SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’

EduardopromoEduardo Cruz had barely arrived in New York before he was swept into a large community of Dominicans. It was a relief, because everything he’d heard from guys who had gone before him, told him that New York could be loud, crowded and sometimes even frightening. Not much frightened Duardo, but he didn’t like the idea of being in a jungle of skyscrapers and cars away from the trees, beaches and wide open spaces he was used to. But he had a talent, and if he used it well, he could take what was best about this experience and send it home—the money. The gobs of ridiculous sums of money that the New York team was willing to pay him.

The game was important to him too, of course. But he could play the game with the same joy near the sugar cane fields of San Pedro de Macorís, as he could on a multimillion dollar baseball diamond. So being in New York, was mainly about the money. Para mi madre. It was practically his mantra since he’d arrived in this godforsaken place. For my mother.

Still, missing his mother and his country was dulled somewhat by being with the Acostas. When his teammate, Marcos had invited him to his home, Duardo was reluctant. He’d heard that he shouldn’t expect Dominicans in New York to be the same as the ones back home. In New York he heard, they’d adopted new ways, and new values, and none more so than the men like Marcos Acosta, who had come into millions of dollars through the game. And upon arriving at the house, he was sure Acosta was one of those who had lost his way—the place was large enough to accommodate five families of four, and to raise a herd of cows out back.

But he was pleasantly surprised when he was introduced to everyone. They seemed remarkably untouched by their good fortune. Family seemed to be their priority and all Duardo had heard once they all settled in was repeated inquiries of, ‘where’s Miri?’

His baby sister, Marcos explained, had graduated from university and was living on her own in the city, which was a constant source of worry for them all. She was the only missing piece before the meal could commence. So Duardo waited with everyone else, wondering when this mysterious young lady would make her appearance. He was only slightly curious, but very hungry. Once this Miri arrived he could eat. That was his predominant thought.

Until she appeared.

Standing at the door leading from the house, she seemed to have manifested from thin air. Wearing clothes clearly not her own and a mixture of annoyance and affection on her face she looked at her family, Miri’s eyes finally alighted on him. And when they did, Duardo felt as though she’d reached out and touched him with one of her small hands. A literal chill spread across the surface of his skin as she stared at him. Duardo stared back. Her mouth fell open a little and he tried not to smile.

So it’s not just me. She felt that too.

Then Marcos’ wife was there, whispering something in her ear and Miri’s eyes drifted away from him and around to the general company. Duardo watched as she went to greet her parents first, kissing them both; then Marcos, then each of her other brothers before turning her attention to the children. That she had naturally gravitated towards the elders before everyone else meant that Miri Acosta was not entirely the modern young woman that he had been led to believe she was. Or even if modern, she had a bedrock of traditional values.

In a few house parties that he’d been to since coming to New York—most to the homes of other players—Duardo had been a little surprised to see people show up and make a beeline for the food and alcohol, spending several minutes socializing before even going to say ‘hello’ to the older relatives in attendance.

“You have to meet Miri.” Marcos’ wife was extending a hand to him, and Duardo stood, smiling and nodding at her.

Dylan Acosta was pretty, with a smooth toffee-brown complexion reminiscent of so many women in his country, but Duardo already knew she was not Dominican. The scandal, involving her and another Mets player had made it to DR, so her name was for a time synonymous with what could happen when Dominican men, suddenly wealthy because of their talent for baseball, got taken in by a wily American gold-digger. But apparently the rumors about her had been untrue, and later—though with comparatively less media fanfare—it was acknowledged that she was nothing more than collateral damage in the disintegration of someone else’s marriage.

Since he had gotten there, Dylan had been very much the gracious hostess, spending a lot of time making sure he was comfortable, and checking in with him every half hour or so. His tendency to be quiet, while he sized situations up had probably given her the impression he was uncomfortable, or shy. Duardo was used to people making this assumption about him, but the simple truth was that he was untroubled by silence and not inclined to fill it with the sound of his own voice unless he had something very particular to say. Given the boisterous liveliness of the Acostas, he was unsurprised that Dylan Acosta would misinterpret his relative quiet.

“Miri!” She called over to her sister-in-law who was now sitting in the grass with the little ones, helping them build fort out of oversized Lego blocks.

Miri Acosta looked up. And when she did, Duardo felt once again, the same mix of familiarity and curiosity he experienced when their eyes first met across the patio, minutes earlier. She had large eyes, almost hazel, but not quite; and her complexion the smoothest dulce de leche Duardo had ever seen. Up close, she looked even younger than she had standing at the door to the veranda, her limbs were long and very slender, and seemed new to her, as she had difficulty arranging them comfortably, like a baby gazelle who had not yet learned to run, and could barely stand. It was charming.

Duardo smiled. “Good to meet you,” he said.

“You too.”

Miri Acosta extended a hand for a quick shake, forgoing the more familiar greeting of a brief kiss, or brushing of cheeks. And she didn’t make eye contact either, instead looking just past his face.

“Duardo is …” Dylan paused and laughed. “Oh god, I’m sorry. I’ve forgotten which position you play.”

“It’s not important,” Duardo said, his eyes still fixed on Miri.

“Not important?” Marcos, who emerging from the house with two beers in hand, heard the exchange and was shaking his head. “Eduardo is the designated hitter, baby.”

“Which sounds like a big deal, but you know I have no idea,” Dylan said shrugging.
Marcos winked at his wife and handed Duardo one of the bottles, which he took though he was not much of a drinker.

“And let me guess,” Miri Acosta said, sticking her chin out as though defiant. “You’re from San Pedro.”

“Yes. You know it?”

“Only as the place that seems to have a factory that produces Major League Baseball players.”

“But you’ve never been?”

“When we go, we pretty much stay in La Romana,” she said. She was still avoiding his eyes.

“It’s very beautiful there,” Duardo told her. “You should go one day.”

“I’ve been meaning to,” Marcos said, answering for her. “So I can see what’s in the water.”

“Or in the sugar cane,” Duardo said, smiling.

He was proud of his town’s legacy of producing major talent in baseball, though it had come at some cost, mostly in the loss of relationships and the fracturing of families. Some young men came to the States and weren’t as fortunate as he had been, but stayed anyway, often without documentation, and tried to eke out a living at menial jobs, and sending money back home to support their immediate and extended families.

“So, should we continue this conversation over dinner?” Dylan suggested. “Now that everyone’s here, we may as well get started.”

“Yes! Let’s eat!” Miri turned and headed for the house, somewhat too eagerly, Duardo thought.

Smiling once again, he followed his hosts, eyes fixed on the retreating back of their “baby sister”.

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SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’

Miri3 promo flat

About ‘The Education of Miri Acosta':

Coming from a large Dominican family that takes their gender roles very seriously, Miri Acosta has always enjoyed the protection of her three older brothers.

Until now.

Almost twenty-three, and just graduated from university she is finally on her own instead of living with her parents. Eager to experience every bit of what she’s missed her whole life living in the most exciting city in the world, Miri decides to buck her family’s wishes and become a modern, single woman. ‘Modern’ means clubbing, dating, and … casual sex.

Just so long as her brothers don’t find out.

As she’s about to put her ‘modern woman’ plan into effect, Miri meets Eduardo Cruz, the newest player on her brother’s MLB team who is exactly what she’s running from—a bossy, overbearing, traditional Dominican walking bundle of machismo.

Miri isn’t sure what to make of Duardo … but she can’t stay away from him, either, so she decides that he’s just the right man to get her started with the whole casual sex thing.

But Duardo isn’t interested in a ‘modern’ relationship. If Miri wants him, she’s going to have to learn how to become a more traditional Dominican girl. And once he gets her, whether she wants to or not, he’s playing for keeps.

FROM ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’ – COMING SOON!

Though she kept her eyes down, Miri couldn’t help but listen. Eduardo had the kind of voice that made you want to listen. It was deep and hoarse, confident and steady. His English was vaguely rather than heavily accented, and there was even the hint of an American accent to it. He spoke Spanish like someone who had been bilingual all their life, and not just recently.

When he paused in the middle of his description of his home, Miri looked up and saw that his eyes were on her, as though he had been focused on her all along. Next to him, her brother Matt noticed the mutual staring and tilted his head to the side, his eyebrows lifting. Matt would no doubt tease her later about her obvious and naked attraction to Mark’s new teammate.

He was very handsome, so how could she not be attracted? And every time she looked at him, he was looking at her too, so the feeling might even be mutual. But that didn’t mean she was going to do anything about it. If she wanted to do something about it, she wouldn’t have known how.

Her inexperience with men embarrassed her. Especially when she was around her friends. Only Marisol knew she was still a virgin, and thankfully, she kept Miri’s secret from Nessa who probably would have taunted her mercilessly. Nessa, who reported her every conquest with R-rated detail, could not possibly understand what the hold-up was, and why Miri would be “saving herself.” But she wasn’t saving herself exactly; she just hadn’t met the man who made her want to give herself.

It was probably because she’d been raised in the Church, and from the time she was a toddler had been taught by the nuns to envision the sad face of the Blessed Virgin when she was about to sin. While her brothers went to public school where they were raised in the Bronx, Miri had gone to Saint Francis, where nuns clad in brown hammered into her all the various punishments for different types of sin. The sin of fornication was a bad one. Now, older and wiser, Miri wasn’t sure she believed everything she’d learned at Saint Francis, but those lessons were ingrained in her and all she could do was modify them … not flout them altogether. She might fornicate, but only if the urge to do so was overwhelming, and so far it hadn’t been.

She had been passionately kissed, had a couple times been felt up under her clothes, and had only once gone further than even that; but the ultimate act had never happened. Marisol on the other hand, also raised Catholic, said she had rid herself of her virginity at the first opportunity, which came freshman year in college. She told Miri that when her boyfriend pushed himself inside her, her body had resisted as determinedly as though he had been trying to press his thumb through the palm of her hand.

And the blood, Marisol said shaking her head. I don’t even want to tell you about the blood.

The thought of it almost made Miri swoon. She wasn’t completely innocent, and knew that some—maybe even most—women bled the first time, but she had heard very few firsthand accounts of what The First Time was like. A couple girls at Saint Francis had boasted of being sexually-active, but at the time, Miri wasn’t much interested. She wasn’t part of that crowd. She was one of the studious ones, more interested in her lessons and books than in parties and boys.

And why was she even thinking about that now?

Que precioso.”

Eduardo had ended his colorful description, and her mother was practically swooning, her father smiling as well.

“My mother thinks it’s madness to come to New York when you can live back home,” Mark said. “Even though I can’t persuade her to let me buy her a house there.”

“No. You save your money,” their mother said. “I am used to living here now. Maybe when I am old …”

Miri and her brothers exchanged smiles. None of them dared tell her that at almost sixty-five, they thought she was at least approaching old age. And certainly no one would bother reminding her that Mark now had more money than he knew what to do with. Relative to his wealth, the small things their parents accepted—some home remodeling, new appliances and a car—were akin to trinkets.

“You mustn’t encourage your mother to come here, Eduardo,” their mother continued. “Life here is very different … aislado … very isolated. Not very much …” She struggled with her English. “Not very much … comunidad.”

“Mom, that’s his and his mother’s business if she should come,” Miri jumped in, embarrassed.

Her parents always wanted to adopt the new Dominican ball players, treating them for a time like one of their own children, doling out unsolicited advice and even scolding them on occasion. One guy who had wound up in the papers for driving intoxicated, her mother had grabbed by the ear when he came over for dinner one Sunday, telling him he had shamed his family.

“No, but I’ve considered that,” Eduardo said. “I would not want her to be unhappy. She has friends in San Pedro. And her church.”

“Yes. Very important. Do you go to Mass, Eduardo?”

“Mom,” Matt groaned. “Stop. Bad enough you strong-arm the rest of us into going.”

“I shouldn’t have to … what do you say … strong-arm you into church, Mateo. But …” Their mother threw up her hands in defeat. “But … you meet your Maker at the end. So it is your choice whether you meet him in a state of grace or not.”

“I go on holidays,” Eduardo said, smiling politely. “Not much more than that, to be honest. And usually, I was strong-armed as well.”

“You young people today …” Standing up, her mother looked at Dylan who also stood. “Time for our chaca, Dylan?”

Her mother and sister-in-law headed for the kitchen and the little ones followed, lured by the promise of a sweet dessert. Her brothers and father continued talking among themselves and Xiomara leaned in to finish what remained on her plate now that she was freed from coercing Pedro into eating his own meal.

“How about you?” Eduardo asked.

Miri felt her face warm when he addressed her directly. The heat spread down her neck and to her belly. “What about me?”

“Do you often go to Mass?”

“No.” She shook her head. “Not often.”

Eduardo smiled, and she couldn’t figure out what that smile meant. What conclusion was he drawing from the fact that she too, had to be forced to Mass? Although why she should care about the conclusions he drew was beyond her.

“Are you staying tonight, Miri?” Mark asked from the head of the table.

“No. Too difficult to get to work on time from here.”

“God forbid you should be a little late to your high-powered job as a proofreader,” Matt smirked.

“High-powered or not, they expect me to be on time,” Miri snapped.

She hated it when her brothers treated her like she was a flibbertigibbet. She was doing what most people did after college—working at a job that paid the bills until she could figure out her next move. But she supposed the fact that her job didn’t actually pay the bills was part of what caused them to ridicule her.

After she graduated, Mark had continued depositing almost fifteen-hundred a month into her checking account. Of all her brothers, he was the one who would have had standing to inquire about when she was going to “get serious” about her life, and yet he did not. Matt and Peter on the other hand were relentless in their quest to prove her a spoiled brat. Like either of them had a leg to stand on.

Mark had bankrolled Matt’s new venture, a baseball camp for Little Leaguers; and Peter’s auto body shop that specialized in tricking-out luxury cars for irresponsible athletes and hedge-fund millionaires with too much disposable income on their hands. And just because both businesses were doing well, they conveniently forgot that it wasn’t their own ingenuity that had led to their success, but Mark’s money and good reputation. Although Acosta was a common name, the family resemblance to their famous brother opened lots of doors.

“So I’ll take you home after we’re done eating,” Mark said, smoothly avoiding yet another sibling squabble by bringing the conversation back to the matter at hand. “I need to take Duardo anyway.”

“Or you could take us to the train,” Eduardo suggested, unexpectedly. “I’d like to see what that’s like.”

Mark hesitated. “I think Dylan would kill me if I dropped you at the train station, man.”

“I would prefer it,” Eduardo said, more firmly this time. “So long as …” He looked at Miri. “So long as I have a guide to make sure I am not lost.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Miri saw that Matt was smirking again.

“Sure,” Miri said, feeling a tremor in her voice that she hoped no one else could hear. “I’ll be your guide.”

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‘When Clouds Touch’ by Ey Wade

Originally posted on Two Writers, Two Takes. One Book at a Time.:

Ey Wade's When Clouds TouchAbout the Book:

When Clouds Touch is the story of soul mates, Paisley and Malachi.

Destined to meet since before birth, their story wraps us somewhere between loving and caring, wanting the best for someone, while wanting to see them happy, even when it is risky and they must obey the demands of family.

Paisley, a woman of Japanese descent, living with Albinism and heart disease, is meek, yet makes no apologies for seeking what she yearns to have. Hiding behind the protective fold of her wagasa, she longs for freedom from her overprotective parents and the love of a man she’s known only in her dreams, even at the cost of her health.

Malachi, a man who has visions of meeting an elusive shadow, uses his sense of humor and sensitive side to build their relationship. He’s determined to win her love, even against the wishes of her…

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SAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘The Come Up’

From ‘The Come Up':

Once Jamal was gone, Devin seemed to grow a new cooperative spirit, and everything was running smoothly all of a sudden. He let the stylists experiment with different looks, even the ones he clearly hated. Knowing she should be grateful that her little come-to-Jesus talk had worked, Makayla instead wanted to punch him in the head. Why was it he only acted a fool long enough to make it seem to Jamal like she didn’t have things under control? If she didn’t know better, she would think he was deliberately trying to sabotage her gig. Or her new relationship.

But actually, that wasn’t too farfetched.

When she was three and he was four-years old, Devin was one of several kids from the neighborhood her grandmother looked after. Quiet and withdrawn; that was how Makayla remembered him. While all the other kids were playing or watching cartoons, he liked to sit with Nana in the kitchen, or follow her around the apartment. He had a head full of wild, curly, nappy hair, and those blue-green eyes of his were wide and large on his too-thin face. Sometimes when his mother dropped him off, his clothes were filthy; so dirty that Nana stripped him down to almost nothing and put them in the laundry in their building’s basement at her own expense.

Devin3 promoOnce in a while, he would have to wear one of Makayla’s girlie shorts or t-shirts while his clothes were being washed. The other kids made fun of him, and his eyes would fill with tears, but they never fell; he just kept blinking over and over, willing them away. Around six o’clock each evening, parents would start showing up to retrieve their kids. But Devin’s mother only sometimes did. And when she showed, it was usually well into the evening; and by then Devin would have already been fed dinner, and made to share Makayla’s bed.

Soon, his mother made no pretense of the fact that she left him there so he could eat, and be bathed and properly looked after. And Makayla grew accustomed to having him around. She woke up with Devin in her bed almost half the nights in each week. And Nana made him breakfast and dinner just about as often as she made it just for Makayla and herself. He became part of their little family.

And as for Devin’s own family? Well, it was complicated. His mother wasn’t getting high or drunk, her vice was men. The no-good variety. They beat her, they beat her kid, they stole her money; and though she did not, many of them got high and drunk. There was one man, who showed up around the time Devin was eight-years old who had had a particularly profound negative impact. His name was Cyrus, and for about four years, Cyrus was the Boogie Man—the subject of all Devin’s nightmares. Devin had survived Cyrus, but Makayla believed he had never quite recovered from him.

During all those years, being at Makayla’s and sharing her Nana, Devin became possessive. Every other friend Makayla had, he viewed as a threat, often waging all-out war against them until they grew weary of the fight and gave up. By the time she was thirteen, Makayla had come to think of Devin as part of her, inextricable and inevitable. She couldn’t give him up, no matter how it stung to have girlfriend after girlfriend (and later, boyfriends too) scared away. He was hers, and she was his.

Sometimes, now that they were adults, the word ‘co-dependent’ came to mind when Makayla thought about how she and Devin were together. But she didn’t think that word often, because it came with certain negative connotations that she was unwilling to ascribe to the deep love and unbreakable bond they had with each other.

So maybe Devin was trying to scare Jamal away.

But that didn’t matter. She had no intention of losing either of them.

_______________

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Sneak Peek: ‘I Am Yours’ by Aja

I Am YoursAbout the Book: Amara Harper and Noah Farrington have a history. A passionate, emotion-filled, pleasurable history. Despite how good it felt to be in his arms, being with Noah terrified Amara and because she is good for running from the things she fears, she runs from him, leaving him brokenhearted and with a newfound determination to become the man he knew he could be if she’d only given him the chance. Two years later, and in line for a promotion, Amara uses a project she’s put in charge of as a means to get in contact with the man who stole her heart. She’s afraid of what might happen but moves forward anyway and despite his resolve to deny her when she comes calling, he gives in and agrees to help her with it. Naturally when two people meant for each other come together even for work, passion ignites, and Amara is sent on a journey that forces her to beg these questions: What if? What if I allowed his passion to consume me and not run from it?

There are obstacles though; like she is practically engaged to Keith, the safe choice for Amara, and again, she doesn’t truly trust love. Can Amara overcome her fears and give into what makes her feel whole? Can she finally begin to trust the love that Noah has always had for her?

From ‘I Am Yours':

“Damn, Amara. I really don’t know what to do with you.”

“Keep doing what you’re doing, Noah. That’s all I ask.”

I collapsed against his chest and he held me there with his arms around me, slowly rubbing my back in upward, downward motions. It was calming. So calming, I must have drifted to sleep because I felt him pick me and I wrapped my legs around his waist to assist him although he acted like I was a lightweight as he moved toward his room. He carried me to bed and laid me down and I cuddled up to him to finally get that sleep we now couldn’t continue on without.

*********

“I think I want to go out on my own,” I said. We’d been up for a few minutes.

“Okay.”

“That’s it? Okay. No questions about what I mean, how I’m going to do it?”

“No. Because I know you’ve either thought it out and weighed the pros and cons before you even shared your thoughts with me.”

I smiled against his chest and continued tracing my pattern of a heart on his tummy, watching it tense and jiggle as he tried to hold back his laughter.

“I knew you were ticklish. I just had to get you in the right situation.”

“You’re delusional little girl. I am not ticklish. I haven’t chuckled from someone’s playing fingers since I was a boy.”

I kept it up and hit that secret spot in his side and he couldn’t hold it back this time, backing away and laughing so hard that it made me ridiculously happy just to watch. I said nothing as he settled back in giving me a look that dared me to say anything. I mimed, that my lips were sealed and settled back into my spot on his safe and secure chest.

“So how will you do it?”

“That’s the part that isn’t etched in stone. Part of me thinks I need some more developmental time and I’m not ashamed to say that. Laura was always a great boss and I don’t blame her for making the decision she made with the information she had. Maybe I can go back for a short while as I map a plan to start my own consulting business.”

Although I didn’t ask him for his approval of my plan I really wanted to know what he thought and hoped he’d agree. His opinion really mattered.

“I think it’s a wise plan. You avoid burning any bridges, get what you need as you grow a little, and you’ll be able to come up with a sound business plan. I’ll even help you come up with your proposal and offer advice,” he said. “When you need it,” he added quickly.

“I’ll always value anything you can offer.” I sat up, crossed my legs and faced him. I wanted him to see my sincerity when I said this. “I know I’ve not been the easiest woman to put up with. I know I have my ways about me, but I want you to know I’m not just standing still and not running for now. I’m not going anywhere. And more than that, Noah, I actually need you in my life. For now, for always. Forever. However we manage to make that be.”

“Come here,” He demanded.

“What?” I smiled.

“Come here.” I leaned down to get his sweet kiss. And then went back to my spot, lying on his chest.

Now available on Amazon!

Happy Reading!

N.

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Sneak Peek: ‘Chasing Moments’ by Tia Kelly

Chasing Cover

While everyone watched her live for the moment… she had to find a way to remember it.

I heard it all… I’m famous for being famous… that night was probably the best and worst thing to happen to me… I’m a fame whore… and lately the buzz is about my fifteen minutes being up.

My problem is that I don’t know if they’re right or not… I can’t remember.

What I can tell you is that my name is Chastity Ryan, but everyone insists on calling me Chase. And to my surprise, I have eight million followers. What am I doing with that many people listening to anything I have to say? The wiki facts about my life are out there and that’s all I have to tell me… that and thousands of updates, years worth of tweets and filtered images of a woman I barely even recognize, but she does look just like me. I guess I should be happy that I do have a breadcrumb trail on social media and the people around me to help me decipher its fleeting code…

Except I don’t know if I should trust them… and if that’s no one else’s fault but my own.

– Chase

Confirmed party girl Chase Ryan has it all… and she wants the world to know it. After making her way through all the hotspots and parties across town, Chase is used to waking up the morning after with no recollection of the night before. Until she wakes up one day with a thin memory about her entire life and all she can do is chase the moments she left behind hoping to figure out her own story.

Brandon Instagram

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You’re Invited to a Book Chat on ‘The Come Up’!

Book chat The Come UpSome of you, I know in the “real world” but sadly, others I only know in cyberspace. That makes it difficult for me to interface with folks who enjoyed my work (or didn’t) and who want to talk about it. But thank goodness for Facebook! It’s provided me the space to communicate directly with readers who not only give me feedback on my work, but great ideas about what I might write next.

After I wroteAfterwards and Afterburn, my most well-received books to date, I heard from a lot of readers who were intrigued with a secondary character, Jamal Turner. The resident Casanova from those books, who “tapped more ass than Usher.” I never planned a book on Jamal, and was frankly a little perplexed about why folks found him that interesting. But as I re-read the parts of my book where he appeared, I too became intrigued and wondered more about him. And it was from that ‘wondering’ that ‘The Come Up’ was born.

So again, I have to thank my readers, not just for liking what I write, but for inspiring what I write. Jamal Turner’s story led to the development of two other characters, Makayla and Devin. Now I’ve heard from a few folks that they’d love to talk about them and that’s amazing. So, hosted by my good friend, writer, Tia Kelly, I will be participating in an online book chat this Sunday at 5PM EST, on Facebook.

If you have the time and the will, please join us by clicking here and RSVP-ing to the event. There will be polls, games, and giveaways, and of course, just good old-fashioned conversation about books. And if you haven’t yet read ‘The Come Up’, get your copy!

On Amazon or Barnes&Noble.com

About the book:

Jamal Turner is near the top of his game. Widely-known as the trusted right-hand man to music mogul Chris Scaife, he’s poised to become chief operating officer of his friend and mentor’s international recording conglomerate. But while his career prospects have never been better, Jamal is still plagued by the memories of his humble beginnings, threatening to pull him back down just as he’s on the come up. 

Makayla Hughes knows who she is and where she comes from, and she flat out refuses to allow working in the high-powered recording industry to change her or her most closely-held friendships. But when she’s thrown into close quarters, working on a project with the notorious Jamal Turner, she begins to wonder whether her determination to ‘keep it real’ is also keeping her world very, very small. 

Jamal is drawn to Makayla, but he can’t let the man he used to be stand in the way of the man he’s becoming. There’s no doubt she fits into the life Jamal used to have, but what’s not as clear is whether she belongs in the life he wants. 

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