Tuesday, June 20, 2023

[BOOK REVIEW] Lost your way? Dr. Teresa A. Smith's TRANSFORMATION: The Bounce Back helps you get back on track


No matter who many lessons we believe we have learned or how far we have come in life, there are times when things happen that remind us there is more to learn. 

Dr. Teresa A. Smith is someone I  have followed for some time, and though she has overcome so much and thriving, her new book TRANSFORMATION: The Bounce Back shows that even she is still learning the important lessons of life.

The book shows that even as a bestselling author and motivational speaker Teresa is still having to take her own advice. And when she doesn't, it leads her spiraling down a path that threatened everything she has worked for.

"I had subtle warnings, but Ignored them," she writes in the book. "When we consistently ignore the physical warning, the body adjusts, and the signs that once caught our attention no longer do."

Facing uncertainty, however, she realized what she had to do, and that is what she shares in The Bounce Back, letting our do the work that she is doing so we can get to a place or healing and wholeness again.

Great for those looking to make changes in their lives and commit to themselves again, TRANSFORMATION: The Bounce Back helps you get back on track if you have lost your way. 

Get your copy on Amazon

Monday, June 19, 2023

[BOOK REVIEW] D. G. Torrens' ONE FOR SORROW is another chilling story of survival. You won't be able to forget it!


Author D. G. Torrens is a talented storyteller that brings you into the pain and peril of her characters and guide you through the other side. With ONE FOR THE SORROW we have another powerful heroine in Avery Masters who must navigate the pain of the past and the present and find the will and strength to survive.

he book is something that will draw the reader in, mainly because it's something that is so real and relatable. Finding someone who seems to love you for you, promising to undo the darkness of the pain---that is until you realize they have their own darkness to replace it.

What we see in Avery is not just the feeling of being trapped, but the journey of loving oneself enough to want better. Thankfully she isn't alone. Avery has friends that want to see her get to a place of happiness and healing. Will she let them help her towards the light or will it be too late?

For those looking for a suspenseful read that grabs you and keeps you engaged from beginning to end ONE FOR SORROW is the kind of book you'll devour. It's a chilling story of survival that you won't soon forget. 

Get ONE FOR SORROW on Amazon

[BOOK REVIEW] Seth Lusk shares what you have to give up in order to gain

 Sometimes in life we feel as though we are experiencing everything in a vacuum, that no one can understand us and what we're dealing with. For those who wonder if there is hope for them and their current situation, Seth Lusk shares some insight in his thoughtful book WHAT I REALLY WANT IS... BUT I'M JUST TO FULL OF...

Though he is a life coach Seth shows that he doesn't have it all figured out, and taking us on his journey I think the reader is better able to understand the importance of not giving up on themselves as they try to navigate the complications of the journey called life.

Will there be disappointments and setbacks? Absolutely. Can you make it in spite of all of that comes your way? Seth gives a definitive 'You better believe it.'

For me one of the most powerful lessons Seth learned that he shares is about love. It's something that has helped me in my life over the past 10 years as I have embraced and enjoyed single life. So many look for look in others. Seth reminds us that if we don't love ourselves there is no way we will be able to fully appreciate and enjoy true love. Having others love us is great, but it's no good if we don't realize it has to start within.

Ready to get what you say you want in life? WHAT I REALLY WANT IS... BUT I'M JUST TOO FULL OF... reminds us that sometimes we have to give up in order to gain. 

Get your copy on Amazon

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Thursday, April 1,2005 -- "The Art of Staying Alive" by Gary Pettus for The Clarion Ledger

(FLASHBACK: This article appeared in the Clarion Ledger newspaper on Thursday, April 1,2005 -- "The Art of Staying Alive" by Gary Pettus)

When he was 10 or so he stole a kiss from his fifth-grade teacher. As a teen, he tried to steal his own life.

What happened to Cyrus Webb during the years in between? Between that triumphant moment of childhood crush and the days when his heart abandoned him?

He was trying to find his way as an artist, but it was too dark.


He remembers that single teardrop--the memory, a mixture of pride and regret.

It fell from the eye of a young boy, a transparent streak of liquid pain melting into his cheek.

It was a drawing. A self-portrait, of sorts.

The Real Me, he called it.

To meet Cyrus Webb today is to wonder if that could still be true. For the man who has re-created himself as C. A. Webb, his professional alter ego, how could it?

C. A. is too strong.

At only 29, without a college education, the 1994 Brandon High School graduate is now an artist, businessman, radio and TV talk show host, arts columnist, poet, novelist. He's a management consultant for two singers.

He has a reputation as a mentor. "He has a certain, almost indescribable, quality of being able to connect to the kids," says Robert Langford, executive director of Operation Shoestring, an non-profit agency that provides services for low-to-middle-income families.

Webb has translated his dreamy love of the arts into the practical ability to tutor children--in music, drama, writing and more, in Operation Shoestring's after-school program. He didn't come by this love honestly.

"I'm the only artist in my family. The only oddball," he says, with smile that is as shy as liquid mercury. "The only one in my immediate family who's left-handed."

With that left hand, he began drawing, at age 5 or 6. The writing came later, he says. "I always liked to think of other worlds, other places. Art and writing became an outlet for me. I always liked escaping."

If Webb enjoys escaping today, he has a funny way of showing it. Several days a week, he can be found inside the Jackson Medical Mall or Metrocenter manning his kiosks--mini-emporiums of his self-published novellas and books of poety, color prints, greeting cards and more.

Melvin Anderson, executive director of the Jackson Human and Cultural Services, helped Webb place his kiosk in the medical mall.

"People need to see the kinds of things he's offering," Anderson says. "He's a very talented man who has a lot to offer to the community. Probably 75 to 100 people come by his display every day, if not more."

On the third Saturday of every month, re-commencing on April 23, Webb will be found on WAPT-Channel 16 as host of Conversations with C. A. Webb. An interview show featuring the arts community's "movers and shakers," it echoes the format and title of his radio show on WMPR 90.1 FM broadcast at 7:30 on Tuesday nights.

He also can be found sitting on the boards of arts and other community organizations. He can be found giving, or emceeing, poetry readings at Smith Robertson Museum.

Now, if only someone could find The Real Me.

It was stolen from the lobby of the hotel he used to work in not long ago. He hasn't seen the original drawing since. Only prints exist.

It was the first drawing he made after the surgery on his hands. He hasn't re-created it, he says with a sigh.

"I've never been able to duplicate that tear."


The tears that fell later in his life might have been forecast by his fifth-grade teacher, like a far-off storm.

"He was to himself a lot," says retired teacher Sara Mason-Thomas of Jackson, who taught Webb at Brandon Middle School.

"He was well-mannered. But he always wanted to be the last in line. Never in front. Always in back, with his arms folded.

"He never wanted to play games. He would sit there and draw during class time.

"There were only five or six black kids in the classroom. I didn't want him to be an outcast. So I stayed on him, as well as everybody else in the room. And I didn't allow them to criticize him or talk bad about each other."

Then on Valentine's Day, the shy kid "shocked" her. "He asked me to bend down, he had something to tell me," she says. "I leaned over, and he kissed me.

"I said 'OK, now go sit down.' I really didn't know it hurt his feelings until I ran into him the other day, and he told me so."


It was just one more disappointment handed down to him by the adults in his life. one of the many hurts that were, at least in part, his fault.

"I'd always been a 'yes' person," Webb says. "But I found I couldn't be everything people wanted me to be. They wanted to live through me, to be a mirror for what they wanted to be, but didn't have the opportunity.

"And it goes back to the mindset that if you're not a doctor or a lawyer, you're not a success."

His family has since come around, he says. "In the end, they just wanted me to be successful.

"They didn't know how I could do that as an artist or writer, and without college."

But, at one time, the pressure to be someone else turned him into an enemy--a foe, not of his family, but of himself.

"I don't know why I thought I had the right to take my life," he says.

"I guess, finally, it was maturity that made me realize how stupid that was."

He tried to commit suicide three times. The last time, at age 20, with a drug overdose.

Multiplying his depression at the time was this: He began suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful or numbing condition of the hands and wrists caused by repetitive movement. "I was afraid I wouldn't be able to draw or write," he says, "especially because it affected my left hand more."

In 1995, he underwent surgery on both hands. "I couldn't cut my food," he says. "I couldn't dress myself. When I took a shower, I had to wear plastic bags over my hands."

Finally, the healing process ended. The foreboding did not. He captured it in that teardrop, The Real Me.

To this day, if he works too long at one time, the pain returns---the pain in his hands. As for the other...

"I haven't been able to draw that tear again, to re-create it, honestly, because I haven't been to that point in my life again," Webb says. "I was really feeling it then, but I don't feel it now.

"So, technically, it's not the 'real me' anymore.

"But it would be nice to have that picture."

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Conversations' Summer Reads for Kids, 2023


Looking for some great reads for young readers? Conversations is pleased to share 10 great books that are perfect summer reads for kids! 

  1. Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King (Scholastic Press)
  2. There Goes the Neighborhood by Jade Adia (Hyperion)
  3. Ellie Engle Saves Herself! by Leah Johnson (Hyperion)
  4. Braylen the Bear & Friends: Forever Friends by Dr. Latonya M. Peterson and Manswell T. Peterson (OmegaMan Publishing)
  5. I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots by Lid'ya C. Rivera (Harper Collins Childrens)
  6. My Grief Is Like the Ocean by Jessica Biles and Jillian Kelly-Wavering (Loving Healing Press)
  7. Good Different by Meg Eden Kuyatt (Scholastic Press)
  8. Promise Boys by Nick Brooks (Henry Holt)
  9. Showdown at Firefly Island by Eli Clark and Gerry Boylan (Gerry Boylan)
  10. We Are Here by Tami Charles (Orchard Books)

Conversations' 25 Authors You Should Know 2023

 As summer approaches, Conversations is excited to share 25 Authors You Should Know in 2023. Some of them might be names you have heard. Others might be new authors who are starting to make their mark. Either way this list brings together 25 authors and books that are sure to keep you engaged and get you talking.


  1. Part of My World by Jodi Benson (Tyndale)
  2. Transformation: The Bounce Back by Dr. Teresa A. Smith (DQ Consulting)
  3. I Am Debra Lee by Debra Lee (Legacy Lit)
  4. A healers Journey to Healing by Porcia Mann (13th & Joan)
  5. What I Really Want Is... But I'm Just Too Full Of... by Seth Lusk
  6. Now Faith by Foster A. Clark (Snyder Press, LLC)
  7. Sunrise by Kristin Abello (Archway Publishing)
  8. From Scratch by David Moscow and Jon Moscow (Permuted Press)
  9. Brer Mack: Struggle & Reward by Isiko Cooks (Peter Mack Presents)
  10. Return to the River by Dave Pelzer (Health Communications, Inc.)
  11. Watching for Dragonflies by Suzanne Marriott (She Writes Press)
  12. Standing Still by William G. Harper, Jr.
  13. The Love You Save by Goldie Taylor (Hanover Square Press)
  14. Dream by Design Inspirational Journal by Melissa Banks
  15. Heart of a Warrior by Fa'apepele Hunkin (TC Publishing)
  16. Coming Home by Cleon Jones with Gary Kaschak (Triumph Books)

  1. The House of Lincoln by Nancy Horan (Sourcebooks)
  2. Blast by Robert Blake Whitehill (Calaveras Media)
  3. The Wrong Catch by Dr. Velma Bagby (Adoni Publishing)
  4. One For Sorrow by D. G. Torrens
  5. Loyal to a Fault by Omar Scott (Outskirts Press)
  6. Havana Hangover by Randy Richardson (Renegade Press)
  7. Super Bloom by Megan Tady (Zibby Books)
  8. Layers of Truth by Rosalie T. Turner (Sun Stone Press)
  9. Mothers Vol. 1 by Ben Burgess, Jr. (Legacy Books)