themselves.”

“Is that coming from experience,” she was asked with a snicker.

“You better believe it is,” came her response, and they continued their reporting as they prepared to head to Chicago.


Six

Jeremiah Reynolds knew he had many reasons to be thankful. He was born just another
statistics in Little Rock, Arkansas who was doomed to the fate of other bastard children before him. His mother and he may not had been given much, but they were firm believers that anything was possible.

And for him it would seem the possibilities were endless.

He had evolved from being a virtual nobody to the leader of the free world in what
seemed like the blink of an eye. It wasn’t a journey without its challenges and years of hard work, but it had all seemed worth it along the way. Now as he sat in the darkness in the middle of the night, he wondered to himself how much of this really had anything to do with him at all.

Being on the City Council and even becoming Mayor could have been attributed to his
vision of bringing change to the city. His becoming Governor of Arkansas was about
something more.

Jeremiah’s entire life was about everyone working together to achieve a common
purpose. Led by his conservative principles and endorsed by the James’ influence, he was able to get the majority of the blue collar and black vote to go Republican by just being true to himself. He knew that race would always be an issue for him no matter what political office he ran for, but after winning the Governorship, Jeremiah had no higher aspirations.

Rebecca, however, was ready and eager to go higher. In early 2006 she felt as though
her winning opportunity had truly arrived. The United States was involved in two wards---one in Afghanistan and another in Iraq---and there was an uneasiness brewing about the direction of the country.

People wanted change, and Rebecca James Reynolds wanted that change to be led by
her husband. To get the ball rolling, she reached out to the brother of the outgoing President. She knew if she could get his endorsement, it would limit those who would challenge Jeremiah.

Thanks to phone calls from her father and back room negotiations through her brother in Chicago, there was an exploratory committee in place before Jeremiah had time to say he wasn’t interested in being Commander-In-Chief.

With a solid platform on his side and the ability to make inroads among groups
thoughts to be loyal segments of the Democratic party, Jeremiah easily claimed victory over the other Republican contenders and accepted his party’s nomination at a convention that rivaled the enthusiasm and excitement of a rock star’s concert.
All eyes were then on the Democratic convention, and another historic nomination:
Senator Barbara Mitchell, wife of former President Jonas Mitchell, became the first female nominee of her party. The campaign that ensued was reportedly one of the most aggressive in recent history, but in the end America believed and accepted Jeremiah’s agenda to bring about change and sent him to the White House.

Coverage of his inauguration was seen by some to be excessive, but the personal story
he carried to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue resonated with individuals around the world. Jeremiah was aware his life had once again changed forever, and a new chapter was about to be written once more.

The night of the Inauguration should have been a red flag that for Rebecca this was
about more than just what could be done to help others. He sensed for the first time that much of the work she had invested in him was for a larger purpose.

“I am so proud of you,” she was telling him as they undressed that night. It had been an exhausting series of events that day, and Jeremiah was looking forward to something he had been deprived of for several weeks: sleep.

“It was a team effort for sure, Becca. You know that.” He was lying across the bed,
watching her get ready to join him. “Most of all, I couldn’t have done it without you.”

She was leaning over him, and before he knew what was coming, her lips were on his
and they were kissing deeply. There was a fire within her that was characteristic of the woman he saw approach business, but that rarely made its way into the bedroom.
Despite being fatigued, Jeremiah found himself aroused by her aggression. She was on
top of him, grinding into his body and caressing him in a way he hadn’t experienced since the Presidential campaign had begun. ‘She wants something,’ he thought to himself as they made love for the first time in the White House.

Afterwards, she confirmed his suspicions by telling him that she wanted to have a baby.

Jeremiah was ecstatic, since he had been wanting to start a family for quite some time. It had been Rebecca that had suggested before that the timing was wrong. He knew now that it was because she didn’t want a child to get in the way of her political ambitions.

Their only child, Jeremiah Beck Reynolds, Jr., was born in late 2009 at a time when it seemed as though the country was united and feeling secure in its standing even though it was fighting evil abroad. The election of a conservative man of color who was united to one of the most influential families of faith became something Americans were proud of. Jeremiah represented the hopes, dreams and ambitions of so many, but he knew now that something else was at work in his life.

It had been at work for quite some time, even before he met Rebecca. You see, there
had been another woman who proved to be a force to be reckoned with that led him to the city council in Little Rock in the first place. She had foretold the greatness that was in him and had ensured that if he remained true to his calling, the world would be at his feet.

He had believed her, and that belief started this journey. Their relationship was mostly physical, however, they would have some of the most incredible discussions at night and into the early morning hours. She was fascinating, and although Jeremiah knew there could never be anything serious with her, he believed in many ways he owed her everything.

One woman. One name began it all: Evelina.

Now as President, Jeremiah was sure there was a true reckoning coming, and she would
make sure he would be at the eye of the storm.


Seven


The door of the study opened, and Jeremiah turned to see Rebecca in the doorway. As
expected, she instantly flipped on the light switch which caused the darkness of the room to retreat into thee corners. Even in the midst of this horrifying scourge, she had remained strong and been the support her husband needed. On this night, though, it was clear the events of the past few months were taking its toll on her. Especially now that it had come into her home.

Before she said anything, Rebecca walked behind her husband, kneeled down and
wrapped her arms around him. Cheek to cheek, they exhaled and both let the tears flow. It was irony that wasn’t lost on either of them. She represented a mega family of faith. He was the Commander-In-Chief of what some argued was the greatest country in the world. Yet neither had ever felt as vulnerable and defeated as they did that night.

Rebecca cleared her throat and was finally able to speak. “Carter just called form the gate. Father will be in soon.”

Jeremiah sniffed. It had to be close to three o’ clock in the morning, and for the past few days the last thing he looked forward to was the rising of the sun. The sun. A son. His only son…

“Is there any change, Becca?”

Her pause answered his question before she ever said a word. “I was in with the nurse a moment ago. He said that Junior was resting comfortably, but the fever still hadn’t broke. We just have to keep our faith, baby. My Father will know what to do. We’re going to get through this.”

Rebecca had to say it out loud for herself as much as for her husband. She wanted to
believe her Father would know what to do. She wanted to believe he would be able to make everything alright. Her cell phone began to ring. She looked at the number, and for a moment her pulse quickened. She had to take the call.

“I’ll let them know to send Father in,” Rebecca told him as she rose from the floor. “It’s Charlene calling,” she lied, going towards the door.

“Tell her I send my love, “Jeremiah told her.

“I will,” she said, pressing the talk button. Just as she was exiting the room, her father appeared in front of her.

“Hello, Becca,” he greeted, ignoring the phone to her ear and taking her into his arms.

After she was over the initial shock, Rebecca closed the phone and returned her father’s embrace.

“How are you holding up,” he asked, trying to read her emotions.

“It’s hard, but we’re getting through it.” She looked back at Jeremiah. “He needs you. I hope you’ll be able to help him.”

Ezekiel frowned. “I was hoping you would join us in the conversation…”

“I will. I will,” she responded quickly. Rebecca then held up the phone. “I need to take a call, but I’ll be back soon.”

Her father nodded and shut the door.

“Mr. President,” Ezekiel said as he approached his son-in-law.

They shook hands and briefly embraced.

“Dad, we have citizens of this country and our own family dying, not to mention visits from angels and spirits in the Oval Office. I think we can drop the formalities for tonight.” He pointed to the sofa against the wall. “You’ve had a long night. Take a load off.” Jeremiah walked over to the bar and fixed himself a glass of Ginger Ale. “Can I get you something?”

Ezekiel was pulling some things out of his briefcase. “Just a bottled water will be fine, son. Thanks.”

They were trying to at least give this night a sense of normalcy; but the moment
Jeremiah sat down next to Ezekiel and saw he was holding a Bible at three-fifteen in the morning, the next question was obvious.

“Dad, tell me: Is my son going to die?”

Ezekiel sighed. He had never felt as old and useless as he did right now. The answers
the country was looking for from their Commander-In-Chief seemed minute to what was at the forefront of his mind. “Jeremiah, it’s not as easy as saying---”

“Don’t try and sugarcoat this for me,” Jeremiah interrupted, slapping his hands down
on his knees. He looked down, tired and frustrated by all the uncertainty. “You have always been straight with me. Don’t stop now.”

“Your son is only a part of the problem here,” Ezekiel tried to explain. “I need you to tell me everything beginning with the reports you’ve gotten about Iraq and Israel.”

“You know most of it,” Jeremiah said with a shrug, still looking down. “The generals in Iraq were convinced the government there was getting in a better position to take over. We were beginning our strategy of withdrawal, dad. Then we got the report that a terrorist cell with ties to Nigeria had set up base in Israel.” He took a swallow of his Ginger Ale.

Ezekiel began flipping through his Bible. His son-in-law went on to tell him that he
sent his Secretary of State to Israel to meet with the officials to gather intelligence about the reports. “The response from Israel was not what we expected,” Jeremiah was saying. “They basically told us that they would handle it themselves and didn’t need our help.”

Israel was an ally of the United States, but the President was concerned that something was going on with their relationship. His fears were confirmed when his representatives from the United Nations sent him a cryptic message begging for a meeting.

The timing couldn’t have been more curious, since just a day before that Jeremiah was
approached at an event promoting education in New York City by someone he hadn’t seen or heard from in quite some time: Evelina. She looked amazing in a black pinstripe pants suit, and her hair was pinned up on her head, bringing obvious attention to her eyes and glowing complexion.

“Good afternoon, Mr. President,” she greeted with an outstretched hand.

Jeremiah was stunned to see her, but it was a pleasant surprise in many ways. He
motioned to his security chief to move back the press. “Evelina, it’s great to see you.”

“You’ve come a long way from working at the local copy shop,” she told him. “You
listened. You’ve begun the journey to fulfill your destiny.”

The room was slowly emptying. Out of habit, Jeremiah was scanning the faces to see if
there was anyone any one left he had to be worried about seeing them together.

Evelina was smiling.

“What,” he asked.

“I’m not a prostitute you have to be worried about being seen talking to or
photographed with,” she told him. “I’m a respected official, too.”

Now he was smiling. “I know you aren’t a prostitute. It’s just… Things have changed
since I last saw you.”

“You’re right,” she said coyly, “because the last time we saw each other you were
single and holding me in my bed.”

Jeremiah flinched as though she had slapped him.

“Don’t worry, Mr. President. I’m not going to embarrass you or make a scene, but I’m
on your schedule for a meeting tomorrow at the White House.”

“Really?” He was genuinely intrigued. “And what will we be discussing?”

She leaned forward, kissing him on the cheek and whispered in his ear. “Let's just say foreign
policy.”

The next day U. N. Ambassador Herschel Dickerson arrived at the White House for his
meeting with Evelina at his side. Jeremiah welcomed them into the oval office and in spite of the objection, he told his Chief of Staff that he could handle the meeting alone.

After inviting the two of them to sit, Jeremiah leaned against the front of his desk and asked them what this was about.

“Mr. President,” Herschel began, “I invited Evelina Morales here to this meeting
because she has been instrumental in assisting me in assessing what’s going on in Israel.”

Jeremiah was taken aback for a moment, mainly because he had rarely heard Evelina’s
last name spoken.

“What have you discovered, Ms. Morales,” he inquired, once again wondering to
himself how she could have any knowledge of what was going on across the globe.
Her answer both surprised and frightened him.

“I am here to warn you, Mr. President, about an impending terrorist attack.”

The world “terrorist” was enough for Jeremiah to straighten his stance.

“A terrorist attack,” he asked. Evelina nodded. “Where?”

“Here,” she answered matter-of-factly, digesting the way he was responding to the oral report. “My sources believe within 72 hours there will be an attack from the cell we have been tracking in Israel.”

For a moment, Jeremiah couldn’t focus. He found himself rubbing his bald heard,
processing the information. He turned to Herschel. “Please tell me she is exaggerating this,” he begged.

Herschel shook his head grimly, still dealing with the information himself. “The
intelligence seems to indicate the attack will come from the sky, but will originate from within Israel.”

“Have we reached out to our allies for some kind of information on the believed
terrorists?” Neither Herschel or Evelina spoke. “Well,” he probed, “have we?”

Herschel turned to Evelina. “With all due respect, Mr. President,” she said, “we’re still trying to decide whether Israel wants to help us.”

The pause that followed that declaration was so thick it almost took the President’s
breath away.

After several moments, he was able to speak. “Thank you for the intel, Herschel,” he
said, walking with him to the door. The two shook hands. “If you could wait outside for a moment, I would like to speak with Ms. Morales alone.”

“No problem, Mr. President. I’ll make sure to keep you informed.”

“Thank you, man,” Jeremiah said, and once the door was shut, he turned his attention
back to Evelina. “Okay, out with it. What is going on here?”

Evelina initially feigned ignorance. “I’m not really sure I know what you mean, Mr.
President.”

“Don’t give me that crap,” he snapped back, seeking the protection of the Oval Office
by retreating to behind his desk. “Who is telling you this stuff, and how did you get connect with my UN Ambassador?”

She didn’t answer him, just stared at him curiously, like he was an animal on display at the zoo.

“I’m serious, Evelina. How do you know this is going to happen?”

“I know, Mr. President,” she finally answered, leaning across his desk towards him,
“because I ordered the attack.”


Ready to enjoy the next chapter of BLESSED? Visit www.blessedbycawebb.com for sneak peek at what's next!

Darlene Collier: Facing The Pain To Find Redemption


by Cyrus Webb

I have known Darlene Collier for a number of years. She has been a close friend of my family since I can remember, and for years she talked to me and others about writing a book.

I didn't know alot about her life, and I honestly never asked what the book would be about. We talk alot on Conversations LIVE and even in the magazine about everyone having a story. I was just glad that she was going to be telling her own.

This finally came to past in late 2011 with the release of her memoir MARRIED TO SIN. Co-written with another friend of mine, Meredith C. McGee, the book gives an amazing account of Darlene's challenges, personal demons and the path to real happiness and redemption.

I read the book in less than two days and passed it on to my eighty-eight year old grandmother who read it in less than a week. It's not just a story of Darlene's metamorphosis in life, it is the story of the darkness we all have to go through in order to best appreciate the light.

Talking with her about the book evoked a rollercoaster of emotions. At some points she would smile and laugh. Other times she was choked up with tears. The end result is a conversation that is sure to not just inspire but motivate you along your own path.


Darlene first of all congratulations to you and the accomplishment of releasing your book MARRIED TO SIN. What has it been like to finally let people know you are a published author?
Thank you, Cyrus. It's been really exciting to have the book available to the world. I honestly never would have thought I would have made it this far. The book was ten years in the making, and I'm glad it's finally here.

Well it is definitely powerful, to say the least, Darlene. It takes readers through the high points as well as the low points of life. Was there any hesitation as to what you were going to share?
I didn't have a choice whether I was going to do it or not. I had to do because there was so much happening in my life. I knew that if I could write a book to let people know what happened with me others could be helped.

Did you see the book as a form of your healing from the past?
It has definitely been a form of healing for me, allowing me to move on to something new. I can now be excited about life. The old is gone and the new Darlene is what's here today.

Darlene we learn in the book that you grew up during a time when the world was in a state of change. You share with us in the book that as a child you had to drink from "colored only" water fountains. Now that same country has a black President. What do you think about the history you have been able to see?
I never had time to think about hate. As for Obama, I never thought I would live to see the day when a black man would be in the White House. Now we have Obama. I'm proud of him and where we have come from.

Probably the part of the book that will be the most painful for many to read about will be the abuse you suffered at the hands of your own husband and what your children had to go through.
You're right. Many grow up hearing that what happens in the family stays in the family, but I don't think that's right. My husband told me that he didn't want people to know what was going on in our house, but I have to talk about it. I have to share it, because it's wrong to just sit back and let it happen. If someone can be helped then I will talk about... And as for what was going on with my kids...those were my kids. I wouldn't want anyone to have their kids being mistreated. We have to protect our children, not turn the other way. I tried to give my kids all that I could. I hate what happened to them, but I let them know that I am there for them.

Darlene, going back to your husband, there were signs there that he may not have been the right person for you. Did you think that love would be enough to make the wrong right?
You right, people told me that there was something not right about him and his family, but I didn't listen. I was hard-headed. Yes, I thought my love would be enough. I loved my husband, 'til death do us part. I was warned, but you don't know a person until you get married.

What do you hope people will learn through your story that they can use in their own lives?
I want everybody to know that I always kept faith in God. That was the only way I could have done it. Believe in your faith and don't give up. No matter how things might seem, it will be able to get you through the dark times and into the light.

Thank you, Darlene, for trusting me to share your story. Here wishing you continued success.
Thank you for letting me share it. The sad times helped to prepare me for the person I am today, and that is the person I want others to get to know through my story.

Darlene's book is available online at Amazon.com. Additional information can be found at www.mosedpress.com.

Renegade Foxxx: Standing In Confidence, Shining By Faith


by Cyrus Webb

He has the kind of public persona and presence that individuals in the music business would want: working with respected artist like Pitbull, Trina and Mya, having over 300k fans on Facebook, over 49k followers on Twitter and his views of his videos on Youtube are over 609k, however, those numbers do not define the man we have come to know as Renegade Foxxx. He's an individual that has learned the hard way the value of using each day to its benefit, not knowing what tomorrow might bring.

I think the listeners to my radio interview with him on Conversations LIVE were surprised when I asked him when did he know that it would be music that he would use to speak to the world. I have to admit I was a little taken aback as well. His answer was two words: "In prison."

Renegade knew before then that he had a gift but he admitted to being afraid of it and what it would mean initially. It wasn't until he was locked up that he knew that as someone who didn't like to work for anyone he was going to take control of his life and do what it took to be the boss.

The result has been the Renegade Foxxx brand. He is doing what he loves and what others are responding to. "It feels good to have people hear and love my music," he told me. But there is more to what he is doing today than just pursuing a career. "My plan is to reach alot of kids. I want to help alot of people. It's not about the money I make for himself. It's more about what I can do to help others."


What is it that makes him different than just another artist trying to be seen and heard. Renegade says that he was living his dream but there came a point when he had "an awakening" that "just opened up" his eyes and changed his whole style of music. With this new appreciation for what he could do, he told me that it was like learning the music business all over again.

The song that has been blazing the internet currently is "Drinkin' The Night Away", which is ironic because Renegade told the listeners and me on the radio that he doesn't drink. The tagline that sticks out from the song is his proclaiming "I am the man. I am the man." Because of this I asked him where does his confidence in his music and himself come from. The answer is something that I think all of us can glean something from: "When I came home from prison I went through alot of challenges including being homeless, but I believed in myself and what I can do. That is what I tell everyone. You can do it. Whatever you want to do, if you put your mind to it you can accomplish it. The biggest people that will hate on you will be those that you know. If you can get past them, you can teach the whole world to love you."

What an amazing lesson! For Renegade it goes deeper. I asked him what would he say to individuals who have a dream and are wondering if they are going to be success. He shared this: "We all have a gift. Keep your head up, have faith in yourself and don't care about what others think. The odds might be against you, but you can do it."

For more information about Renegade visit http://renegade.tv/.

Daved Beck: Living Life On Purpose


by Cyrus Webb

There comes a point in all of our lives when we discover that there is more to us than what we see in the mirror. For some it happens early in life while others spend years trying to appreciate their value and the meaning of their lives.

One individual who has not only embraced the possibilities of his life but is using his own experiences to help others is Daved Beck. He is an inspiration to me because he has dedicated himself to living with purpose. During an interview on Conversations LIVE Daved told me that it was as a child that he initially heard what he referred to as the "whisper" of his abilities but it took him some time and years to full embrace and claim it.

Not everything in Daved's life has been easy, but he doesn't use it as an excuse. Instead he draws on it to help others appreciate that they are not alone. "My greatest gift is my past," he says. "It's a great skill to be able to embrace compassion. I've been there too. We are each other's mirrors. We can relate to one another. When we speak up and ask for help and support, there is someone there who shows up."

Daved Beck using his skills as a motivational speaker, transformation coach and author to let those he meets know that you don't have to be perfect to be your best self. No matter what has happened, you can begin right now to be transformed.

I asked him what was it like to be able to help others in feeling better about themselves. "It's very humbling and exciting," he shared. He sees it as a personal accomplishment to be able to get others to say yes to unity and yes to love, transforming judgment. "There's nothing like the experience of someone living their dream and manifesting the vision of love," he adds.

So what does Daved want you to know about himself and how you can begin to live life on purpose? "We are (all) a continual work in progress," he answers. "The challenge comes in the worry and that's just fear."

Our challenge is to identify the fear and target it so we can move forward in living life the way it was intended to be lived. Thanks to examples like Daved Beck, we know that if we put forth the effect it will most certainly pay off.

For more information Daved Beck and his services visit www.evolutionthenextlevel.com.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marla Mase: Lyrical Messenger For The Masses


by Cyrus Webb

New York native Marla Mase is the epitome of a lyrical messenger.

For her the gift of arts began with writing first, writing poetry and becoming known as a spoken word artist. It was in 2008, however, that she made a monologue into a song. After that she was hooked and kept writing more and more.

When I had my first conversation with her over the phone it was to discuss a new song she had just recorded called Anna Rexia. The song, as the title would suggest, deals with eating disorders and the way we treat them and react to them.

This is a subject Marla knows all too well. Her daughter battled depression and an eating disorder for years, and it was her fight along with what she saw in society that spurred Marla to contribute in a way that only she could.

The song was debuted for the first time on the radio on Conversations LIVE on Wednesday, February 29th during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and the response was amazing. I asked Marla what it was like to have a daughter going through something so personal and not really being able to make her feel better about herself. "As a parent you feel like it is all on you," she told me. "I felt like I couldn't give her enough. You realize at some point its up to them. It's not about you. What I said or did couldn't help them. There were no magic words to make her better."

What Marla did do, however, was go back to what has always been there for her: words. They had helped her through challenging times before, and now with songs like Anna Rexia she knows it will be a great light for others to enjoy and look at the issue differently.

Like so many of us that have found a gift in the midst of a difficult time or bad circumstances, Marla says that after she was able to get past her fear it changed her life.

Marla's message to all of us who are dealing with challenges that seem out of our control or feelings of worthlessness is this: "You're great the way you are. You are enough."

Find out more about Marla Muse and her music by visiting www.marlamuse.com
you are enough.

Nile Rodgers: My Conversation With The Man Behind The Music


by Cyrus Webb

We all have been affected one way or another by music.

It might be a song that takes us back to a certain place in our lives or summons us the emotions of a certain experience. Either way we know what it's like to either hear a melody or sing the word and be transported to a plance where it seems as the it is a song just for us. Music legend Nile Rodgers knows what it's like to produce that kind of music, and to have individuals literally around the world singing, dancing and enjoying that moment in life.

That is what his life has been about: creating something that will not just affect his generation but generations to come. He chronicles his personal ups and downs and the music that was there through it all in the book LE FREAK.

The opportunity to interview Mr. Rodgers was one that was not just humbling but a real privilege as well. You see I had read the book a couple of months before the actual release thanks to Amazon's Vine Program, and after finishing it I knew that a conversation with him would not just be a big get for Conversations LIVE but an inspiring one for those who would hear it.

I was not disappointed on either front.

On the day of the interview he was not only pleasant but in some ways always almost as amazed at his success as others were. With everything on the table for discussion, it was an opportunity I will always remember.

NILE ON SUCCESS AND THE POWER OF MUSIC: "Success unfortunately or fortunately is judged by the amount of money you generate which translates into the amount of listeners you touch. Music is such a unique artform where the people don't have to have bought it to be influenced by it. People can just hear it wherever they go. More often than not it lives on forever. I've been able to create something that absolutely changed my life. It's amazing to have done something that has had an affect on other people. It is its own reward. I don't think of music that way when I'm creating it, but the fact that people digest it and it becomes a part of their reality is humbling."

Niles Rodgers has written and produced songs that defined that the lives of people all around the globe including “Le Freak,” “Good Times,” “We Are Family,” “Like a Virgin,” “Modern Love,” “I’m Coming Out,” “The Reflex,” “Rapper’s Delight" and others. He has transformed the way music is listened to and in the process sold millions of records along the way.

NILE ON FAMILY, DRUGS AND LESSONS LEARNED: "My father gave me his kindness, openmindedness and music. My father was an addict but a working musician. He was a kind, loving and open person. For me music was more than just a way out of a desperate lifestyle. My mother had me when she was 13 years old. My family was loving and caring, but drug addiction permeated my entire clan. My mom became an addict. Music gave me something I could focus on, something I could practice. Music is a solitary life until you are able to share with others. Music gave me a sense of achievement. I knew at a certain point in time that this was going to be my profession."


NILE ON PASSION: "For me the gift is really the pleasure that is in the doing of the music. I happened to be at the right place at the right time doing the right thing. I always loved making music, even when I wasn't getting paid. When I made it, the basic love of music was still there. I have produced and wrote massive hits. All of it came from my wanting to get up and go to work. My worth ethic is exactly the same for Madonna as an unknown. The one thing that is absolute is the love and passion for doing my job."

By using his gift he has brought the world to their feet and even through the dramatic revelations of the book we see him continuing even today. There are few people who have the charisma, skill and ability to do what Nile Rodgers has accomplished. What I learned through the conversation, though, is that it's not about being him. It's about making sure that you are being all that you can be in whatever you are doing.

Nile Rodgers' autobiography LE FREAK is available on Amazon.com and everywhere that books are sold. Find out more information about his current tour and events by visiting www.nilerodgers.com.

FEATURE: Singer/songwriter Nick Camillo


by Cyrus Webb

The parents of recording artist Nick Camillo would probably say that music has been an important aspect of his life since he was a kid dancing on the table and singing to Disney songs. When I interviewed him on Conversations LIVE, however, he told me his real love of music began in either the seventh or eighth grade beginning with the guitar. Now it is what he calls "his favorite thing in the whole world".

I was introduced to Nick and his music through author Susan Violante, and once I heard him I was hooked. I'm not the only one. Because of the way he has chosen to share his gift people literally all over the world are able to discover his talent. I asked him if this was what he thought would happen. "It was always a dream of mine to have people all over the world listen to my music," he told me "I've been making and recording music for the past 6 or 7 years. It's just been since I released this album that people even knew about my music. I never really expected anyone to hear it."

It has always been my belief that part of what makes music "good" is its ability to resonate with the one hearing it. I asked Nick what it felt like to hear someone say that a song spoke to them. "It's really an incredible feeling," he confessed. "I think the best way I have come up with to explain it is that music is a creative experience for the person writing it and the person listening to it. When you listen to a song you are attaching those melodies and lyrics to your own experiences and your own life. It can be just as creatively representative of the listener as it is to the artist. I think it's amazing that people out there are enjoying it as much as I enjoy making it."

To ensure that the largest audience possible can discover and appreciate his work, Nick Camillo decided to give it away free on the internet,only asking those who downloaded it to share it with someone else who might enjoy it, too. "I've always been a huge fan of the internet," he told me. There have even been those who after downloading the album for free still purchase it as well "People are willing to go above and beyond to help get the word out," he adds. And that in itself is a testament to what a gift his skills are.

Find out more about Nick Camillo and download your copy of Ad Infinitum today at www.nickcamillo.com.

Sonia Fuentes: Why The Time To Act Is Now


by Cyrus Webb

Over the past decade I have been privileged to interview people of all walks of life but Sonia Fuentes is definitely in a class all of her own.

She is known by many as the Co-Founder of NOW (the National Organization for Women) and an advocate for human rights and equality all over the world. There are so many layers to the life she has lived, and when she joined me on Conversations LIVE earlier this year I wanted to talk about as much of it as I possibly could.

"I feel very fortunate at this age to have the rich and fulfilling life that I do," Ms. Fuentes told me. "I am grateful for every day that I have."

That gratefulness began many years ago when she came to the United States in 1934 to escape the evil that was going on in Germany due to the Holocaust. "It certainly shaped my life completely," she told me. "My family had been in Germany for over twenty years and had to flee for their lives. They were Jews. That had an effect on everything since."

The actions of Sonia's parents made a deep impression on her. "They are an integral part of my life," she says. That is why she wanted to preserve their lives through her memoir (Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You). Over the years she has not only been able to chronicle her own journey but has gotten to be known as a respected speaker and advocate who has dedicated her life to fighting for equality.

I asked her during the interview if she was surprised that all these years later we were still having the same fights and struggles when it comes to inequality. "It doesn't surprise me at all," she told me. "I think it is a fight that will go on forever. As soon as anyone or any group is different the majority will be fearful and treat them differently. Hopefully it will decrease and get better. That is why we have to be vigilant."

That vigilance is why Sonia believes we all have to be aware and not afraid to speak up and act if necessary. She recounted while riding through the states when she was younger and seeing racism and segregation firsthand. It had a "terrible, striking effect" on her. Her determination to do something about it in her life has made her an inspiration for so many to show what is possible.

This has been especially true when it comes to energizing and empowering women. "One of the pleasures I have had in my life is that I am in touch with young women," she says. "It is gratifying to see them carry on the fight. I enjoy that a great deal."

When I asked her if she thought that fear played a large role in why some don't do more or get involved, Ms. Fuentes shared this: "I think that most people are busy making a living for a family. They don't have the luxury of fighting for causes."

There are many things that I thought we could learn from Sonia Fuentes and how she has been able to harness her own power and project in a way that has benefited so many. The way she looks at her influence,however, reflects the true motive of why she does what she does. "My life evolved," she explained. "I never had a plan. In high school I saw the world and wondered how I could have an effect. If you join with like-minded people there is much that you will be able to accomplish. Change is possible. Things are possible. We don't have to let the status quo be the way that things continue."

Her encouragement for all of us is this: "First of all get all of the education that you need for whatever you will want to do in the future. It stays with you forever. Keep your eyes open. You start from where you are. If you see something that you believe is an injustice, stop right there. See what you can do, who you can join with to do something towards that piece of injustice. That will lead to other things."

Stay in contact with Sonia Fuentes on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sheyndl. You can order a copy of her book on Amazon.com by visiting http://tinyurl.com/soniafuentesbook

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Patricia Monaghan: Moving The World Through Meditation


by Cyrus Webb

Over the years I have heard about the benefits of meditation, but never thought it was something that I would personally begin doing myself. To be honest it all seemed so complicated, and I didn't see how I would be able to use it in a way that could help me when I really didn't even understand it.

That changed, however, when I read MEDIATION: The Complete Guide by Patricia Monaghan and Eleanor Viereck. It put meditation in a context where I could see that there was more than just one way to go after the focus that meditation has to offer, and that allowed me to find a course that worked best for me.

I had the opportunity to talk with Patricia about the book on Conversations LIVE, and it was a really enlightening discussion. "The life of an author is really very isolated," she told me. "It thrills my heart when I know it is making a difference." As we discussed the process of writing the book and doing the research and then being able to share it with readers in various forms, she mirrored a sentiment that I have always felt to be true. "We all feel as though we have something to tell the world. Through the internet there is much more availability. People are finding themselves through self-expression."

Patricia went on to talk about how essentially we all do bring something special to the world. It's our special gift, she explained. We are expressing that particular divine gift to the world in the forms that we know how. When I mentioned the book and how meditation can be confusing to some she agreed that the word meditation is used so loosely. It essentially means to be grounded and centered, she told me, but we know that most of the world is not that way. Her message that she wants readers to get from the book is this: meditation is what centers you in the moment. That is what we should be striving for.

MEDITATION: The Complete Guide begins by helping us to understand what mediation isn't. That opens up the door for us to get a clear understanding about what it means to meditate and how we get the most from it. Patricia also helped me to appreciate the gift of the present with this reminder: "The breath I breathe right now is the only breath I have," she said. "We can't have the breath of tomorrow now or go back and get the breath from yesterday. It's all about right now."

The book takes you through various forms of meditation from all around the world, and allow you to see how you can find what might work best for you. Patricia reiterated to me and the listeners that the important thing is not to be so focused on trying to do it perfectly. We should just make a point of doing it! "Being more centered will enhance your performance," Patricia told us. No matter why you come to meditation, however, you will are sure to become less invested in the momentary aspect and more in tune with the spirit of it.

I have found this to be true in my own life. Since 2011 I have been incorporating meditation in my daily life. Will the method I use work for you? Well, the only way to know is to try! You can find out more about Patricia and her other work by visiting www.patricia-monaghan.com. The book MEDITATION: The Complete Guide is available wherever books are sold or online through Amazon.com.

Alex Bledsoe: Using Literary Skills To Walk Into His Destiny


by Cyrus Webb

Over the past eight years I have interviewed over a thousand authors, each with their own ability to tell a story that they believe in and hope readers will enjoy. One such individual who delivers time and again is Alex Bledsoe.

He is able to harness the talent he has and deliver what is nothing short of a work of literary art that will keep you flipping the pages, enthralled with the characters and attempting to see where he will take us next. In this conversation he talks with readers about the gift, why it is so important to be passionate about what you do and what you can expect next from him.


Alex, thank you for taking out the time to share with our readers. For those who don't know, I first interviewed you on Conversations LIVE in 2011 while you were promoting your book THE HUM AND THE SHIVER. I'm curious. When did you realize that writing was going to be the avenue that you were going to speak to the world?


You know, I really never thought of doing anything else.  My mom likes to take credit for it, since she says when I was a toddler, she'd drop whatever she was doing and read to me if I asked.  The earliest thing I recall writing was turning a Batman comic book into a prose story on my dad's old manual typewriter, the one he used to type up the minutes of the church session meetings.  I typed all the way to the edges of the page, and got in trouble for wasting so much ribbon.  And except for a brief flirtation with filmmaking in college, I never seriously strayed from the path.  I've worked a lot of jobs, but I knew writing was my career.

Looking back over your career so far and the way you have been received by avid readers and even your peers, has it changed your idea of what success is as a writer?

I think every unpublished writer considers publication to be the threshold of "success," and I was no different.  I mean, I was 44 when my first book came out, so I'd anticipated that moment for a LONG TIME.  And it was wonderful: getting the big box of books from the publisher, getting the first reviews, getting those first fan e-mails from people I didn't know.  Especially since my first book was kind of a genre hybrid, I worried that people wouldn't "get" it.  Finding out they did was great.

But I had an epiphany with my second Eddie LaCrosse book, Burn Me Deadly.  As I was reading the galley pages, I realized that the book in front of me was exactly the book I had in my head.  It's wasn't about "good" or "bad," that's for others to decide; it was the realization that I'd done exactly what I set out to do.  That hasn't happened since, but if I had to define the feeling of "success," that would be it.

I am always fascinated by individuals who are able to do something they love and are able to entertain as well as get people to think a little bit along the way. Do you see that as one of the by-products of the skill you have in your craft?

Ah, that way lie the dangerous shoals of pretentiousness.  My only job is to tell a story, and to use my skill and experience to tell it well.  The goal is to be honest to the story, and the characters.  For example, In my novels Blood Groove and The Girls with Games of Blood, my vampires are not romantic, not endearing, and definitely not safe to be around.  They are pure nihilists, divorced entirely from human morality. So the story about them does not embrace that morality, either.  And I've caught some flack, because readers have been unprepared for that.  But it's true to the characters and their story.

Conversely, The Hum and the Shiver is about a smart, tough girl deciding that she'll accept the responsibility she's fled all her life, but only on her own terms.  Her morality is complex and subtle; I think that's why the character has gotten such a positive response.  And her story reflects that.

So if these stories do make people think (and it's really cool if they do), it's because I stayed out of the way of something fundamental and didn't screw it up.

Alex one of the ways you and I have been able to stay in contact since our time on the radio has been through social media, sites like Facebook. How has that helped you to interact with your fans as well as keep them abreast of what's next for them?

First, as both a writer and a fan, the idea that I can get a message from a reader, or easily send a message to someone whose work I admire, is so staggeringly different from the world of literature that I grew up with, it might as well be science fiction.  And to see comments on one of my Facebook posts from, say, both a longtime literary hero and an old friend from college, still makes me smile. 

Second, you can't be a contemporary writer without at some level embracing social media. I try to have reasonable goals (one Tweet update a day, one new blog post a week) so that I ensure I have time to do the thing that makes people interested in me in the first place, which is write the books.  Plus I'm the stay-at-home parent to two small boys, and that's a whole different type of "social networking."

Can you give us an idea of your next project?

This summer my fourth Eddie LaCrosse novel, Wake of the Bloody Angel, comes out.  In 2013 there'll be a fifth Eddie novel, so far untitled, as well as the follow-up to The Hum and the Shiver, titled Wisp of a Thing.  And I have a few new things in the pipeline.

I have asked you this question before, but I think it bears repeating here for our readers: What advice do you have for anyone out there who has a passion for something and aren't sure they should pursue it?

If you can walk away from it, you probably should.  You may be missing your true passion by insisting on something you think you should be passionate about, but really aren't.  You need to feel about your passion the same way Robert Mitchum does about Jane Greer in Out of the Past:  when she confesses that she actually did shoot her boyfriend, steal the money, and lie to him, Mitchum replies, "Baby, I don't care."  I know that, whether I'd ever sold a novel or not, I'd still be writing.  You need that kind of blind desire, I think. 

On the specific field of writing, don't think of it as "art."  It's a job.  Plumbers don't get "plumber's block."  And just as a star athlete practices every day to be ready for the Big Game, you should write every day to be ready for the Big Idea.  You may have the most brilliant concept in literary history, but if you lack the technical skills to develop it, it's wasted on you.  And you only get those skills the same way you get any skills: with practice over time.

Thanks again for this opportunity, Alex. It's always a pleasure. Let our readers know how they can stay in contact with you.

My website is alexbledsoe.com, and from there you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and all the usual suspects.  And thanks to you, Cyrus, for having me back to chat.

Mary's Motivational Message: A Hero Lies Within You


As we transition into the month of March, I would like to remind all that the month of February is about LOVE and also, for HONORING those who have paved the way for so many. With that being said during the year of 2011, I received a letter from Alameda County and for those of you residing outside that State of California, Alameda County is in Northern, California. And it encompasses the cities of: Fremont, Newark, Milpitas, Hayward, Union City, San Leandro, Oakland, Pleasanton, Livermore and Alameda California. I was invited to be a speaker at their annual Black History Celebration.

Their desire was for me to share my literary journey as well as, details pertaining to my novel. I agreed to participate and spent most of the day prior to the event polishing up my speech. As instructed, I was going to discuss my journey as an author. And because I do this often, I was prepared.

The night prior to the event, I retired to bed feeling very confident because my only challenge was in preparing my dress attire. My game plan was set; I was ready.  If only life could be that simple!!!

I awoke the next morning feeling as though my speech was all wrong and that it needed to be revamped. Two hours before I was set to depart for the event, I was at my computer re-writing my speech. For whatever reason, I was moved to take the focus away from myself and place it on the audience.

I made several phone calls and shared my revised plan of action and most stated, "Mary, this is your moment, you were invited to share your journey," However, in the end, I knew that I was called to do something more profound. I'm going to share with you a small portion of what I presented.

"I always state that HERO'S are born every day and History exists all around us. I also hold the belief, that we all have been blessed with many talents, passions, desires, gifts, dreams…etc. And for those of you who may feel as though you're working your 9 to 5 faithfully but you're still sitting on a dream. You may be feeling as though, there is a book inside of you, a song within your heart, a instrument to be mastered, a painting to be painted, a promotion to be explored or perhaps a return to school; the only person stopping you is you. Yes, the barriers you hold and continue to maintain!!!

My gift to you is to simply encourage you to follow your dreams. It takes courage to follow your passion because to do so may cause a shift or a discomfort. However, if others can do it, so can you. Just put together a realistic plan of action (realistic for you) and go for it. Your gifts have already been bestowed,"

Be mindful of the following three points:

 - Hero's exist all around you, just look around and take notice: They're in our class rooms, in our hospitals, tutoring your children, preparing the food you eat and growing and harvesting our vegetables. Those who feed us spiritually and those who keep us informed on a micro and macro level. They're coaching our youth, teaching ZUMBA classes (smile), Agency's committed to ensuring that children and families are safe, Drug and alcohol counselors, Mental health workers and  those who have overcome adversity. They're school bus drivers, Mentors, Small and large business owners, those who work at homeless shelters, Author's, Poets and Writers. They're also Volunteers, Stay at home Moms and Dads, Grand-parents, Uncles, Aunts and the list can go on and on. Just stop for a moment and take a look around and if you look closely, you will see them.

 - Be mindful of the importance of displaying GRATITUDE and APPRECIATION to those who have stood and are standing on the front-line. As a Nation we may not understand the depth of their contribution but it is important that we recognize it.

 - Most importantly, be mindful that you are on a customized assignment to shift you to where you need to be. As you JOURNEY through LIFE, never forget the LEGACY that you are also leaving each and every day.  Yes, a HERO does exist within you.

Mary E. Gilder-Author of the award winning novel, A Misrepresentation of Myself, contact her at www.maryegilder.com, bookclubs.maryegilder@yahoo.com, and at meg@maryegilder.com

GIFTED BY DESIGN: Carolina Mejia


Designer: Carolina Mejia

Line:  .mcma.

Based out of what city/state: born in London, based in Cali Columbia

Year Est.: 2009

Specialty: womans wear & accessories 

When did you realize that your journey in life was leading you to fashion? It would be when I started creating things for my self and my friends would buy them.

As you have pursued your vision and your goals how have you stayed motivated and kept your eye on the prize? I have stayed motivated due to all the positive outcomes I have had. Also I have a social responsibility: .mcma. pays for the education of children from foundation dar esperanza Cali Colombia. 

Fashion is able to do different things for different people. When someone wears one of your pieces or designs what do you hope they feel? I hope they feel like themselves, highly confident.  

What advice would you give to anyone reading this that is looking for a word of advice about following their own dreams? 1. Take risks. 2. Have high self confidence. 3. Know thyself. 4. Do it with passion. 5. When you do things with love with no bad intentions behind you will get positive results. 

www.mcmalondon.com 

Bruce Tretter Presents... Kid-Friendly Grilled Cheese Sandwich


by Bruce Tretter

I don't know if you're aware of this but April is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich month. And now that I've known it, I sure have been celebrating by putting together all kinds of grilled cheese sandwiches with different twists and flavors that I'll sure post about periodically. But first, I'll show the quickest & easiest way to put together a grilled cheese sandwich that's entirely kid safe to make.

So, what makes this recipe so kid safe? First of all, it does NOT require the use of any kind of knife. It also doesn't require the use of a hot frying pan. Instead, the sandwich is warmed using a toaster and microwave oven.

Here's how it goes.

Needed

Grated Cheese (I'm using a Mexican cheese blend, but your favorite grated cheese will work fine. You can also substitute grated cheese with packaged sliced cheese.) 2 Pieces of Bread Microwave Oven Safe Plate Toaster Microwave Oven

1. Start by putting 2 bread slices in the toaster.

Toast the bread, and let the freshly toasted bread rest until it is cool enough to touch. Then put the toast on a plate.

2. Cover both pieces of toast with a generous layer of your favorite grated (or sliced) cheese.

Put the cheese covered toast in the microwave oven, and you're done!

To see a full picture demonstration of this recipe visit Bruce Tretter at www.gotta-eat.com. As the resident Chef for Conversations LIVE Radio show you can also catch Bruce Tretter and his Quick and Easy Cooking Tips at 8p.m. et (7p.m. ct/5p.m. pt) at www.blogtalkradio.com/conversationslive. He is also one of the co-host of the talk show The Conversation each Sunday beginning @ 6:30p.m. et (5:30p.m. ct/3:30p.m. pt) at www.blogtalkradio.com/theconversationshow.

Rankin Co. Celebates Ntl Reading Month With Three Special Events


Conversations Book Club President Cyrus Webb is pleased to announce that the reading group will be hosting three special literary events to celebrate National Reading Month in March 2012.
 
The first is a booksigning for author E. V. Adams on Saturday, March 17th at the Pearl Public Library (2416 Old Brandon Road * Pearl, MS) beginning at 1p.m. Adams' book DARLING NIKKI was just released in Feb. 2012 by Strebor Books and it will be her first event in Rankin County to introduce it.
 

Then on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 Conversations Book Club will welcome bestselling author Lucy Ferriss to Rankin County to discuss her new book THE LOST DAUGHTER. This will also take place at the Pearl Public Library from 12-1:30p.m. Copies of the book are available at bookstores now. Make sure you bring your copy by for the author to personalize.

Finally on Saturday, March 24, 2012 Conversations Book Club wil host a first of its kind book fair at the Pearl Public Library (2416 Old Brandon Road * Pearl, MS) beginning at 1p.m.

This event will feature eight of Mississippi's literary rising stars, each of whom will be discussing their journeys as writers, signing their books and meeting the public. "This is an opportunity for the state of Mississippi to not only support our own but meet new authors as well," says Webb, 36. He has hosted over 100 booksignings in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee, each with the purpose of getting authors noticed and letting the readers know about books they may not have heard of. Webb adds: "Conversations Book Club is excited to bring this group of authors together for the first time, and I know those who attend the book fair will be glad they met them as well."

The featured authors for the book fair are Darlene Collier (Married To Sin), Jerome Cooper (A Dual Blessing: Body and Success), Dr. Vershern Edwards (I Don't Want Okra), Joseph Henderson ( I Don't Want To Die All Alone), Glenda L. Hunter (An Unspeakable Secret, Mommy Twinkle Eyes and Worthwhile? Who Me? Yes, You!), Dr. Greg Little (Rise Above), Jennifer Luckett (Caught In The Middle) and Jason Lee Usry (Markside).

Admission to three of these special events is free, however, each author will have copies of their books available for purchasing. For more information contact Cyrus Webb at cawebb4@juno.com or 601.896.5616. You can also visit
www.conversationsbookclub.com.