Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cooper's Pack: Using Books (and Toys) To See The World

by Cyrus Webb

As soon as I heard about Cooper's Pack, I knew this would be something great for my nephew Atavion.

He, like me, loves books. And if there is something that he loves almost as much it is a good toy. With Cooper's Pack he is able to get both and so much more.

Cooper's Pack is not only a great way to get your child or young person in your neighborhood reading, but it also teaches them about places in the world and does it in a fun way. Led by Cooper, you are able to tag along with him and his friends, going on an adventure that is sure to have you smiling and entertained from beginning to end.

Cooper's Pack includes children's travel guides, plush toys, travel apps, games, and education. Cooper has published 4 books including New York City, London, Seattle, and Alaska.

The Cooper’s Pack children’s travel guide series follows the journey of the main character Cooper, an adventurous dog, through a world city with a local friend, a member of his “pack”. The books also include an interactive education and activity section and hidden secrets called “buried bones”.

The "buried bones" are located in both the print version of the books and the interactive iPad apps, featuring over 100 buried bones.
Looking to take a trip without leaving your home? Then you need to add Cooper's Pack to your "Must Have" now! Visit to get started with the fun today.

FROM ME TO YOU: Loving The Skin You're In

There's nothing like being made to feel as though you don't belong.

It can come from your family or friends or even from others you may come in contact with in passing. The worst thing, though, is when you start to believe that you are not alright as you are.

Summer is here, and I know some will feel the pressure to try and conform to what you believe others will want you to look like and even do just because the season has changed. What I would suggest, however, is that you think about how you can best be the person YOU want to be.

The truth is that no matter how much you exercise, tan, dress in stylish clothes or give yourself to others you will never feel right with yourself until you feel right about yourself. Seeing the real you is not about the image reflected back at you in a mirror. It is the person you see and who you are on the inside. This is the person that should be protected and loved, in spite of what others might think or say.

I call this issue "Inspiration Through Education", because I really believe that once you realize who you are it will lead you to treat yourself better. Your being inspired about life should lead you to see yourself as a masterpiece created for a purpose. Don't ever doubt that your being here in the skin that you are in is for a reason. Your very existence is for a reason, and the way you treat the life you have been given shows how much you appreciate it.

Sheri Fink is someone who is not only comfortable in her skin, but she is helping others through the stories she tells to feel the same way. That is why she is the perfect individual to grace the cover of this issue. You will also find two special articles "Suffer The Children: Saving Our Youth" and "Teri Broadstreet: Listening When Children Cry": both of them will help you understand the role you have to play in not only your life but that of others as well.

I want for you what I also want for myself: to live a life that reflects true appreciation for the ability to make a difference. We can all do this, but it has to begin with a choice.

How are you showing appreciation for the skin you're in? I want to hear from you! Email me at with your thoughts or post them on this article at Working together we can make a difference.

Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine

Mary's Motivational Message: Celebrating Father's Day Every Day

The month of June is a beautiful month because it is during this month we set aside time to honor DAD.   
I do believe that with fatherhood comes an opportunity to be exposed to millions of valuable life lessons, life challenges and teachings that provide insight. I would like to set aside a moment to share a few examples that have inspired me throughout the years.
Example 1: The reality of Dads and who they are:
So often we hear and read about the men who are not being good providers or good role models for their children and families. We have all heard the reports of those men who have walked away from their families and have just detached from their responsibilities. Well, trust me when I state that the painting is not a true reflection of the entire portraits depth.  The reality is that those Dad’s who do step up outweigh those who don’t. The majority of fathers are proudly standing on the frontline each and every day for their families, while being the constant protector.

-          They are working extremely hard to ensure that shelter is provided and warm food is on the table.
-          They are inspiring their daughters, encouraging their sons while being emotionally supportive of their wife or significant other.
-          So many of you beautiful DADS make various sacrifices so that your families will have what it is they need to thrive.

My mom once shared with me how my maternal grandfather, who was a proud City Employee,  so often to prolong the purchasing of new work boots, would wrap his torn work boots with duck tap because he felt that the money would be better utilized within the family home.

-          So many Dads are the constant protector. Many times when we think they’re reading the news paper or guarding the remote control, numerous DADS are actually thinking about, “is my wife ok, our my children alright, will the bills be paid this month, are there enough groceries in the cupboards, is everyone ok, am I doing all that I need to do. Am I being the husband and provider GOD has ordered me to be.
-          Not the minority but the majority of men love, cherish and adore their children beyond what we could ever imagine.
Example 2: Pertains to never giving up on your relationship with your children:
Two years ago, a dad was sharing with me, his frustration with his daughter.  Years prior there had been words pertaining to him being absent from her life during her adolescent years. And as a result, they had not spoken in some time. Whatever advice or suggestions I provided, he remained hopeless and bitter. How many of you DADS are filling a void because there is a rift with your child? How many know a DAD who is facing various challenges with their child and is consumed with guilt?  Well, I’m here to say that:
-          It’s never too late to transform your relationship with your child
-          There are some things you can give up on but never give up on cultivating a positive relationship with your child
-          God has the power  with blink of an eye lid to  bring about a healing and deeper understanding
-          Fight for renewal in your relationship with your child and remember that through GOD all things are possible
Example 3: Pertains to Having No Regrets:
For many of us Fathers Day opens up wounds that are trying so desperately to heal. Many of you like myself, had to say good-by to our DAD much too soon. At least you feel that it was too soon. Two years ago my father went in for an outpatient surgery and passed away on the operating table. We had shared a conversation the day before laughing, sharing stories; just having a great time. His last words to me were, “sweetie, Daddy will talk to you tomorrow” but that opportunity never came. I find it difficult searching for father’s day cards and not purchasing one for my dad. I miss my dad so much. I’m so thrilled that whatever we needed to address we did. He knew how I felt and I knew his heart as it pertained to me.
The message to you this Fathers Day morning is this:
 Life is so very short and because we are only here for moment, you don’t have a life time to re event your child and children you don’t have a life time to re invent your DAD. All you have is this moment. Enjoy your DAD, love your DAD, and cherish your DAD.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
When was the last time you said Dad I love you, Dad I appreciate you or thank you Dad just because. Well, no better time than today, to get some pep in your step and spoil your daddy.  And as you journey towards Father’s Day, spread the love around, as you are out and about extend a happy Father’s Day to the various Dads that you come into contact with.
And to all of you Dads out there standing on the front line 24/7 for your families, we see you, we honor you, we love you and we want you to know, that even though we set aside this day to treat you like a king and shower you with love, within our hearts we know and acknowledge that Father’s Day is actually every day.
*Mary E. Gilder is the author of the award winning novel, “A Misrepresentation of Myself.” Mary can be contacted at or Also, visit her website at:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

The Skinny On Bullying

by Cyrus Webb

Bullying is one of those things that has really evolved with time. It used to be just something you would find walking down the halls of school or egging on in the classroom.

Now thanks to technology it can be transferred their nasty email messages, pictures and posts over the internet and social networking sites.

When I was thinking abut bullying and how I wanted to address it in this issue of the magazine I first thought of all of the books I have had a chance to read that address the topic in ways that make the points about it stand out. At the top of that list for young readers was THE SKINNY ON BULLYING: The Legend of Gretchen my Mike Cassidy.

Mike appeared on Conversations LIVE in late  2010 to discuss the premise of the book, and I knew just by listening to him and reading it myself that it was going to make a difference.

The premise of the story is simple: Two young people, Beth and Billy, find themselves going from being liked in elementary school to being harassed in middle school! This is something different for them to experience, and it only seems to get worse after a new student named Gretchen enters the picture, and with her comes a litany of rumors about who she is what they have to fear from her.

This is a great book that not only identifies the various forms that bullying can come in but what we can do to turn a supposed enemy into a friend.

Here is my review of THE SKINNY ON BULLYING from

"At a time when the word "bully" has been front and center on the national stage once again, author Mike Cassidy offers the world a useful tool in "The Skinny On Bullying." I have praised "The Skinny On" series in the past for providing great information in a clear, concise way, and this time it has done it by taking us into a situation where bullying is not just demonstrated but addressed in a way that we can all apply.

"I appreciate the thought that goes into the story of "Gretchen", the fictional bully in the story; and I think there is much to learn about even the way we handle bullies. Cassidy points out that spreading rumors about a person can be seen as a form of bullying as any action that is directly taken against an individual.

"Young people and adults will find something in this book that they can take away and apply in their daily lives. We would all do well to remember that whether online or offline, our actions have consequences, and there is much more that unites us than divides us so that should be the focus of our energy."

Get your copy of THE SKINNY ON BULLYING from Find out more information about Mike Cassidy by visiting or following him on Twitter at


by Cyrus Webb

Whether you have children or not, I think we all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to help those who are the next generation. It's easy for us to talk about those who are not living up to their potential, but what are we doing to even help them realize what that potential is?

During a recent conversation via Facebook with Tanisha Rankins, President of Customer Service & Efficiency Solutions (C.S.E.S.) and author Omegia Keeys I realized that this was a topic I wanted to cover in a larger way: both on the radio and in the magazine. I invited Tanisha on the show to share her thoughts, and these are the three highlights of that conversation:

"I was a part of a forum recently where everyone was talking about the problems in the community," Tanisha says, "but no one was willing to take the lead in providing a solution." This led her to a form of self-evaluation where she found herself asking what she could to herself to not only identify what might be wrong but take steps to offer a solution.

What typically gets more attention are the negative things. What can we do to change the public perception that all young people are on the wrong track? "We can celebrate it (the good) and speak about it," says Tanisha. "In customer service you always hear about the negative. You have to look for the opportunity to celebrate those who are doing good." By doing this, however, she doesn't believe we should just ignore those who might not be doing their best. Tanisha says we have to work with them and do our part to pull out the good that they might not even realize is inside of them.

We live in a society where people want things quickly, but the change we want to see in our youth might take some time. "People want a quick fix," says Tanisha. "They are looking for the solution as quick as possible with as little work as possible." This is not always the way it works. Sometimes it is going to take time to cultivate the individual before you see the growth that is possible.

There is no easy answer as to how can consistently bring out the best in young people today, but by following the model of individuals like Tanisha and others, we can begin to see a difference in our area and use that to spread abroad.

Have your own ideas as to how to save our youth? We want to hear from you! Email me at or post on this article at You can also stay in contact with Tanisha Rankins at

Teri Broadstreet: Listening When Children Cry

by Cyrus Webb

When we are faced with difficulties in life we have the choice of either letting it define us or learning how to use the experience in making the future better. Teri Broadstreet has chosen to do the latter, and it is paying off in a major way.

I had the opportunity to speak with Teri recently on Conversations LIVE, and I knew after the discussion that she was someone who had to be featured in this issue. 

The founder of the organization When Children Cry, she has taken her experiences as a survivor of abuse and neglect and used it to create a network that provides advocacy, education and support to others. "My Quest is to give each disturbed and wounded child the chance to become the best they can be," she says. And that is exactly what When Children Cry is doing.

So many of us know what needs to be done, but either feel it is not within our power to do it or have become apathetic to the issue, believing that it doesn't affect us. Teri knows differently. She recognizes that any child that is being abuse or neglected will have an affect on the rest of society and the world. Because of this, she is using online resources like Facebook and Twitter among other avenues to bring people together and mobilize them to make a difference wherever they might be.

On her Facebook page she writes this: "Our mission is to help advance unlimited educational resources by Advocating Abuse/Neglect Protection & Prevention of our most vulnerable, helping the Exploited and Missing by providing resources - bring the missing home, helping to eradicate Human Trafficking, helping the damaged & broken children/people living with disabilities, developmental, and mental health anomalies, and the challenges of their families. We are rallying everyone across the globe: our communities, government, labor forces, businesses, faith groups, non-profits, entertainers, musicians, and just ordinary citizens. They cannot do this for themselves. We must help our children!"

Teri Broadstreet is showing all of us what is possible in our lives. We can overcome the adversity of our past and move forward, making sure that what we experienced doesn't happen to others. No matter what has plagued us we can all move from being victim to survivors together, and make a difference no matter where we are.

For more information about the work that Teri is doing visit You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at

Conversations Salutes V. C. Andrews

by Cyrus Webb

Anyone who has known me over the past 20 years is quite familiar with my fascination with V. C. Andrews.

I was in junior high school when I was first introduced to her novel FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, and since that time I have been a fan of the dark Gothic tales that seems to always reveal more of myself to me through each book. V. C. Andrews was truly ahead of her time in so many respects: discussing sensitive and even taboo issues like incest, abortion and the very challenges that plague all families that are sometimes swept under the rug. What kept me coming back to her was not just the ability to tell a great story. She was also able to get you into the characters, feeling and experiencing everything they did along the journey.

June 6th of this year she would have been eighty-nine years old. At the time of her death in 1986, V. C. Andrews had over twenty four-million books in print and her estate was worth more than eight million dollars. But her story and that of her characters didn't end there. Even death could not stop her impact on the reading community, as it continues to this very day. Already in 2012 there has been the release of INTO THE DARKNESS, another book that keeps not only the franchise alive but the memory of the woman who started it all.

Perhaps her writing career was cut short, but her impact on the literary world will never die. Therefore, from now until the time her novels stop making its readers gasp, laugh, and/or cry, she will always remain unforgettable in the eyes of her fans.

After her passing another bestselling author has been responsible for crafting tales inspired by V. C. Andrews' genius. His name is Andrew Neiderman, the name best known to movie-goers as the author of the book that inspired the dark tale THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE.

By the writing of this article, I have interviewed this incredible author almost a half dozen times for Conversations LIVE Radio, and each time it is like catching up with an old friend. He has always been kind, generous with his time as well as humbled by all that he has accomplished. In all Neiderman has published over 100 books. His is a remarkable career, showing his staying power in an industry that has changed dramatically since he first entered the literary scene.

I want to share a part of my most recent conversation with Neiderman here. We talk about his own career and how he came to be the one to carry on the V. C. Andrews franchise. Enjoy!

Andrew, thank you for taking out the time to talk again with Conversations. You have provided a literary voice for years to different generations through your books. What do you feel accounts for your longevity and your appeal with readers?
I have always believed that the key to a good reader is the development of characters. Characters drive your stories. In my case I always begin with a what if question. For example, in NIGHT HOWL, I asked the question what if scientists were transplanting human brain cells into animals to see if they could improved intelligence and they did so with a German shepherd and that German shepherd got free and into population? The What if is there but now we need a character to drive the story and in this case, I chose a naturalist, a woodsman who is hired to track the dog and discovers quickly that it is a changed animal. He's angry science has created this creature, but he is likewise intrigued so he continues the pursuit. Stories, character and some edge or angle that will interest the reader is why I think my stories work well.

If you were asked, how would you define your style?
I began as a poet first so I always think about metaphor and love to write in a style that enables the reader to visualize, even if it is about feelings and thoughts. I am keen on the story moving along so I try to keep everything in the novel somehow related or key to the characters and the plot... no drifting... I always spend time on people, characters so the reader can see, hear the speaker. Worse thing is to overwrite.

One of the things that stands out to me about your career is how you have been able to appeal not just to those who read your books, but also those who watch your stories that are adapted into television movies and features films. Do you think it is important to your success to use every medium at your disposal?
In my particular case I taught film study for 20 years and I'm aware of the importance of visualization. My books lend themselves to other medium because of that and in today's competitive market, it is very good to have the opportunity to drive not only publication but sales with your variety of approaches. Nothing illustrates that as well as my novel, THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE. The movie opened thousands of readers to my books.

When did you know that it was going to be a writing career that gave you the satisfaction in life that you wanted?
I was actually telling stories in Kindergarten. I knew early on that writing was for me. I loved the written word and I have taken on every possible writing assignment to be involved with it. I have written speeches for candidates, advertising copy, historical information, one-act plays, poems and short stories. I published my first poem when I was in the 8th grade and never looked back. To me, writing is who I am and not what I do.

Was your family receptive of your decisions in the beginning? Tell us about the beginning stages of your writing career.
I had a very supportive family. I grew up with my maternal grandmother from Hungary living with us and she spent hours and hours telling me stories about the Old Country and gypsies and the like. I had an aunt who typed up all my written works for me and I had parents that were very encouraging. My father was a great storyteller as well. I attended Hunter college in the Bronx first and wrote for their literary magazine and then transferred to the State University of New York in Albany and became the editor of the literary magazine. While there, I established, with another student, an underground paper for poetry and short, short stories as well. I then went into teaching and published my first novel in 1971, SISTERS (Stein and Day, Pocketbooks, Inc) and I was off to a writing career that now has 86 published novels and books and one collection of one-act plays attributed to it, as well as two made screenplays.

I think we all have defining moments in our lives where we see that the path we are on is going to work or not. When did you see things lining up the way you wanted them to professionally?
My career began with SISTERS, but it wasn't until the publication of PIN that I knew I was headed for bigger things. PIN was a major best selling thriller for Pocketbooks and eventually a feature film. That began my pursuit with more ambition and vigor. It resulted in a multi-book contract and then eventually, another with Putnam-Berkley.

Has there been a time, Andrew, when you look at the other books that are coming out in your genre and feel the need to compete in order to stay relevant? How have you remained true to who you are as an author?
You don't compete in the sense of an athlete, but you keep up with what is selling and you study what it is that makes other authors and their works successful. You can't change who you are, but you grow and develop and hone your skill and talent along the way. A major author with whom I had lunch one day told me he was jealous of me because one of my novels had become a studio blockbuster... The Devil's Advocate, which cost 67 million to make. He had never a major budget movie, but he was making ten times what I was. Still, that shows how people envy the guy next door and sometimes lose the way doing so. Write true stories, only stories that you have a passion to write, and you'll succeed, for yourself at least.

I think most people over the past decade or so have really gotten to know you as the ghostwriter behind the legendary V. C. Andrews novels that were published after her death. How did that opportunity come about and were you concerned how it would affect the titles that came under your own name?
I had the same agent and editor at the time and stepped in when Virginia was unable to finish the novel she was doing. It is so different from my own style and stories that I had no worries about it disturbing what I was doing.

How did you prepare yourself for such a challenge as finishing work that had been read by so many and was so different from your own writing style?
I taught writing for 23 years and I was able to emulate another style because of that and my writing skills. I also made it a research paper in the sense that I studied and studied the other style. I enjoy all kinds of writing and love the challenge.

Looking at the phenomenon that is V. C. Andrews, what do you think is the attraction to her titles after all of these years?
Many, many writers have tried to imitate V.C. Andrews. They have not succeeded because there is a magic formula. V.C. Andrews captures the hearts of young people especially because the works address their needs, thoughts and fantasies. But the style and the stories are characterized by elements of so many genres it's difficult to copy. It's like trying to cook your grandmother's special stuffed cabbage. She had the same ingredients but mixed them in her own special way that no one else had or has and so it remains one of a kind. It's this mixture, this addressing real issues and problems and putting them in the V.C. Characters and settings that makes it lasting.

Since it was discovered that you were the writer that the family of V. C. Andrews was working closely with, what has been some of the reactions?
Most have been very positive and supportive because they want the stories to continue and love the style. There are a great many envious people who want you to fail. That comes with any endeavor, but for the most part, everyone is supportive.

Can you give our readers some advice when it comes to following their dreams and finding their path in life?
When I was a teacher, I directed school plays and after a particularly successful one, a student came up to me and asked me if she should be an actress. I said, "NO," and she nearly cried. "Why not?" she asked. "Because you asked the wrong question," I told her. "What is the right question?" she asked. "The right question," I said, "is Mr. Neiderman, I want to be an actress. What do I do next?" The point is so many people have talent but not the determination or the perseverance. You cannot reach your goals without it and that's why I often say, "It's 40 percent talent and 60 percent perseverance. Prepare for rejection and defeat but if it's in you to succeed, you will. Simple as that.

Thank you again for this unique opportunity, Andrew. How can our readers keep up with your activities that are coming up?
You are more than welcome, Cyrus. They can visit

TOUGH LOVE with Meg Collins

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if you stayed in a relationship that you left due to harboring resentments or due to cheating, violence, or lack of communication?

I recently watched a movie called, “Fireproof,” and this couple struggled due to lack of time for one another and their relationship. They had both given up, until the husband’s Father stepped in and said that to salvage his relationship and marriage; he went on a 40 day journey to do something different for his partner every single day. In this book that the Father had written to his Son, he continues to encourage him not to give up and to continue his pursuit of happiness in his marriage. He buys flowers, chocolates, makes her coffee before work, gets her cold medicine, calls to check on her at work; she noticed nothing because they had done nothing for one another for so long.

How do you get back something that you lost in life, folks? Do you let it go and move forward with your life? Are you holding onto the past so tightly that it feels like it is strangling your very being of existence? Do you think that your time is up with life and that God has forgotten about you and passed you by for someone more important? Letting go of our faults, errors, and mistakes is a challenge. Moving forward is crucial, as we delve into a new spiritual journey of existence and let go of those who hurt us or the ones we hold so dearly.

Some days this is a tough task for many people, including me, however, I must believe that God is there; omnipresent in all my trials. I must believe that He can hear me and that He has not forgotten about me and what I have gone through and been through in my life; what I am struggling to get out of in my barren existence some days. We always have gratitude for all things that come our way and as humans, we do make mistakes and fall, fail, falter, give up, lose hope, and then something happens; we are inspired by the Bible or a mere strangers words to our very soul.

Stuck in a rut is an option. We choose to be stuck. That couple chose to be stuck and they stayed together in the end, because of faith and perseverance. I am not just speaking about relationships; I am talking about your very life and your very happiness, right now, today. Are you happy? Make a list and review why you are unhappy and what is triggering your emotional instability. For most of us it may be just a few things. For others, it may seem a meaningless existence.

I am here to tell you that you DO have worth and that you DO have meaning in my life and the lives of others as well. Change your attitude and thought process to one that is positive; maybe you are not around positive people today. The people we tend to hang out with are the very people we can hence become in our lives. Choose you today; choose uniqueness, character, faith, and hold on, hold on for your very life. This life only happens one time for all of us; then we answer to what we have done on this earth.  Tell me, what have you done and are you ready to meet your Maker?

Meg Collins is a columnist, author, radio show host, editor and ghostwriter. You can contact her with your thoughts on this article at or follow her on Twitter at

Kid-Friendly Tuna Melt Tortilla: Quick & Easy

by Conversations' Resident Chef Bruce Tretter*

To make this quick & easy kid-friendly tortilla tuna melt, just add tuna salad and your favorite shredded cheese to a tortilla, and then warm the tortilla in the microwave oven for about 1 minute.

Preparation Time: 2-3 minutes

(for 1)

Tuna Salad
Favorite Shredded Cheese
Microwave Oven Safe Plate

1. Spread a generous layer of tuna salad down the middle of a tortilla placed on a microwave oven safe plate. Top the tuna salad with a handful of your favorite shredded cheese.

2. Fold and press the tortilla sides over the middle of the tortilla.

3. Put the plate in the middle of the microwave oven, and cook using your microwave oven 100% power or HIGH heat setting for 1 minute. NOTE: I used a 1200-watt microwave oven and cooked the tortilla shown here for 1 minute. Cooking time will vary depending on your microwave oven watt power.

4. After cooking, carefully remove the plate from the microwave oven by lifting the plate by the outer edge where it’s coolest. The tortilla is properly cooked when the cheese has melted.

*    Bruce Tretter is the founder of Gotta Eat, Can't Cook (, a place where individuals can learn their way around the kitchen quickly and easily. He is also the host of "Quick & Easy Cooking with Bruce Tretter" on Conversations LIVE ( , co-host of the weekly show The Conversation ( and a regular contributor to Conversations Magazine.

Tony Lindsay Presents... "Sterling Plumpp"

To refer to him as a Jazz or Blues poet would limit the scope of his pen; although, he is a Jazz and Blues poet.

To refer to him as a Black Arts Movement poet would restrict poignancy of his prose; although, he is a Black Arts Movement Poet. To say he is English professor would curtail the didactic verbiage he has used to mold the minds of young scribes for decades; although, he is Professor Emeritus from the University of Illinois. Perhaps, Poet in the Greek will do.

Sterling D. Plumpp is called a poet’s poet due to his use of vernacular, syntax, and word choice. A word, a line, a stanza, a poem of Plumpp’s will send a readers mind in various directions.  ‘XVI. Sixteen’ from Ornate With Smoke takes one on such a multi tenet journey.  

XVI. Sixteen
Worlds collide inside my axe
each time
I solo

I learn to speak
tenor on the page

I learn
other saxophone languages
even those from under foot
notes of Tranes
I did not yet ride

So I
come to you asking
if I can be a bird
house boy bumming
rides from your solos in
to kitchen
pots and pans some
body’s great grand
mother played when her sweet
daddy done
done her wrong

rides into yesterday
with two or three stops in tomorrow
or bumming through midnight today
with two or three stops into day
breaks a thousand years ago

Can I be a bird
house boy with a pen
to blow his years clear of
the leaves memory sheds in autumn

I play
cynanide rhythms
for hurricanes

I do
I do
I do
rag on line
I do
I do
I do rag time

Because I
con breaks

con breaks
con breaks
con breaks

I do
I do
I do
rag time

The dedication of Ornate with Smoke reads, “For Fred Anderson: improviser.” Anderson was a Jazz saxophonist who died in June 24th 2010. The work was published in ’97, Anderson got to appreciate the book and hear the notes Sterling Plumpp wrote for him.

Tony Lindsay is an award-winning author and adjunct professor at Chicago State University. His new book ONE DEAD DOCTOR is available now on He can be reached at or on Facebook at

Sheri Fink: Sharing Entertainment, Empowerment Through Storytelling

by Cyrus Webb

There is something about living your life on purpose that just completely changes the way you see yourself and your place in the world. When you are in alignment with where you are supposed to be and doing the work you were put here to do, it just seems as though everything happens the way it was intended to.

Don't believe that? Well, just ask children's book author Sheri Fink! In less than two years she has penned two bestselling books (The Little Rose and The Little Gnome) and has helped both children and adults see the world just a little bit differently. When i decided that I wanted to do something special in Conversations Magazine to inspire the younger generations, I knew that it had to include Sheri. Her stories of being comfortable with yourself and adapting to the world around you are just what we all need in order to make the most out of each and every day.

When I asked Sheri what it was like to have the success she has experienced over the past couple of years and to get the feedback that was coming in, her response was immediate: "It is amazing! I am so excited. I have the most amazing fans." She then added: "I am so grateful."

With both books it is obvious that the author wants to entertain the reader, but there are great lessons and messages tied into them as well. Sheri explained to me that the ideas "usually come from life experiences." And the pay-off for addressing those experiences has been great. Her readers can't seem to get enough. "It's one of my favorite parts," she says. "Just knowing that people are enjoying something that I am creating, and not just enjoying it but wanting more. It's such a joy." 

In fact, her readers can't seem to get enough! She relayed to me that she has had people emailing her about the latest book (The Little Gnome just released in late March 2012), wondering when the next one would be out!

So how did this all begin for Sheri? Her story is probably not too different from your own. "When I was little---around seven---I started writing my own books," she explained. "I was writing my stories, doing my own art. I really loved that. I was very creative. In my own world." However, like many of us, life happens and that which we love sometimes gets pushed to the back of my minds and our lives. "I lost touch with it for many years," she told me. "Then in my adult career I was going through a rough time and the story of the little rose came to me." Not yet at a place where she could entertain the notion of writing again, Sheri put it away.

Then in a strange twist of fate and the nudging of others who had heard about her idea for the book she had an epiphany. "Everyone thought that this is something that was possible for me," she said. It made her consider that maybe she really could do this thing that she had loved for so long. The rest, as they say, is children's book history!

For me what Sheri's story proves is that we all know what we are supposed to do. It's the doing that sometimes challenges us. Sometimes we just need the right people challenging us helps to help take the necessary steps along our journey. That, and listening to the voice that seeks to guide us each and every day.

I asked Sheri about that voice and what she has learned about the importance of listening to it. "That inner voice is everything," she says. "What I've learned is that it doesn't have to flow a certain way. As long as you are taking action that is all that matters."

Because she listens, it doesn't even seem like work for her. "I just have fun with it," Sheri told me. "I try and get in a good place---a place of joy---and it becomes so much easier. This touches me on such a deep level. It's almost like the stories are being told to me, and I'm just following along and asking what's going to happen next."

She is also in-tuned with her audience.  "I'm very in touch with my inner child. I can see the world pretty clearly. When I go into a room of kids, I am like a bigger version of them. I can see the beauty in them in a way that they haven't seen because they haven't had it reflected back at them."

At the end of the day Sheri wants everything that she does under her brand The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink to inspire and delight children while planing the seeds of self esteem in them. She wants them to have fun but also discover something unexpected about themselves.

And her advice for those who are looking to share their own stories? "Write completely from the heart," she says. "Don't make it difficult. Don't over-think it. Just enjoy the process."

Find out more about Sheri Fink and her amazing world at

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Francine Locke: Finding "Justice" On Her God-Directed Journey

by Cyrus Webb

Some things just seem to happen, but do they really? I know for me there have been instances where it seems as though things were working out so well that it was just meant to me. I've since come to realize that this is what happens when you are able to realize your own limitations and give yourself over to something larger than yourself.

Actress Francine Locke has also found this to be true. As someone who had over a decade of experience in the entertainment industry she has been involved in commercials, industrial films and modeling. Just a couple of months ago, however, she was filming a new project called A Cry For Justice (formerly Georgia Justice) that is slated for release later this year. Her own personal journey has been one of soul searching and reflection, and now she is using her gift in a way that is sure to inspire others.

"I've taken a different step forward in this industry," she told me. "I want to use what I have been given to bring light to a dark environment. I had been modeling and acting for many years, but it was really just to pay the bills." After taking a ten-year break from the business she has returned with a new outlook on her life, her gift and what she can do with it. "Today I want to use what God gave me to show something more positive."

The change that Francine has experience has a lot to do with the person she's become. "When I first started I was in a different place in my life," she explains.. "Right now I am at a different place spiritually. This has led me to accept who I am and what God wanted me to be." When referring to the entertainment world she points out the difference in the perception versus the reality. "It's not the glamour lifestyle that is depicted. It's just work. It's a job." What makes it different for her this time around, though, is her own motive towards that job. "Today the way I feel is that I am finally where I belong."

Francine role in the upcoming film A Cry For Justice is that of Jackie Carpenter, someone who is no stranger to Conversations Magazine or Conversations LIVE radio show. The project is based on Jackie's own journey of faith as outlined in her books THE BRIDGE and GEORGIA JUSTICE. "It has been such a God-directed journey," Francine told me. In fact when Jackie saw Francine her words to her "We've been praying for Jackie to show up, and it's you."

A Cry For Justice was exactly the kind of project that fit where Francine is in her life now. "It's something that I feel like I am completely suited for," she says. "When I read the script I could say that I know the feelings of frustrations of wanting to be in control and having to give it all up to God."

That is what both Francine and I believe viewers of the film will be able to take away from it: how much Jackie's journey of faith is really all of our journey.

With Francine's experiences in the industry has come invaluable advice that she is more than willing to share with others. "I feel so empowered to tell people to do what is good in your heart. You don't have to say yes to everything. It's up to you to  make the right choices. There is a reason why you are put where you are at."

For actors and actresses she share this nugget: "Do all the work you can as long as it is up to your moral standards. The right projects will 'suddenly' show up. You can continue to work in this environment to grow your craft and to grow yourself spiritually."

For more information about Francine visit . To stay abreast of everything dealing with Georgia Justice visit

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jason Daniels Named Host of Brotha Live Radio Show

Jason Daniels Named Host of Brotha Live Radio Show
Media Contact:     Cyrus Webb, Director of Publicity
                             Nebo Publishing

Nebo Publishing is excited to announce that the new host of its weekly radio show Brotha Live is author/motivational speaker Jason Daniels.
A regular co-host of the show since January 2012, the decision was made to change the format of the show to having a single host each week, and Jason Daniels was the obvious choice for show creator and Nebo Publishing President Charles Clark. The program has now been renamed "Brotha Live with Jason Daniels".
"Jason is one of the most knowledgable and well-prepared individuals I have ever had the pleasure of working with," says Clark. "I see him as a consummate communicator and the perfect choice to take Brotha Live to the next level."
Based on the principles of Brotha Magazine, Brotha Live specifically targets the African American male committed to a Christian lifestyle. Each week it is intended as an empowerment tool to comprehensively address, without restrictions, complex issues providing resources to resolve any of life challenges.

Listen to "Brotha Live with Jason Daniels" Tuesdays at 9p.m. et (8p.m. ct/6p.m. pt) at .
For more information about Jason visit Find out more about Nebo Publishing and the show by contacting Charles Clark at or call 1-716-239-4370 ext.101.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Gospel Artist Gerald Smith Releases New Single "Holy Temple"


Gospel Recording Artist Gerald Smith Releases New Single "Holy Temple" 

Media Contact:      Cyrus Webb, Director of Publicity
                            Nebo Publishing

Greater Sound Records* & GORCS Productions are pleased to announce that Gospel Recording artist Gerald Smith will be releasing his new single "Holy Temple" worldwide on Tuesday, July 17, 2012.

"Without a doubt Gerald Smith is one the most talented singer/songwriters in Gospel music today," says Charles Clark, President of Greater Sound/Nebo Publishing. "He has the ability to create music and share a message that lingers in your spirit long after the song ends. That is a true gift." 

For those who have followed the musical career path of Smith, this would be seen as the next exciting step of his anointed ministry. It goes back to being voted the "Most Talented Senior" of his graduating class in High School to his instrumental musical achievements, including playing the trombone, baritone, tuba, organ, percussion and 
recently the piano.  

He has been under the tutelage of the world-renowned operatic vocalists, Dr. Curtis Rhame and Dr. Daphanie Warton, learning from their passion for the art of music. His gift has afforded him many opportunities including as a member of the BCC Chorale being able to travel the United States performing at various events, including performing at the White House for former President, Bill Clinton.

Currently he is a board member on the Florida Gospel Announcers Guild and serves as Vice President of the Palm Beach County Gospel Announcers Guild for the past 4 years.

The release of Gerald Smith's single "Holy Temple" on Tues. July 17, 2012 comes just days before he performs the song for the first time live during the 3rd Annual Independent Gospel Artist Alliance (IGAA) Conference to be held in Chesapeake, VA July 19-21, 2012. Look for his album "Faithful" to be released in August 2012.

For booking of this talented artist email or call 561-755-0770. For radio servicing: Contact Ray Pope by email at Artist Inquires can be directed to

*  Greater Sound Records is a division of Nebo Publishing.