Tuesday, June 11, 2019

[To You, From Me] Let Go and Embrace Your Greatness

We've all been there: holding on to something that is either weighing us down or keeping us stagnant. It's not easy to pull yourself away from individuals or circumstances that have become comfortable for us, especially if feelings have gotten involved.

What I have learned, however, is that we do everyone involved a disservice by staying in a place where no good is being served. In my own life I have had to sever ties with individuals and things that I realized were keeping me from the place I was supposed to be.

Here is the truth: Each one of us have to be willing to do what is best for US. It might sound selfish, but how can we be any good to anyone if we are not able to perform at our best? It could be a job that no longer satisfies us, a relationship that has us feeling empty or a geographic location where we feel as though things have gone as far as it can go. Is it scary to move forward, leaving the comfortable behind? Yes! Is it necessary to do so? Absolutely!

How do you know if a change is needed? Be honest with yourself. Make a mental checklist or even write down where you are, where you want to be and what you can do to get from one place to another. Is it about your attitude, and something you have to mentally let go of? Is it actually someone or something around you? If you can ask the questions that will lead you in the direction you need to go.

No matter what that thing is for you that might be keeping you stuck the important thing to remember is that you have the power. You can make the change. You can make things better. You can set yourself free if you are willing to unload that thing that is holding you back. Embrace your greatness and realize that by doing so you can change not just your life but the world.

Until next time,

Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief
Conversations Magazine

Actress Shanti Lowry: Riding the Wave of Her Success, Appreciating the Journey

by Cyrus Webb

What a difference a year makes!

The first time I sat down with actress Shanti Lowry was in 2018. She was promoting the new series Bronx SIU, and from the start it was clear at least for me that it was going to be a hit. Fast forward to 2019 we met up again in Los Angeles as the show was enjoying not just season two but Emmy nominations for some of the cast, including Lowry! 

During our wide-ranging conversations we discussed her path, the show Bronx SIU and the world she is able to create through work that she loves.

Shanti, first of all congratulations on your amazing success. What has it been like to reflect on how you got here? 
Time flies! I think the thing I've learned the most in this business is I have to love what I do when I'm doing it, and then let it go. That was definitely the case with Bronx SIU. We all embraced the idea of it. We're happy to be here. We said let's bring it to life, but after that it's out of our hands. We just hope people watch."

Is that what drives you?
Absolutely. I love all aspects of it. You put your all into it. Think about it: someone is paying you to learn. What can be better than that?

I really think the most exciting part of the job is the learning of all the things to complete the character. At the end of the day it's going to add to Shanti, who I am. Especially when it comes to things I've never done before.

That's a great way to talk about your character Yolanda Rodriguez on SIU.
I love Yolanda. It was cool to do something I've never done before, and that is pay a cop. They gave me the chance to do that. It is an amazing character who is very lost like many of us are lost. She's an extreme example of a lot of things. To be honest for my own healing I was excited to play her, and I hope others learn from her as well.

What about the cast? What was that like to work with those who share your passion?
It was so fun! It was necessary to get the show we got. We were going to four or five locations a day. It's hard work. You just have to be a team player. We got team players that are also talented, in the trenches with you. Every day we came through. They never quit, no matter how hard things got they got it done.

Look for Shanti to continue to 'get it done' as she rides the wave of her success while appreciating the journey. Stay connected with her on Instagram at www.instagram.com/shantilowry.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Advice from actor Eddie Davenport: 'If It Scares You, Do It'

As part of Conversations' travels to Los Angeles Editor-In-Chief Cyrus Webb talked with actor Eddie Davenport, known recently from the hit show on UMC called Bronx SIU.

As the two sat down to talk about the show and his beginnings as an actor Webb also asked about his advice for overcoming fear and taking the first step when it comes to pursuing your goals and dreams.

"The key is repetition," the actor says. "I take this everywhere I go: If something scares you, do it." It's all about taking that first step.

Stay connected with Eddie on Twitter or Instagram at /eddie_davenport.

Actress Jillian Ferry: Stepping Out in Confidence

by Cyrus Webb

Without a doubt the show Bronx SIU has been one of the surprise hit programs for UMC, and for viewers it gives us not just another glimpse of crime fighting but the people involved. One of the individuals I had the opportunity to interview from the cast was Jillian Ferry. 

We met together in Los Angeles and discussed the show and her own journey to pursuing her goals with confidence.

Jillian, what was it like for you to be a part of this talented cast that makes up Bronx SIU?
It was everything for me. This is my first big, professional gig, and I see it as such a gift. I have definitely learned a lot.

Is that one of the things that you love about acting, the learning?
Yes. I love acting because I am able to wear a bunch of different hats and be different characters. I love being able to go into that world with them. It's all about the storytelling. It's the most valuable thing in society today. When you are telling people's stories this is how change happens and things get recognized. It's an honor and something that I hold close to my heart. I want to tell good stories.

And what was it like for you to tell stories as part of the Bronx SIU cast?
Everyone was really someone I could look up to. I was with all of these seasoned actors. They were so loving. I got the opportunity to sit back and observe how they go through the process. Was a lot of fun.

It's great you have had the courage to follow your dreams, Jillian. Where does that come from? 
It definitely comes from the support of my family and friends. They just want me to do whatever makes me happy. That is a foundation. Having that confidence means a lot. For me I just want to look back at my life and be able to say I gave it a try. I decided I would rather look back and say I gave myself the opportunity and I tried rather than not trying at all. Not trying would be the biggest regret. That keeps me going.

Social media is one of the ways that the cast and you have been able to keep the fans engaged. What has that been like for you?
Social media it's a catch 22. It has the potential to be an amazing tool. I think for me that's what I want to use it for: to promote stories I believe in. I also want to use it for Bronx SIU, showing the awesome, diverse, female-heavy cast we have. I want to use my platform to show these projects exist, and you should watch them.

I'm excited about what's to come for Jillian in the future. Make sure you all are following her on Instagram at www.instagram.com/jillian_ferry or her official website at www.jillianferry.com

Actress Rita Rucker: Taking Risks, Embracing Her Inner Greatness

by Cyrus Webb

During one of my trips to Los Angeles in 2018 I had the opportunity to sit down with actress Rita Rucker—and from the start I knew she was someone special. She's been seen on the hit show on BET Being Mary Jane as well as the breakout show Snowfall, and in each instance her light has been shining bright. 

Being in Los Angeles and pursuing a dream while staying true to herself is just part of what sets her apart. Rita lives a life of risk-taking and passion, showing by example what it takes to make it no matter where you are.

Conversations had the privilege of being her first  interview series to sit down with. It was special for us and I believe will be special for you, the reader.

Rita when we met in Los Angeles for the taping of Cyrus Webb Presents the web-series I didn’t know that was your first interview. First of all, what was that experience like for you?
It was exciting! I don't know I just always been like ‘Let's just do it and try something new.’ So I was very excited to do it. I didn't know what my answers were going to be like, but I watched the tape back and it was like ‘Oh wow. That was a very easy and comfortable feeling.’

Do you think that attitude of ‘Let's just do it’ is one of the reasons why you've been able to achieve the things that you have already?
I definitely agree with that. I think that a lot of what holds people back is the second and third thoughts that come from ‘I want to do this,’ and then everything that follows after that. If you want to go for something just go for it. Don't think too much about it and don't have no second thoughts. Be a risk-taker. Be courageous. Who cares if you fail. The important thing is to do what you love.  

Those are the fun things, and I think we put such a high price tag on making mistakes, but they're so valuable and they're fun because we can learn from them. We can look back and see our growth and see our journey. So yes, being courageous and just diving in and just jumping is something I love to do in my career and in life.

The other interesting thing that came out of the conversation we had is that you've been able to have a couple of things that have really worked to your benefit. One is having the love of your family and friends. But also of course that you know the faith that you have. Do you think that because of those components—having individuals around you that have been pushing you and knowing you were created for something greater—have really helped to propel you?
Absolutely. If it's just about me then it's boring. It's about my inner being and it's about God working through me. And using that to give a greater message - like seeing the light in individuals.

You've been able to, as I said, see your dreams become a reality. You've also been able to show people by example the importance of following one's goals and following one's dreams. When you hear from people what does that feel like to know that just by your living this life that you are being able to be a light for someone else?
It feels great, and I am happy that I can realize and see that, but even more than that like I hope that through my journey people can also realize that for themselves as well. Because I'm no different than them. We all have our individual purposes and our individual goals and dreams. And I think it's so easy to look at one person and think that oh it was so easy for them.
But it's easy for you too! It's our perspective and changing that and believing it for yourself that is really big for me.

You and I met in Los Angeles and that is the city that so many people look to along with New York and Atlanta as the places they need to be in order to make things happen in their careers. What has it been like for you to know that it's bigger than a place? I think that's the thing that so many people get hung up on. They think I have to be here, instead of realizing that the work begins within.
Yes, absolutely, and I think being in any one of those great cities is an experience that every artist should have at some point in their career. But I don't think you should box yourself into thinking that I have to make it happen there. Like you just said it's an inner journey, and realizing your own value and seeing your own light, and finding out what your own dreams and passions are is what matters. Then you have to really be committing yourself to it and holding yourself accountable for that. I think it's so important, and then you can prosper wherever you are and wherever you go it follows you.

How does it feel to be recognized for the work that you’ve done?
It's very cool. It feels great, but I also think it's important as an artist to not need that, whether it's good or bad. Having your work recognized is one thing but the need for constant validation can be like dangerous territory. I never look for it. I just continue to do what I love, and I hope that in the process I'm inspiring for some people, and help them follow their dreams as well.

Stay connected with Rita on Instagram at www.instagram.com/ritarucker and Facebook. 

Photo Credit: 
Location/ Collection: La Soie Bridal - @lasoiebridal
Photographer: Marco Gallico - @magraphy
Hair: Salon 1202 / Isaac - @isaac1202salon and @1202_salonandspa
MUA: McKenzie McDermott - @coastlinekenz

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Actor Jermel Wilson: Living the Dream He Worked Hard to Achieve

by Cyrus Webb

If there is one thing I know is that when you do the work, stay faithful and consistent you never know where it will lead. This has proven true for actor Jermel Wilson who I was introduced to in 2018 because of the show Bronx SIU. We started following each other on social media, I invited him to the radio show and then we met this year during one of my stops in Brooklyn for an episode of my web-series Cyrus Webb Presents.

We talked about the journey and the benefits in this inspiring conversation.

Jermel, we’re going to kick things off talking about Bronx SIU. What has it been like for you to see the response and to be a part of it?  
Well I can say that I love it, because this show was really like a labor of love. On TV there's some shows that are similar, but there is nothing like it. It’s like a cross between Power, (Law and Order) SVU and Shades of Blue. One thing I like about the show is they don’t put the characters on a pedestal. It shows the shades of grey, like none of the team or the special investigation unit are without flaws.

I'm just happy to be a part of it. I used to watch a lot of these people in the cast on TV. I'm a big fan of Miguel Nunez, Jr. Brian (White) and I had the pleasure of working together on a film in 2009, so I kind of knew him to a degree. Everybody that's attached to this project they are doing fantastic. It’s really just a blessing for me to share the screen with them.

You mentioned two things Jermel that I want to go back to - one of course is the cast that you've been able to work with, but also the storylines. I mean the storyline has been big for what you've been able to do and even outside of Bronx SIU. Is that one of the things that drew you to acting being able to bring different characters to life?
Well when I was young I knew it was something I wanted to do, but you know when you're younger you don't know that you can actually get paid off it and stuff. Every time I would go out with my family I would act like I'm Eddie Murphy from Beverly
Hills Cop or something, and I would always come up with songs and jingles to play. It just dawned on me one day talking with my dad that I wanted to do this thing called acting, but I never knew how to get into it.

When I found a way to get into it, and I said ‘Oh wow. People actually support themselves with this…this is a real job.’ For a lot of people they don't feel like acting is a real job, but it's a lot of work. Being an actor like this is a tough business. Everybody can't do this. You've got to have thick skin, and you've got to be able to accept rejection. You've got to be able to keep the faith that someday you're going to be consistent, like you can't come in this game chasing fame. You have got to chase consistency. That's where a lot of people mess up. Some start and then they give up because they're not as famous as a Denzel or Eddie Murphy and stuff like that. You know at the end of the day your time will come. If you have good work ethics and you work hard and stuff, then eventually fame will probably come with it.

Jermel, what do you think has given you the confidence to pursue your dreams, even when things are difficult?
Everybody that's put on this earth is put here with a purpose. They are put here with a talent and they are put here to do things. A lot of people aren't fortunate enough to find what they're good at. At the end of the day I always knew that I was going to be something great or someone that leaves a mark. I just didn't want to exist. I wanted to live. Like Steve Harvey says you have to be willing to jump. If you don't jump then you don't know what you're capable of. A lot of people don't jump because they're afraid to fall. I just knew that wouldn’t be me. I wasn’t afraid of the leap.

Look forward to much more from Jermel in the future. Follow him on Facebook, through Twitter on www.twitter.com/jermel323 or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/actorjermelwilson.

Actor Miguel A. Nunez, Jr.: Sharing the Journey In Front of the Camera with His Fans

by Cyrus Webb

After hosting Conversations LIVE radio show for the past 15 years and publishing this magazine I have interviewed literally thousands of individuals who have inspired me and pushed me forward. One of those individuals is the amazing actor that is Miguel A. Nunez, Jr. I’ve interviewed him now twice on the radio about his journey, what it’s been like to do what he loves and some of his newest projects like the television series Bronx SIU and The Family Business as well as the movie WORTH.

This chat is all about his beginnings, his rise and the example he is able to be for others.

First of all, what is this experience been like for you, Mr. Nunez, to not only be able to do what you love as an actor, but also to have projects that are already getting such great buzz like Bronx SIU, and to see the way that people are responding to it?
You know something it’s weird because you never really know what people are going to respond to. You just go and if I like it you bring your best to it. When it comes to SIU the script was good, the people were good, so I jumped on board.

And you never really know what's going to happen with something, you could shoot something and it happened where you don't expect nothing to happen from it, and the next thing you know it blows up. Or you can shoot something that everybody is expecting to blow up and then nothing happens from it. So you never know what something is going to do, so you just go in and just do the best work you can on it, and the best job you can on it and then you let it ride. If you put forth your best effort most likely it's going to come out really good.

You mentioned something that I think is so true, and also telling about this particular show and some of the other projects you've done as well, and that is about the cast. You've been able to star in some amazing projects as I mentioned, and you've been able to work with a lot of talented people. Is that also one of the added benefits of doing what you love and being able to work with people as equally passionate as you are?
Absolutely 100%. You can tell that passion about the cast, but you know you don't really have any control over the casting. A lot of times when you are just there and you just hope that they get some good people. But good for me, even with SIU, I get to work with the producers on in it, and a lot of times when I work on something I ask who's going to be in it. And then I want to know if any other roles aren't cast, and if some are available then I make suggestions. I always get a lot of people in it who are good actors, because people don't have access to them. When you've got real good actors you can tell the difference and you can see the difference on the screen. 

Let’s talk about the journey before Bronx SIU. As I said people know you from a variety of roles. That’s the great thing about you: you are definitely not a one-note. People never know what type of role you’re going to be playing. Did you go into acting knowing that you wanted to be able to just bring your best into whatever type of character you played?
I just wanted play everything. I've played a woman. I've played a lawyer. I played a cop. I've played a detective. I played a bad guy. I've played a killer. I’ve played a doctor. That's the joy of this business, being able to play all of these roles. And that's one of the things that brought me there at SIV. I've been doing comedy for so long I wanted to show another side so when they offered me this as Captain I was like absolutely! You never know where it's going to go, and that's what I like.

One of the ways that we find out about everything these days is through social media. For individuals in your profession it's really become a big part of how you guys communicate with us. What is that been like for you to kind of get used to communicating in such real-time with your fans that way?
I love it. I love it, because you don't have any filters between you and people, and it is kind of like meeting people face-to-face from all over the world at one time. I think that's why we get into this business. It goes with the territory. Social media is kind of like a one-on-one relationship. These people would never in any other opportunity unless they see you on the street have an opportunity to have a conversation with you. That internet allows them to do that.

Such a good point. You never know how those types of things are going to relate to people. When you do hear from your fans about how you have motivated them, and how you've inspired them, how does that make you feel?
It's one of the things that I think keeps me young and keeps me going. Everybody say wow how do you look so young, but I think that's one of the things that keep me that way for sure: Making other people happy, I absolutely, 100 million percent, feel better when I give than when I receive. And that's not just monetary. That's advice as well. To me the biggest joy is to make somebody else happy. That's my greatest joy on this planet.

Outside of your fans you have been able to inspire other actors as well. How does that part of this journey feel? 

That's the best part and the main part. That is the pinnacle, because there's so many people out there who are so talented, and they're in little towns and little places and they feel that there is no hope. I came from a little town way out in the country, and nobody in my entire life ever said that I could do what I am doing. 

Everyone said the same thing: it is absolutely impossible. I didn't need anybody to tell me it was possible. I didn't need any encouragement I did it for myself. Listen to me: You can do it. If anybody on this planet can do it you can do it. 

Nobody can stop you from doing it but you. If you really put it in your mind that you're going to do something there is nothing that can stop you. I mean it. The only person who can stop you from doing and achieving what you want to do is you. When a door closed on me, I found another way in. I will find a way even if I had to go through the window. If the window was locked and the door was closed I dug a hole. And don't matter what it is you can find a way in. I don't take no. Period.

What a great conversation. So glad we had this time. Any last bit of advice or encouragement you would give our audience about pursuing their goals and dreams?
Absolutely. Put in the hard work and don't be afraid of what's around the corner. Just say to yourself whatever is around the corner I am going to deal with it, no matter what. If you approach each day with that attitude you can’t help but win.

Stay connected with Miguel on Instagram at www.instagram.commnunezjr and on Twitter at www. twitter.com/MiguelANunezJr.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

(Review) FIND THE UPSIDE OF THE DOWN TIMES by Dr. Rob Pennington

by Cyrus Webb

We have all heard people around us say the saying that if something could go wrong in their lives it probably would. For Dr. Rob Pennington he saw himself as an individual who experienced a downpour of negativity and hardship in his life with seemingly no way out. Here is man that in his life has been shot, lost his job, audited and dealt with the loss of his wife. For some of us just one of those things would have been enough to push us over the edge, throwing up our hands and admitting defeat.

There was times when Rob didn't know how he was going to get through challenges. That is until he realized the power he personally had to change the way he perceived his circumstances and how that in effect brought about a whole new attitude. "It's hard for something positive to happen if you can't imagine it happening," he said to me during our in-person chat in 2018. He has created resources at www.speedthroughstress.com to help others in their own path.

In the book FIND THE UPSIDE OF THE DOWN TIMES, Pennington takes us into his personal experiences, what worked for him and how we can do the same in our own lives. This is a book that not only tells you what to do. It allows you to see from someone who has done it what can happen when you decide to live life differently.

The other thing that is so great about Pennington's book is the reminder we get that there will always be someone who has it worse off than we do. We sometimes get so into feeling sorry for ourselves and what we are experiencing that we lose sight of how others need to be encouraged and uplifted through their own dark chapters. This is why THE UPSIDE OF THE DOWN TIMES is critical for all of us. The author let's us see that we can make a difference and use our experiences both good and bad to not only help ourselves but others as well.

You might not can eliminate stress but you can change the way you deal with it. If you realize the variable is you, then you can see a shift happen.

FIND THE UPSIDE OF THE TIME TIMES is a book I have read and told others about over the past 7 years. I recommend it not just because of the practical value it offers the reader, but the effect it is sure to have on all that hear about it. If you want to experience the bright side of life then get ready to realize that it all begins with you.

Get your copy on Amazon.com and discover more about the author at www.robertpennington.com.

A. Shane Etter: Writing What He Loves and Sharing It with the World

by Cyrus Webb

It's been amazing for me to watch author A. Shane Etter come into his own and make a name for himself as a storyteller over the years.

He first came to my attention in 2013, and since then it's been a pleasure to not just call him one of my favorite storytellers as well as a friend.

In 2018 he released his newest book A BRAIN IN THIRD PERSON II: The Return of the Bad Penny. In this conversation we discuss the journey, what it's been like to do what he loves and what you can expect from Bad Penny.

Shane, what has it been like for you to continue the story of Bad Penny in the new book A BRAIN IN THIRD PERSON II.?
I didn't really plan on Brain turning into a second book, and especially when it's built around a bad guy. The ending of the first book surprised me, and I knew there had to be a second. I think it was pretty interesting writing a second book about an evil character and an antagonist rather than protagonist. And I think that in itself is unusual---I can't think of too many people who have done that, except maybe Thomas Harris the Silence of the Lambs books.

Really good point. The book that we discussed our last time, A War in the Bronx, is a different type of book than those who have read some of your other work like Mind Dwellers and Bottom Dwellers. Is that what keeps writing exciting for you, Shane? 
I read a long time ago that every book that's ever going to be written has been written already. So I think we all emulate other stories, and another writer friend of mine said to me one time that bad writers copy and good writer steal. And I thought that's about as deep as I get, but like I said every story that's ever going to be written has been written.

And so all we can do is put a different spin on an old story is what I think. And that's what I've tried to do, and I don't know where I come up with different ideas. My next book is about a 60-year-old writing professor at Oxford University, whose been murdering people for 40 years with a sword concealed in his walking stick, so that's different. So Brain's about serial killers, and I guess all mine follow a theme that there's a thing about serial killers and drug dealers. I see some sort of connection between those if other people don't, but anyway that's okay if they don't.

One thing I like about your books, Shane, is that you have characters that are multi-dimensional. Definitely in the Brain books we see that, so let's talk about the main character Pennington Wentworth. I mean how did Pennington come to you? 
It was based on my own experience of having a stroke and personality change, because of that brain damage in my own experience from my stroke. I thought of a character who was brain-damaged in his case---Pennington’s case---a car accident which caused the traumatic brain injury. And I thought, okay, where can I start this character, and how far can I take him in the opposite direction to make it even a more compelling story.

And he started out as a meek, mild-mannered,Yuppie with neat hair, perfect hairdo and manicured nails who was a vegetarian. And after his brain damage he was literally changed overnight from how I just described him to a meat-eating, tattooed, long-haired, foul-mouth serial killer. But it grew out of my own experience.In fact the name of the book A Brain in Third Person came from me saying one night to someone my brain and I disagree on things all of the time. I talked about my brain in the third person all of the time, like it's a different entity. And I went "Boy, that would be a great name for a novel," and so I came up with the name of the novel before I had any idea of what the book was going to be about really, or where it was going to go. I just came up with the name of it right there.

Appreciate your sharing that story with us, Shane. And that goes to how you use Facebook, sharing your writing updates and even locations with us. I've heard authors say before that writing can be pretty loney. Do you find that sharing the way you do helps it be less lonely? 
Well for me I'll disagree with what they say, because I don't write when I'm alone. I can't write like that. I write at Starbucks, and I write at my favorite piano bar. In fact, that piano bar let me do a book signing there after my most recent novel came out.

I need to smell, taste and feel things, and I use all of those senses once I get involved in all of my writing. My mentor told me a long time ago that in every single scene I needed to try and describe what's going on with all five senses. So I find when I write in other places rather than the quiet of my home I can evoke those images from the five senses better.

What about other writers, Shane? What has it been like for you to know that you're able to inspire other writers?
Well I hope I do. I mean I've had a lot of help along the way. I mean we as writers do not do it alone. And as I mentioned I do have a mentor, and I hope I can help youngers not only in writing but younger in age certainly. I think writers as a group are really good about helping the ones that are coming along behind them.

Because we've all been at the very beginning, even John Grisham and Stephen King were not John Grisham and Stephen King when they started writing. I'm trying to be funny there, but you know they were nobodies when they first started and look where they are now. So they had mentors and people that helped them along the way as well, and I try to help others.

There are some great messages in your books, Shane, especially in A BRAIN IN THIRD PERSON. We see it in the first book that there are always going to be people who doubt what we can do, and also doubt change. Do you think that is one of the great things about Pennington, that it shows that you know a person has the ability to make change?
Well I think all we can be assured of in this life is change. If you don't like what's happening today, or if you do stick around either way it's going to change tomorrow, and he certainly did. And I guess since that's based on my own experience, obviously not to that extreme, but that proves the changes that happened in my life as well.

I really appreciate this time, Shane. Last thing. I do want to ask you this question when it comes to the experience for you. When someone is just discovering you, and of course we're highlighting the Bad Penny books right now, but no matter what book they pick up with your name on it what do you want them to leave with when they finish a title?
I hope they will find my books as compelling stories. I'm constantly working on my writing and trying to become the best writer that I can be, and I hope they will appreciate my writing. And I guess that's part of the reason I never refer to myself as an author. I never use the word author. I like to call myself a writer. I try to be the best writer that I can be.

Get books by A. Shane Etter on Amazon.com and stay connected with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Author Vick Breedy Talks "Stereotyped", What Leads to Being "Genetically Resilient"

by Cyrus Webb

Author and Entrepreneur Vick Breedy is an individual that has been able to build a brand off not being broken by the things that may come against her. She calls it being "Genetically Resilient", and interestingly it finds itself even in her novels like the BITTER series and the lastest called STEREOTYPED. I talked with her about the journey, the work and moving on.

Vick, I think even before you and I had booked this conversation I've been seeing the pictures of people holding your books Bitter, and then of course the new book Stereotyped. I want to talk about this experience for you. What has it been like for you to not only be able to have entertained through your work, but also to get people to talking about your books the way that they have?
It's actually been great. I didn't know that I was actually inspiring people while I was entertaining people. So I've gotten a lot of feedback in that respect.  I put my first book out (Bitter) just to tell a story. I thought that people could relate to it, but I knew that I needed to entertain in order for them to continue to turn the page. And from that I just kept writing because people kept asking for more.

So that brings up a good question then Vick. So when you first wrote Bitter you didn't know it was going to be a serious in the beginning?
No I had no intention of writing a series at all. I didn't even know what to do with Bitter once I wrote it. I actually Googled like how to get your book published and took it from there.

Wow, and now here you are with those three books that are out, including of course the book Stereotyped. Are you having those wow moments when you’ve kind of looked at this and think these are the ideas that you've had in your head, and now people around the world can be able to read and enjoy.
Yes, definitely, and you know I say to myself if I didn't get divorced would I be Vick Breedy. The divorce led to book one, so had I not gone through that would I be here four books later? Definitely something to think about.

Vick, what I thought was so interesting about Stereotyped---and I went into it with an idea in my head as to what it was---from the very beginning I found out that it wasn't what I thought it was at all. I actually thought it was a nonfiction work, which I mean of course people will read it and say these are real life situations and it's true. But I love the fact that you're able to kind of take us into the situations with these men. What was that like for you to embrace that men are not as we're always seen, and to be able to share that in a first person account with each one of these guys?
It was definitely a challenge for me to write any first-person narrative with all male characters. I actually had to keep checking in with male relatives and male acquaintances to just make sure that it actually sounds like a man speaking and not a black woman speaking for a man.

I've actually wanted to write this book since my sequel to Bitter, but because people wanted me to finish it and continue on I held off. This has been on my heart to write for at least two and a half to three years. In life you know there's always more to the story, but it's really easy to stereotype somebody until you see the other side.

I want to talk about Courage for a moment, because you know I think you posed an interesting question, because I think a lot of times people begin something beautiful out of a painful situation, or what could be seen as a negative. Writing a book, it is definitely one thing, but actually having the courage to publish it is another. How did you get the courage to put it out, because you know you could have very easily just written it. What made you say this is something that people either one need to read, or two you believe would want to read?
Well while I was writing it I was actually showing it to a few friends. And they actually said like this is great, this is good like you should do something with this. Whereas you know it did start out as me just putting my emotions to paper and then creating characters to them. It was definitely not supposed to be a book, and it was not supposed to be published.

It wasn't until I got the encouragement of others that I said hey, you know this is as good as the other books. And as far as the courage piece, I feel like the only part that required courage was to maybe have somebody outside of my circle review it. That's kind of like where I felt like validated. , \

Outside of the work she is doing as an author, Vick Breedy is also the creator of the Genetically Resilient clothing line and brand which is doing much to inspire others and remind them of their own inner greatness. Stay connected with all things Vick at www.vickbreedy.com.You can also discover her on social media.

[The J-Spot] 3 Simple Things You Can Do To Change The World

by Shari Alyse 

Every single one of us is fighting some sort of battle in our lives. Whether it’s with another person, within our own hearts, or just within a situation in our lives. With that said, I believe that if we all just offered one another some basic human kindness, there would be a lot less fighting and a lot more love.

 With that in mind I'm sharing 3 easy things you can do that truly can a cause a ripple of love on this planet.

1.     Be more compassionate.  
The important thing to remember about compassion is that it’s not just about feeling sorry for another person. It’s about doing something that can help relieve somebody’s suffering. It’s not about taking pity on someone, but rather allowing that emotional stirring within you to motivate you to take action. Even if that action is simply offering understanding, kindness, and a prayer. When we can have compassion for others, ultimately, it brings us all together and allows us to recognize that we all are truly ONE.

 2.  Be more patient. 
 In this technological age, everybody is so used to getting what they want within one touch of a button, that we forget that humans aren’t machines. We can’t expect one another to just get over something within an instant, or do what we want as soon as we desire it, or for people to even be who we want them to be because we need something from them right then and there. When we realize that we all have stuff that we are working through and that we wouldn’t want someone to rush us through our emotions, then we can gift others the same patience and respect that we would want.  Allow people their own time and their own space to process their own lives, so that eventually they can show up in the world happy with who they are. Pay attention to your life and allow others to pay attention to theirs. Be patient not only with others, but especially with yourself.

3.  Be more understanding. 
 I invite you to listen to someone and try to understand where they are coming from even if they might not be handling it in the best of ways. By sitting in the space of stillness and allowing someone to share their hearts openly and without judgement, we are able to really SEE where they are coming from. This in turn, would help us to be able to forgive easier, love easier, and respond more kindly. I know it’s difficult at times when someone isn’t being the nicest to you, however, if we just take the time to understand that perhaps there is something that is going on in their lives that is making them a bit edgier, angrier, or short-tempered. There isn’t one of us that hasn’t reacted poorly in a situation and all we wanted was for someone to just let us off the hook by understanding us a just a little bit more.

 At the end of the day, we all desire love and some of us just don’t know how to simply say that we are hurting,  that we are needing to feel loved, we are feeling ignored , or that we could really use a hug. Because we all don’t know how to express our needs clearly,  sometimes we end up acting out in ways that aren’t always so “enlightened” because we are disappointed and frustrated that we aren’t getting what we need. Every one of us has gone through some challenging times and all we have wanted is someone there to be more compassionate, more patient, and more understanding.

Let’s try to do that with one another and you will see how what you put out there comes right back to you. This world can be tough at times from things outside of our control, but what is in our control, is the way we treat and love others. I believe it’s time we start acting like the loving beings that we really are. If we can do this,  there will be a lot more joyful and loving people on our planet and we truly can change the world.

20 Books That Should Be On Oprah's Reading List

by Cyrus Webb

As a media personality and Top Amazon.com Reviewer who reads hundreds of books a year I am often asked for recommendations for those with particular interests.

I find myself lately being asked a lot about books that fellow Mississippi native and media powerhouse Oprah Winfrey might be interested in, and that led me to think about selections that might fit her interest. Like myself, Oprah enjoys both fiction and non-fiction reads that are entertaining, inspiring and have a message that we can’t wait to share with others.

As the summer is approaching and people are thinking about books that might appeal to Oprah and her audience I am compiled “20 Books Oprah Should Read in 2019” that I have enjoyed, and I feel confident recommending to her and the O team. Enjoy!

  1. The Honey Bus by Meredith May
  2. Stronger by Dr. Teresa Smith
  3. Yes, I'm That Guy by William Sanderson
  4. The Gifts of Acceptance by Daniel A. Miller
  5. T.R.U.T.H. by Mary Ellen Ciganovich
  6. Bill Duke: My 40-Year Career On Screen and Behind the Camera by Bill Duke
  7. Silent Voices by Debbie Nau Redmond
  8. Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers
  9. Trophy Life by Lea Geller
  10. Trespassed by Sonya Visor
  11. An Unspeakable Secret by Glenda L. Hunter
  12. The Life and Times of Clyde Kennard by Derek R. King
  13. Food For L.I.F.E. by Lisa W. Beckwith
  14. Daughters Betrayed by Their Mothers by Holli Kenley
  15. #SpeakLife: A 100 Day Devotional by La'Ticia Nicole
  16. When the Owl Sings by David C. Maloney
  17. Blindsided and Ambushed by Lisa Y. Sparrow
  18. Break Every Chain by Jonathan E. Hickory
  19. Addicted to Hate by Lucia Mann
  20. Called to Forgive by Anthony B. Thompson