Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

[To You, From Me] My Love Letter to Books


Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. 

As a child that was my favorite past-time, more so than playing with my toys or with my friends. I have always felt a connection with the written word. Fiction and Non-fiction spoke to me in ways that few things were able to. It was no wonder, then, that I knew that being a writer was something I wanted to pursue as an adult. 

This issue of Conversations Magazine shares that love of books with you, the reader. You'll find interviews and features of both non-fiction and fiction for all ages, with the hope that you will find something that speaks to you and those around you.

On the cover you see authors Manswell T. Peterson and Rosalie Turner, both are authors who are able to not just tell stories but inspire their readers, too. That is the gift I have found that books are able to give. They speak a language that resonates in ways that few things can. Sometimes it's just about finding the right book or author to fit your interests.

My hope with this issue is to introduce you to authors you will want to get to know more about as well as stories that will move you to do SOMETHING in your life. Even if writing or reading doesn't seem to be for you, I believe you will find something in this issue that will connect on some level

Enjoy this love letter to books and the authors that write them.

Happy reading! 

Cyrus Webb, Editor-In-Chief of Conversations Magazine/

Mississippi Success Magazine


Author Rosalie T. Turner: Using Fiction to Share the World's Truth


by Cyrus Webb

One of the things I appreciate about author Rosalie T. Turner is how she uses her gift of storytelling to not just entertain but get readers to thinking. I first learned about her through the novel MARCH WITH ME. Now she has an equally powerful book about race and the sacrifices that comes with change called LAYERS OF TRUTH.

We talk about the book and what she hopes readers to take away from it in this conversation.  

·         Rosalie, you and I first connected with your book MARCH WITH ME. What has it been like to see the response to your work?

Cyrus, it’s been so rewarding to me to see the response. When MARCH WITH ME first came out, most people didn’t know about the Children’s March of 1963 which got us the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I especially enjoyed speaking in schools and universities. To see young people become interested in this important civil rights history really touched my heart.

·         Your book LAYERS OF TRUTH is one of Conversations’ Summer Reads for this year. What inspired it?

I like to find topics that most people don’t know about, and few people really know what happened during Freedom Summer. We’ve lived in Mississippi and as I was doing research and setting up the details to bring university students there for a civil rights history tour, I met several of the foot soldiers. I realized how those foot soldiers had put their very lives on the line working to get Blacks registered to vote. Their names would never be in a history book, and I wanted their names to be known. I wanted to say their names and to tell the unknown backstories. I think that’s important.


What I love about your work is that you help us to discuss turbulent times in history in a way that can bring people together. When did your own love of history begin?

I think it’s just in my DNA, Cyrus. All my family loves history. When I was in high school, I read KILLERS OF THE DREAM by Lillian Smith. I think that was the first spark for my interest specifically in civil rights history.

·         Outside of writing you visit a great deal of historical places, especially with young people. Why has that been important for you?

Making those trips with students and others has become the focus of my husband’s and my life. We fell into it unexpectedly when a professor at Texas A & M U-Commerce (my husband’s alma mater) put together a 3-credit hour class with a week’s tour to historic sights and hearing actual foot soldiers as part of it. My husband and I make all the arrangements and during the tour, we give a lot of background information. We do one tour of Alabama and another for Mississippi every year, and have been doing this for 10 years now, reaching several hundred students and adults.

·         What should our audience expect from you next?

 I’m feeling that “itch” to be working on something, but I’m not quite sure what I want to do next. Right now, I'm working on the rewrite of a story about homelessness for the Middle Grade market. However, there are so many little-known avenues to explore in civil rights history and it is so important that we learn that history. I’m always tempted to write something in that line.

·         Any advice you want to share when it comes to others pursuing their own goals and dreams?

I would continually urge people to pursue those dreams, especially when it comes to writing. We all have stories within us, and it is with the sharing of these stories that we are all enriched.

·         Thanks again for the time, Rosalie. How can our audience stay connected with you?

People could go to my website at and connect through that or follow me on LinkedIn or Instagram. Thanks so much, Cyrus, for this opportunity and for all you do and all you are.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Manswell T. Peterson: Creating His Own Universe (and Legacy) One Book at a Time

 by Cyrus Webb

Manswell T. Peterson is the kind of author who doesn't wait on opportunities to come his way. He creates his own lanes, follows his own rules and has been able to find success with readers along the way.

Though he has written in many genres, what he has created with The Locrottum Universe stands out currently as his crowning achievement, with characters and storylines that keep readers coming back for me. 

In this conversation we talk about the journey to doing what he loves, what it's been like to create his own universe and advice for others wanting to make their own literary dreams come true. 

Manswell, it’s been amazing to watch your success over the past few years. What has it been like for you to see how readers have responded to your work?

Everyday is still amazing. To see readers from all over the country and hearing from them via e-mail or messenger and to see how they fall in love and hate certain characters, shows me that I am on the right track.

The Locrottum Universe has become a big part of your career. How did it all begin?

I thought about it 10 years ago. Mentally, I started working on the series. Next, the writing began. I watch paranormal and fantasy shows a lot. I saw that there were not different factions all in one series. Therefore, I wanted to create my own fantasy world intertwining several factions.

You have not allowed a particular genre to define you or your writing. Did you always believe in your ability to succeed at any type of writing you chose to do?

Yes. I don’t believe there is a genre that I cannot be successful in; and that is because I will study a genre from every angle. I will look at what’s working and what’s not working. I also pay attention to what the fans are asking for. I then do my best to deliver it.

This issue of Conversations Magazine is focusing on books that will be great for readers to explore as summer reads and beyond, especially for children. You have also written children’s books as well. What led you in that direction?

The more e-mails that I got from parents, the more I was concerned that some kids were looking for a new favorite book. My wife and I created Braylen the Bear & Friends because of the warm heart and caring nature of our son, Braylen. I wanted something that ALL kids could gravitate to. And I believe we pulled it off with this series. With 5 books in the series already out, we have kids asking their parents when is the next one coming. That's exciting to see.

Already 2023 has shaped up to be a big year for you, Manswell. One thing that happened was being able to thank a teacher that meant a lot to you. Tell us about that experience.

Almost 40 years ago, while dealing with my mom with her crack cocaine addiction, one of my middle school teachers saw what I was dealing with. She was there and bought me writing supplies. She even bought me a new pair of Reebok tennis shoes that I had to leave in my school locker every day.  This educator meant so much to my survival and who I am today. 

You have also been out and about meeting your readers in person. What is it like meeting your readers and seeing their reactions?

At one function, I sat next to a mom and daughter reading Locrottum Academy 3. I asked the mom was the book good. When she looked up and saw my face, her smile said everything. She began tapping her daughter on the shoulder and when the daughter finally looked up all she could say was, “It’s You”. She said this about 5 times and I asked if she would like me to sign her book and take a picture. Best feeling in the world to me.

Social media is a big part of how we connect with our audiences. How has your relationship with social media evolved over your career?

It allows me to stay in constant contact with readers in real time. When I first begin writing, this was not possible.

You are also big on trying to inspire others to go after their goals and dreams. Why has that been so important for you?

This is about the next generation of writers. I know I can’t write forever. We have to fill the gaps in the literary world as all authors must at some point bid farewell to readers.

Being half-way through the year, what should our readers expect from you next?

Last year I gave the readers 15 books. My goal this year is to beat that number. I have a summer blitz  planned including a new YA Academy series.

Any advice you have for those who are looking to begin their own career as an author? 

I remember a new author told me that they had the worse payday in history where they only made 50 cents that day. I told them about my worst day…..I only made 17 cents. They looked at me stunned. They knew if I could have a bad day like that and survive, they knew they would also.

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

They can find me on Facebook , Instagram and Tiktok under Manswell T. Peterson. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

[BOOK REVIEW] With THE WRONG CATCH Dr. Velma Bagby delivers another timely book about dating and marriage

 Let's face it: talking about relationships can be difficult. Especially when people have a different view of what they expect and what they want from a partner. That is why it's good to have books that can address the topic in a safe space like fiction while giving us the truth about what we should want from a mate and even if we're the right catch for anyone at the present time.

That is what Dr. Velma Bagby has been able to do with her CATCH SERIES. Beginning with THE CATCH NO ONE WANTS we saw how the father and daughter team of Greyson and Veronica were able to come together and using fish analogies get a better understanding of where women (and even men) go wrong when it comes to dating and marriage.

With THE WRONG CATCH we see the two of them take the message to the people, allowing other women to better look at themselves and what they are bringing to the table and accepting as well as what they should want from a potential mate. I love how the book builds on the fish analogies with examples of individuals who have exhibited certain traits, however, it does give us the opportunity to see how people can change. 

A book that is entertaining, engaging and delivers some timely counsel for those looking to date and marry, THE WRONG CATCH is a great catch for men and women to read, enjoy and discuss. 

Get your copy of THE WRONG CATCH on Amazon

[BOOK REVIEW] Full of action, intrigue and timely topics, C. L. Green introduces the world to Slim Pickens

 So many times you pick up a book not knowing what to expect, especially when it comes to an author that is new to you. I went into C. L. Green's SLIM PICKENS & THE SPIDER WEBB TATTOO MYSTERY this way. What I ended up with was a book that takes you into the blurry lines that can be right and wrong, and how Slim Pickens is trying to do his part to right the wrongs he sees without going too far over the line.

This is one of those stories that shows how sometimes those who are in power can use that position for bad, and how there will always be people like Slim Pickens who will stand up for the everyday man and woman. Whether we're talking about corruption, the timely issue of trafficking or even taking advantage of the less fortunate, this book moves quickly towards a path of Slim trying to do the right thing and protect those he cares about along the way.

Looking for a new addition to your action or suspense reading list? SLIM PICKENS & THE SPIDER WEBB TATTOO MYSTERY is a great book to consider. 

Get your copy on Amazon

Saturday, July 15, 2023

[BOOK REVIEW] Looking for your victory? William G. Harper, Jr. reminds you it comes by STANDING STILL

 We all know what it's like to be beaten up by life's challenges and situations. Some of them may have been self-inflicted while others seem to be happening to us without case. No matter the reason for it, it can be a lot to handle, even for those of us who have faith in our Almighty God and his promises. 

What can help us deal with the slings and arrows we face? Author William G. Harper, Jr. says the answer lies in STANDING STILL.

In his new book he shares Biblical examples of those who were tested and went through difficulties and what was able to help them endure. Harper also explains that 'standing still' doesn't mean we do nothing. During that time when things are outside of our control THAT is when we have to rely even more on our Father's promises and what He has said he would do for us. 

This is the kind of book you can read and refer to over and over again, reminding yourself of what God has done before and what He can do again. 

Looking for your victory? William G. Harper, Jr. reminds you it comes by STANDING STILL, keeping the faith and watching God work on your behalf. He's done it before. He's promised to do it again! 

Get your copy on Amazon

[BOOK REVIEW] Navigating the challenges of life, MOTHERS VOL. 1 offers a look at what some will do to survive

 Author Ben Burgess, Jr. is known for telling stories that explore themes that we see in real-life. His book MOTHERS VOL.1 is another example of that, taking us into a family dealing with challenges in life that threaten to destroy them all.

We meet Juanita, a mother who is trying to do right by her sons after tragedy made her a single mother. In addition to just trying to make it, she is dealing with health challenges with her son Jerami and the lure of the streets with her oldest Jalen. Will she lose it all while trying to provide a better life for them---or will her family finally get a break?

This story is sure to resonate with readers, mainly because it's something we can all relate to. What would we do if all we loved was threatened? How do you resist the draw of a better life that comes in the streets while also dealing with the consequences? 

Allowing us to explore the family through the different lenses they are experiencing life, the book gives us a look at what they are facing, how they deal with it and the outcome of it all. 

Definitely a book that speaks to the heart and keeps you engaged from the first chapter. MOTHERS VOL. 1 offers a look at what some will do to survive. 

Get your copy of MOTHERS, VOL. 1 on Amazon

Friday, July 14, 2023

[BOOK REVIEW] In Part Two of GIRLS IN SEARCH OF COVER author Pamela Mshana offers healing and hope

 When I was first introduced to author Pamela Mariva Mshana and her book GIRLS IN SEARCH OF COVER Part 1, it was a fascinating look at how the sins and events of the past can heap trauma on generation after generation. Now with Part 2 we get an idea not just of the backstory of the characters but how they try to move forward even when some would love to hold them back.

The character Carmia really shines in this book, mainly because we see her going through all the emotions that are so easy to relate to: hurt, betrayal, helplessness and then healing and hope. I love how Mshana allows us to see how the characters can pull themselves up, drawing on the strength of their ancestors and realizing that better can be possible for them.

This book is one that shows regardless of where you come from there can be a better outcome for you if you choose it. It also reminds us that just like generational curses can exist, they can also be broken. It all begins with the decision to do so. 

Well written and delivered with heart, GIRLS IN SEARCH OF COVER Part 2 offers the reader some closure mixed with some healing and hope.

Get your copy on Amazon

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

[BOOK REVIEW] Isiko Cooks' BRER MACK takes us into the man behind the words who is also dealing with his actions


by Cyrus Webb 

For those who have followed the career of Isiko Cooks you know he lays it all out on the line for readers, both in his fiction and non-fiction. He keeps it real and relatable, and that is part of why he has been able to build the loyal fanbase that he has. 

With BRER MACK: Struggle & Reward we get a different take on the wordsmith, allowing us to see the makings of the man and his career, and sharing how his actions (both good and otherwise) have impacted him and the life he lives. 

This is the kind of book that takes you not just into the career he has made for himself, but the challenges of building a base and readership under less than ideal situations, as well as the wrong choices that have added to his troubles along the way. We see his dealings with those he loved and how by being honest with himself he realized the impact his words and actions can have on others. 

We also get a look at the accolades along his writing career as well as reviews by readers (myself included)  that have come in along the way.

In the end BRER MACK shows not just the evolution of Isiko Cooks. It reveals the continued journey he finds himself on while trying to take a negative and deliver something worthwhile out of it. 

Get your copy of BRER MACK: Struggle & Reward on Amazon

[MOVIE REVIEW] What an extraordinary look at an extraordinary man. Chevalier introduces us to Joseph Bologne

by Cyrus Webb

 I have to admit that before I started hearing about the movie Chevalier I had never heard of Joseph Bologne. That is why I see this film as so important. Though there are those who will argue about how much is real and what is imagined for Hollywood, Chevalier does a great job of introducing many of us to a man who definitely made a mark---and may have paid the price by almost being erased from history.

Taking just the film into account I love how it showcases his competitive spirit and desire to prove he belongs. That is a message that we can relate to even today. It also shows the role of power and politics in life, and how they can come together to either create opportunities or cause havoc. 

It also shows that even though we might try to forget our past it is there to teach us and to at times guide us. We saw that in Joseph's mother and the lesson he was able to get about how some would always see him---and how by fighting he could show he was so much more than another black man.

A story that inspires and is a cautionary tale of what happens when you fly so high you become a threat to the establishment, Chevalier shows how one man was willing to do all in his power to shake things up and make a difference, regardless of the cost. 

Monday, July 3, 2023

[BOOK REVIEW] In FROM SCRATCH David Moscow reminds us of the human contribution to what we eat

 We do it all the time: go out to eat or buy food and cook it at home. How many times, though, have we thought about how we got that food or the humans involved in making it possible.

In FROM SCRATCH David Moscow takes his own curiosity and love of food around the United States and the world to share that story. He lets us into the jobs needed to get food to the consumer and the cost involved for the planet and the workers. You can't help but look at the process in a different way after reading this book. David sees up close and personal what it takes to keep the food chain moving---and the role all of us can play to make sure those involved are taken care of and appreciated for what they do.

The book teaches you about food you may not have personally experienced before but may become curious about. It also allows you to see how the seemingly "simple" things we take for granted have many components and hands involved to bring it to us.

A book that is engaging and educational, FROM SCRATCH paints a picture of the human contribution to what we eat.

Get FROM SCRATCH on Amazon

Saturday, July 1, 2023

[BOOK REVIEW] For Lyn Barrett CRAZY is not just about her journey. It's about loving herself daily.

No matter what we have experienced in life each day is a new opportunity. With Lyn Barrett she is able to chronicle her journey through trauma and living life in the book Crazy: Reclaiming Life from the Shadow of Traumatic Memory.

It's an open, honest look at her life with her alters and what it's been like to find peace among the pieces while realizing the love she deserves---beginning first with herself. What Lyn Barrett gives us is a look at her own healing and reminds us of what is possible if we're willing to do the work.

Love the way the book shows how she puts herself first, and the importance of realizing that her better days can be in front of her.

For anyone dealing with life's challenges CRAZY will inspire you to love yourself, choose yourself and be the best of you.

Get your copy of CRAZY on Amazon