Monday, June 23, 2014

Don't Look Back, Look Forward Book Tour

About the Author
Born and raised in Atlanta GA Tinnie Garlington has always had a passion for teaching. At preschool age Tinnie would tell the class "don't listen to the teacher, listen to me". As she grew older "life" happened and she became a mother at the age of 14. Even though she traveled from school to school, living with anyone who would take her in, she never gave up on learning. Through those experiences she began to write in notebooks about how she was feeling and in some cases make up stories so that she could escape her reality. A high school drop out with no one to turn to but God, she decided at the age of 20 to go back to school to obtain her GED. Times were still tough, but she made it. Shortly after graduating from Atlanta Job Corps, she decided to attend GMI Georgia Medical Institute for her certification as a Medical Administrative Assistant. The journey was still bumpy, but through her will to succeed, she graduated with honors.
Now the Atlanta born "Grady Baby" Tinnie C. Garlington has embarked on her passion to motivate and encourage individuals to see beyond their past. Don't Look Back, Look Forward was birthed from a dark place. Tinnie discovered healing through writing and wrote poetry and plays, yet was too afraid to move forward on her dreams to use this material to teach and encourage others. Well, a close friend and her mother encouraged Tinnie to stop being afraid of the greatness that was inside of her and act on what God has given her. Through that tough love and confirmation, this small yet powerful book was pulled from her personal library and now the world can share in the thoughts hidden in her heart.
Her hopes is that her first book titled "Don't Look Back, Look Forward" will capture the attention of those who are looking for a way forward and encourage them to never give up and allow the hard times to serve as a solid foundation for growth and a positive future.

Author Tinnie, tell us about your book?
Don't Look Back, Look Forward is a book that was written during a time that I was not so sure about the direction that my life was headed. I can recall having these questions and being too afraid to discover the answer. One day I decided to sit down and write down those questions and answer them honestly and without thinking about what to say or how to say it. This book is a combination of my thoughts and pieces of poetry that comes straight from my heart.
How did you come up with ideas for this book?
The idea for this book came from people telling me that my poetry is powerful and very inspiring. Also, I have a passion for teaching others and I felt that this book could serve as a teaching tool for many people as well as organizations. It is my goal to develop courses that surround this book. The courses will assist people with reconnecting with their passion and finding a way to move beyond anything that tries to keep them from moving to the next level.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?
The most difficult aspect of writing this book was going back in the past and really facing the reality of what I went through and how it made me feel. Reconnecting with the past causes you to feel those same emotions that you felt as if it was happing at that very moment. However, I found strength in reconnecting and knowing that allowing myself to see what I was hiding from was not so bad. It was my stepping stone to greatness!!!
Why do you write? Is it something you've always done, or always wanted to do? Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
I write for therapy and a way to express what is hidden away in my heart. I write so that my legacy can live on and others who have experienced or will unfortunately experience what I have gone through will find my book as a resource for strength.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are Bishop TD Jakes, Terry McMillian, John Maxwell, Sista Souljah, and Langston Hughes.
What valuable lessons do you want readers to learn from your book?
The valuable lessons that I would like for my readers to learn is the power of REVEALING. I would like for my readers to remember a quote that I came across during an interview that states "People and things are powerless, your reaction is their only power" by an unknown author. I want them to understand their power to look forward to greatness and know that its okay to not look back.
Any advice to give to aspiring writers?
If I had to give advice to aspiring authors I would tell them to look beyond fear, rejection, or doubt and just be in the moment. Try hard to not be distracted by anything. Do not allow people to contaminate them with their opinions and thoughts. Write from the heart and be present with your feelings. The best work is work that comes from the heart.

About The Book
When life throws a challenge, throw one back. Don't Look Back, Look Forward is a mini book that packs a powerful punch. Author Tinnie Garlington allows you to take a peek into her inner most thoughts and she provides you with her insight on those questions that can sometime keep you from pursuing your passions or moving to the next level. This book inspires you to reconnect with your passion that you may have either suppressed or fear is trying to rob you of. Your life will not be the same when you take this journey and discover the benefits of Looking Forward.
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Friday, June 20, 2014

The Devil Made Me Do It

The Devil Made Me Do It


Audio Preview of The Devil Made Me Do It

Praise for The Devil Made Me Do It

The Devil Made Me Do It is Christian Fiction at its best. The novel is full of lessons about passion, pain and God's abundant blessings. Filled with suspense, laughter and touching moments, this page-turning novel will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page. Colette is a new author to definitely watch. Brava, Ms. Harrell.
--- Victoria Christopher Murray, Best Selling Author

You can ORDER The Devil Made Me Do It at the following websites:

Colette's Debut Novel!

On Shelves June 24, 2014!

The voluptuous Esther Wiley has always known that she is special. She’s a tiara-wearing, wand-carrying kind of Cinderella princess in disguise. The problem that her very own Fairy Godmother, the Prophetess Mother Reed, struggles with is getting her to live like it.

Briggs Stokes is the reluctant heir to his father’s worldwide, multimillion-dollar televangelist ministry, yet he yearns to be his own man. His past mistakes have caused him a private life of hurt and loneliness.

Esther and Briggs meet and develop a deep soul connection, until tragedy strikes and the two are thrust apart. Their separation leads each down a different path scattered with emotional minefields. While each step they take brings them closer to who they were always meant to be, the devil is on assignment. He sends in reinforcements to usher in confusion and create chaos, and soon no one is safe. The members of Love Zion church reel from the rumors, innuendo, and downright sabotage that is going on around them.

When others devise evil schemes to seek the destruction of Esther and Briggs through jealousy, greed, and murder, only divine intervention can save them. As an all-out battle for dominion breaks out in the heavens, will Esther and Briggs become a casualty of war?

Purchase copies today: Publisher: Urban Books (June 24, 2014)
Paperback: 288 pages
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601627823
ISBN-13: 978-1601627827
Shipping Weight: 0.2 ounces

Excerpt from The Devil Made Me Do It



Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep (Genesis 1:2) 

Two ominous figures sat in quiet contemplation, the larger one’s head was gargantuan in nature, and foul droplets of acidic mucus fell from his protruding fangs.

The smaller one stood sixteen feet tall and his rapier tail was wrapped protectively around his middle. He sat as still as cold hard stone. His sinister eyes were yellow rimmed and telegraphed evil cunning. He was known as The Leader.

Their silhouettes cast eerie shadows against the backdrop of the smoke-filled flames that spewed from the lake of fire.

“Ummm, this is my favorite place. Listen to the melodic sound of souls screaming in agony—it is music to my ears. If you concentrate, you can hear the desperate pleas for release. Yessss . . .It allows me to know that all is right in our world,” The High Master said.

The Leader shuddered as the menacing timbre of The High Master’s voice snaked fear around his chest. For him, it was equal to the singe of demon skin from a thousand innocent prayers; he loathed it. His tail subconsciously tightened as he awaited his newest orders.

The High Master continued, “These human souls are pathetic with their self-serving natures. They frighten at the sound of our bumps in the dark, but create havoc in their own lives. What idiots they are and not fit for company until they have totally crossed to our side. And even then they tire me soooo . . .”

The Leader didn’t stir; his thoughts were of survival. He refused to speak. He knew a wrong word could cause such suffering and pain. The High Master’s punishments are prompt and fierce. One seeks death, but yet, death will not come.

The High Master continued his tirade, his grimace displaying double rows of slime-covered fangs. His was a chilling profile. “Your charges are young. Both are being raised in good homes, and, as a result, they are overconfident creatures. Leader, do not underestimate their youth; innocence is a powerful weapon. In their kingdom, the weak become strong. But we must prey on that weakness and use it to our advantage. You must destroy them before they complete their purpose. I am giving you this head start; you must not fail.”

After speaking, he stood his full twenty feet in height, his shoulders reared back as his frame vibrated with his frustrated bellowing. “In the beginning, we owned their world. After the fall, we adjusted; the land we were given was dark and empty, but we were content with our lot. Then He whose name is not spoken, created man, and we were once again demoted. All we seek is our rightful power, our rightful place. Make haste, bold one, and steal, kill, and destroy all that stands in your way.”

The Leader bowed his head in submission.

“And, Leader—this was a most productive conversation. You are learning.”

The Leader’s tail unwrapped from his torso as he swiftly rose and slithered toward his point of ascent into the Earth realm. He was determined not to fail.

( Continued... )

© 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Colette R. Harrell. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this sneak peek.

Intimate Conversation with Colette (Ford) Harrell

Colette (Ford) Harrell the author of the debut novel The Devil Made Me Do It is passionate about the written word. Holding a master’s degree, she is a director of human services. Her creation and implementation of a health and energy medical program stands as a best practices model.

As a motivational speaker, she specializes in customer and human service workshops on state and national levels. She is co-founder of COJACK Productions, a Christian entertainment company. As an active member of her church, Kingdom Christian Center, she serves in several ministries.

Colette is a wife, mother, author, poet, songwriter, and playwright. Her novel is a delectable read, where romance, suspense, humor, and the supernatural all come together to entertain, educate, and inspire. A Detroit native, she currently resides in Ohio, writing with humor and compassion to engage and minister to the human heart. Her motto is: whatever you do, do it “for love alone.”

BPM: What drove you to sit down and actually start writing this book?
When I was sixteen years old, I had chicken pox. Now, I’m not sure if you know, but the older you are when you get chicken pox, the worse you look. I defined UGLY. I wouldn’t even let my best friend see me. But, I was bored. A shoot-me-now,-’cause-this-ain’t-getting-any-better-type of boredom. Every day my friend would phone and tell me what happened at school, and I would share what happened on the soaps. After two days of watching that paint dry, we decided to write our own soap opera—only nobody was singing. I mean nobody . . . but it opened the door to a dream.

From then on, I knew that someday I would write a book. I started writing The Devil Made Me Do It when I saw a writer’s contest on the Internet. You needed one hundred pages of a story. I wrote the pages to see if I could do it, and I was super amped to find out I was one of the winners of the contest. It encouraged me to continue writing and to finish the book.

The story of The Devil Made Me Do It resounded in my spirit because I always wondered what would happen if the heavens (or hell) rolled back and we could see what was happening in the supernatural. There birthed my trilogy, the Heaven over Hell series.

BPM: Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?
Absolutely. I’m this down-home chick with a Southern twang from the hood of southwest Detroit. I was raised in a two-parent household with four siblings. My parents were all about reading versus television consumption. I think we were the last household in the neighborhood to purchase a color television. What we did have were books, magazines, and newspapers. I was still in elementary school when I walked to the River Rouge Library (a good mile away) to borrow books. Many times I walked alone. But at that age, reading was my passion, and it still is.

For me, a good book is like good gossip—you just have to share it. In sharing, I began to want to tell my own story, my own way. As a result, I have always loved to tell a good story—I promise there weren’t any lies—sometimes making it up as I went.

Growing up in Detroit, I found myself in some tight spots, just by the nature of being in the vicinity of something “going down.” It’s a wonder I never woke up dead. When that happened, I would call on my praying mother, begging her to pray just one more prayer. Eventually, those times taught me how much God must love my hardheaded, tryna-get-it-right foolish self. Now, there are always two sides to every coin. And some of the spots I was graced (Mama was praying hard!) to wiggle out of were pretty tight—persuading me fully that the devil must hate me. I know I really hate him and his modus operandi. Hence, my story, The Devil Made Me Do It, and how I decided to tell it.

BPM: Do you write full-time or part-time? Do you have a special time to write?
Trust me when I say as a full-time director of social services, every day something occurs that inspires me to whip out my pen. If I’m not laughing, I’m crying. Who wouldn’t want to write about it? Consequently, I’ve learned to write something every day, if just for a little while; maybe a page or two. Now, that’s not an absolute, because I don’t want to be a prisoner of anything but hope. So, there are those days that I manage to do . . . nothing.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from?

My book ideas evolve from my conversations with others. My friends and I tend to have these deep conversations that result in my getting this animated light-bulb over my head. Its bright glow and halo effect asks the question: “What if?” My stories answer those questions.

BPM: Are your books plot-driven or character-driven? Why?
Wow . . . I think a little of both. I start out with the light shining over my head, and I take that idea and begin writing without thought, and then a plot unfolds and the characters in the plot begin to take shape and demand to tell their story. I let them have their way. And, there are times when even I’m surprised at the choices they make. In The Devil Made Me Do It, Briggs’s and Esther’s journey totally amazed me. Even though each book in the Heaven over Hell trilogy stands alone, the next two books will continue their saga.

BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What genre do you consider your book?
I consider the book Christian fiction with an edge. I say that because, yes, my characters are Christian (well, most of them), but they aren’t perfect, and they don’t part the Red Sea or walk on water (although I do believe that miracles and wonders still occur). My characters sometimes make poor choices, and they have to face the consequences of those choices.

My main character, Esther, as a child, believed she was special. I once heard someone say that African American parents tend to tell their children not to think more of themselves than they should. They went on to explain that this schematic stemmed from slavery, when thinking too much of yourself could get you killed. As years passed, we reinforced these beliefs with negative thought patterns that belittled rather than built up. We’ve all heard: “You think you’re so cute” . . . “Stop getting a big head” . . . “Stop acting like you all of that!” And, these utterances of wisdom were from family members!

I wanted to explore what happens when the devil comes for your sense of self at a young age, and he didn’t just stumble on to you; he’s on assignment. The scripture pertaining to the devil wanting to kill, steal, and destroy you is not only speaking of a physical act, but it is also mental and emotional in origin.

The book’s glimpse into the supernatural provides a twist that is “cover-your-eyes scary,” and in the next chapter “slap the table, fun and humorous.” Esther Wiley is one of three childhood friends who are joined at the hip from kindergarten to college. In college, Esther meets Briggs Stokes, and they fall in love. But, life throws all the friends a shocking curve ball that causes a ripple effect that lasts for years.

BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?

Esther dares to believe, even from a young age, that she is special. As African Americans, we are so conditioned not to speak well of ourselves less we be called prideful. Sometimes we become so conditioned to not think ourselves wonderful that we end up with self-esteem issues. Esther dared to believe and to act on that belief.

Briggs is a son of privilege, but it’s that same privilege that makes him come to believe that in his truest self he is invisible. It’s not just about his inherited money, but about who he really is. He struggles with the question: How do you grow up around God’s anointed superstar and still be seen for yourself?

The devil uses both of these issues to destroy the destiny God has for each of them. When they allow the spirit of lack to decide their futures, both lose. Identity theft was committed long before the computer age. My pastor has always taught that if you fail to know the purpose of a thing, you are destined to abuse it.

This first book in the trilogy shows the hidden agenda of those who should be for you and how making the right decision when you come to spiritual forks in your road will decide your destiny. And, for the record, it doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger. LOL.

BPM: Can you outline some areas where your characters dealt with issues that are in current affairs?
Yes, they deal with suicide—a taboo subject in most communities. They also deal with lust and adultery. And . . . the question: Is it adultery if you don’t consummate it? The Bible states if you sin in your heart . . . But, what does man say? And when adultery is committed, how and can you forgive? All of America is hooked on a television show built around adultery with one of the most powerful men in the country. It’s entertaining; it’s riveting . . . but is it biblical?

There’s an intimacy to sharing yourself with another person that I wanted to explore. You don’t just cheat physically, but you cheat in every area of your life. You have to lie . . . to create a separate life—so you become spiritually schizophrenic—one way with one person, another with someone else.

Also, I deal with fraud on the job, a phenomenon that is occurring more and more. I deal with abuse—verbal and physical. And I deal with obsession. We see more and more stalkers today.

BPM: What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
I discuss all of the above. I also discuss how choices affect our lives. I ask and answer the question: Can one childhood incident shape the rest of your life?

There’s an area in the book where I discuss the male African American youths of today, and what they need. It was eye-opening. I did learn . . . Some of the pearls of wisdom that came out while writing also ministered to me. It’s something to reread your own work and know that the Holy Ghost was your ghost writer.

BPM: What would you like for readers to take away from your writing?

I want them to be entertained. I want them to have Aha! moments that set them on the road to self-discovery. I want them to draw closer to a God who loves them unconditionally.

BPM: How do you go about reaching new readers?
Three avenues: First, tell a good story. The best compliment I received was from someone stating that their friends who were not Christians would read The Devil Made Me Do It because it was so entertaining.

Second, in an excerpt reading with men (who were coerced to come by their wives), their feedback was that it wasn’t the normal chick-flick literature they thought it was going to be, and they all asked me to keep reading. Tell a good story that others can relate to.

And, third, hopefully, people who read this interview will be inspired to run out and buy The Devil Made Me Do It, and then tell others to buy it too. Tell a good story and it promotes itself! (See how I keep mentioning the name of the book? Subconsciously, you’re hearing—buy the book, buy the book . . . LOL.)

BPM: Were there any challenges in bringing this story to life?

There were a lot of challenges. It took keeping hope alive to believe that one day this book would be read by people beyond my social circle. It took faith to bring this to fruition. I am still challenged to hone my skills; writing is a craft. I’ve learned more about this art after I submitted my book and had it accepted by my publishing company than I ever knew before. Thank God! I might have given up if I had any idea how much I didn’t know!

BPM: What are your expectations for this book? What would you like to accomplish after the book is released?
Best Seller, baby! I would love to have created my second career . . . and that twenty years later, I’ll still be writing, sitting in my rocking chair in a sunny place, sipping on my mango lemonade. So, you, your cousin, brother-in-law, and your hairdresser run out and buy the book or download the book. Just . . . Get the book!

BPM: What are your goals as a writer? Do you set out to educate or inspire? Entertain?
I set out to inspire and entertain. I think that the way to do that so that it is lasting is to educate. When we learn something, it changes our thinking on a given subject; therefore, we carry it in our spirits. Anything that is part of your spirit is part of you. Entertaining allows the education and inspiration to be like medicine going down with a spoonful of sugar. I am always trying to illuminate the goodness of God. This message continues to provide light in dark places.

BPM: Finish this sentence: “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers . . .”
“My writing offers the following legacy to future readers and authors who dare to be different. To go down the path less traveled. Trust your imagination and the story that you want to tell. Others DO want to hear it.”

BPM: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My goal is to continue writing beyond my trilogy. I have a “small ideas notebook” where I write down dynamic characters and interesting plots. So I plan to be around.

I have a website called Writespirit that can be read by going I will provide my calendar of events, book excerpts, and current works on the website . My blog will also be accessed through the web site. I have developed a fictional character by the name of Mother Maku Sweat, and her husband is Bishop Mo Sweat. She’s a feisty evangelist full of the wisdom of the ages. I plan to have Mother Sweat’s video advice column on my website as well.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mary Monroe's Family of Lies



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Mary Monroe is the third child of Alabama sharecroppers and the first and only member of her family to finish high school. She did not attend college or any writing classes, but taught herself how to write and started writing short stories around the age of four. She spent the first part of her life in Alabama and Ohio, and moved to Richmond, California, in 1973. She has lived in Oakland since 1984.

Her first novel, The Upper Room, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 1985, and was widely reviewed throughout the U.S. and in Great Britain. She endured fifteen years and hundreds of rejection letters before she landed a contract for her second novel, God Don’t Like Ugly. It was published in October 2000, by Kensington Books. God Don’t Play was her seventh novel to be published, and it landed her a spot on the prestigious New York Times bestsellers list for the first time!

Mary is divorced, loves to travel, loves to mingle with other authors, and she'll read anything by Ernest Gaines, Stephen King, Alice Walker, and James Patterson. She still writes seven days a week and gets most of her ideas from current events, and the people around her, but most of her material is autobiographical.

New York Times Bestselling author Mary Monroe created fabulous books such as: God Don't Make No MistakesMama RubyThe Upper Room and the God Don't Like Uglyseries for readers with a sense of humor and adventure. When The Upper Room was published, Monroe had this to say: "This is my story -- these characters are people I know, it's my life!"

Meet author Mary Monroe as she travels across the nation discussing Mama Ruby and her literary journey. View more book details and her tour schedule at her website:

Join Author Mary Monroe on Twitter: @marymonroebooks

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New York Times and #1 Essence bestselling author Mary Monroe has been described by the Chicago Sun-Times as a “remarkable talent,” known for insightful, entertaining and poignant stories spun around the complicated dynamics between friends, lovers and family.

Publishers Weekly praised her most recent title Lost Daughters calling it; “a spicy mixture of family scandal, mother-daughter betrayal, and good-for-nothing men… you can never accuse Monroe of a dull moment.” Monroe returns this June with a tale sure to have readers on the edge of their seats; FAMILY OF LIES is being published by Dafina Books in Hardcover Original.

In Family of Lies, Mary Monroe weaves a stunning portrait of a family immersed in deceit ... and the women whose happiness depend on the secrets they keep...

After growing up poor in Texas, Vera Lomax used every gold-digging trick in the book to land a rich husband. Now living in the lap of luxury in San Francisco, her only job is to fawn over her much-older husband, so it’s been easy for her to balance a life of shopping and affairs with younger men with a major secret: the sixteen-year bribery of one of her husband’s mistresses to keep her pregnancy under wraps. Vera figures that a little hush money every month will ensure her husband’s fortune is hers alone. . .

Unfortunately for Vera, Sarah Cooper is the child Kenneth Lomax always wanted. When the father she never knew shows up at her mother’s funeral to claim her, it’s a fairy tale journey from the ghetto to a mansion on a hill. But Sarah’s life is not as carefree as her father wants it to be … because Sarah knows from the start that her step-mother is as two-faced as they come. And after losing all the family she’s ever known, she wants a life that’s richer than what Vera’s got planned for her.

Neither woman can be sure who will win Kenneth’s heart and fortune. But as Vera and Sarah scheme to get what they want, everyone they know will be choosing sides, taking chances, and gambling it all to come out on top.

Praise for the novels of Mary Monroe

"Once again, Monroe displays her gift as a marvel with this sensational novel."
-- RT Book Reviews on Lost Daughters

"Reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston, but the story has a bizarre, violent edge a la Stephen King. . .a candid portrayal of the cold-blooded yet fascinating Mama Ruby."
-- Publishers Weekly on The Upper Room

"Monroe's style, like her characters, is no-holds-barred earthy. . .. Monroe's characters deal with their situations with a weary worldliness and fatalism that reveal their vulnerability as well as their flaws."
-- Booklist on Mama Ruby



Sixteen years later

I couldn't believe how many years had passed since I'd met with Lois Cooper that Saturday morning in a Denny's. I can still see her face in my mind and how frightened she looked by the end of our meeting.

We had both kept our end of the bargain. I made sure she got paid on time every month. And just to prove that I had a heart, each year I gave her a ten percent "cost of living" increase. Just like she was getting paid to do a job. As far as I was concerned, her staying the hell out of my husband's life and not letting him know about that baby was her job and I was her employer. She never returned to work for my husband after our meeting. And since she had not communicated with him, he had no idea why she had up and quit, leaving him in a lurch. I will never forget how baffled he had looked that evening when he came home all those years ago. Not a day goes by that I don't replay that conversation in my head.

"Uh, one of the secretaries called up personnel this morning and told them she was not coming back to work," Kenneth announced. He had come home later than usual this particular day. But I was used to that. He had been spending up to twelve hours a day at the store, several times a week for years. I wondered how much of that time was spent with other women. Even though he had a great team of loyal and competent employees who could run the place without him, his office at his main store had become his second home. He even kept a couple of suits, fresh underwear, and some toiletries in the closet behind his desk.

"Which secretary was it?" I'd asked dumbly. "That white girl with the red cornrows, I hope."

"No, it was not Amber. She's a single mom who is taking care of two toddlers and her disabled older brother. She's not going anywhere anytime soon. And she loves her job." Kenneth hesitated for a few seconds. There was a strange look on his face when he continued. "It was Lois in the main office."

"Hmmm. Isn't she the one you hired because her mother needed help paying her bills? She just up and quit? No explanation?"

Kenneth scratched the side of his face and shook his head. "No explanation whatsoever. I had a feeling something like this might happen."

"Why do you say that?"

"The girl was not that sophisticated and she couldn't get along with too many folks, especially the women. Every time I looked up, somebody was in my office with complaints about her doing or saying one offensive thing or another. She was always late for work and she made a lot of personal telephone calls. None of my immediate staff liked her."

You liked her enough to screw her, I wanted to point out.

I didn't want to remind Kenneth that he had fired his previous secretary because she had always come to work late—if she showed up at all—and she argued with him and everybody else. He had put up with Lois's behavior and probably would have continued to do so if I hadn't stepped in. So in a way, by me getting rid of her, I had also done him a favor—in more ways than one. Had he known she was pregnant with his baby, we would be having a totally different conversation.

"I feel sorry for the girl. The poor little thing. She's had a hard life and I really wanted to help her."

"You sure did help her." I couldn't help myself. Those words just slipped out of my mouth on their own.

"I'm sorry?" Kenneth sucked on his teeth for a few moments and gave me a curious look.

"You did help her. You gave her a job," I said quickly. Honey, you've helped a lot of people over the years. Everybody loves you for giving so much back to the community. But you're not the Wizard of Oz or a witch doctor, sweetie. You cant solve everybody's problems. Lois is a grown woman and she's going to do what she wants to do. I think it was pretty tacky for her to quit without giving proper notice, though. Some people are so inconsiderate! Tsk, tsk, tsk. I don't know what this world is coming to."

"Yeah. I wont argue with you about that. She resigned over the phone and that's about as tacky as a person can be—especially in this case. She told the bookkeeper to mail her last paycheck to a post office box," Kenneth croaked.

"And she's such a pretty young thing," I allowed. "But she's also as ghetto as oxtail stew and fried chicken on the same plate. You know how those girls like her are. Most of them have one man coming in the front door and one going out the back door at the same time. I'm sure she attracted a lot of admirers, so maybe she met somebody ..."

"Maybe she did meet somebody," Kenneth grunted. "Oh well. I hope everything is all right with her regardless of why she quit." A sad look appeared on his face and he shook his head, blinking hard as if to hold back a tear or two. Apparently he had loved that heifer, and her mysterious disappearance had really upset him. But I had no sympathy for her or him. "I'll miss her," he admitted, his voice cracking.

"I'm sure you will miss her,", I said, too low for him to hear. And then I gave him a hug. "Now come to bed so I can give you something that'll take your mind off your troubles."

We had made love that night and I forgot all about Lois Cooper and her baby.

* * *

Now, sixteen years later, my marriage was stronger than ever. Not only was I looking forward to the new millennium coming up in a few days, but I was also looking forward to the day Lois's child turned eighteen. I had no idea what the child's name was or if it was a girl or a boy. But none of that mattered to me anyway. All I cared about was that in three more years Id be off the hook.

And that child would no longer be part of my life!

I was in such a good mood I practically raped Kenneth that night.


Excerpted from FAMILY OF LIES by Mary Monroe. Copyright © 2014 Mary Monroe. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Mary Monroe is the New York Times and Essence® bestselling author of God Don’t Like Ugly, which earned the author the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles National Literary Award and a nomination for the Black Writers Alliance’s Golden Pen Award.

Her other novels include Family of Lies, Lost Daughters, God Don’t Make no Mistakes, Mama Ruby, God Ain’t Through Yet, God Aint Blind, The Company We Keep, She Had It Coming, God Still Don’t Like Ugly, The Upper Room, Red Light Wives, Gonna Lay Down My Burdens, which is named among the Best Books of 2002, and the #1 Essence bestseller, In Sheep’s Clothing.

The third child of Alabama sharecroppers, and the first and only member of her family to finish high school, Monroe, who says “I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth,” never attended college or any writing classes.

A storyteller since childhood, writing at first came somewhat easily to Monroe. Later, advice from Alice Walker, Ann Rice, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison encouraged her to continue to pursue her writing. Monroe is also included in the reference book, The 100 Most Popular African American Writers.


Mary Monroe is the third child of Alabama sharecroppers and the first and only member of her family to finish high school. She did not attend college or any writing classes, but taught herself how to write and started writing short stories around the age of four. She spent the first part of her life in Alabama and Ohio, and moved to Richmond, California, in 1973. She has lived in Oakland since 1984. Listen to her BAN Radio interview with Ella Curry and Trice Hickman, go here.

Her first novel, The Upper Room, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 1985, and was widely reviewed throughout the U.S. and in Great Britain. She endured fifteen years and hundreds of rejection letters before she landed a contract for her second novel, God Don’t Like Ugly. It was published in October 2000, by Kensington Books. God Don’t Play was her seventh novel to be published, and it landed her a spot on the prestigious New York Times bestsellers list for the first time!

Mary is divorced, loves to travel, loves to mingle with other authors. She still writes seven days a week and gets most of her ideas from current events, and the people around her, but most of her material is autobiographical. New York Times Bestselling author Mary Monroe created fabulous books such as: Mama Ruby, The Upper Room and the God Don't Like Ugly series for readers with a sense of humor and adventure. 

When The Upper Room was published, Monroe had this to say: "This is my story -- these characters are people I know, it's my life," Mary Monroe laughs when asked what her inspiration was for her first novels. Meet author Mary Monroe as she travels across the nation discussing her books and her literary journey.

BPM: How long have you been writing and where do you see yourself within the next several years?

I started making up stories before I even started elementary school. In junior and high school I wrote stories for some confession magazines. Since then I’ve written novels and a few non-fiction pieces. Within the next few years I hope to do at least ten more novels, my autobiography, a few screenplays.

BPM: How do you relax? What do you do with your free time after writing another bestselling?
I love to travel, I love to mingle with other authors, and I love to read anything by Ernest Gaines, Stephen King, Alice Walker, and James Patterson. I still write seven days a week and I get most of my ideas from current events, the people around me, but most of my material is autobiographical.

BPM: Are your characters from the portrayal of real people or experiences?
Of course. Almost every story I write is based on something that happened to me or someone I know. And all of my characters are composites of people I know...

BPM: What inspires you to write your books? What are some of the unique issues or topics addressed in this book?
I was inspired to write this book because I grew up around some "colorful" characters. Most of them did a lot of wicked, funny, sad, and intriguing things and I thought their stories needed to be told. Mama Ruby takes place in southern locations. It is set in a time period during the thirties and forties when there was a totally different outlook than there is now on racism, sex, poverty, and other social issues that impact African American women.

BPM: How did you come to create such strong main characters? Did you know that they would be so complex and exciting from the start?
I was raised by strong females. As a matter of fact, the main character, Mama Ruby, is a combination of my mother and two other females relatives. The more I worked on this story, the more complex and exciting the characters became. They have a lot of strong characteristics but they also have just as many weaknesses.

BPM: Can you see any of your books being optioned for movies?
Yes! I watch TV for several hours a day and I go to a lot of movies so I know what the viewing public likes to watch. I feel that any one of my books would make a good big screen movie or TV mini-series. I write each book with specific actors and actresses in mind to play the roles. I’ve already written movie treatments for some of my books.

BPM: Who are some of the authors you admire and why?
I love Toni Morrison, James Patterson, Stephen King, and Ernest Gaines. I was in my twenties when I discovered Toni Morrison and Ernest Gaines and that's when I knew for sure that writing books was my destiny. Their books are so insightful and thought-provoking that I re-read them at least once a year. I also love stories with a paranormal theme so when I discovered Stephen King I became a fan of his for life. James Patterson's books are more for light-weight entertainment and sometimes that is all I want in a story.

BPM: How may our readers follow you online?
Readers can follow me on Facebook and Twitter and they can visit my website I also LOVE hearing from my fans by email I answer my email personally.

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