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Wednesday, April 26, 2023

One-On-One with Tracy Hester-Glass, author of GET UP, GIRL, LET'S GO


by Cyrus Webb

 What led you to write the book Get Up, Girl, Let's Go?

Get Up, Girl, Let's Go was not initially going to be a book. The original idea was to offer a 12-week workshop in my home with a small group of women who wanted to move forward in their lives but needed the support of mentoring, coaching, and community to get unstuck. I was passionate about moving forward with these workshops, because I had some wisdom I wanted to share about how to move past obstacles after healing from a divorce. In addition, the workshops would offer practical tools and spiritual encouragement to help women overcome the challenges that were blocking them from experiencing a fulfilling, purposeful life.

Within one week of getting the idea for the workshop, I had mapped out the weekly focus, journaling exercises, homework, etc. I then got stuck. I didn't know the next steps to make my workshop idea a reality. Honestly, I felt I had bit off more than I could chew. Fear started telling me why my workshop idea wouldn't work. Then COVID shut down the concept of the small group gathering in my home. 

I forgot about the workshop idea for about two years. Then, one day I was praying, and I heard God ask me when I was planning to move forward with the idea he gave me. I responded that this workshop project was out of my comfort zone. Then, I heard God tell me to contact a woman I met who was a book-writing coach and ask for help. I contacted her, and she told me, "You still are going to need to write a book." Those words helped me refocus, and I started to work on the book. 

Was it an easy decision for you to share your story with the world?

No. It was extremely challenging to write about how my marriage failed and the areas of brokenness that I discovered on my journey to get healed. At times I felt like my pain was like an onion, some layers needed to be peeling away before I could get to the root of the issues I needed to let go of. There were times when I was writing my story, and I cried tears of sadness and joy as I reflected on how I was on the other side of some pain I never thought I would overcome. 

What has it been like to see how individuals have been encouraged by your story?

I've been amazed, humbled, and grateful. To hear the many testimonies of how my restoration story offers hope and encouragement to women walking through a divorce, stuck in relational pain, experiencing limiting beliefs about their value, or feeling like they are in a prison of discouragement. The more I hear about women being set free it encourages me to be vulnerable. As I share my scars, others will heal.

For those who are looking at where they are today, what would you say to help them see what they can do now?

I would encourage them to work on letting go of any emotional baggage they might be carrying. Emotional baggage keeps us stuck where we can't dream or see the possibilities of our future. At times we can be our worst self-critic because of mistakes we have made in the past. Possibly, those mistakes have had a negative emotional impact, and we are holding on to guilt, shame, anger, unforgiveness, or disappointment. Sometimes we are unsure where to start with letting our baggage go.

One way we can start to let go of our baggage is to face and acknowledge it. Honoring our past is a way we can accept the not-so-great parts of our life story, but at the same time, we can appreciate that our past has made us who we are today, the characteristics of us that are beautiful, gifted, and kindhearted. Taking small steps to consider the possibilities of what is ahead as we move forward can help us move beyond the pain of our past. Our past only represents a few chapters of our life's story; there are many more chapters that we can create as we start looking at our life from a perspective that is excited about the possibilities ahead.

Outside of writing the book Get Up, Girl, Let's Go, have you been able to coach individuals as well? What has that experience been like for you? 

Yes, In May of 2022, the Get Up, Girl, Let's Go Going Deeper, the 12- week course, was launched, the same month my book was released. The course uses the book but also has a companion workbook. The experience of group coaching women to overcome obstacles has been a life-changing experience for me as well as for the course participants. I also do 1:1 coaching with a niche focused on relational recovery and spiritual and personal growth.

Everyone is going through something, Tracy. What is it that keeps you motivated and focused from day to day?

As I move forward, I'm looking ahead at the good things God has for me. I strongly desire not to waste time on things that will distract me from fulfilling my purpose in life. I have this mindset because I'm getting older, and I don't want to waste time with people or things that will not support me, or the calling God has asked me to fulfill.  

What advice would you give others when writing a book or sharing one's story?

First, discover your why. What motivates you to write a book or to share your story? The best reason to write a book is that you are passionate about sharing your story or a particular truth. This passion becomes something you must do, not just an idea to give you creditability. When we write from a place of passion, it can transform our reader's thoughts and hearts. These books become best sellers because they are written with a heart of love, not with financial gain as the motivating reason. Write your story with authenticity and vulnerability.  

How can readers stay connected with you?

I would love to connect with you. I can be reached at tracyhester.com or through Facebook or Instagram.


Cyrus Webb Presents.. A Conversation with Colette R. Harrell, author of LATER

 


Colette, it has been great talking with you about the book LATER. What has it been like for you to see the way that readers are enjoying the story?

It's been validating. We write because we love to tell a story. But when others love what you've crafted, and the excitement spills through their voice? That's manna from Heaven.

For our readers that are just discovering you, let's go back a bit. When did you first realize that writing was something you wanted to do?

I was sixteen years old and had come down with chicken pox. Bored and confined to my house, my best friend and I crafted an episodic storyline written by hand and left in my mailbox each day. Where one left off, the other took over. It ignited this avid reader to the knowledge that I could also write.

There are a lot of threads in LATER that I think readers of different interests will appreciate. Was that your hope when writing the book?

No, but I’m so grateful it ended up that way. I do love to craft a story that will peel back layers like an onion. And, like that onion, I want you to cry with laughter and tears for our protagonists in the novel. If a particular layer reaches a reader in a special way that’s the serendipity moment we connect.  

How did the story initially come to you?

I'm going to sound accident-prone, but I fell and broke my ankle in three places. My daughter and her boyfriend came to assist my husband in my care, and she encouraged me to use the time to write a new story. We then played around with story ideas. Later intrigued me, and when I started massaging the fantasy of shifting from historical to current periods, the story had me hooked.

One of the thing messages for me was that delay doesn't mean denied. How has that message resonated with you in your life?

I'm older, and I am more of who I want to become than ever before. My vision is sure and who I will tolerate in and out of my life is finally no longer an ache but a blessing. I don't have time for minor things to matter significantly, and I can live my life like it's golden, even when I've made mistakes. I hope the message is clear that everything is not always a now experience but growth can be even more gratifying when it is achieved later. Thank you for asking this question.

Your book shows that the idea of a 'happy ending' is relative. Was that something you considered as well as the story unfolded?

Oh no, Cyrus. I write happy endings. I am in love with closing the book with a sigh of satisfaction. I can cut on the news or answer the phone for the world's woes. In my world-building, I get to choose happiness for my protagonists, and I also get to slay the dragons. (laughs)

Colette, what do you normally tell aspiring writers to encourage them in sharing their own stories?

To learn your craft. To do the hard stuff, like editing, then editing again, and finally... editing. My favorite writers love their readers, and they want to give them their best. I love my readers too, and when I write, my stories are created to inspire, entertain, motivate and challenge them to new heights. I tell aspiring writers to have a passion for the story and excellence.

What should we be on the lookout for next from you?

I have multiple projects in the works. I have a thriller, a romantic comedy, and a heartwarming series coming. I am currently in a screenwriting master class where I am turning my books into screenplays. I am starting with Later. Then a short romantic comedy I have pinned, titled Mama’s Blues. I write vivid, illustrative novels that should transfer well to the big screen. I am a developmental editor and a book coach. I have several editing projects I am completing for other authors, and I do speaking engagements.

Thanks again for the time, Colette. Continued success to you. How can our readers stay connected with you?

Please reach out to me on Colette R Harrell fans on Facebook. Or www.coletteharrell.com, my website. Whatever you do, please leave a review!

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

[REVIEW] Jennifer Holliday makes you want to be in love with this song. SO IN LOVE is sure to inspire you


 I love the way this song starts off, reminding us that love is serious. It's not a game.

Jennifer Holliday tells a powerful story in SO IN LOVE. It's all about realizing that we have found someone that we are in love with and willing to take the chance on it. Even after we have almost given up on love we find someone that makes our heart smile again. That's how we know it's real.

Love the mood of this song. It shows the strength of her voice but also is one of those songs you can slow dance to or just sit and vibe to.

It's all about the love and appreciating what you have. Nothing better than that.

Cyrus Webb Presents... A Conversation with author Pamela Mshana


Pamela, it’s great to have you as part of Conversations Magazine as we celebrate the year that was 2022. What has it been like for you to reflect on the year and all you have done?

My 2022 was quite eventful with some personal challenges and loss of grandmother; but, I also had so many personal victories. As an author it’s been a dream come true to have my novel in the hands of readers who have responded to it overwhelmingly positively. I’ve been promoting my novel, girls in search of cover, at in-person events and virtually— it’s been a whirlwind of fun and learning! I feel like I’ve been at it for much longer because I’ve presented workshops and spoken on panels at conferences such as Christian Book Lovers Retreat (CBLR) and The Romance Slam Jam (RSJ). These events have broadened my author and reader circles and I enjoy getting to know so many beautiful and creative people. I love the way we support each other and I’m thankful for every person who has reached out to me to let me know how much they enjoyed reading my novel. I’ve even had many authors and readers on my, enVision Together: Going To Our Next Level of Best podcast and that has increased my subscribers and caused people to purchase fellow authors books. All of this has been a blast! I’ve even been blessed to have you as a new friend and someone who is such a wonderful supporter!  

We were introduced through your book GIRLS IN SEARCH OF COVER where you give us some memorable characters that are dealing with some relatable issues. What has it been like for you to see the response to the book?

I’ve received feedback that makes me glad I wrote a novel that’s entertaining and equally helpful and inspiring to people (both male and female). While a major topic of the book deals with sexual abuse, some feedback has been unexpected because of the way some men have responded to my novel, seeing themselves in the characters and pondering some of their feelings of being outcast and/or misunderstood. Other people have pointed out the exploration of the issue of racism in the book and have shared how this book touched them and promoted thoughtful reflection and understanding.


How did the idea for GIRLS IN SEARCH OF COVER come to you?

It was quite simply an inspired work that came from within. It was a story writing itself over years of my life and it was finally ready to come out. I experienced sexual violation at a very young age and while my conscious mind suppressed it my subconscious mind was writing the story. While this book is a fiction, it’s a somewhat autobiographical fiction because the main character’s thoughts and feelings about all the events and situations she in are mine— even the pain expressed. I believe it’s a story God inspired me to write because writing it healed some places inside of me and now it has helped others. I pray it continues to do so.

Out of the women we are introduced to in the book who did you connect with the most?

I connect most with Ma Evans because she’s such a complex character. She’s a ball of strength made so by her times of weakness. She endeavors to leave a positive legacy: strength, financial well-being and love to her family. She’s the rock of this generational tale. I like to think that that is what my life is all about…being a type of pillar for those within my sphere of influence. Anything I’ve learned, the resources I have, and all that I can pass to others to make life easier for people and to help make the next generation better is why I get up each morning. I’m flawed but I’m trying to live out being that person.

Thanks to the internet we are able to connect with people all over the world. How has this helped you when it comes to spreading the message about the book?

Great question and I think my earlier statements shared about my podcast answers this best:  many authors and readers have been on my, envision Together: Going To Our Next Level of Best show and that has caused people to purchase fellow authors books.  I’m also able to share about my own writing through this space that reaches around the world. I’ve already had listeners in over 50 countries and my podcast is on the apple podcast chart. Virtual conferences and participating with your Amazon Live Interviews has helped me to spread the word too. The internet is a game changer in so many ways to spread the word about my novel, I could go on and on, but I won’t. (laughs)

We know from the back of the book that GIRLS IN SEARCH OF COVER is only the beginning of a series of books. I know you can’t tell us everything but what other themes are you looking forward to exploring?

Well, I’ll just say that readers should look forward to getting the history behind the relationships between the older women in the story. After all, who we are today is the total sum of all of our experiences and I’m gonna show what makes them really tick and how they ended up where they are (conflict) when we’re introduced to them. I will also explore the male characters and their perspectives more thoroughly. More importantly people will see more clearly the generational impact of a legacy of strength, standing on the shoulders of ancestors and overcoming.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers out there about pursuing their own dreams?

It’s simple, the best advice I ever got is, “Write what you know.” I’ll add to that just write, polish it later. Too many aspiring writers get caught up in perfectionism and procrastination and they never actual put a word on the page. I find once I write the first few pages, the story then practically writes itself. Let the characters do and say whatever they want in your first draft. They will tell you who they are, want they want, their pain and pleasure, etc.

Thanks for your time, Pamela. How can our readers stay connected?

The easiest way to stay connected is to use my name, Pamela Mshana, to find me on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and my website: pamelamshana.com or girlsinsearchofcover.com. I’d love to hear from everyone! Thanks Cyrus for this interview and for your kindness always!


[REVIEW] This song speaks to the heart, makes you reflect. Love it!


2022 was a great year for music. I am just discovering the gift that is Paloma Faith, though Teddy Swims is someone I have followed for some time. When I saw this song was released I knew I had to get it---and WOW.

It's a powerful message that anyone can relate to. When you have been in any kind of relationship and things don't go right YOU KNOW that feeling they are speaking about. And as I thought about the words of the song it really shows that is how you know you TRULY CARE---because if you didn't you wouldn't feel the way you do.

It's powerful, relatable and just what we need to understand why we feel what we feel at times. It speaks to the heart for sure.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

[REVIEW] WOMAN LIKE ME by Chaka Khan is all about celebrating what makes a woman special

 


Chaka Khan is known for memorable songs over the years, and I think WOMAN LIKE ME is going to be another one of those.

The song is all about realizing that every woman is unique and has something to offer the world. We can't just judge her by what she looks like. We have to realize what who she is and the impact she can have. As Chaka Khan talks about not being another woman like her, that is a message every woman can embrace as well.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

[REVIEW] Dylan Scott's LIVIN' MY BEST LIFE is a song we can all adopt. Love the feel of it.

 


I think regardless of what genre of music you might be a fan of, Dylan Scott's LIVIN' MY BEST LIFE is sure to strike a chord with you.

It's all about just enjoying life, and making the most of the moment. He sings about avoiding the drama that can be all around us and just finding your own peace. That might look different for everyone, but the main part of the song is just to find your happiness.

[REVIEW] Tanya Nolan is an artist to watch for sure. MY BEST shows her ability to sing, tell a story


 It's been great watching Tanya Nolan's rise. In 2022 alone she has shown her ability to sing songs that are resonating with her audience and show the industry that she's an artist to keep on your radar.

MY BEST is all about not just realizing who you are but knowing what you deserve. It's a song for the ladies but it also puts us guys on notice. Don't mistreat what you have. Don't take it for granted. Women out there are giving their best, and they deserve the same from us.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

[MUSIC REVIEW] Canaan Cox delivers another unforgettable song with AS YOU LEAVE


 It's been amazing to watch Canaan Cox's star continue to rise. He's such a talented artist, and it's not just about releasing music. He makes every single an experience.

When he started teasing AS YOU LEAVE on social media his excitement for the song was contagious, so as soon as it was released I had to get it. The message is so good for the times we are living in, especially for those guys who are looking for the words to say to that special lady.

Cox sings about the feeling you get when you are not with that person, and how it seems as though things just stop. For some of us we know that's not an exaggeration. We just don't always talk about it. That is what sets him apart. He's not afraid of letting his girl know how he feels, how she makes him feel and what being with them does to him.

AS YOU LEAVE can be seen as a love letter or sorts but also a realization that you've found something real. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

[BOOK REVIEW] By looking at herself Viola Davis helps the reader to understand the importance of FINDING ME


 We know Viola Davis because of the appearances on stage and screen. With FINDING ME, however, she delivers what might be her best "appearance" yet. The book shares stories I had never heard before and levels of despair that could have easily broken anyone.

Layer upon layer she shows us where her heart, determination, grit and resilience were birthed---and holds a mirror up to us all to remind us of what is possible.

Reading this it makes her well-deserved success even more amplified and poignant. She has not just earned her place in the entertainment industry. FINDING ME shows how she realized the place she deserves in the world.

You'll reflect, smile and feel the rollercoaster of emotions she has become known for bringing to life in the characters she plays. Now, though, we can root for her in showing up for her greatest role: the best version of herself. Bravo, Ms. Davis. Job well done.

Get your copy of FINDING ME on Amazon

20 Memorable Quotes from Viola Davis' FINDING ME


by Cyrus Webb

Released in 2022 FINDING ME by Viola Davis continues to speak to the hearts and minds of reading, still sitting as a bestselling memoir in 2023. The book is not just her story. It's a look at what is possible for us all, beginning with our relationship with ourselves.

There are many passages from the book that are sure to speak to readers, meeting them where they are. These 20 memorable quotes are some of my favorites. I believe they will be some of yours as well. 

  1.  “My biggest discovery was that you can literally re-create your life. You can redefine it. You don’t have to live in the past. I found that not only did I have fight in me, I had love.”
  2. “Memories are immortal. They’re deathless and precise. They have the power of giving you joy and perspective in hard times. Or, they can strangle you. Define you in a way that’s based more in other people’s tucked-up perceptions than truth.”
  3. “I now understand that life, and living it, is more about being present. I’m now aware that the not-so-happy memories lie in wait; but the hope and the joy also lie in wait.”
  4. “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a different past. They tell you successful therapy is when you have the big discovery that your parents did the best they could with what they were given.”
  5. “I knew my life would be a fight, and I realized this: I had it in me.”
  6. “learned the hard way that when there are underlying issues, money does nothing. In fact, money exacerbates the problem because it takes away the individual’s ability to be held accountable.”
  7. “Remember the love. . . . Don’t play the pain and betrayal, play the woman fighting hard to restore the love.”
  8. “I was sold lies for two years and the worst part is that I believed it because I couldn't combat it with anything else.”
  9. "You make it or you don’t. You either sink or you swim.”
  10. “I could create my own family and I could create it intentionally with what I had learned.”
  11. “We are after all observers of life. We are after all a conduit, a channeler of people. What you haven’t resolved in your life can absolutely become an obstacle in the work that you do.”
  12. “For every one actor who makes it to fame there are fifty thousand more who did exactly the same things, yet didn’t make it.”
  13. “When you’re poor, you live in an alternate reality. It’s not that we have problems different from everyone else, but we don’t have the resources to mask them. We’ve been stripped clean of social protocol.”
  14. “And whereas I can’t live inside yesterday’s pain, I can’t live without it.”
  15. “It’s futile to ask why. Instead ask yourself, ‘What did I learn from this?’” What have I learned from all of it? There is absolutely no way whatsoever to get through this life without scars.”
  16. “Show me the hero. Show me the tragedy. Heroes always cause their own downfalls. I didn't want to be a hero.”
  17. “I’m no longer ashamed of me. I own everything that has ever happened to me. The parts that were a source of shame are actually my warrior fuel. I see people—the way they walk, talk, laugh, and grieve, and their silence—in a way that is hyper-focused because of my past. I’m an artist because there’s no separation from me and every human being that has passed through the world including my mom.”
  18. “Luck is an elusive monster who chooses when to come out of its cave to strike and who will be its recipient. It’s a business of deprivation.”
  19. “Memories are immortal. They're deathless and precise. They have the power of giving you joy and perspective in hard times. Or, they can strangle you. Define you in a way that's based more in other people's tucked-up perceptions than truth.”
  20. “Everything had been hard for me. I mastered hard. Now, I wanted joy.”

TAKE TEN with Dr. Velma Bagby, author of THE CATCH Series


by Cyrus Webb

Dr. Velma Bagby is an individual on a mission. In 2022 she started an important series of conversations about dating and marriage with the release of her Catch Series. Now that we are into 2023 she is releasing her third book in the series called THE WRONG CATCH. 

In this recap of 2022 we talked about the response to THE CATCH, her freedom of speech about marriage and relationships and what it's been like to be leading a movement. 

Dr. Velma, congratulations again on the success with THE CATCH NO ONE WANTS. What has it been like for you to see how readers are enjoying the story?

I am in awe! The responses have been more than I expected. Based on feedback from the reviewers, Clubhouse conversations, and podcast interviews, I’ve heard from readers who understood and appreciated Veronica’s journey with her dad’s support. Readers felt their relationship was special.

Regarding the fish stories, some said, “Where was this book when I dated all four of the fish in the book?” And one reviewer said they were ordering a second book for “a co-worker who is dating a Catfish.” I love the fact that readers are referring to the characters’ fish titles, such as the catfish or the pufferfish. Hearing and reading these responses encourages me, but also confirms what I hoped—that women find something they can relate to or find nuggets in the book that they can use for themselves or share with others. One surprising outcome was the fact that several men also found the book interesting as well.

You have written other books before The Catch series. What do you think separates the novel THE CATCH NO ONE WANTS FROM THEM?

The CATCH is different in the sense that it represents my debut in the Christian Contemporary Fiction genre. This genre provided me the ability to begin a new journey in storytelling and as a result, it became more than a story that entertains.

The reactions to the book have also made it feel different from all my other books. Besides the special relationship of a daughter and father, there were many who reacted to the use of the fish analogies which shows the similarities between the personalities of fish and men—some felt the analogy was “genius,” while others were excited about how the comparisons were both fascinating and perfectly matched. While a guest on a radio panel, the host asked me to introduce my book. Afterwards, another participant on the show remarked, “The fish stories sound like they can be in a play or movie.” Hearing the words was inspiring.

Although there are entertaining elements in the book, more importantly, is the underlying message. In the end, after all the components were in place for the stories, I felt such a sense of accomplishment when the book was complete.

We have had a chance to talk about how your writing journey started. When did you know that writing was something you were meant to do?

Writing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I did not consider myself a writer until sometime later. While growing up in church, I wrote skits for the children’s church and youth groups. As a Bible Study teacher, I created content for class discussions, as well as the degree courses for the school of biblical studies. Later in my work life, I designed and developed programs, conducted continuous process improvements, as well as created training modules for new managers. As I look back on my career, I discovered that my favorite aspect of my job as a Deputy Administrator in the State government was my love for continuous improvement—whether it was a program, a process, or a person looking for a career. This experience helped me discover my love for making a program or process more efficient and client driven. Driving this work was my desire to improve the experience of the staff who performed a service, while also improving the benefits a person received after accessing the service.

Later, with my daughters’ encouragement, I felt the call to publish my first book after retiring from my State government job in 2012. The book was based on our conversations around a question they asked, “Mom, why are men so slow?” It took some time to dig a little deeper into the scriptures for answers before I responded to their question. My two registered nurses were not interested in fluff and would expect a more in-depth discussion. Because of where they were in their lives, I needed to familiarize myself with what the scripture said about singles and marriage. I set aside all the ‘how-to’ books in my library and studied the scripture; and as a result, discovered some new things I had not seen before. My conversations with my daughters resulted in my messaging—to “date with intent” and the fact that “marriage belongs to God—we just get the benefit of having a mate.” As we began having regular conversations about God’s process of presenting their mates, with a focus on working on themselves, they found what I shared intriguing and wanted to know more. As our conversations progressed, they shared our talks with friends, and those friends wanted to know more—soon, my daughters encouraged me to put our conversations in a book.

My debut as an author occurred with my first published nonfiction book in 2018, “Your Adam Is Asleep Until God Opens His Eyes—A conversation between a mother and her daughters about men.” This was my first book about dating, relationships, and marriage. It was a call to action for singles, who focused more on the search for a man than taking time to prepare themselves for marriage, and for married couples looking for a reset.

Talking about relationships is not always easy. You have even written about your own relationships and marriage. Have you always been so transparent?

Yes, I try to be open and transparent. I remember talking with my daughters and husband about how important it was for us to be transparent when I prepared to publish my first nonfiction book. I wanted the book to reflect our truth. We agreed it was important to be open and honest so that what we talked about would resonate with those reading the book.

In the Kindle of “My 70s Love Story,” I wanted to be honest about the process of discovering my mate. The story includes some humor about how God did it, as well as the bumps in the road along the way. I learned the importance of yielding to God’s timing and His way.

In my first fiction book, “A Place Called Down-Why Christians Suffer,” I wrote about an experience suffering from three health attacks during 2019, which lasted most of the year. I provided my initial reaction, which was to question, “why me?” I felt as a believer, I was doing everything a good Christian should at the time and questioned why this season was happening. I shared what God showed me and what He taught me through the experience.


Along with the novel THE CATCH NO ONE WANTS you also released a non-fiction work called THE CATCH NO ONE WANTS Homework Basket in 2022. Talk with us about what led to your releasing that book?

The Homework Basket was not in my initial plan, but the idea developed during the editing process. Fiction books require that we not include a lot of scripture references, although we can address them in our writing. I struggled with following the instructions of my editor to remove the sections related to the material the father provided because I did not know what to do with the information. It was my belief that the readers may want the handouts the father provided his daughter in that wicker basket at the end of their trip. 

The Homework Basket included workbooks, handouts, and more. He instructed his daughter to review and complete the material as part of her work to make improvements and prepare herself for her mate. It was then I realized the perfect place for the material was to create a book entitled the Homework Basket or a study guide. It is perfect for book club discussions, ministry groups, or personal study. One reviewer remarked, “I started reading the book and was like let me take notes but realized this homework basket was perfect for note-taking.”

We have talked about intentional dating. What is that, and how does it change the way we approach dating versus what we see in the world?

In everything we set out to accomplish in our lives, we create a goal and keep that target in front of us as a reminder of what we are working towards—whether it is college, career, successful business, or other goals. Each day, we may remind ourselves of what we need to do to achieve our goal, by adding education, training, connecting with the right people, adding experience, a list of tasks needed, or even a vision board. Some can even take it further by using an assessment tool to measure their success. Whatever action is necessary to achieve the goal, we apply what’s needed to continue moving towards the mark. These actions show we are deliberate in our actions because they support what we hope to achieve.

With intentional dating, marriage is the goal—it is the message that the person is dating with an intent (purpose) to marry. The individual takes the steps needed to help achieve that goal—including preparing themselves for their future mate. Therefore, it is a strategic approach to dating, like the principles used with business goals. Some steps include: asking intentional dating questions early to determine what is in the mind of the other person, determining if the person also has a marriage goal, so you do not waste time with a person who does not share your goal, it has an emphasis on identifying quality characteristics of the person and on looking at their commitment to God, their faith and more.

In dating with an intent to marry, the person has established their goal, and to achieve that goal, they will create the tasks that will help them achieve it. 

You have been active on social media even before the release of THE CATCH NO ONE WANTS. What has that been like for you to touch the world online?

The most profound experience was when I began posting snippets from my book, “My 70s Love Story.” I could not believe how many high schoolers began following me. It was as if they were fascinated by the 70s dating experience—when life was simpler. I even compared the 70s dating experience to pandemic dating, after the pandemic hit. The pandemic did not allow dates to meet in person, conversations were by Instagram or phone, This experience helped me to find an audience for dating issues.

When people read THE CATCH NO ONE WANTS what do you hope they remember about Veronica’s journey?

Veronica’s dad is a pastor who wanted to ensure his children and the singles in his church understood the difference between dating socially and dating with an intent (purpose) to marry. Dating for marriage changes the strategies, the goal, the questions, and the approach to dating. I explain the principles of dating with an intent to marry in more detail through the lives of the book characters and even more in the Homework Basket.

Veronica’s journey represents a story of hope and redemption—initially lost, thanks to her dad, Veronica was able to find her way. This book was written with the hope that Veronica’s story will resonate with other single women who have faced or will face similar challenges in their dating lives. It’s my hope this book provides them answers, insight, laughter, reality, help, and hope. End the end, may the readers find useful tools to help them achieve their marriage goal. 

Dr. Velma, what advice do you have for others when it comes to writing and sharing their story?

It is never too late to realize your dream. If I can begin my journey at age 64, you are not too late. This is your goal, so put in the work. Read as many “how-to books” as you can to understand what’s required for the genre you plan to write. Read books of others within the genre you are interested in so that you can learn from published authors. This is not an island experience, connecting with other authors for support and to learn is helpful. Sign up for their blog, especially if they blog about the writing journey.

10. Thanks again for your time. How can our readers stay connected with you? 

Thank you for the opportunity. They can find me at the following:

Website: https://drvelma.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrVelmaB

Instagram/Coach: https://www.instagram.com/drvelma_coach

Instagram/Author: https://www.instagram.com/drvelmabagby_author

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BagbyVelma

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-velma-bagby-85b476125

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18185844.Velma_Bagby


Author Manswell T. Peterson: Creating a World All His Own


by Cyrus Webb

For years author Manswell T. Peterson has been building a literary empire, creating a world and lane all his own and welcoming readers around the world to join him. Writing for all ages and interests, he is living proof that if you build the world you want to live in others will be willing to come along.

In 2022 he expand on his skills, setting the bar higher for those in his sphere. We had a chance to talk about 2022 and his literary journey.      

Manswell, congratulations on another great year. What has it been like for you to reflect on all you were able to do in 2022?

Wow. Doing 15 books was an amazing experience. Gaining new readers in different states and overseas has been exciting. 

Have you always known that storytelling was what you were meant to do?

Yes. It started in the 5th grade and the love of it never went away. I was always encouraged by my teachers to continue writing and one day the world would see it.

In 2022 and earlier this year we saw you release books for adults as well as young readers. Have you always had a love for both audiences?

Yes, the love of readers and helping them escape reality, even its for just a small time is a joy. The emails and phone calls with them enhance that purpose. I even take the time to talk to my readers on the phone. This adds to their experience and brings us closer together. 

Part of your gift has been bringing your audiences into your storylines. Where do you normally find your inspiration for your novels? 

It's a mixture of people watching, reading, and watching TV shows/movies. That's the craziest thing about being a writer: you can always find a different way to spice up a scene or bring more drama to any project. 

Social media has definitely changed the way readers and authors connect. How have you been able to use it for yourself?

We actually do FaceTime calls with book clubs, but I also use it to have one-on-ones with readers individually. To hear how a story has impacted their lives is an amazing thing. 


The other thing I’ve noticed about you, Manswell, is your ability to address different type of situations in your novels. That means you have definitely found a comfort level in your storytelling. Have you always had that level of confidence in telling the stories you want to tell?

I actually use to be afraid of doing this early on in my writing career. Now I find that readers love that I mix in some real life situations that they see in their everyday lives. I do my best to handle that with a sensitive touch and never push too hard. 

For those that are just discovering your work what book would you suggest they start with?

Man oh man...I always tell readers if they want to know me as an author/person to read 'Tracks of My Tears' first. Then it really depends on what genre they like/love. Right now my Paranormal/Magical/Romance series The Locrottum Universe is giving readers a different twist on what they were used to.

All are available on Amazon and free for Kindle Unlimited users. 

You have done what so many authors have dreamed of doing: built a loyal audience. What advice would you give to aspiring authors based on your experience?

Be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your fan base. Keep putting out good books and the people will talk. Ignore the noise, because there will always be someone telling you to stop writing. 

Can you give us an idea of what to expect from you in 2023?

There will be over 20 books: more drama and more romantic twists to keep readers guessing. 

Also, fingers crossed on a couple of projects for major streaming services. I can't wait to see how these negotiations go, but will definitely be excited to share it

Thanks for your time, Manswell. How can our readers stay connected with you?

They can find me on Facebook, Instagram,  and TikTok. 


[REVIEW] Want to really make the difference in your community? Akbar Cook shows how to FOCUS ON THE LOVE

 

In the world we live in it is easy to have a title. We hear about people in leadership positions all the time, but are they really leaders Do they really have what it takes to motivate, inspire and push others to be their best selves? That is what Akbar Cook talks about in his book FOCUS ON THE LOVE.

Giving real examples, including that of his own, he shows us what it takes to TRULY be a leader, not in word but in deed. We have to understand the needs of those we work with and do our part to encourage them to see their own worth and value. Cook has been able to do this in the kids and community activities he has been a part of, but it has been reinforced by the words and deeds of others, too.

This book is great for those who are either already taking the lead in some form or want to see what it takes to be effective. The big takeaway for me is that love has to be the force behind all that we do. That will keep us focused and determined to not just win for ourselves but enjoy the satisfaction of raising up other winners and leaders.

Get your copy of FOCUS ON THE LOVE on Amazon

Paulette Harper: Using Her God-Given Gifts to Help Others Answer the Call


by Cyrus Webb

For years bestselling author Paulette Harper has been able to use her God-given abilities to inspire and empower individuals around the world. I've had the opportunity to interview her several times on our various platforms, and each time she shows not just appreciation for her gifts but the joy she feels in being able to help others.

She was busy in 2022 with several projects including her own podcast, and into 2023 Paulette shows the importance of rising up and answering the call each and every day.

 Paulette, when did you know that part of your mission was to inspire others?

My mission to inspire others came years before I started writing books. My first mandate is to preach, so sharing an impactful message has been in me. Writing to inspire others is something God has equipped me with because of the things I have experienced in life. Those experiences have shaped, developed, and caused me to use my gifts beyond the four walls of the church. 

 Books are just one way you have reached your audience. Did you always know that being an author was something you were meant to do?

 No. I didn’t get the nudge to write my first book until I was going through one of the worse times in my life — a divorce. I had no idea that writing books would be the vehicle God would use to redirect my life, expand my reach, and allow me to make a greater impact on those I’m assigned to.

Along your journey you have produced collaborative projects with other authors. Where did that desire come from to help share the stories of others?

After I published a few solo projects, I got the idea to ask other writers to join me as in co-authoring my first book collaboration. I knew there were other aspiring authors, who for whatever reason, were sitting on the sidelines wanting to write, but needed the push. It started with seven women who had powerful stories to share and voices that needed to be unmuted.

   How has the accomplishment of being a bestselling author and helping others accomplish that achievement impacted you?

Becoming a bestseller multiple times has been very rewarding. Along with the implied impact to readers, it also indicates that readers know the stories I publish are empowering, life-changing and worth their time to read. I believe in offering others the opportunity to experience the transformation of becoming a best-selling author. I take pride in wanting those who partner with me to have an amazing experience of knowing what it really means to become an author, and how to live in that moment when their dreams become reality.

 What is your advice for aspiring authors and writers?

                I’ll give three pieces of advice for aspiring authors.

                1. I would highly recommend to those who are aspiring to become authors to be patient    with the process of becoming well known. Connecting with your audience and  branding yourself will take time. Especially for new writers the market is flooded with books for readers to choose from so by keeping this in mind you must be able to patiently   wait your time to shine.

                 2. Promote, promote, promote. I would suggest they start early. Start creating the buzz     about   your book months in advance. Look on the internet for ways to reach your readers, having a web site designed, flyers and if one can afford it, hire someone as a     publicist.

                 3. And promote some more.  I can’t stress that enough. Your book/books will stay alive if you keep them in front of your audience. No one is best suited than you to promote and market your products. If writing is your passion, you will continue promoting and marketing your books even when it appears like no one is buying.

  Great advice indeed. Tell us, Paulette, what’s next for you?

                I’ll be launching One Story University. One Story University is an online school that provides nonfiction aspiring authors with a step-by-step process on how to write    and publish their self- help, how to, and personal story books in 90 days.

 How can we keep connected with you online?

 Website: https://pauletteharper.com

 Business website: Write Now Virtual Book Tours www.wnlbooktours.com

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010047302425

 Clubhouse: https://www.joinclubhouse.com/@pauletteharper

 IG: https://www.instagram.com/pauletteharper1/

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/pauletteharper

Thursday, April 13, 2023

With LONG DAYS, SHORT YEARS Andrew Bomback looks at the history and unknowns of parenting


As someone who doesn't have children of my own but has grown up around lots of children, Andrew Bomback's BOOK LONG DAYS, SHORT YEARS is a welcome read. I love how he is able to take a look at the history of parenting, the challenges and unknowns that parents deal with along with his own adventures as a parent.

The book shows how the ideals of the time or of some can shape the way we see our child and ourselves. It also calls into question I think the idea of being busy all the time not necessarily being the best strategy when we are putting the child and their welfare front and center. 

It's informative, fun and definitely gives you much food for thought as to how personal parenting can be. That is why I think it's a book that parents and those around children will definitely find enjoyable. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Conversations' Top 20 Books for Young Readers of 2022

 


Conversations Media Group is proud to share it's choices for Top20 Books for Young Readers of 2022.

Curated by Cyrus Webb, this list continues our commitment to recognizing some of the top books of the year that we believe should be on your reading list.


Conversations' Top 20 Book for Young Readers of 2022 (listed in no particular order)

  1. Marcus Makes It Big by Kevin Hart (Crown)
  2. No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado (Holiday House)
  3. The Little Sandals that Could by Tina Siemens (Tina Siemens)
  4. Welcome to the Big Kids Club by Chelsea Clinton (Philomel Books)
  5. Dear Friends by Pops the Club Anthology (Out of the Woods Press)
  6. You Don't Know What War Is by Yeva Skalietska (Union Square & Co.)
  7. Why Not You? by Ciara and Russell Wilson (Random House)
  8. Grateful to be Grace by Maggie Williams (Loving Healing Press)
  9. Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys/ Andrew Weiner (Harper Alley)
  10. Shine On Brown Girl by Lakeasha Williams (OSG Publications)
  11. Always with You, Always with Me by Kelly Rowland and Jessica McKay (Viking)
  12. My Grief Is Like the Ocean by Jessica Biles and Jillian Kelly-Wavering (Loving Healing Press)
  13. Braylen the Bear & Friends: Forever Friends by Dr. Latonya M. Peterson and Manswell T. Peterson (OmegaMan Publishing)
  14. Marvelous Mabel by Crystal Hubbard (Lee & Low Books, Inc.)
  15. Bobby: A Story of Robert F. Kennedy by Deborah Wiles (Scholastic Press)
  16. Sometimes I Grumblesquinch by Rachel Vail (Orchard Books)
  17. Daddies and Daughters Stick Together by Aissatou Balde and Diariatou Sow (Bird Upstairs)
  18. The Islanders: Search for Treasure by Mary Alice Monroe (Aladdin)
  19. Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas (Harper Alley)
  20. Remarkably Ruby by Terri Libenson (Balzer + Bray)

Conversations' Top 40 Fiction Books of 2022

 

Conversations Media Group is proud to share it's choices for Top 40 Fiction Books of 2022.

Curated by Cyrus Webb, this list continues our commitment to recognizing some of the top books of the year that we believe should be on your reading list. 

Conversations' Top 40 Fiction Books of 2022 (listed in no particular order)

  1. The Widow by Kaira Rouda (Thomas & Mercer)
  2. Don't Cry for Me by Daniel Black (Hanover Square Press)
  3. Long Shadows by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing)
  4. Good Morning, Love by Ashley M. Coleman (Simon and Schuster)
  5. Next in Line by Jeffrey Archer (Harper Collins)
  6. The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb (Anchor Books)
  7. Strangers We Know by Elle Marr (Thomas and Mercer)
  8. The Break by Katie Sise (Little a)
  9. The Eighty-Year-Old Sorority Girls by Robin Benoit (Brown Books)
  10. Blue Like Me by Aaron Philip Clark (Thomas and Mercer)
  11. An International Affair by Iris Bolling (Siri Austin Entertainment)
  12. Life Dust by Pam Webber (She Writes Press)
  13. Blast by Robert Blake Whitehill (Calaveras Media)
  14. The Catch No One Wants by Dr. Velma Bagby (Adoni Publishing)
  15. Daisy by Libby Sternberg (Bancroft Press)
  16. Princess of Wolves by Manswell T. Peterson (Omegaman Publishing)
  17. The Thread Collectors by Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman (Graydon House)
  18. I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel)
  19. The Family You Make by Jill Shalvis (William Morrow)
  20. The Light Always Breaks by Angela Jackson-Brown (Harper Collins)
  21. girls in search of cover by Pamela Mariva Mshana (Seven Visions)
  22. One Dead Activist (A David Price Mystery) by Tony Lindsay
  23. He Won't Go by Stacey Covington-Lee (SCL Novel Publications)
  24. Mrs. England by Stacey Halls (Harper Collins)
  25. Later by Colette R. Harrell (International Entertainment, LLC)
  26. Double Exposure by Jeannee Sacker (Ten 16 Press)
  27. They Come at Knight by Yasmin Angoe (Thomas & Mercer)
  28. The Shadow of Memory by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane)
  29. Loyal to a Fault by Omar Scott (Outskirts Press)
  30. Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter (William Morrow)
  31. The Local by Joey Hartstone (Doubleday)
  32. Island Secrets by Nina Foxx (Clever Vixen Media, LLC)
  33. The Rewind by Allison Winn Scotch (Berkley Romance)
  34. The Color of Ice by Barbara Linn Probst (She Writes Press)
  35. Never Meant to Meet You by Alli Frank and Asha Youmans (Montlake)
  36. The Astronaut and the Star by Jen Comfort (Montlake)
  37. She's Up to No Good by Sara Goodman Confino (Lake Union)
  38. Like Me by Hayley Phelan (Lake Union Publishing)
  39. Racing the Light by Robert Crais (Putnam)
  40. Dragon's Eye by Gregor Pratt (St. Armands Press)


Monday, April 10, 2023

Conversations' Top 40 Non-Fiction Books of 2022

 


Conversations Media Group is proud to share it's choices for Top 40 Non-Fiction Books of 2022.

Curated by Cyrus Webb, this list continues our commitment to recognizing some of the top books of the year that we believe should be on your reading list.

Conversations' Top 40 Non-Fiction Books of 2022 (listed in no particular order)

  1. Finding Me by Viola Davis (Harper One)
  2. Reclaiming Your Community by Marjora Carter (Berret-Koehler Publisher)
  3. The Woman Beyond the Attic: The V. C. Andrews Story by Andrew Neiderman (Gallery Books)
  4. Smart Brevity by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz (Workman)
  5. Anna by Amy Odell (Gallery Books)
  6. If You Only Knew: Letters From an Immigrant Teacher by Emily Francis (Seidlitz Education)
  7. What Would Gen-Z Do? by John Schlimm (Familius)
  8. Coming Home by Cleon Jones (Triumph)
  9. Brighter By the Day by Robin Roberts (Grand Central Publishing)
  10. Master Your Digital Business Like a Boss by Omegia Keeys (AboutFace Media)
  11. Her Battle. My Lessons. Our Journey. by Shawn C. Mackey, Sr. (Shawn C. Mackey)
  12. Love Me As I Am by Garcelle Beauvais (Amistad)
  13. Illustrated Black History by George McCalman (Harper One)
  14. The Way Up by Errol L. Pierre (Wiley)
  15. Accidental Kindness by Michael Stein, M.D. (UNC Press)
  16. Don't Bump the Record, Kid by Mark Thompson
  17. The Book of Jose by Fat Joe (Roc Lit)
  18. The NBC In Black and White by Ray Scott (Seven Stories Press)
  19. Walking In My Joy (In These Streets) by Jenifer Lewis (Amistad)
  20. Heart of a Warrior by Fa-apepele Hunkin (TC Publishing)
  21. The Indoctrination of Separation by Dennis J. Perkins (Xulon Press)
  22. The Prophetic Lens by Phil Allen, Jr. (Fortress Press)
  23. The Fame Game by Ramon Hervey II (Harper Collins)
  24. Heart Peaces by Tracy Carzell (Tracy Carzell)
  25. Swimming with the Blowfish by Jim Sonefeld (Diversion Books)
  26. The Steal by Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague (Atlantic Monthly Press)
  27. Enough of the Bull$hit! by Zack Teperman (Zack Teperman)
  28. From Scratch by David Moscow and Jon Moscow (Permuted Press)
  29. Caught with My Pants Down by Jim Piddock (DartFrog Books)
  30. Miles to Go by Brennen Matthews (New Mexico Press)
  31. Icons & Instincts by Vincent Paterson (Rare Bird)
  32. Valuable by Forrest Clay-Suggs (AboutFace Media)
  33. Linked by Omar Garriott and Jeremy Schifeling (Workman Publishing)
  34. Being A Black Man...It's Harder than You Think by Toneal M. Jackson (APS Publishing)
  35. Still on Fire by Renee Linnell (Pink Skeleton Publishing)
  36. Still no Word from You by Peter Orner (Catapult)
  37. Uncultured by Daniella Mestyanek Young (St. Martin's Press)
  38. Why Am I So Anxious? by Dr. Tracey Marks (DK Publishing)
  39. My name is Jason. Mine too. by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin (Atheneum)
  40. My Wonderful, Wacky Family by Chicken Soup for the Soul (Chicken Soup for the Soul)

Saturday, April 1, 2023

[To You, From Me] Celebrating 16 (and a half) years of Conversations Magazine

As you dive into this issue of Conversations Magazine there are two things I want to say: THANK YOU, and I'm sorry. 

What you are currently reading is a labor of love that began in 2022, the ACTUAL YEAR that Conversations Magazine turned 16. This issue is a nice snapshot of the amazing profiles I have been privileged to share in the pages of Conversations since it began in my parents' living room back in April 2006. The mission has remained the same, however, we have definitely grown and expanded over the years.

For your support I say THANK YOU. This would NOT be possible without the individuals who share their stories with me, the readers who continue to show their support and the advertisers who trust me to amplify their messages. This is a team effort, and together we have given the world something that I am proud of.

Now more to the apology. As I mentioned this issue was due to reach you in 2022, however, life happened to me in ways that made my giving it the proper release impossible. I have been extremely blessed over the past 16 years, yet with that success has come situations that take time to deal with and process. I want to apologize to you, the reader, for its tardiness. I want to apologize to our advertisers. Though we are gearing up for the 17th anniversary now of this publication, there was NO WAY I wasn't going to give you this issue. You have waited long enough.

There are lots of exciting things happening with Conversations Media Group and my team over the next several months. Some will be shared here in this publication soon. Others you'll find on my social media.

I welcome you to sit back and enjoy the journey with me. The best, I promise, is yet to come. Thank you for allowing us to continue feeding your love of life. 


Happy reading! 



Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief 
Conversations Magazine/ Mississippi Success Magazine