Thursday, March 27, 2008

Throwback Thursdays

Where are they now?


I liked the girl group from the 90s, Total. They were a part of Puffy's Bad Boy label when Bad Boy was hot. And speaking of Puffy, or Diddy, or Sean "Diddy" Combs, or what ever the hell name he's going by at this second... Why do they keep letting this fool make bands? Seriously, if MTV airs one more season of Puffy making one more band... But I digress...

As much as Puffy works my nerves--and trust and believe me he makes me sick to just look at him--he was the hit maker in the 90s. Bad Boy had it going on and Total was one of those rough and rugged girl groups that sisters could vibe to. Sort of like ole school What's the 411? Mary J. Blige ... Anyway, instead of Puffy making new bands, why doesn't he do something with one of the old bands that we actually liked at one point? I think I'll dedicate the next few Throwbacks to girl groups of the 90s that are no longer with us. I want Total to do a tour with SWV, Xscape and 702. That would make my nostalgic self very happy. Until then... I'll just have to check out Total's "Kissing You."

much love and peace,


Monday, March 24, 2008

About a Book Mondays: Chatting with Mamma Lou

About A Book Mondays: An Interview the Matchmaker Louise “Mamma Lou” Gates

Today I have the great pleasure to chat with Louise “Mamma Lou” Gates, the matchmaking dynamo from Celeste O. Norfleet’s wonderful Matchmaker Series. She has been hooking folks up since she hit the scene in Priceless Gift and she is at it again in Celeste Norfleet’s latest novel When Love Calls . I’ll tell you after following this series and enjoying reading about the passionate love that she guides folks into finding, all I want to know is where was she when I was in the dating game. LOL. I’m really happy to have the chance to talk to her today and find out what makes this wonderful woman tick. So, welcome Mrs. Gates! And I hope that I am not being to forward by acting like family and calling you Mamma Lou. After reading about so many of your matchmaking missions, I feel like know you!

So my first question is what made you decide to try and help folks find love? Is it a calling you’ve always had?

LG “Mamma Lou”: First of all thank you so much Gwyneth for giving me the opportunity to spread the word about my matchmaking. And yes, please call me Mamma Lou, everyone else does. Now, your first question was very interesting. The answer is yes indeed, matchmaking is definitely a calling, one I’ve listened to and acted on for years. Not to sound too full of myself, but I’ve always had the talent to see the spark of love. And before you ask what it is, the spark of love is the innate glow of passion between two people. When you see it, that’s when you know a match is perfect. I know some of my matchmaking schemes aren’t too popular at first, but folks eventually come around to see that I always know what’s best when it comes to matchmaking.

GB: Out of all of the couples that the talented author Celeste Norfleet has chronicled for you in her telling of your matchmaking tales, do you have any favorites? Which couple gave you the hardest time trying to resist your matchmaking efforts?

LG “Mamma Lou”: Oh heavens no, I don’t have favorites. I love all my children and all my matches. Each one is special and unique. I’ve joined so many wonderful couples over the years including Celeste and her husband, Charles. What a sweet couple they are. They just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary last year. Oh, they fought me at first, most of my matches do, but in the end I knew they were the perfect match. As for the hardest and most resistant couple, I can’t think of a single one. They all come around in time.

GB: Wow! I had no idea you’d hooked up Celeste and her husband! That’s wonderful. The latest installment in the Matchmaker Series, When Love Calls sounds like another wonderful love story as well. I hear that the hero might have even sought out your help this time. Can you give us some information about this new installment in the series?

LG “Mamma Lou”: Oh yes, Senator Randolph Kingsley from California is a wonderful man. I met the honorable senator when my grandson’s brother-in-law, JT Evans, got married to the Senator’s sister, Juliet Bridges. Randolph is a brilliant intellect with astute insight. He didn’t really need me to help him. All I did was move a few old memories out of the way and gave love a bit of breathing room. It’s like my garden on Crescent Island, some memories are like tangled weeds and prickly nettles, you need to cut them away to keep the richness of life blooming. Sometimes we hold on when we should let go. A dear old friend of mine learned that just recently. I’m so delighted to say that Randolph and Alyssa are just as happy as can be.

GB: I noticed that you’ve branched out of late and have moved on from helping just family member, spreading love to friends as well. Do you think you’ll ever branch out even further? Maybe set up a Mamma Lou dating service and help people all over the world find love? Or do you prefer the personal connections that you have with friends and family?

LG “Mamma Lou”: (laughter) Oh my, wouldn’t that be the limit, me running a dating service. No baby, I think my matchmaking days will be better spent right here in my backyard. I have so many wonderful new and old friends that need my help. At over eighty years old, I don’t think I have the energy to circle the world but, wouldn’t that be a joy to see.

GB: As I think about the series and how much I have enjoyed it over the years, I can’t help but imagine it as a cool television series. Can you imagine it? A woman going around hooking up couple each week? It would be like Murder She Wrote but instead of helping to find out whodunit you’d be helping people find love. And instead of a little old white woman we’d have a sassy African American grandmother such as yourself. If you had to pick a movie star to play you in a great television show about your life as a matchmaker who would you pick and why?

LG “Mamma Lou”: (laughter) Sweet child you are too kind to an old lady. I’ve heard this mentioned before and I’ll tell you what I told them, it would be an honor to inspire such a television show. Now as to who might play me, I’d have to say my dear friend Ruby Ann Wallace. We met years ago when she attended Hunter College. She’s so talented and as an Oscar nominated actress, I can think of no one more perfect to play me. You all know her as Ruby Dee.

GB: I could totally see Ruby Dee bringing your wonderful persona to the screen! What is in the future for Mamma Lou and Celeste Norfleet’s wonderful series and how might readers find out more about the books?

LG “Mamma Lou”: Well Gwyneth, I don’t know what the good Lord has in store for me, but for right now and the foreseeable future, I’ll be matchmaking. There are still so many in need of my services. Since our first book together (Priceless Gift), Celeste and I have gone on a wonderful journey celebrating my matchmaking in eight delightful novels. I can’t imagine stopping now when there’s so much more to do. So as long as Celeste continues to write, I’ll continue to be right there with her. As a matter of fact, I just told Celeste about a good friend, Trey Evans. Heaven knows it took a while. Trying to catch up with Trey was like trying to catch the wind, impossible. But, he came around. I just wish I was the one he went to for help. He called my dear friend Colonel Wheeler. Imagine that. I believe Celeste calls that novel, And Then There Was You. It’ll be out the end of this year so watch for it. Now, since I don’t know any of that fancy computer stuff you young people talk about, I’m gonna let Celeste take it from here. If folks want to chat with me more about my matchmaking, have them contact Celeste.

Celeste O. Norfleet: Thanks Mamma Lou and thanks Gwyneth for inviting us to stop by, About a Book Mondays. I love listening to Mamma Lou chat about love and matchmaking. Her insights are truly awe-inspiring. That’s why I enjoy writing her stories. So, to chat more with Mamma Lou send an email to Put “Mamma Lou” in the subject space and I’ll get it to her. Or check out my website at

GB: Thanks for taking the time to do the interview, Mamma Lou. I appreciate it!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holiday Greetings...

Have a wonderful and blessed Easter weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Throwback Thursdays

Old School Movie Memories: Mahogany

Okay since I was probably all of six years old when this movie was released in 1976, I didn’t exactly catch it in the theaters. I must have seen it for the first time on television. Probably a Saturday or Sunday afternoon… You know back when they used to show those back to back Karate flicks and every now and then you’d catch a movie like Mahogany , Claudine or Let’s Do It Again …. I will say that while I liked Lady Sings the Blues I LOVE Mahogany . After Claudine , it is probably one of my all time favorite old movies. The chemistry between Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams is amazing. And it’s even worth enduring that weird relationship she develops with the character played by Anthony Perkins. Because in the end she “gets her ole man back!” I also loved that even though she becomes this big time model in the film, for a large chunk of it she’s just a regular Chi-town girl. We don’t have nearly enough black love movies. But this one is a classic and it will always be in my top ten. What older romantic movies make your top ten list? And while you ponder that question think about these… “Do you know where you’re going to? Do you like the things that life is showing you? Where are you going to? Do you know?” LOL. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New Covers and You Can Pre-Order Now...

In case you haven't noticed the updates on the sidebar, I have the new covers for the first three Hightower books. I can't decide which cover is my favorite... I think I like the cover for Protect and Serve the best. Anyway, I just saw that Make It Hot is available for pre-order on So go on over and pre-order it if you'd like... ;-) And if you haven't gotten around to pre-ordering Protect and Serve you might want to get both with you're at it... wink, wink... LOL. What do you think of the covers?


  • Pre-order MAKE IT HOT

  • Monday, March 17, 2008

    About a Book Mondays

    Shelia Goss’s Double Platinum

    Shelia Goss has a new release! And if it is anywhere as good as her previous novels, then we are in for a treat. I interviewed Shelia last year. And she has since come out with a few more titles for your reading pleasure. I read and enjoyed Shelia’s My Invisible Husband and Paige’s Web . And I can’t wait to read Double Platinum . That’s why I’m so happy we have her with us today to discuss her newest release.

    GB: So Shelia can you tell us a little bit about your latest release?

    SG: Double Platinum is about R & B mega star Parris Mitchell. To the world, it seems like she has it all. But with a declining career, she has nothing left but disappointed fans and growing depression. Hit Maker and Playboy Casper "CJ The Hitmaker" Johnson is looking for a new sound. He needs her voice. She needs her career back. Their drama from groupies and people from their past becomes the source of plenty of print for the paparazzi.

    GB: I know you have a lot of experience with celebrity interviews. Did the inspiration for this novel come from all those in-depth celebrity interviews you’ve done?

    SG: Yes, that and the fact that I love R & B music. Besides books, music is my passion.

    GB: Who is your favorite character in this novel and why are they your favorite?

    SG: Trick question (LOL). They all are. Since I have to pick one, it would be Parris Mitchell. Parris represents the woman scorned. She gave her heart and soul to a man, only to find herself on the losing end of a disastrous relationship. The only difference is her tragedy is displayed in front of the world. She has to fight to regain her self-respect as well as boost her failing career. I like the fact that she doesn’t give up.

    GB: If you could pick a current hot R&B singer and producer or perhaps some Hollywood superstars star as the leads in a movie about Double Platinum who would you choose and why?

    SB: Below are a few of the people I have in mind if I could cast them in a movie about Double Platinum :

    Parris Mitchell – Vivica Fox (she can play any role…she can be meek or strong) or Singer Lina (she has the look and the sound of Parris)

    Casper “CJ – The Hitmaker” Johnson – Lamman Rucker (been admiring him since I first saw him on Living Single) or Brian J White (not only is he a cutie, he’s a good actor)

    Archie - Idris Elba (talented—he can play the good guy or bad guy) or Terrence Howard (see previous explanation)

    Carmen – Jill Scott (she could pull off the charisma Carmen has) or Victoria Rowell (Her previous acting shows she can play a “take charge” type of role)

    Sandy “The Tabloid Reporter” - Ali Landry (her previous role was on EVE) or Brittany Daniel (reminds me of how Sandy looks in the book…I’ve seen her on The Game and another series)

    GB: What next on the horizon for you? And how can readers find out more about this novel and all your other wonderful work?

    SB: I am currently working on several books in several different genres. To learn more about me or my books, please visit my website at Be sure to click on my blog where we discuss relationships, books, and everything else: If you’re on myspace, I’m at

    Check out the incredible book trailer for Double Platinum here:

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Throwback Thursdays

    Those Magic TV Moments…

    Living Single: Maxine “Max” Shaw Attorney-at-Law and Kyle Barker

    Honestly, I like friends to lovers plots; they warm my heart and make me smile. But rivals to lovers plots done right... They get my blood racing and heart pounding every time. I love them! My all time favorite TV couple is Max and Kyle from Living Single . Those two were constantly at each other’s throats from the very first episode. Who knew under all that dislike was a simmering, ready-to-boil-over passion? I’ll never forget when Max lost her job and couldn’t find her best friend Khadijah to drink away her blues. She ended up drinking with Kyle and they ended up doing the horizontal hokey-pokey for the first time. The episode where they woke up and realized that they had gotten drunk and slept together was worth waiting all summer for the new season to see. They were constantly insulting one another, but there was something that just made them seem so right for one another. If they weren’t on TV, I’d say that couple is toxic and should seek help or better yet split up... They certainly took the ‘playful banter’ to the tenth degree and back again. And who can forget the “Funny Valentine” episode when Kyle made his come back after freezing while singing in front of Max. He had the sistah squirming in her seat when it was all said and done.

    I think they remain my all-time favorite TV couple because Max was just my kind of girl. The sistah was driven, sassy and way too commitment phobic to give in to love without a fight. And only a guy as confidant and smooth as Kyle Barker could give as good as he got and keep coming back for more. I loved that in the end neither of them could run from love. Fate intervened and the anonymous sperm donor that Max used ended up being Kyle. I know, that kind of thing only happens on TV, the soaps, or in romance novels… But I told y’all I’m such a girl and I eat this kind of stuff up like cake. So who was your favorite TV couple?

    Monday, March 10, 2008

    About a Book Mondays

    Debut Author: Meet Victoria Wells

    This week on Gwyneth’s Blog we have the wonderfully talented author Victoria Wells. I read her novel A Special Summer and found myself up until the wee hours of the morning finishing the book. It is my pleasure to welcome Victoria to my blog. Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know a little bit more about you and your new novel.

    GB: So, Victoria, tell us a little bit about yourself. In addition to the standard biography, what’s one thing about you that most people would be surprised by?

    VW: Hi Gwyneth! It’s my pleasure. Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity of being interviewed on your blog. I’ve been married to my husband for almost twenty-two years. I’m the mother of three sometimes wonderful, sometimes devilish children. I’ve been a nurse for seventeen years, seven of which I’ve practice as an adult nurse practitioner. And now I’m an author, which I still sometimes pinch myself to make sure it’s true. LOL. My adventurous side that comes out every once in awhile surprises most people. For instance while on vacation in Hilton Head, I went kayaking in the middle of nowhere and can’t tread water! I couldn’t do it if my life depended on it! Talk about God being good! Also, writing a romance novel surprised most people. Especially after reading the steamy scenes! I’m sitting here giggling to myself as I remember going into my pastor’s office confessing that I had written a romance novel. I said, “Listen pastor, I’m telling you myself before anyone tells on me!” LOL. I’m pleased to say that my pastor, his wife and other church members enjoyed the book.

    GB: Tell us a little bit about your road to publication. What has it been like? You decided to take your destiny in your own hands and take the self-publishing route. Can you tell us a little about why you decided to self publish your novel?

    VW: I have to tell you this question makes me a little nervous, downright scurred! LOL. When I first self-published I did a post about being a self-pub author in an online group…Lawd a mercy! I was almost tarred and feathered! However, I’m going to be honest and give you the same response I gave them. I was afraid of having my manuscript rejected. I was all but told in so many words by some members of the group (to be fair other members were supportive and even let it be known that they had also self published) that my fear of rejection and decision to self publish meant that I probably wasn’t a good writer, just because I wrote a book didn’t make me an author, and to develop thick skin to accept the rejection or stay out of the business! I was like… “Say what?!” LOL. I can laugh about it now, but I was angry and hurt at the time. For years I toyed with the idea of writing a book. When I finally decided I was going to make my idea become a reality I did research on self-publishing vs. traditional. I was absolutely terrified of the “R” word. Although I was fearful I knew I had a great story people would enjoy.” I kept asking myself over and over, “Should I allow someone else to crush my dream?” So, I decided to throw caution to the wind and self published my story, which was originally released November 2006. The response I received from readers was overwhelming. I’m not just talking about friends and family. People I didn’t even know were telling me they really enjoyed my book. I must say that this response book gave me the courage to submit to three different publishing houses. Two of three were interested in my manuscript. I’d like to take this opportunity to again thank my publisher Jessica Tilles of Xpress Yourself Publishing, LLC for believing in my story and giving me a chance.

    GB: Tell us a little bit about your novel. What was your inspiration for writing it?

    VW: A Special Summer is truly a story of redemption and forgiveness. It’s about a young woman (Summer) who’s experiencing her first encounter of being in love with an older man (Nick). Because of demons and unresolved family issues from Nick’s past life, Summer is literally flung into a world of pandemonium when he believes she betrayed him in the worst way. When he finally sees things as they really are, Nick is in jeopardy of losing the only woman that ever truly loved him unconditionally. I would have to say reading romance novels inspired me. When I began reading AA romance novels I would always think, if this had happened, would that have happened? I was always thinking of ways to make the story continue on. So one day I said to myself, “I’m going to write me a book about black people loving each other, too!” LOL. I wanted to create my own stories of romance and stop mentally meddling with everybody else stories! LOL. Also reading the various authors backgrounds and discovering they had other careers inspired me as well. I must say I was truly inspired by Francis Ray because we’re both nurse practitioners (smile). Lastly, Tyler Perry was a great inspiration. I saw him on Oprah a few years back telling his story of how he spent all his money on his first play and it was a flop! As a result he lost everything and became homeless. Now look at Mr. Perry! So I pumped myself up and kept chanting daily, “If my book is a flop, I’ll just start all over again like Tyler did.”

    GB: Your debut novel A Special Summer takes the reader through the trials and tribulations of a young couple’s journey towards love. It sways away from some traditional romance tropes and holds true to other, providing a nice remix and a fresh voice to the genre. Can we expect more of these kinds of novels from you in the future?

    VW: Yes! I certainly hope so! What I tried to do with A Special Summer is write about real life situations. Stuff that people have dealt with or know someone who’s dealt with similar drama that would draw the reader in. I think I did that with Nick and his baggage. Everyone dislikes poor Nick in the beginning. LOL. I want to continue to get readers all riled up only to accept that we are all imperfect creatures and sometimes react to situations without thinking them through. And that true love as described in I Corinthians 13 will conquer any mountain we may face.

    GB: Hey, imperfect people need love too. LOL. Do you have any advice for other writers dreaming of their own debut?

    VW: Being so new to this business I feel like I don’t having any words of wisdom. But I would tell them to do their research about the business. If they’re serious about writing take some creative writing classes (which I did in college and I’m planning on taking a refresher course or two) and join some good online groups for authors/aspiring authors. I must tell you Gwyneth, as a new kid on the block, the romance authors I’ve been in brief contact with have been nothing but kind to me. So I want to say thank you to those individuals. Lastly, if you feel like you have a story to tell…tell it! Don’t let anyone crush your dreams.

    View Victoria’s wonderful book trailer here:

    Find out more about Victoria here:



  • Thursday, March 06, 2008

    Throwback Thursdays

    Toys of yesterday...

    These are two toys that I absolutely hated.




    Why did I hate these toys you ask? Because I couldn't do them of course. I could never get that stupid rubik's cube right. Unless I cheated... I remember taking all the stickers off and putting them back on so that it looked like I'd won. LOL. And those kerbangers? Forget about it... I'm lucky I didn't put my eye out trying to get those stupid balls to go fast. My sister could do the kerbangers really well. She was irritating like that when we were kids...

    Yep. I hated those toys. Just thought I'd share. Any toys from your childhood that you hated?

    much love and peace,


    Saturday, March 01, 2008

    March Interview with Author Dyanne Davis

    GB: Hi, Dyanne! Thanks so much for visiting my blog and doing an interview. I always start with the time management question, especially when I’m interviewing an author like your, one who has been so incredibly prolific! How do you find the time to write all these wonderful novels and do everything else you do?

    DD: Hi Gwen, you do know you’re making me laugh and possibly even blush with such an introduction. Incredibly prolific, wonderful novels. You’re so good for the ego. Thank you. LOL. Okay, I’ll stop and answer your question. When Bill and I made an agreement ten years ago that I would quit my job with a steady paycheck to pursue a dream I decided to do two things: Give up the UPS man ( I was addicted to QVC) and to treat writing like a job. Since I take my writing seriously I don’t make time for writing, I write. My internal clock has been out of whack since I started writing and thinking of it as a job and not a hobby. I wake anywhere from 1-3 a.m. If it’s 1 a.m. I try to go back to sleep giving it ten minutes or so. If that doesn’t work I get up and start working. I check emails to see if there’s anything urgent while scolding myself. When I’m in the middle of edits or doing proofs then reading emails comes after several hours of work. It’s my reward. I’m usually on the computer on and off until about 5 p.m. I say on and off because I have a husband whom I love VERY much and I have no plans to have him feel neglected. We’re partners. We do everything together, as he calls it, we do our retired thing, going to the stores, library, post office and wherever, several times each week. LOL. Now maybe you can see why I haven’t tried to retrain my body to sleep longer. The bulk of my writing is done in the wee hours of the morning. And wouldn’t it have been nice if I’d just said that and not took so long to answer the question?

    GB: It wouldn’t have been nearly as fascinating if you hadn’t taken the long way around my dear. And your hubby sounds like a keeper for sure! (smile) Okay, what drew you to the romance genre? Were you a reader of romance novels before you started to write them?

    DD: I wanted to be with other writers. A patient of mine told me of a writers’ group. We initially decided to become writing partners and went to a local Romance Writers of America meeting. After a couple of months I knew I wasn’t part of a writing team. The voices in my head could only be heard by me—and now I believe by Sidney. No, I was not a romance reader. I was an avid reader but romance wasn’t my cup of tea. Susan Elizabeth Philips was and still is a member of my chapter but at the time I had no idea who she was or any of the other published authors in the chapter.

    GB: What has your journey to publication been like? How did you get in print and remain in print? Are there any secrets to your success that you are willing to share?

    DD: My journey has been like most others; years of rejections, writing more, sending out, more rejections, wanting to give up. Bill and I had a deal. I was to take two years off from work to write. If nothing was happening, I was going back to work. Well the two years came to an end and no book contract. I was willing to stand by our agreement. I told Bill I would go back to work. He kissed me and told me no to continue. I think it took about another year. Now you now one of the small reasons why I make sure that man is not neglected. He is so totally my ROCK . As for how I got into print it was when I was on the verge of calling it quits. I had received a contract from Genesis Press for another book, titled Forever and A Day (no not the book that came out with Parker but I used the title) Anyway, from editor notes, I thought they wanted me to write porn. I refused. We both agreed to tear up the contract. I vowed to never send them anything again, ever. Out of the blue, Niani emailed me and after a few emails asked if I was working on anything else. I told her about my vow, yada yada, she told me that she was now in charge and things were being run differently. She again asked what I had and I told her. She asked me to send it.

    When the envelope came back that I knew contained my mss I knew it also contained a rejection. Why? Everyone in the chapter said that if they sent back the mss it was rejected and that you got a business size envelope when they wanted the work. Not true in my case. So I didn’t open it for a few days and was shocked when I opened it and they wanted the full.

    A couple of weeks after I sent the full I got a call from GP asking if I had anything else. I took that to mean that they had not liked The Color of Trouble but wanted something else. Several calls came from them within a matter of an hour. Niani called and explained that everyone in the office loved The Color of Trouble and she wanted to know if I had anything else because she wanted to give me a two book contract.

    Mind you, I need proof and remember I had a notebook filled with rejection letters. I asked her to email me so I could print it out. I wanted all the wonderful things she said in her phone call. She emailed and the message wasn’t as glowing as the phone call so I called her up and said, Sorry, but I want all the glowing praise I want to print it up. She emailed me again and I printed it out and framed it. So right here, right now, I want to thank Niani for putting up with me and understanding. I want to thank Genesis Press for giving me a chance when no one else would. That’s how I got into print. How I stayed in print was because of God’s grace and the acquisition editor, Angelique Justin, and my editor liking my voice. Sidney Rickman has always relayed to others that she thought I was talented. She doesn’t know that I know this but I was told and anytime that I’ve had doubts I’ve used it as my mantra: Sidney thinks I’m talented. The mantra worked because Sidney has told me that IN WRITING many times. I’ve kept everyone of her notes.

    As for secrets, God, I wish there were some. I think it’s all a matter of timing and finding that one person with the power to buy your book that loves your voice. If I did have any I would definitely share them. I’m of a mind that this business is large enough to encompass all writers and that we all lift ourselves up when helping others to achieve their goals.

    GB: The first romance novel of yours I read was The Wedding Gown . And I remember thinking that you seemed to be a bold and risk-taking romance writer that I would have to read more of for sure. Would you classify yourself as a bold, risk-taking author? What do you think is your boldest book?

    DD: Hmm. A friend of mine always tells me that I liked pushing the envelope. And I know some have said that I was breaking all of the romance rules. That wasn’t necessarily intentional. Remember my upbringing and the fact that I was not a romance reader. I have always hated anyone telling me what to do so being put into this little box that you’re put in as a romance writer, well, it was just in my nature to fight against it. I’ll tell you, Gwen, if I had been allowed to keep some of my books the way that I wanted them they would have been bold. The Wedding Gown would have been an entirely different book if I had been allowed to keep it in it’s original form. The secondary characters took over the book and it became a brother sister relationship book. It was where the characters took me. But Sidney brought me back on course and said, “Dyanne, this is not a book about a brother and sister this is a romance. If Mia wants a book then you will have to write Mia a book. Give all of Mia’s scenes to Ashleigh.

    LOL. Okay, maybe those weren’t the exact words but almost. For real. Two things happened: I have never liked Ashleigh because she stole a book that was supposed to be hers in the first place and my editor Sidney Rickman went to Niani and told her that she thought I should do a third book with Mia. Misty Blue . Thanks Sidney.

    As to what books I think are my boldest: If I had been allowed to go with my instincts and my first fifteen pages and make Forever and A Day an interracial that would have been it. Can you imagine what that would have stirred up with what was happening in New Orleans at the time? Okay, maybe I do like stirring things up. I think Another Man’s Baby would be the boldest book. A marine saying that America is not ALL right in the war in Iraq, that the Iraqi people are suffering also, bringing to light the horrors that are done there, the things that are covered up. And then him coming home and being ordered to bring fresh bodies for this war he no longer believes in. Oh yeah, I’d have to say Another Man’s Baby is it. I also had to make sure that it was not the troops that Eric was protesting against but the war itself.

    GB: Like I said, bold and risk-taking! You are the writing renaissance woman. Since the publication of your first novel, The Color of Trouble , an interracial romance, you have written African-American romances, more interracial romances, mainstream fiction and even a hot new vampire series. Can you tell us a little about some of your books? Are any common themes running through the novels? I already know which of your books is my favorite… Do you have a favorite?

    DD: Gwen, I’m trying to figure out your blog space and know that I’ve taken up wayyy too much space answering the other question but there was really no way to give short answers. I promise to give short answers to this one (well shorter) Anyway since I have long admired you and thought of you as a renaissance woman your words are a real compliment to me. Thank you.

    The Color of Trouble —Tons of personal reasons for writing it but I’ll boil it down to this. I wanted to show that prejudice exists in people of color.
    The Wedding Gown —A romance ( I’m still traumatized over the change.) LOL.

    Misty Blue —I loved my original title, Banishing The Ghosts. Sidney said it was the perfect title but not a romance title. This story was about Mia and Damien who stole The Wedding Gown and my heart. It’s the story of a young woman emotionally abused by her narcissist mother and her trying to cope with it. It’s also shows how one woman’s DOG can be another woman’s Prince charming.

    GB: It sure did because Damien was sho-nuff a dog in The Wedding Gown . Ooops… I had to cut in and say that… continue…

    DD: Let’s Get it on —Totally loved this story. I started to make Hamid be from Iran. I decided since I didn’t have another country to move to I’d tone it down. Moslems here were being persecuted in some places after 911. I wanted people to look at that and know it was wrong.

    Forever and A Day —Story about a couple finding love in the midst of Hurricane Katrina. It showed the classism that people of color have instituted amongst themselves, the whole good hair bad hair, yellow is better complex that black people indulge in.

    Two Sides to Every Story —There was and still is so much police brutality going on around the country that I decided to have a story about this. It was also the first story where I didn’t have the couple married or involved in a long-term relationship. Some one actually said I had them get together too quickly. I had to laugh. It had taken months of them irritating each other. Besides I’m usually told that I take too long to get to the love scenes and that I wasn’t writing true romance because the couples were either married, engaged or in a long term relationship. It just goes to show no matter what you do, not everyone will like it.

    In The Beginning —Okay, what can I say but thank you to Mr. Adam Omega for allowing F.D. Davis to chronicle his life. He’s a vampire with bite. LOL.

    GB: He sure is… Mmm mmm mmm…. Love him though… continue…

    DD: Many Shades of Gray —This book tells you from the first page that the woman considers herself a “B.” Hey silly me, I thought that would be enough to let the readers know it wasn’t going to be a typical romance. There are several underlying themes in that book that may have been missed by some. There is the very real issue of trying to save the independently owned African American bookstores from extinction. That’s a very real problem. Then there is the matter of rights. Does a man have the right of a father over an unborn fetus? Is the woman the only one who can make that decision because it’s her body? Generally I don’t say too much too contradict or defend my work but this book was well written and showed a lot of growth in my writing. And yes, I touched on abortion. I guess you’re right. I do keep pushing the envelope don’t I?

    GB: Mmm hmm, you do. But keep on pushing!

    DD: I just don’t do boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. I like writing stories about real people who are flawed and make dumb mistakes. I don’t even like using the words hero and heroine. I guess I’m not really into the HEA. I do try for that but what I really want is for someone to read one of my books and say something like, Ohhh so and so act just like that, she should read this and know how stupid she’s behaving. Did I just call my books stupid? No. I write about people who do stupid things and won’t let me fix their problems. When someone says, that character was whatever, I wonder if they think I don’t know that. That was the point. But then again I guess I’m supposed to be writing romance. So I suppose readers have a right to expect traditional romance. But still I wonder if they’ve read my books aren’t they aware that I don’t write traditional romance. I thought about one of your earlier questions. Risk taking, I guess the answers I’m giving you instead of being politically correct is a definite risk but I’m being honest.

    Another Man’s Baby —I think I talked about this one earlier.

    The Critic —Okay, this book was just plain fun and probably has more of me than any other book I’ve ever written. It’s about a romance writer and a romance critic. It definitely has all of my ideas on the tight little confining box of the world of romance. I have a book trailer on my site that is so cute. Brenda Willis a member of my yahoo group made if for me. If your readers get a chance please go and take a look. And the cover is fantastic. click on books give it a few seconds then click on coming soon give it a few second now watch the video and enjoy. You need to have your sound on so you can hear the typewriter clicking away in the background.

    GB: That book sounds like loads of fun! I can’t wait to read it!

    DD: In Blood We Trust —this is the second installment of the Vampire Series. This is also the first time I’ve ever sent a book to a reader/writer to ask for a preread. This came about after I had done the edits from Sidney. Remember your asking me about that headspace? Well I don’t remember what I was writing before or after I wrote, In Blood We Trust. It must have been romance because it was beginning to read like one. I had taken Adam Omega to the dentist to have his fangs filed. So Gwyneth, Viola and Brenda I would like to thank the three of you for telling me to give Adam back his fangs. Your comments and suggestions were worth more than gold and enabled me to allow Adam to return to his true nature. Poor Sidney is going to pull her hair out when she gets back my revised version. I’ll have to do another edit when it comes back from her in about a month but I’m now in the right head thanks to my friends and colleagues.

    GB: You’re so welcome! I’m just geeked I got to read it before everyone else. I feel so special… So about those common themes…

    DD: The common theme that runs through my books is pointing out prejudices that exist and shining a soft light on them saying we all have it but we can conquer it. Some people totally miss what I’m trying to say. I’ve even had someone say I’m prejudiced. God!! ( Breathe Dyanne ). The other thing that is common in my books is faith in God. After about the third book I began to notice that. No one pointed it out to me and still haven’t. At first I had thought to eliminate it then I realized that my belief in God is a part of me. It’s who I am so naturally it’s going to come out in my writing. Even when writing about vampires.

    GB: Has your writing changed over the years? What kinds of changes have you seen in your work?

    DD: Well, I’m tackling more prominent social issues. Sidney has made a suggestion on a topic she thinks I would do a good job of. I’m not ready for it yet. It would be emotionally taxing. I just thought about this. Sidney would more than likely tell you that I take risks because she’s always telling me that she’s amazed at the things I choose to write about. I’m extremely and happy and proud to have Sidney in my corner I’ve learned a lot from her through the years. When she praises my work that’s the yardstick I measure by. Believe me when she thinks as she puts it, that I got on my horse and rode off in all directions she tells me, or if something is just plain not good she’ll say you can do better than that redo it. That’s why I love, trust and respect her and her editing and why I am always defending the Genesis press editors. One I know for a fact is top notch and professional and that’s Sidney Rickman. And yes this is a plug for Sidney. Read her interview on my site.

    GB: I only worked with Sidney once. She was my editor for Sweet Sensation . She rocked! So, how has your life changed since becoming published? Would you change anything if you had it to do all over again? What changes, if any, do you anticipate in the future?

    DD: Since becoming published I have found myself in the company of so many authors that it literally takes my breathe away to be considered a part of them. I think I’m much busier now than before. If I had it to do over again I would have probably armed myself with the right tools and learned the craft years before while it didn’t hurt my behind to sit for such extended periods of time. The change I anticipate for the future will be buying a laptop so some of my wok can be done from the comfort of my bed. LOL

    GB: You have published mainstream women’s fiction, paranormal fiction and romance novels. Do you find that you have to be in a different mental space or frame of mind to move from genre to genre? And I know this question is one you probably can’t answer, but… Which is your favorite? If you could write only one, what would it be?

    DD: Good question Gwen. You so have to be in a different headspace. I have no problems telling you which genre is my favorite. Hands down it would be paranormal. Your imagination can soar there like no other place. You create your world and you control it. If I could only write in one genre that would be it. Vampires, ghosts, witches, psychics. There are all whispering their stories to me. I’m trying to ask them to please be patient and Lord willing I will get to them.

    GB: Well, I love reading paranormals and I wish we had more with multicultural casts. So, hurry up and get to writing them. What’s next on the horizon for you? Tell us a little bit about your upcoming projects and give us a sneak peek at some of the things you have in the works.

    DD: The only project I haven’t mentioned is an anthology Lotus Blossom . Since I tend to write rather long this will be a good thing for me. I told Sidney a couple of books ago that I was going to start writing shorter books. She said I don’t have a short book in me. (LOL) So when I was asked to be in the Lotus Blossom anthology I jumped at the chance.

    GB: What are you reading right now?

    DD: Right now I’m doing required reading, Books for, RWA, The Rita. Now you have to know how hard this is at this particular time. I am the person receiving the books for Romance Slam Jam. All of these wonderful titles by so many talented writers and I don’t have time to read them before sending them out. (Dang!!) But I do read the dedications. For some weird reasons I enjoy the book more when I read the dedications. Yes, I know I’m strange.

    GB: I hear you about judging! It’s that time of the year. Speaking of Romance Slam Jam… You are also keeping busy as one of the dynamic host authors for this year's Romance Slam Jam. How has it been working with the other authors and the host book club to plan the event? And can you give us a little sneak peak about what we can expect when we meet up this year in the Chi?

    DD: I'm glad to have the opportunity to talk a little bit about Romance Slam Jam. The RSJ has now become an organization and will very soon be a non-profit organization. There is one person who has spearheaded this entire operation and I do not know where she has found the time to do all of it. Maybe youth plays a part in it. All I know is that Deatri King-Bey is a dynamo.

    Initially when our 08 committee got started we had a couple of little brush fires. (okay, a couple of cat fights ) Nothing major then we all said, "Okay, lets get about the business and move on. That was way over a year ago. Since then we've all been in this to make this the best RSJ that we can possibly make it. Everyone has their job and there's cross over when ever any one needs help. That includes the book club not just the authors. WE are all contributing and we all want this to be a success. It also helps that we have a central person to call on and that central person is Deatri.

    As for as sneak peek: Barbara Keaton is in charge of entertainment and all I can said is Lord, Lord, Lord. Bill probably won't let me enjoy it all but if I can put him to sleep I'll be there. Do you remember our D.J. from Miami? I'm actually going to miss him. We're going to have dancing and partying galore.

    GB: Girl, that DJ from Miami was something else wasn’t he? LOL. I know my girl Barb is going to hook up the entertainment. What else do you all have planned?

    DD: Then there are the workshops. Every possible thing you would want will be there. There’s more than enough to satisfy both the readers, writers and everyone else in between. We're going to have a spotlight on Red Sage where Theresa Stevens will tell exactly what they're looking for. It's a wide open market and we're lucky to have her. Michelle from Three Seas Literary Agency will also be doing a spotlight. Spotlight are terrific especially for the shy you get to hear what's going on without being afraid of losing the power of speech.

    We also will be having both editor and agents taking pitches so I hope everyone comes with their "A " games.

    Last but not least we have a de-stressing workshop for everyone. Then there's the books and goodies that will be in each goodie bag. Trust me you'll be happy. I'm going to have a hard time relinquishing them but since the guilt would eat me alive I guess I'll have to.

    I almost forgot. There will be reader sessions everyday will authors that way reader can get to talk to all of the authors. And then we have the special session where some of the authors will talk with ten special readers. These authors were chosen on the basis of who signed on first.

    Add that to all of us being there and just gabbing come on, why do you think it's themed Come on Home . That's what it will be, a big old homecoming. I can't wait.

    GB: Me either! I love Slam Jam and I know you all are going to set it out for us romance loving sistahs! Okay, so do you have any advice for aspiring writers about the publishing business?

    DD: I know this is what aspiring writers hear all the time. I heard it but it still remains true. Persevere, if you give up you will never know what was waiting for you around the corner. Don’t stop writing after you complete your first mss. Send it off and start on the second, then the third and so on. Join with other writers even if it’s just on-line. Having others who know what you’re going through cheer you on is so important. And last but not least, PLEASE develop a thick skin. If you think rejections hurt wait until you get bad reviews. It happens to everyone. I’ll bet the Bible has a ton of bad reviews. Here is one thing to remember through the bad reviews: An editor liked your work enough to pay you money for it. Make that your mantra when the time calls for it. Just don’t ever give up.

    GB: How can readers best contact you?

    DD: Readers can contact me via email Gwen, once again I would like to thank you for interviewing me and for the time you took with Mr. Omega. He’s very impressed by your talent. I’m sure he must have asked you to give me equal time. He can be nice when he chooses but there’s always a price to pay. Who knows what he will ask of me.

    GB: Dyanne this was too much fun! Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the Chi!