Wednesday, July 19, 2017

#WriterWednesday with Author LaKesa Cox

Hello, all. Today's #WriterWednesday interview is with Author LaKesa Cox. Scroll down to learn all about her, and make sure to check out her books!!





AT: Where do you live? What’s your town’s claim to fame?
LC: Henrico, VA (Suburb of Richmond, VA). We claim Trey Songz, Chris Brown (even though they are from Petersburg and Tappahanock, VA respectively). Also, New York Times Bestselling Author Nikki Turner is from Richmond.

AT: Sounds like a place burgeoning with talent! What genre do you write?
LC: Various genres. I’ve done erotic fiction, contemporary/urban fiction, street fiction and most recently, young/adult historical fiction.

AT: Are you a published author or aspiring to be published? If published, how many books are out there with your name on them?
LC: I am published. (4) full length novels and (3) anthologies.

AT: What inspires you to write?
LC: People and life experiences. 

AT: Same here! Name one book you wish you’d written.
LC: I have so many stories of my own that I need to write, I don’t think there is a book I wish I’d written. 

AT: What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?
LC: Blue by Danielle Steele. Yes I did. Danielle Steele was one of the first authors I read in high school so I’ve been a fan of her work for many years.

AT: I'll have to check that one out. Who is your favorite author? Why?
LC: Eric Jerome Dickey. His storytelling is amazing, his characters are relatable and I aspire to be as great as him one of these days.

AT: Great choice! Now for the fun questions! You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
LC: Purple, only because purple is my favorite color. It’s such a beautiful and regal color, you can never go wrong with purple, no matter what shade.

AT: Do you believe in love at first sight?
LC: No, but I don’t mind writing about characters who do.

AT: If a genie granted you three wishes, what would they be? (can't ask for more wishes).
LC: 1) To have my grandmother here again 2) Life of great health 3) Make me a millionaire! 

AT: Are you spring, summer, fall, or winter? Please share why.
LC: Summer. I absolutely love the sun, the heat, the feeling of wearing flip flops and seeing everything in full bloom and colorful. I especially love the long days. I appreciate spring because it introduces us to summer but allergies in the springtime are the worst. I aspire to retire to Florida or the Caribbean.

AT: Tea or coffee?
LC: Tea and only on ice and very sweet.

AT: Sounds like my kind of tea! Tell us about your most recent/current project. LC: My most recent project is my young adult/teen novel titled Mulatto Girl Aggie, 13: Name on the Ledger. It’s about a present day African-American teen that is transported to the year 1816 as a slave. I like to say it’s 12 Years a Slave meets The Wizard of Oz.

Available at amazon.com


This story takes you into the life of a precocious, spoiled and bratty 12-year-old named Aggie Lucas. Aggie is your typical 7th grader who loves her cell phone, social media and designer sneakers. Eager to celebrate her 13th birthday, Aggie is disappointed when her parents break their promise to her by not giving her the gift she really wanted. Mad at the world, Aggie goes to school and is sent to detention hall for disrespecting her teacher. Aggie accidentally falls and bumps her head, then wakes up in a dream where she is transported back to the year 1816 as a slave on a plantation in Goochland, Virginia. As a slave, Aggie is forced to adapt but not before learning some valuable and very harsh lessons in life.

Short excerpt:

“Aggie. Aggie. Aggie wake up.” Mom is whispering in my ear but shaking me as if my life is dependent on it. I blink the sleep from eyes, allowing them to focus. Mom’s face is so close to mine, our noses are touching. “What’s wrong Mom?” I ask, pulling away from her but when I pull away my hands sweep across dirt. Why am I asleep on the ground? And what happened to Mom’s hair? She was wearing a roller set yesterday, but now her hair is packed tightly to her head with a bandana like scarf covering most of it. As a matter of fact, what happened to my mom? She’s dressed like a homeless person, those who sleep under the James River bridge tunnel at night and beg for change on Belvidere Street during the day. “Aggie, we gotta go back now or Massuh is gonna whip us both. Why is you out here by yo’self chile? You wasn’t trying to run away was you?” “Mom, why are you talking like that? And what happened to your clothes? And where are we?” Scanning my immediate surroundings, from where I’m sitting, there is a lot of tall grass and dirt surrounding me in a field as big as a baseball field. Trees line the edge of the field and in the distance I see a big house. A cluster of trees separate one side of the big house from several small, log cabin style houses, which remind me of the green Monopoly game pieces. On the opposite side of the big house there is a huge red barn. “Why you out here? You know better. Now come on before someone sees.” Mom helps me up from the ground then I notice my clothes and the fact I’m not wearing any shoes. “What happened to my clothes? And where are my shoes? Mom, where are we?” I thought Mom’s outfit was hideous but the tethered piece of cloth which was supposed to be a dress on me was worse. “Shoes? Stop your foolishness now. We gotta go.” I wipe my hand on the front of my dress. The dirt blended in with the rest of the filth I was wearing. Mom is pulling at me, ducking through the tall grass so we can go undetected. Then it hit me. I was in a dream. All those History questions about the PreCivil War Era were doing a dance inside my unconscious mind. I guess I may as well go along with Mom so I start ducking and dodging too. The tall grass is slapping me against my face and arms and my feet felt gross. I never liked walking barefoot.

AT: Sounds good! How can readers connect with you?
LC: https://www.amazon.com/LaKesa-Cox/e/B00MZEEM30/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
www.blackrosewriting.com
www.lakesacox.com
www.facebook/lakesacox
Instagram - @IamLakesa
Twitter - @IamLakesa

AT: Any final words?
LC: Thanks for the opportunity to chat. I hope some of your blog readers will take the time to check out some of my work.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#WriterWednesday with Author LaQueisha Malone

Today's #WriterWednesday interview is with Author LaQueisha Malone. Check her and her books out!!





AT: Where do you live?
LM: Arkansas 

AT: What genre do you write?
LM: I write in the genres of Poetry, Young Adult – Social Issues, Contemporary Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction/Self-Help

AT: Are you a published author or aspiring to be published? If published, how many books are out there with your name on them?
LM: I am a published author. I have four books with my name on them.

AT: What inspires you to write?
LM: I’m inspired to write by my daughter and everyday issues I see going on in people’s lives. God gives me something…I write about it.

AT: Name one book you wish you’d written.
LM: I wished I would have written any book by Nikki Turner. I love her writing.

AT: What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?
LM: Undisclosed Desire by Falon Gold.  I really enjoyed the story line. It was definitely not what I expected to happen.

AT: Who is your favorite author? Why?
LM: My favorite author is Nikki Turner. I love her writing style. She writes story that include strong black women, but they are not too tough to where you still can connect to their soft side. 

AT: Now for the fun questions! You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
LM: LOL! I would be RED, because it is bold, bright, and in your face.

AT: Do you believe in love at first sight?
LM: Love at first sight is a tricky phrase. I want to believe in it, but I also believe that love needs time to flourish, because lust at first sight is even more dominant than love at times.

AT: If a genie granted you three wishes, what would they be? (can't ask for more wishes)
LM: 1) I’d wish for financial stability. 
2) I’d wish to write full-time pushing out bestsellers. 
3) I’d wish to start a program for children focusing on creative writing, art, mentorship, job placements, and other things to catch their interest while they are young.

AT: Are you spring, summer, fall, or winter?
LM: I am fall kind girl. Please share why. I love the fact that the temperature seems so even, and that the colors of brown, oranges, reds, and the hint of green life amongst the earth create a beautiful canvas painted only be God for my eyes pleasure. I always feel like I’m in another dimension. 

AT: Tea or coffee?
LM: Neither. I’m allergic to caffeine therefore, I can’t. But before I found out I was allergic I always had a nice cold Brisk Ice Tea.

AT: Tell us about your most recent/current project.
LM: I have a few projects I’m working. I’m working my magazine Strawberry-Lit Magazine, and I’m working finishing my Young Adult Fiction story. Excerpt below of my upcoming release:

It was afternoon and Mark was down in the Bishop’s study, to re-familiarize himself with the quarters. He perused articles of official business, neighborhood commitment registrations, grant proposal samples, invoices and other pertinent paperwork for daily operations like specialty planning, and necessary applications. Each drawer of Elder Jamerson’s desk filled Pastor Marshall’s mind with memories of a time when a young assistant would maneuver these quarters on one errand or another. Now Pastor Marshall was seated behind the desk of a man who, by his own right, was a father, mentor…savior. I will do everything in my power to maintain the legacy of Greater Faith.

The Pastor picked through the row of keys on his ring and found the little one for the bottom drawer. When he found it a subtle smirk of guilt at the invasion of Elder Jamerson’s privacy fell over him even though Mrs. Jamerson assured him that all of the Elder’s personal effects had been collected. Still, there was a symbolic quality to the drawer that felt to Pastor Marshall as if the study was still the late Elder’s quarters.

Mark felt a bit childish that his heart-rate accelerated when he inserted and turned the key. The drawer was empty save a worn buckle-strap bible, some stationary, and a small lock-box. The lock-box was empty, the bible’s pages littered with notes and comments on scripture. There was a pad which held a list of sermon-ready topics captioned with bullet points. Some of the words written Mark could almost hear Elder Jamerson exalt in his memory. The new Pastor made a mental note to utilize the note-pad and add to it. One thing was for sure, there was always praise-worthy topics. When Mark placed everything back into the drawer and closed it, on the floor was a worn piece of folded parchment.
The Pastor furrowed his brows. Had this piece of paper been there before? Had he missed it somehow while he was straightening up? He didn’t think so and instinctively pulled the drawer back open and reached under it. Wedged beneath the under-belly and the slide-bar was another piece of parchment that unfolded when he pulled it all the way out. His lungs depleted when he felt a sense of familiarity in the writing. But it wasn’t until he saw the signature at the bottom that he knew it was from his mother. The parchment fell from his hand to the floor.

It was as if a ghost hovered in the study. Visions intruded of his mother’s face, distorted from the criminal influence, skin oily and hair in disarray. He blinked back the disturbing memory and focused on the letters on the floor. With a trembling hand he picked them both up.

Time ticked slow as the new Pastor eyed the parchments lied on the desk-top. His conscious mind drew a blank while his subconscious fears prickled his imagination as the numbing span of time passed. With elbows on the desk, and his face held with moistened palms, his eyes scanned the stained pages. He couldn’t imagine what the connection could be between his mother and the only father he ever knew. As far as Mark could remember his mother was never a religious person, and with an energy consuming exhale his mind reached out into the dark. Then, as one hand rubbed at his eye, the other unfolded the first letter:

Dear Robert,
What are we doing? I don’t know how to feel, but I know what I feel. When I close my eyes all I see is you. I feel like the only sinner in the congregation so I am writing to say that I won’t be returning to volunteer. I simply can’t, not with what we’ve done. I thought I was a good girl, but how can I be when I feel an attraction for another woman’s husband? I don’t blame you. Maybe I will one day, but you do so much for so many people, and I can’t be the temptation that destroys an entire community’s faith. So I will never return to the church because if I do I’m afraid I won’t be able to control the way I feel for you. It is wrong, so good-bye my love…forever.

Teardrops dotted the bottom of the page as Mark’s core opened up. He felt a storm of confusion rage over him, betrayal. He turned to the other letter while his spirit was still numb, and he reached out a hand and grabbed the other parchment. He read, literally holding his breath:

Dear Robert,
I’m pregnant. I know it’s yours because I was a virgin before you, and have not been with anyone since. I am not telling you this because I want to trap you. I was going to stay away but now, I don’t know what I am supposed to do. I will keep my child. I am not doing this to punish you. I didn’t know what was wrong with me until it was too late. I wasn’t going to tell you, but I couldn’t keep something like a father’s child a secret. I don’t know what to expect from you, or what to accept, how could I? But I know that you don’t love me the way I love you. I am living in sin and will have to accept that. I won’t destroy you as I am destroyed. A part of me will always be waiting for you, but I know that we will not be. I can live with that. I can be strong for my child, our child, a son. I thought you should know that will name him Royce. Through it all I still don’t blame you. I know that you’re a good man. It was me who cast temptation, a silly girl who had no idea what I was doing. And our son will be my consequence. Funny how this letter of penance makes me feel as if I am confessing to you that you have a son.

The Pastor regretted reading the second letter as all strength drained from him. The Elder’s face came to mind, this time under a severely different light. What did these letter mean? But he knew exactly what it meant, yet acceptance stopped short before his mind allowed the reality of the ramifications.

Mark sat back. Flashes intruded of his brother, dead in a coffin; the enormity of a nearly empty funeral parlor; his mother in the front row, he and his sister on either side of her. The stillness of her pose, how her calm contradicted the tear lines and welling eyes that glistened under the light. Mark remembered when she stood, then buckled and fainted. Jamerson was there.

Was it Robert’s presence that took the consciousness from his mother? There was no answer for that. All Mark knew was what he recalled: The Elder phoning an ambulance before taking he and his sister for the four days it took his mother to show up. He remembered the chaos that broke loose between a mad woman and an empathetic Elder. But it wasn’t the church, it wasn’t the sense of responsibility that bred Robert’s patience toward his mother’s tirade. It was because of the secret. One hidden to ruin and protect. Mark immediately recognized why Jamerson was in his life and it sickened him with a desperation that bubbled into fury. The new Pastor, in one fell swipe, flew all the contents of the desktop to the floor with a shuffle and crash. It was his only movement yet he was out of breath and found it hard to catch.

Panic!

Mark shot up and the chair fell onto its back as he gained his footing. He dropped his palms flat on the table with a thud, eyes watching the surface dot with tear drops. He had yet to make a sound but wanted to blame, yell, accuse—

“Elder Marsh—” Gladys, one of the clergy, walked to the study when she’d heard the crash. Still beaming from such a beautiful sermon, Gladys was taken aback when she saw the condition of the Pastor, “What’s wrong? What happened?”

And that was when Mark knew that there was no one he could tell. As he looked into the clergy woman’s inquiring eyes he knew that this secret, one which had been kept for nearly forty years, was powerful enough to destroy the church as well as the community’s faith in the late Elder. A faith which had already begun to fade in Mark.

Gladys took a step into the study, “We’re here for you, Pastor.” She tilted her head, “Jerald and Charles are in the auditorium. Would you like for me to go and get them? Is there something that you would like to discuss with us?”

Mark wiped at his eyes, “No,” then he turned and saw the letter atop the mess on the floor. When he looked up he saw Gladys’ eyes scanning the contents, and what he intended to be a few encouraging words to put the clergy woman at ease while desperate to preserve the integrity of the church, came out all wrong, “Just get out, please.” Then, as he watched, the first layer of foundation, of comfort, faded from this woman’s eyes. But there was nothing else that he could say, nothing to justify or explain what set him off. So, with the agony of his revelation unable to be expressed, Mark, as slowly and as gently as he could, began to pick up the items that were spilled across the floor. The fears that his action conveyed potential imbalance were reinforced when he looked up and saw that Gladys was gone.


AT: How can readers connect with you? 
LM: 
Readers can connect with me on my website www.laqueishamalone.com 
FB: Author LaQueisha Malone - www.facebook.com/authorlaqueishamalone Twitter: Author LaQueisha Malone www.twitter.com/laqueishamalone  
IG: Author LaQueisha Malone www.instagram.com/authorlaqueishamalone
They can also join my mailing list on my website and get three FREE reads from me. 

AT: Any final words? 
LM: To all aspiring authors and new authors: Never give up, don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible, and everyday find something that will bring you closer to your dreams. Research and network. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

#MondayMotivation - #quote

"Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance." 
~ Samuel Johnson

Thursday, July 6, 2017

#Book Tour and #Giveaway - In the Beginning


Sci Fi/Space Opera
Date Published: Releasing Sept 5th 2017

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The origins of Judeo-Christian religion and mythology come together in this mature science fiction page-turner. 
To combat overpopulation on the planet Orion, the government releases a birth control virus to keep women from becoming pregnant. Only the brightest and most attractive of their species are allowed to mate. But the virus rages out of control, killing both mother and child. Attempts to develop a cure fail. They only have one option left: search other worlds for advanced societies that may be able to help.

The two most intelligent minds on Orion—and former best friends—Lucifer and Zues band together to search for a secret planet. When they finally arrive, they are greeted with unexplainable death and destruction. This planet is not the answer. Something doesn’t add up. They discover an extra unknown planet in the solar system.  

The new planet is covered in lush land masses and bodies of water. Different species of hominids run—and mate—freely. Fire-breathing dragons guard the land. Lucifer is determined to figure out who or what created this planet. He thinks it just might be the key to saving Orion and the Orionites.




Excerpt:

Is there a god? Are we alone? What is the meaning of life? Why does it even exist at all? Tales of everlasting life, death, and resurrection dating back to the time of ancient Egypt; epic fables of Zeus and his Olympians waging war with the Titans; Norse poems singing the praises of Odin and Asgard; rumors of angels mating with humans to produce a race of giants; accounts of lost continents and civilizations, great floods, Amazons, and dragons. Did the Sumerians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Norse simply make up all these tall tales? Was Moses really just the world’s first science-fiction novelist?
The answer, of course, is no. These stories of myth and legend that abound throughout your history are all entirely true. I know because I was there. I was at the center of it all, and if I’m honest with myself and with you, it was entirely my fault. This planet was a paradise when I found it, but alas, just as with everything I touch, I brought it to its ruin. So why, after all these thousands of years, have I finally decided to take ownership of all the pain, death, and destruction I have wrought? It would be impossible for you to know this, but there comes a time when even gods must die. I suppose one could call this a deathbed confession.

If you want to know what really happened—the truth about your planet, your god, and your own existence—by all means, please read on. I feel compelled to offer stern caution before you proceed, however. Examine your motivations for learning the truth thoroughly before you turn this page. Truth once learned cannot be unlearned. You would do well to remain ignorant.


About the Author


 BCE is originally from parts unknown and currently resides in areas of the planet yet to be explored. His favorite pastime is reading old encyclopedias while eating Peanut M&M’s. He does believe that the warehouse depicted at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark actually exists. He has only one goal left in his life that he wishes to accomplish: to live long enough to see the aliens return so he may look over at his beautiful wife in her nursing-home bed and say, “I told you so.”

Contact Links
Twitter: @bceauthor


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

#WriterWedneday with Margo McKenzie

Today's Writer Wednesday interview is with aspiring author, Margo McKenzie. Scroll down and learn all about her and her work in progress!!




AT: Where do you live? What’s your town’s claim to fame?
MM: I live in East Harlem, New York.  New York is probably the most important cultural, religious, financial and commercial port in the world.  As such, it is fast-paced city filled with diverse ethnicities.  My home is two blocks from Central Park, two blocks from Museum Mile and in a community tangling with the forces of gentrification.

AT: What genre do you write?
MM: I write fiction and non-fiction, and I am currently working on a novel and a biography.

AT: Are you a published author or aspiring to be published? If published, how many books are out there with your name on them?
MM: I am a published journalist, but I have no books out there with my name on it—yet.

AT: I look forward to reading your works in the future! What inspires you to write?
MM: I have always had a passion for writing.  Writing is my pathway to wholeness and joy.

AT: Name one book you wish you’d written.
MM: I am currently working on the two books I wish I’d written.

AT: I hear you! What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?
MM: I Almost Forgot About You by Terri McMillan was the last book which kept me engaged.  I love how she addresses contemporary relationships infusing elements of pop culture throughout her works.

AT: I'm also a fan of Ms. McMillan's work. Who is your favorite author? Why?
MM: I like Paule Marshall (fiction) and Ta’Nihisi Coates (non-fiction) for their use of language and depiction of the Barbadian experience in America and the African-American male experience, respectively.

AT: Now for the fun questions! You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
MM: I am yellow because my goal is to always elevate and educate, to bring light to dark places.

AT: Nice! What would your autobiography be called?
MM: Tupac Was Wrong: A Rose Needs Fertile Soil

AT: Do you believe in love at first sight?
MM: No, I do not. I believe in attraction at first sight, but love is a verb requiring dedication, consistency, competence and maturity. It grows with time like fine wine.

AT: If a genie granted you three wishes, what would they be? (can't ask for more wishes)
MM: I would ask for wisdom, vision and patience.

AT: Are you spring, summer, fall, or winter? Please share why.
MM: I am spring, the time for groundwork, planting and cultivation to ensure a rich harvest.  I am learning as much as I can about the art of writing and the message I am called to proclaim through my writing. I write daily to perfect my craft and surround myself with encouragers to keep out the weeds which can choke my creativity.  When harvest time arrives, I expect a bountiful crop.

AT: Tea or coffee?
MM: Tea calms anxiety and stress allowing the spirit to move freely and productively. I associate tea with quietness and reflection under a tree by the water where oak trees are made. Tea is strength and creativity.

AT: Tell us about your most recent/current project.
MM: My work of fiction is about a Barbadian family who comes to New York City to live out their dream but encounter obstacles which stress the links that keep the family chain united. Here is the opening page:

    “Mummy, is Pam dead?”
    “No, no.  What gives you such wild thoughts, baby girl? She’s just not feeling too well today. Go sit down.  Dr. Cyrus will come soon.”
    Her daddy whispered something to her mummy and Margaret overheard. “Lord, Lord, Lord,” and through her glasses caught sight of watery eyes just before her mother arched her back and turned away toward her room. The last time Margaret saw those eyes and heard her mother utter three Lords, her grandma died. That was three years ago when Margaret was seven. Back then, Mummy sent Margaret to clean up her room. She remembered the chaos in the house that week. Sobs. Whispers. Relatives. Strangers. Black dresses and hats, black suits, a body lying still in a fancy box in front of the church and herself standing in the mud as the closed box went down into the ground.  
    Would Pam end up in the same box? Margaret’s body shuttered at the thought and snuggled even harder in her favorite blue suede chair. She didn’t care that the soles of her black Mary Janes rested there. She just needed the chair’s soft arms to cuddle the right side of her body. She sat there aslant by the window, knees drawn up. The right side of her face leaned against the back of her bent left arm. She exhaled with relief.
    Outside the window, her friends stood big and strong. Their branches grew so much since her grandmother’s passing. Dangling leaves and drooping mangos provided relief from the heat of the sun.
    Her father claimed, “Temperatures never rise above 80 degrees by those trees.” He was right. Though they might have tried, the rays of the Bajan sun never did get through.  Margaret sat by the open window and hoped to catch a breeze the swaying leaves sent her way.  But no matter how she positioned herself at the jalousie window, the events down the hall in the room she shared with her sister Pam were too much like the last day her grandmother slept in the house. That her parents would not let her get anywhere near her own bedroom set her mind to thinking the worst about Pam and her heart racing even though her favorite chair wrapped its arms around her.

©M. McKenzie 2017  (Excerpt from Life is Short, Make it Large by Margo McKenzie)

AT: Sounds good! How can readers connect with you?
MM:
museumofwriting.com
www.ourtimepress.com
linked.com/in/margo-mckenzie-b9356925

AT: Any final words?
MM: My first act was teaching high school English and high school administration; my second act is writing.

AT: Thanks, Margo! It was great chatting with you!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

#WriterWednesday - New Release from Chicki Brown

Today's Writer Wednesday blog guest is Author Chicki Brown!! She's sharing her new release with us, and it sounds AMAZING! Check it out!!



BLURB:
A quiet bookworm, Tangela Holloway has always been content working at her an independent bookstore in the sleepy little town of Eufaula, Alabama. But lately, Tangie discovers that she’s bored and frustrated, especially since the man she’s been dating for two years seems to care more about his business than he does her. When Reese Turner rides into town on his Harley, Tangie’s heart feels like it’s beating for the first time. She not only sees the most exciting man she’s ever met, but also a chance to experience something other than backyard BBQs and fishing at the lake.

After ending a drama-filled relationship with a high-maintenance fashion model, Reese wants nothing more than to make a road trip to Florida with his motorcycle club. Never did he expect a quick stop at a small town bookstore would introduce him to a shy bookworm who makes him re-think his vow to remain single and unattached.


EXCERPT:
On Saturday night, after I closed the store, came home, showered and changed, I waited for Johnnie as I always did. He’d called me in the afternoon to make sure we were still on for dinner. I suppose it was merely a courtesy, since we had a standing date for dinner every Saturday at seven. With both of us running businesses, we rarely did anything during the week. More often than not we ended up at one of the barbecue places in town, a couple of which I believe he frequented because he knew the owners. Their food certainly wasn’t anything to write home to mama about. Johnnie preferred the homey little joints to the nicer places that had better quality food. He was nothing if not a creature of habit, and he never even considered going someplace out of town. In his mind all of the restaurants had food, and it didn’t matter which one we ate at. I often felt if I had to eat in one more of the places we’d been to dozens of times, I might be sick.

Johnnie didn’t understand or didn’t want to hear that I had a more realistic view of our town than he did. If I wanted really good barbecue, I’d go to one of the black-owned places. Anyone who is a barbecue connoisseur knows there are major differences in the food depending on culture. He frequented their spots because they’d said, “Come on over!” Like they were friends or something. But when the tables were turned, they didn’t reciprocate. The annual King Day celebration was a prime example. We all worked together to pull it off. But at the parade held that same afternoon sponsored by the NAACP, the white residents generally refused to join in. It was kind of a benign d├ętente. We all get along in our own lanes, but crossing lanes is silently resisted. 

Tonight I convinced him to eat at the Cajun Corner. It wasn’t fancy, but they had delicious seafood and a New Orleans atmosphere complete with jazz playing through the sound system and jazz murals on the walls. I ordered a shrimp/scallops combo and deep fried eggplant sticks served with homemade remoulade dipping sauce, thankful for being spared barbecue for another week. 

Johnnie placed his order and folded his hands on the table. “How’d your week go at the store? My receipts were up this week by almost twenty percent.” His face spread into a wide smile, one of the things I always loved about him. He wasn’t make-your-head-spin fine, but he had those cute boy-next-door good looks.

“That’s fantastic! Wish I could say the same, but my sales aren’t affected by bass season. I do have a few editing jobs that’ll bring in about a thousand dollars.” I had the feeling he was just making small talk. Johnnie and I never had a hard time communicating with each other. Growing up in the same town gave us the same frame of reference. 

He settled his gentle brown gaze on my face. “What’s been going on with you, girl?”

Something in his tone told me he wasn’t talking about the store. “Why don’t you come right out and ask what you want to know?” He had the habit of avoiding any topic that might be sensitive or lead to an argument.

He cleared his throat and took a long sip of his New Orleans Hurricane as though he needed the fortification. “People are talking, Tangie.”

I swirled the straw in my sweet tea. “About what?” I wanted him to put it into his own words.

“You know what I mean. I thought we were cool.”

“What’s the problem, Johnnie?”

He leaned in closer and glanced from side to side before he whispered. “I want to know who this guy is you had lunch with on Wednesday.”

Finally he got to the point. I shook my head. “He was a customer who ordered a book and wanted to know where to get something for lunch. I only tried to be friendly.” 

“A little too friendly in my opinion.” He gulped his drink and watched the server who’d appeared and placed our meals on the table. She asked if we needed anything else and left.

“It doesn’t really matter.”

“How can you say that, Tangie? Are you trying to embarrass me? I mean, everybody knows we’re together, and you strut right through the middle of town where everyone can see you with some strange dude.”

“It sounds as though you’re only worried about what people think. Why are you always so concerned with the opinions of other folks?”

“I care about your reputation, that’s all.”

“Are you sure it’s not your reputation you’re concerned about?”

“Look, forget I said anything. Let’s eat.” He said a quick blessing and dove in.

“I can’t forget. We’ve been together for two years, Johnnie, and you seem quite content with things the way they are.”

“You’re not going to start harping on that again. Things are fine between us. Now is not the time for us to change our relationship. I’m trying to focus on building the business.” 

“Maybe you’re content, but I’m not.”


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Contemporary women’s fiction/romance author Chicki Brown has been featured twice in USAToday. She was the 2014 B.R.A.B. (Building Relationships Around Books) Inspirational Fiction Author and also the 2011 SORMAG (Shades of Romance Magazine) Author of the Year. Chicki was also a contributing author to the Gumbo for the Soul: Men of Honor (Special Cancer Awareness Edition). 

A transplanted New Jersey native who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, Brown still misses the Jersey shore, the pizza and the hot dogs.

Nia Forrester, Beverly Jenkins, Iris Bolling, Lisa Kleypas, and J.R. Ward are among her favorite authors.

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Monday, June 26, 2017