Sunday, December 5, 2010

Checking In With AC


Hello RSJ Family. I (Dyanne Davis) hope each and every one of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. There are many things I’m giving thanks for; being alive to write this is number one on the list. But I’m most thankful that Bill and I are celebrating 40 years of marriage on December 1st. The fact that we like each other more each day as well as love each other is not a blessing I take lightly. I definitely believe God had a hand in this.

Our prayers are out there for at least another forty years. That means each of us will have to be here so I can tell you that we’re celebrating our 80th. Mark it on your calendar.

There’s so much happening here this month I hardly know where to start. I’ll begin with giving you the link to Brenda Jackson’s website. She has the info up concerning, The Madaris/Westmoreland family cruise. I will tell you its April 30, 2011- May 7, 2011. For the rest of the information you’ll have to visit Brenda’s website. While you’re there click on the link that tells you what’s going on with her movie, Truly Everlasting. There are pictures up of the actors who will star in the movie.

We’re going to switch things around a little bit. Considering we all just finishing stuffing ourselves with a Thanksgiving feast, I thought right here would be the appropriate spot to bring you a message from A.C. Arthur.

A.C Arthur: This post is a combo for me. Being anxious for the holidays and for Slam Jam! One of my favorite dishes to have for the holidays and when I go to this particular restaurant is Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse’s Sweet Potato Casserole. I know there are other locations for this restaurant, but there are two in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area. (A great place to have dinner when you take the Charm City Tour at Slam Jam 2011!)

But in case you’re impatient like me and want to get a taste of this delicious dish immediately, here’s the recipe:

For the crust:
one-half cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
one-half cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
2 tablespoons butter, melted (do not skip this step)

For the sweet potato mixture:
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 6 medium sweet potatoes, baked until fork tender, then peeled and mashed)
1 cup sugar
one-half teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, well-beaten
one-half cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces

Combine ingredients of crust mixture in mixing bowl and reserve.

Combine mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a mixing bowl. Combine thoroughly. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.
Sprinkle the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.
This serves about 8.

Dyanne: Thanks AC, I don’t know about anyone else but combining pecans and sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods, next to mashed potatoes. (smile)

Interview with Author Bettye Griffin

As usual the authors gave great answers. I hope you enjoy their interviews and check out their websites and their work. First up is Bettye Griffin.

Dyanne: Bettye, would you tell us a bit about yourself?

Bettye Griffin: I’m just your average fifty-something, black, left-handed, nearsighted Moonchild who writes. My first romance, At Long Last Love, was published in late 1998. I branched into the broader stories of women’s fiction in 2005 with the publication of The People Next Door. I live in the great dairy state of Wisconsin, about halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. My most recent work of women’s fiction is Trouble Down The Road (a Black Expressions Book Club Main Selection), and my most recent contemporary romance is Save The Best For Last. I’m pleased to say that both novels have been well received, and that all six of my mainstream novels plus any romances published since 2007 are all available for Kindle.

Dyanne: I like your description of yourself. When did you begin writing?

Bettye Griffin: Pretty much as soon as I could. Nobody in those Dick/Jane/Spot readers in the first grade looked like me, something I found disturbing, and I decided to create my own stories! I wrote my first book-length manuscript at 10 years old.

Dyanne: Wow. That’s pretty impressive. A couple of years ago I found one of those books in Wal-Mart and bought it to give away for literacy at a conference. I’m going to have to find another one and color all of the characters so they will look like us. LOL. So, tell us about your first book that was published.

Bettye Griffin: I was just delighted to have my lifelong dream of having a book published fulfilled at last (more than 30 years went by between that first novel I penned and the release of At Long Last Love in 1998). I can’t describe my joy at seeing my book on the stores shelves for the first time…and it really doesn’t diminish with each new release or re-release. It’s also heartwarming to receive reader email when they tell you how your book affected them, or how they related to the characters or experiences. This was especially touching with mail I received after the publication of my mainstream novel If These Walls Could Talk in 2007, at the very beginning of the housing crisis.

Dyanne: If These Walls Could Talk, is a great book. If you could change one thing about your writing career thus far what would it be?

Bettye Griffin: Well, I’ve always done what worked best for me, but in hindsight, there’s a literary agent whose management I spent a couple of years under who I now wish I’d stayed away from.

Dyanne: I think a lot of us have had agents we prayed for and later wondered why that prayer was ever answered. Now for a game of what if. What if you could write your career in writing the way you would want it to be, give me the first line of your dream career.

Bettye Griffin: “Bettye Griffin, in accepting the Pulitzer Prize for her novel [title], dedicated the award to the memory of her late father, James G. Griffin.” (My dad always dreamed of big things for me, bless him.)

Dyanne: Ahh, that is so sweet. I hope that happens. If you could have one wish (selfish) what would it be?

Bettye Griffin: Gee, I don’t really know. It takes very little to make me happy, and I’m already so blessed…I honestly can’t think of anything.

Dyanne: Then considering I have special powers to make dreams come true (not my own though) I’ll have to see what special things I’ can come up with to do for you. What are you working on?

Bettye Griffin: I’m doing ruthless red pen self-edits on my upcoming novel, The Heat of Heat, and sending those on to my in-house editor to catch anything I missed before it goes to press.

Dyanne: I love that title, ‘The Heat of Heat.’ What words of advice would you give to a new writer?

Bettye Griffin: It is very, very tough out there, so you’ve got to submit a story that’s not only well-thought out, but it must have unique-ness and oomph, rather than something that’s been done a hundred times before. Average won’t cut it. And be sure to dot your I’s and cross your T’s, for no matter how great your story idea, a poor execution is a turn-off. And if you put out your own material, for heaven’s sake get it edited and don’t use a cover that looks like it was drawn by someone in junior high.

Dyanne: That’s great advice Bettye. Thank you. What plans do you have for the future?

Bettye Griffin: I’ll be continuing to write women’s fiction and contemporary romance, whether through traditional outlets or through my own imprint, Bunderful Books.

Dyanne: Congratulations and good luck on your own imprint. Bunderful Books. Where can readers reach you?

Bettye Griffin: Through my website, Also check out my site for Bunderful Books (my own imprint), at, to read excerpts from my newest contemporary romance offerings and to take advantage of a great deal for Save The Best For Last and to keep up with the announcement of The Bunderful Bundle (a special deal that includes both Save The Best For Last and the upcoming The Heat of Heat).

Dyanne: Thanks Bettye, Merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year, for you personally, your family and Bunderful Books.

Interview with Author Cecelia Dowdy

Dyanne: Next up we have Cecelia Dowdy. Welcome to the Romance Slam Jam family Cecelia. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself in case some of the family is not familiar with you yet?

CECELIA DOWDY: I’m a world traveler who has been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. When I first read Christian fiction, I felt called to write for the genre. I love to read, write, and bake desserts in my spare time. I love to help other authors and run a fairly popular book review blog entitled My Christian Fiction Blog ( I also enjoy giving other African-American authors exposure, so I run a website entitled Black Christian Fiction ( This website contains links for many African-American Christian Fiction authors. I currently reside with my husband and young son in Maryland. My latest book was released April 2010 and it’s entitled Chesapeake Weddings.

Dyanne: Thanks Cecelia. Tell us about your latest book, Chesapeake Weddings.

Cecelia: Chesapeake Weddings is a collection of three sweet Christian romances:
Relax along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay as you read about three strong African American women who suddenly face upheaval in life. Monica is caring for her abandoned nephew and trying to pick the proper tutor for him. Emily is struggling to save the family farm when a CPA turns up to do an audit. Karen has been deceived by her fiancé, and now she’s expected to trust a neighbor who knows too much of her business. Can God rebuild their tattered lives with new loves? Life sends three African American women into a tailspin. Monica’s blind nephew has been abandoned with her. Emily works to save her dairy farm after her father dies. Karen’s fiancé turned into an embezzler. Can these women let God rebuild their tattered hopes when new romances unexpectedly enter their lives? The three stories in this collection are entitled:
John’s Quest
Milk Money
Bittersweet Memories

Dyanne: How did you get started as a writer?

Cecelia: I’ve always been an avid reader. I was always reading novels when I was growing up. When I was about 28 years old, I didn’t have a book with me to read during my lunch hour, so I started writing a book – I’ve been writing ever since. When I pursued publication, someone mentioned Romance Writers of America to me, and I joined and began attending conferences and networking. RWA was extremely instrumental in helping me to land my first two publishing contracts! The second writer’s organization that’s helped a lot is American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Dyanne: I love the idea of your not having a book with you to read so you decided to write one. I’m almost afraid to ask you the next question. What does a typical day look like for you?

Cecelia: I work full-time as an accountant and I usually work on my novels early in the mornings and sometimes on weekends.

Dyanne: What are your favorite books (especially for writers?)

Cecelia: Stephen King’s book On Writing is very good. I also recommend Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.

Dyanne: What do you find to be the best and worst part of being a writer?

Cecelia: Best part – seeing your book on a shelf, knowing about the turmoil and hard work that you had to go through to pen that novel. The worst? Rejection and negative reviews from readers!

Dyanne: I’ll second that. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Cecelia: Never give up! Join a writers group, particularly a group that caters to the genre that you’re trying to break into, and network with those people! Pick their brains to glean advice about how to get that elusive publishing contract.

Dyanne: When can the RSJ family find your book and you?

Cecelia: Right now, the best place to buy my book is! It’s on sale for only $2.79!! and other online places have sold out and no longer have it in stock. See this link for purchase information:

Since the price is so low, you can purchase multiple copies to use as stocking stuffers for Christmas! ;-)

~Cecelia Dowdy~
Chesapeake Weddings - available now from Barbour Publishing!

Thanks Cecelia.

Hijacked: Beverly Jenkins

This month I’m doing a literary hijack of Beverly Jenkins site. http//

In a time of peril, she fears nothing -except the forbidden passions of her heart.
In Boston, revolution is in the wind-yet none would ever suspect Faith Kingston of treason. But under cover of darkness, the beautiful daughter of a Tory tavern owner becomes the notorious spy -Lady Midnight,- passing valuable secrets to the rebels. Dedicated to fighting British tyranny, she’ll let nothing distract her- until a dark, mesmerizing stranger enters her life.
A reckless, worldly adventurer, Nicholas Grey has returned to troubled Massachusetts seeking revenge for the death of his rebel father. He suspects a local innkeeper, but it’s the man’s breathtaking, ebony-skinned daughter who has truly captured his interest. Nicholas burns for the sensuous, secretive lady-and Faith cannot mask her own blazing desires. But when destiny unites their causes, the passion that draws Midnight into Nicholas’s arms is as dangerous as it is glorious- and it could spell disaster for them both.

Note to authors: You never know when I’ll strike, so update those websites. I visited quite a few and would out you but considering I do such a poor job of keeping my site updated, I’ll give you all a pass this month.

Have a safe and blessed holiday. And once again, God willing, I’ll see you back here next year.



Monday, November 1, 2010

Interview with Author Dara Girard

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and Happy Birthday to All of you with a birthday in November. I’m giving thanks right now for all of the authors who are allowing us to spend a bit of time with them. It’s been fun for me and I think painless for the authors.
This month we’re bringing you interviews With Dara Girard and Stacy Deanne. I think you’re going to enjoy learning about these two authors.

Dyanne: Hello Dara. This is our get acquainted opening question. For the members of the RSJ family that may not be familiar with you yet, would you tell us a bit about yourself?

Dara: First, thanks for having me here! My name is Dara Girard and I am the author of fourteen novels and one book of nonfiction, plus numerous articles and essays. My March 2010 book, WORDS OF SEDUCTION, was a Borders Favorite and is the first book in my “Ladies of the Pen” series about three writer friends who learn that passion can go beyond the page. My upcoming release, PAGES OF PASSION, is the second book in the series.

When asked why I write commercial fiction, I like to say that I never want to write anything that becomes required reading in a college class. I aim to entertain not to be studied to death by elitists. I love being able to tell a wide range of stories with happy endings.

Dyanne: Oh, I can tell right off the bat that this is going to be fun. I love your intro. So, Dara, when did you decide to become a writer?

Dara: Writing found me when I was about six. I wrote my first story in my mother’s diary and fortunately she was very understanding and encouraged me. By twelve I was determined to get published. I thought it would take about two years so I planned to have my first novel published by fourteen. I was off by more than a decade.

However, I don’t find the publishing world too insane because I grew up around musicians, actors, artists and other creative spirits and learned that most fields have their quirks. Once you treat publishing (which is different from writing) as a business it starts to make sense.

Dyanne: Of course I’m wondering how well you could read at that point. LOL. Unlike Art Linkletter, I will not ask you to divulge what was in your mother’s diary. I’ll ask instead for you to tell us about your first book, the highs, the lows, and the unexpected.

Dara: Ah, yes what memories. My first published book was TABLE FOR TWO. I make the distinction between published and unpublished because I’d written more than ten novels (as well as articles, plays, poems, essays etc…) before the one that was published. It was the first book in my Henson’s trilogy and very exciting except--my editor left, a close family member was diagnosed with cancer, another had to have major surgery and I learned that the picture used for the cover, was also used in a flyer for an ad about heart disease! But in spite of all these events, I was thrilled to see my book face-out on a shelf in a bookstore.

What I learned from that experience was that getting published doesn’t stop life from happening. Fortunately, the people I care about are all healthy now, I don’t pull my hair out regarding what my covers look like and my first book was the start of an amazing ride that hasn’t stopped.

Dyanne: Life not stopping is an eye opener isn’t it? Heck it doesn’t even slow down. I’m glad to hear all of your loved ones are healthy now. As far as covers goes, you’ve definitely got the right attitude. Dara, if you could change one thing about your writing career thus far what would it be?

Dara: Nothing. All my failures and disappointments have been perfect fodder for my work. I’ve fallen down plenty of times (and have the bruises to prove it) but it’s given me great insight into myself and the industry. I put some of that knowledge into my book THE WRITER BEHIND THE WORDS: STEPS TO SUCCESS IN THE WRITING LIFE where I talk about dealing with disappointments, rejection, discouragement and other obstacles in the writing life and how to overcome them.

Dyanne: It seems as if we have a lot in common. I give workshops based on all my failures and battle scars. Hmm. Okay, the memories aren’t welcome at the moment. Let’s lighten things up. How about a game of what if? What if you could write your career in writing the way you would want it to be, give me the first line of your dream career.

Dara: “International bestselling author Dara Girard just left the movie set where the film adaptation of her novel is currently underway.”

Dyanne: That’s a great line. I’ve heard if you put it out there it has a chance of coming true. If you could have one selfish wish, what would it be?

Dara: To have a thousand more wishes. Okay, I’ll play along…to have perfect health. I’d never get sick, not even a cold—ever!

Dyanne: LOL. It’s just like a writer to wish for more wishes. What are you working on?

Dara: I’ll try to be brief because as you know being an author is a business and you do a lot more than write. I just submitted the manuscript for the final book in the “Ladies of the Pen” series, which will be released in April 2011. It’s called BENEATH THE COVERS and it’s about Claudia Madison a woman forced to work side by side with the man she’d left standing at the altar several years ago.

Currently I’m in my marketing mode getting the word out about PAGES OF PASSION (October 26, 2010) about a cynical romance writer who meets a real life hero. So I’m updating my website and Facebook Page, getting my newsletter out and working with my media specialist on a book trailer.

Dyanne: What words of advice would you give to a new writer?

Dara: Buy my award-winning book THE WRITER BEHIND THE WORDS. Seriously! I wrote this book with aspiring authors in mind and now it’s only $2.99 on Kindle. What I like to tell new writers is to enjoy the process, trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to make mistakes—they’re not fatal. If you’re smart, you’ll learn from them and you can use them in your work.

Dyanne: I’m not sure if you’re serious or not but I like the marketing behind the advice. What plans do you have for the future?

Dara: How long have you got? For me, I see so many opportunities that I have to pull myself in at times. Some of my goals are to expand the reach of my stories in various venues including indie films, ebooks, audiobooks etc…

Dyanne: Dara, that’s a very good goal. Where can readers reach you?

Dara: One way for readers to keep up with me is to visit my website: or write me here:

I’m now on Facebook so I’d love to see them there:

Dyanne: It’s been a pleasure talking with you. By the way Dara writes for Kimani. I just visited her website. She has a lot of fun stuff on there.

Interveiw With Author Stacy Deane

I can’t tell you all what a thrill it is to present Stacy Deanne to you. I already know you’re going to enjoy her interview. Hopefully you will become new fans of hers, check her out on facebook, her website and many other places she frequents. Without further ado I give you Stacy Deanne.

Dyanne: Stacy Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, what is your background?

Stacy: I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I still live here. My family hails from East Texas. I’m an only child. I’m very tall, six feet actually. I’m single, no kids. I have a lot of interests but I am always researching things about nature and I just love anything about animals. I’m not an animal lover in terms of pets. I don’t have pets. I just like to learn about all the different types of animals in the world, LOL. I am also a big mystery and crime fiction buff, the reason I write it. I love anything involving interracial romance, another thing I love to write. I’m also an introvert. I prefer being alone compared to being with people. I love my space.

Dyanne: Out of all of that I’m thinking six feet tall, Wow!! See I’m only a little over five feet but I feel as tall as 6’- 2”. LOL. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer, and what was it that inspired you to start writing?

Stacy: I never intended to become a writer honestly. I got my first computer when I was nineteen and I just started writing. Before long I had a story going and I loved how writing made me feel. It just hit like lightening that I wanted to pursue it as a career. It made me so happy and I felt like writing is what I was put on earth for.

Dyanne: Stacy, you’re the first writer I interviewed that’s admitted to just stumbling into it. When did you write your first book?

Stacy: Well the very first one was at nineteen but it was some years later when I got published. That story wasn’t ever published though.

Dyanne: You share company with a lot of writers. From what I understand about 95% of writers do not have their first books published. But it does prove something; you can complete an entire novel. How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

Stacy: I’ve written probably close to twenty books. Melody (my crime/thriller/interracial romance novel which came out in ‘08) was always my favorite but the more I write on my new detective/interracial romance series, the quicker it’s becoming the most enjoyable thing I’ve written.

Dyanne: Since you didn’t grown up wanting to be a writer, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Stacy: I wanted to be all sorts of things. My mom (RIP) was a math teacher so I wanted to be a teacher at one point. Then I wanted to be a singer or actress. Then I wanted to be a beautician, etc. I have a lot of interests and things I wanted to pursue.

Dyanne: I was thinking the singing and wanting to be an actress would have still kept you in the arts. Then I thought of some of the hair shows and realized that would have done the same. (smile) So, back to writing. How long does it typically take you to write a book?

Stacy: Hmm, it takes me at least four months to finish a story (and that’s writing on it constantly). That’s also minus editing or revising. Editing and revising takes longer depending on the story. I’m now at the point with my skills that I can edit a story as I go along or I can write it in a way that can be a final draft or close to it so it saves more time than when I first started writing. The longer you write and the more skills you learn, the easier it is to pump out first drafts that might not need much revision. Still it depends on the story. Some stories need heavy tweaking and some might not. It’s extremely difficult writing crime fiction and mysteries because there is so much detail involved in the cases and clues. You always have to check over the little things as well as the research you might have to do. Writing a mystery is like a puzzle. You gotta make sure everything fits along the way and comes together in the end where it makes sense.

Dyanne: That’s a very good explanation. Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Stacy: Straight from my psychotic, warped mind.

Dyanne: LOL. Shh, you know that’s a secret you’re not supposed to tell. I’ve been trying to convince people that I make up the more crazy things I write. Where is your favorite place to write, where do you feel most creative?

Stacy: I just write at my computer in the den. I feel creative any and everywhere to be honest. My imagination’s never on a break. LOL.

Dyanne: Spoken like the creative writer that you are. I’m sure your readers think it was an easy road for you. Was it? Please tell us how you got started.

Stacy: I started writing professionally in 1997 right after high school. My road was the same as most. I wrote for years, worked on my craft and researched the industry. I did all I could to get my work to a publishable level and then I started sending it out. I of course got rejected a bunch of times but what writer doesn’t? But the key is determination. You gotta want it and love writing enough to keep going. I’m just happy I was one that made it to the role of “published author”. It’s an amazing feeling and I wouldn’t go back to being unpublished and struggling to find my place for anything in the world.

Dyanne: what advice would you give to aspiring authors that they need to hear even if they don’t want to?

Stacy: They’d better be realistic about their goals. They should be aware that not everyone gets published no matter how hard they try or how good they write. Sometimes it’s not in the cards so the best thing is to make sure you are writing because you love it and it makes you happy, not just for seeking publication. If you really love it, then it won’t matter if you get published or not. You’ll still be happy doing what you do. The hard truth is everyone’s not gonna get published. The competition is too steep as well as other factors.

Dyanne: What are your future plans? What books are coming out next?

Stacy: Right now I am concentrating on my detective/interracial romance series. I am so excited that the first installment, “Giving Up the Ghost” will be coming out April next year! I also have some standalone novels I’ve completed as well. I have a good indication that the next release after “Giving Up the Ghost” will be the second one in the series. Gotta wait and see.

Dyanne: Stacy, I saw your new cover for “Giving Up the Ghost, fantastic. I want to thank you so much for allowing me to interview you. It’s been a pleasure picking your brains. Where can readers reach you?

Stacy: Thanks so much, Dyanne! I appreciate the opportunity and the support. Readers can find me all over the net but they can reach me through my web site:

Once again, everyone out there, if you’re a fan of interracial romance (BW/WM novels), mystery and crime then put “Giving Up the Ghost” on your list! It rocks! LOL! Go to my site for a sneak peek!

Gwynne Forster's been AMBUSHED!

Report from A.C. Arthur: Things are moving along. I’ve been told A.C. believes in throwing a good party so I can only imagine the fun to be had at the conference. There’s still time to register for 2011 Romance Slam Jam conference.

Now on to the literary ambush. Enjoy.

Love Me Tonight by Gwynne Forster
  • Kimani Press Arabesque
  • Sep 2010
  • Miniseries: The Harringtons
  • Category: African-American
  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9780373831876

While his adoptive parents were alive, Judson Phillips never tried to find out where he came from. Now he's determined to uncover his roots, and falling for diplomat Heather Tatum —a woman he can imagine making a life with—is yet another reason to delve into his past. But Judson, a handsome lawyer accustomed to success, is striking out on both fronts: his search is going nowhere, and Heather, who witnessed her own parents' unhappy marriage, has no intention of settling down.

Putting her job first has been Heather's way of avoiding heartache. But when Judson unearths his ties to the Harringtons, Heather gets a glimpse of the kind of loving family she's always craved. But taking a chance means risking everything their sweet, sudden passion has brought and trusting that tonight is just the beginning….

Read Excerpt
Authors and readers don’t forget to let us know about the fantastic books that you’re writing and reading. Thanks to all of you who have responded to requests to be interviewed. If you’re interested in an interview just email me. Until next month stay safe.

Dyanne Davis