Category Archives: The Situation Room With Michelle Cuttino

“FROM MICHIGAN TO MURDERVILLE: IN THE SITUATION ROOM WITH ASHLEY & JAQUAVIS”

Here’s the situation… You’re a TROPHY WIFE, THE DOPEMAN’S WIFE, looking for DIRTY MONEY from THE DOPEFIEND and other SUPREME CLIENTELE. Setting up your PRADA PLAN because unlike the ordinary GIRLS FROM DA HOOD with a PRADA PLAN 2, who are drawn to the DOPEMAN and his GUNS & ROSES like a MOTH TO A FLAME, yours is the DIARY OF A STREET DIVA. FLEXIN’ & SEXIN’ from Monday to BLACK FRIDAY, plotting since you know THE CARTEL is headed to MURDERVILLE. They know nothing of how real MURDER MAMAS get down, but it’s time they learn.You step up, GUILTY GUCCI, and to the HARD SIX, it’s KISS KISS, BANG BANG!

 

The Situation Room with Michelle Cuttino pays homage to New York Times Bestselling authors, Ashley Antoinette & JaQuavis Coleman. This talented twosome tells us about their rise from Flint, Michigan to Murderville, and how they have managed to take Street Lit to all new heights.

 

Michelle: Let me take this moment to say Congratulations on your Cash Money Content deal. Tell us how that came to pass.

 

Ashley: Baby and Slim were fans of our Cartel Series. So when they ventured into publishing with CMC, they hand picked us for their starting line-up of authors. The best author in the business reached out to us and presented the situation to us. The deal was too good to say no and we were honored that they chose us. Thus, “Murderville” was born.

 

Michelle: There are conflicting reports about how many novels the two of you have

penned as Ashley & JaQuavis so please set the record straight—break it all the way down and tell us how many novels you have under your belts as a duo, separately and as ghostwriting projects?

 

JaQuavis: We have co-written 17 novels. We’ve been featured on 3 anthologies and have ghostwritten 15 novels that shall remain nameless. (But everyone knows though.) We also have 4 new books on the 2012 lineup.

 

Michelle: You often say that growing up in Flint, MI has helped bring realness to your novels. Care to elaborate? What does Flint, MI have to do with the stories you tell?

 

JaQuavis: Flint, MI is by far one of the most unique cities in the country. It’s a small city, but consistently maintains a top position on the USA’s most deadly cities list. All we see is murder, so consequently most of our stories reflect that of death.  I buried two of my close friends this year and we still have two months to go. That’s why you get titles like “Murderville” and “Murder Mamas,” because that’s all we saw this year.

 

Michelle: “The Cartel 2” made the New York Times Bestsellers List for paperback trade fiction when it debuted at #33 on Thursday, November 19, 2009. What was your reaction to the news, and do you think it propelled your writing careers in any way?

 

Ashley: We were humbly amazed when we made the New York Times List. Our fans stood behind us and through their loyalty, they helped propel our careers to the next plateau. That list is so exclusive; everyone can’t do that, especially in a genre that is not embraced with open arms.

 

Michelle: As a married couple with a son, who live and work together every single day, how do you keep the sparks flying in and outside the writing room? From where do you draw your inspiration?

 

JaQuavis: Ashley and I are cut from a different cloth. We approach everything with a game plan and our goal is to be considered some of the greatest writers of all time. 5 years ago that declaration would have seemed like a joke, now we’re on our way. That’s what motivates us. We want our name to be here long after we are gone.

 

Michelle: You are the Executive Producers of the upcoming independent film Hard Six, which is based on your novel “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”. When is it slated for release and where will you be holding the premiere screening and release party?

 

Ashley: Hard Six will be released Fall 2012. We will be holding two premiere screenings, one in our hometown and one in New York City.

 

Michelle: Ashley, give us a hint about what role you will be starring in, and JaQuavis, let us know how it felt to wear the director’s hat for this film.

 

JaQuavis: Directing is something that I always wanted to get into. Having your vision turned into something visual is intriguing to me and I can’t wait to share it with the world. We’ve assembled a group of hungry, talented, artists, and we honestly want to make the next hood classic. Mills Miller, Kaven Brown, and Davida Baldwin are a part of this dream team. All of them are individually talented and bring something to the table.

 

Ashley: I’m going to be doing something very special in this film. I’m going to surprise a lot of people with this role.

 

Michelle: Cash Money Content is backing the major motion picture deal for your book “The Cartel”. When can we expect that film to be released?

 

Ashley: The movie deal with Cash Money is the biggest power move of our careers. You have to ask Cash Money about the release date, but its signed, sealed, and delivered. We are taking street fiction to another level with this one. We are so proud to be a part of this monumental project.

 

Michelle: You seem to be relentless with your writing, publishing numerous titles one after the other and at times simultaneously. Now with your move into films, what else can we expect from the dynamic duo known as Ashley & JaQuavis?

 

JaQuavis: We are going to keep the same recipe with the movies. We gon’ flood the streets and make em’ love us.

 

Michelle: Finally, what is the key to the success of Ashley & JaQuavis and what formula would you tell a new author to follow in order to persevere and prosper in this industry?

 

Ashley & JaQuavis: Make money not friends.

 

 

About the book:

Murderville: First of a Trilogy (July 2011 with Cash Money Content)

Two children from Sierra Leone, Liberty and A’shai, are brought together by chance only to be forced apart by the most inevitable and tragic fate. Ashley and JaQuavis bring us this classic love story set against modern life’s most horrifying realities.

Liberty is dying of a fatal heart condition, though she desperately wants to survive until her 25th birthday when her sister has promised to visit her. A’shai blames himself for not protecting Liberty, but all Liberty asks is for A’shai to tell her a story, to help her remember what brought them to this point. He knows that this is the last story he will ever tell and the last she will ever hear.

As Liberty lies dying, A’shai walks her though their past, reliving their ill-fated journeys through the streets. Their story will take them from an arranged marriage, through Mexico’s drug cartel, child brothels, hustling in Detroit, to escaping the high-powered heads of L.A.’s underworld. But ultimately, this is a story of love and redemption that will leave you breathless from the unpredictable and mind-blowing ending.

 

About The Authors:

 

These two national best-selling authors hit the scene at the ripe age of 17 when New York Times Best-selling author. Carl Weber discovered them. During their freshman year in college they both received publishing deals and have not looked back since. With a smash hit novel “The Cartel,” they have solidified themselves as two of the best in their genre, together or apart. With a roster of 14 novels published and a hefty ghostwriting resume they have made a successful career for themselves.

 

They have appeared in publications such as Essence, Vibe, XXL, KING, and DON DIVA. Setting precedents the duo also has a publishing deal with the world famous Cash Money Records, introducing their highly anticipated series titled ”Murderville.”

 

A full production movie is in the works for one of their best-selling novels. Check out Ashley (Streetlitdiva@aol.com) and JaQuavis (quavo_writer@yahoo.com) at www.ashleyjaquavis.com and follow them @realjaquavis and @novelista.

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How Could My Husband Be GAY?: In The Situation Room with Ondrea L. Davis

Here’s the situation… You’re living what you think is the American Dream—you’re married, with the house, the car, three kids and life couldn’t be better. Then reality hits and you find out that your perfect marriage is slowly falling apart because the man you married isn’t who you thought he was. Your worst nightmare is finally confirmed in your heart and mind and the only question left to ask yourself is How Could My Husband Be GAY?

 The Situation Room with Michelle Cuttino gets up close and personal with Ondrea L. Davis as she talks about her failed marriage, the down low drama and her autobiographical novel that helped tell her story. As the staggering number of men living on the down low continues to increase, Ondrea allows her story to unfold within the pages of How Could My Husband Be GAY? hoping to help other women and men who may find themselves in a similar situation.

 Michelle: How long were you with your ex-husband, Marceous King, before you married him? How did the two of you meet?

 Ondrea:  I was with him for almost two years before we were married.  We met at a store in the mall I used to work at the time.

 Michelle: How long were you married?

 Ondrea: The marriage lasted 5 years before we separated and then the final divorce took 2 additional years.

 Michelle: What did you consider to be your “Red Flags”?

 Ondrea: My red flags were more signs that he was conceited.  The signs that would tell that he started leading a gay life occurred after we were married and it was too late.

 Michelle: Do you feel like there were signs that you ignored?

 Ondrea: There were definitely signs that I ignored.  Again, not so much that he would be gay, but there were things to signal future problems in the marriage such as his being abnormally close to his family.  This became the worse problem that I faced, which I believe then encouraged the gay lifestyle.  As long as he had the backing of his family, I didn’t matter to him.

 Michelle: What was your breaking point and how long did it take you to get to it?

 Ondrea: My breaking point was when I basically gave him an ultimatum and he did not choose.  In my mind, his silence was his choice and it wasn’t in my favor.  So I knew then that the emotional connection I tried to preserve with him needed to be cut and I had to work on my exit plan.  I still functioned as his wife, but I officially began the process to accept that he no longer wanted me, no longer cared about me and had a life of his own.

 Michelle: What events led to your ex-husband’s confession about his sexuality? Was he apologetic?

 Ondrea: Marceous actually never confessed to me.  He has never had the guts to come right out and come clean with me about his sexuality.  If he had, I would have been able to have some type of respect for his honesty.  So, no, he has never been apologetic about what happened to our family as a result of his choices.

 Michelle: If I may ask, what is the sex and age of your three children?

 Ondrea:  Currently, my twin girls are 10 years old and my son is 8.

 Michelle: How did you break the news to them and when?

 Ondrea: I broke the news to them early this year in January 2011.  I had to do it then for three reasons.  First, they had been exposed to a lot already, but were too young to know what it really meant.  Second, someone had already addressed my children concerning the sexuality of their father and they didn’t know how to handle it at the time. And because he never addressed the situation with them, I was forced to shed light on what was being said to them.   Lastly, the book was getting ready to be released, so I wanted them to know before someone else got to them and gave them any details.

 Michelle: Why did you decide to take your story public and write a book about what some may view as an embarrassing and unspeakable situation?

 Ondrea: This situation is very embarrassing, but when the project was posed to me, I automatically accepted because I wanted to make sure people know what is going on out here.

 Michelle: Do you feel like this experience has changed you? If so, in what way?

 Ondrea: This experience has definitely changed me.  It has made me a better woman than I was when I was first married.  It has taught me to value myself more and not to settle just because of my current circumstances.  It made me push to accomplish goals that Marceous thought he had prevented me from reaching.  I value the sanctity of marriage even more than I did then and now realize more of who Ondrea is as a mature woman.

 Michelle: What do you want people to come away with once they read this book? Was it meant to help others, or was it more in the line of a healing process for you and your family?

 Ondrea: There are so many different things I believe a person can come away with after reading this story.  The story was meant to help others and bring out awareness about some of the threats of the family structure.  If my story being told can help the ladies to be more cautious when entering relationships and considering marriage then I am extremely happy to put myself on the line.  Additionally, if a man can take away that it is not worth it in the end to bring a woman and children into a situation where they start out with no chance at having the love and honesty they deserve from him, then I am even more satisfied.  This process also became a healing experience for me, forcing me to confront the different feelings that I had buried in order to press forward for myself and my children.  My co-author, J’son M. Lee and TJ Adams of Foresight, were very instrumental in this process because they had to take the journey with me.

 Michelle: If you could change anything about your situation, what would it be?

 Ondrea: If I could change anything about my situation, it would be that I would have never married Marceous.  I would have been more careful and made better choices.  I would have prayed before getting involved with him.

 Michelle: How did you hook up with J’son M. Lee and Foresight Publishing, LLC?

 Ondrea: TJ Adams had a previous professional connection with J’son and thought that he would be the perfect fit to help me bring my story to life because he was already an author.  He introduced us and we discussed our expectations for the project, consented to work together and the rest is history.  We are all now one big happy family.

 Michelle: Did you always want to be a writer, or did this experience awaken the gift?

 Ondrea: I never dreamed that I would have ever been an author.  So I would have to say that this project awakened the gift.  I was always good at writing papers in school, but that was the extent of my writing.  Through working with J’son, I was able to, in his words, “find my voice” as an author.  It has been an eye-opening experience learning from him and for his guidance, I will forever be grateful.

 Michelle:  Are there more books in the future for you? If so, will they be non-fiction as well, or are you looking to write fiction?

 Ondrea: Yes, there are definitely more books on the table for the future.  Many readers have requested a part two to How could my husband be GAY? because of how it ends, so we will have to see what comes of that.  There are a number of other ideas that keep coming up to the forefront, so readers can definitely expect future releases.

 Michelle: What advice would you give to both men and women who may or may not find themselves in your unique situation, but you feel they should know or take heed to regardless of the fact?

 Ondrea: My advice to men and women is very simple.  Be honest with yourself and others.  It pays off when you come to terms and accept the reality of who you are, as well as who the other person is.  I agree with the saying, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”  If honesty is not a large piece of the foundation of the relationship, it won’t work in the end and you will have just wasted your time.

 Michelle: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say?

 Ondrea: Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you Michelle!

Michelle: And Thank YOU for sharing yourself with us, Ondrea. I applaud you for speaking up and speaking out.

 

 

How Could My Husband Be GAY? SYNOPSIS

 

Love between a man and a woman remains a mystery to many of us. The differences between the sexes will perplex our minds until the end of time. Love is parallel to none when it comes down to the impact that it has on our lives. For adolescents, it can change the course of emotions and academic performance. For adults, it can add purpose and fulfillment to our daily lives. For seniors, it can bring a warm feeling of comfort that embodies the ideal of twilight years.

How could my husband be GAY? is an autobiographical look into the life of Ondrea L. Davis. On the outside, Ondrea’s life is nothing short of a fairy tale. She has a dream home, the perfect husband and three beautiful children. Ondrea soon discovers that her husband, Marceous King, is not the man she thought she married. Exhausting all efforts to salvage her marriage, Ondrea finds herself in the fight of her life. In the process, she uncovers a highly sophisticated web of deception and shocking secrets. Marceous will stop at nothing to keep Ondrea from exposing the truth and derailing his plan – even if it means destroying her in the process.

Listen to Ondrea’s voice and hear her thoughts as scripted by J’son’s pen. Feel her pain as she struggles even until this very day.  This painful experience is riddled further by a diverse conglomeration of talent: the mastermind behind such a powerful novel – a married family man, a single mother of three beautiful children and an urban gay professional. This team birthed a poignant, true tale of pain, distrust and at times fervent passion. This work is a testament of what life really is about – LOVE without boundaries.

Have you ever ignored any red flags regarding your mate? How could my husband be GAY? may cause you to never make that mistake again.

 

 

 About the Authors

 

Ondrea L. Davis is a native of the Washington, DC area.  She graduated from South University earning a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting.  She is currently pursuing her MBA. Davis is a 34 year old mother of three who resides in Upper Marlboro, MD.  She is also the owner of a growing Accounting & Consulting firm.  How could my husband be GAY? is her first novel.
 
J’son M. Lee, though born in Brooklyn, New York, is essentially a North Carolinian.  He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill earning a degree in Speech Communication with a concentration in Performance Studies.  Lee is 42 years old and resides in Baltimore, Maryland.  He is also the author of Just Tryin’ To Be Loved

 

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Against All Odds: in The Situation Room with Envy Red

Title: “Against All Odds: in The Situation Room with Envy Red”

 Here’s the situation… You are in the midst of writing your debut novel when tragedy hits and you are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. You have two options, call it quits and let fate take over, or fight back and become the master of your own destiny.

 Envy Red chose the latter and has not only conquered the disease, she is on her second novel and is also dedicated to giving back and helping others. The Situation Room with Michelle Cuttino speaks to Envy Red about her persona, her products and her purpose.

 

 Michelle: From what I’ve read, your just-released novel, Jaded, takes the reader on a journey through the life and mind of a mentally ill woman who has suffered various childhood traumas. Would you like to expand on the book’s storyline?

 Envy Red: Jaded tells the tale of a woman who has been placed in maximum-security custody at a mental asylum for the criminally insane in ruralVirginia. On the exterior she is a beautiful woman who appears to have everything going for her in life including a great man who stuck by her through the horrific accusations thrust upon her. However, she is emotionally torn inside and having a hard time coming to grips with the reality of the murders she has committed. While incarcerated she begins having nightmares of a childhood that is nothing like the privileged lifestyle she has come to know. The novel takes the reader through these unimaginable childhood traumas and the everyday struggle of this committed woman as she tries to decipher fact from fiction.  Learning to trust no one, she allows a seasoned therapist who feels a vested interest in helping her get better come into her life. There are a series of small explosions that are revealed throughout the book with the big bang coming at the end. It is sure to leave you speechless as the truths are revealed.  

 Michelle: Where did you come up with the idea for this story?

 Envy Red: I have always had this affinity for human emotion especially as it relates to trauma. The idea for this book came out of that passion. I wanted to pen a story that created awareness of those issues and the effects they can have on individuals and their families when left unresolved. The character in this book has been through the imaginable and as I sat and meditated on what I wanted the audience to get from her story, it took on an out of the box life of its own.

 Michelle: Jaded doesn’t follow the same formula of your debut novel, Touch. Why did you stray from urban erotica this time around?

 Envy Red: I wanted to tell a story that was uninhibited. I did not want to create any barriers to the audience who could receive this message. Although “Touch” had a strong erotic element, there was a plot with deep-seated meaning and I believe the message was well received. However, with “Jaded” I felt the story should be told without the erotic element in order to reduce the risk of limiting the audience who may miss out on an opportunity to get an even stronger message. On top of that the entertainment value is priceless even without my signature erotic style. Don’t get it twisted though the few love scenes in the story are laced with that fire I have come to love.  

 Michelle: You were diagnosed with a very rare form of Cancer while writing Touch. How did the diagnosis affect your writing process and the finished product?

 Envy Red: Wow it made me that much more determined to achieve my dream. I cried one single time for my ill fate but once I got it out, I picked myself up and pressed on. There was no way I was failing to complete that project. As I look back, I believe it was the spark that fueled the surprise ending in “Touch”. Life is full of surprises and you never know what hand you may be dealt but it’s how you handle it that matters. 

 Michelle: Was your diagnosis also the driving force behind wanting philanthropy to be an integral part of your publishing company, Red Door Books?

 Envy Red: I think it gave me added drive, but helping others has always been embedded in me. Red Door Books is giving me the platform to expand that.

 Michelle: If you don’t mind me asking, what is your prognosis today?

Envy Red: Cancer free baby! Early detection was key in my case because it was so rare and hid under the radar. It was so sneaky in fact that had I not followed through with the recommended surgery, for what the doctors thought was a completely different issue, they would not have found it until it was too late. The moral of the story is, when you know something is not right keep pressing your doctors and get as many opinions as you must. Shout out toYaleUniversity’s medical staff who took my case from down here inWashington,DCand provided my doctors with the tools they needed to take care of me. Today I just ensure I go for all of my regular scans, which are more frequent, but worth it.

 Michelle: You have signed on to write a column for Black Literature Magazine. How did that come about?

 Envy Red: I was running my mouth on Facebook as usual and Torrian Ferguson ran across one of my passionate posts on a subject they had been looking to explore at the magazine. I love striking meaningful dialogue and I guess it showed. He met with Vonda Howard who reached out to me and asked me to be a regular columnist with the magazine. The rest is history.

 Michelle: Your debut article on 9.20.2011 is titled “Book Reviews: Uncovering Gems or Hiding Treasures.” What is your honest opinion on book reviews—first, from the mainstream reviewers, second, from fellow authors and finally, from the readers?

 Envy Red: I have always been a believer that book reviews are a necessary right of passage in the literary world. They provide valuable feedback to assist the author in the growth process. However, I do not believe they should be the know all to end all. At the end of the day they are opinions and they may not always reflect the mass sentiments. We all differ in our tastes and preferences. Furthermore, I have always been one to want to form my own opinion with the exception of when the reviews are in complete agreement. If there are twenty reviews and all are bad, chances are the author needs to go back to the drawing board. I respect the opinions of everyone no matter their title because they can only make me grow as a writer when they are constructive. It’s a win situation. I value the opinions of mainstream reviewers, my fellow writers, and most importantly the readers because they know what they want and I plan to give it to them or keep trying.

 Michelle: Tell us little about the Free Minds Project and its objective.

 Envy Red: My heart. My passion. The end. Just kidding I had to lighten things up for a minute. The Free Minds Project is an initiative I am working on to assist the youth and those who are incarcerated with getting on their path to greatness. My focus is on promoting literacy but most importantly self-sufficiency especially at a young age. Often times it only takes someone believing in our youth to give them that positive push in the right direction. The project seeks to bring youth together from all facets of the industry and allow them to work on their own project that they run and which will give them hands on practical experience in the field they choose. The goal is to let them see that they don’t have to wait to live their dreams. Their future starts now. The prison outreach component is multifaceted in the fact that it is an intervention program but also a way to provide renewed hope for those who made the mistake of getting incarcerated. These individuals are now ready to be productive members of society. I am working on a resource center as well as something major that I must keep a secret but only for now (smile).

 Michelle: You are also a board member of Homebound Citizens. Please tell us about the organization and your role within it.

 Envy Red: Homebound Citizens is a non-profit dedicated to assisting homebound citizens and those who are homeless with things many of us take for granted. Often times these individuals do not have a simple support system in place to meet their basic needs let alone some of the added perks such as flowers on a birthday. Our biggest project right now is a food pantry and literary resource center that will be open to those who need it simple as that.

 Michelle: How do you juggle all of these endeavors and still find the time to raise your two boys?

 Envy Red: It’s a struggle but I am instilling hard work and dedication in my boys. They understand what I am doing and it has actually rubbed off on them. Even the five year old enjoys going to events such as visits to the retirement home and collecting donations for the pantry.

 Michelle: What do you hope to achieve through your different appearances and programs?

 Envy Red: My biggest accomplishment will have come if I have done my part in this life to make a broad impact on helping others realize their dreams and set my children on the right path to greatness. I hope to show them an easier route than the one I had to take by instilling in them the desire to work hard and follow their dreams not someone else’s.

 Michelle: What’s next on the horizon for Envy Red?

 Envy Red: This is a loaded question for me because what don’t I see on the horizon is the question (smile). Well I am an author in the Saving Lives Through Lit Anthology “Voices Behind The Tears” an anthology dealing with the subject of domestic violence. I am also working on a teen series slated for early 2012 as well as another erotic tale tentatively called “High Rollers.” The plot is simply unreal to me as I sit and think of how it came about. I’ll just give you small peek. It embodies my love of roller skating, involves human trafficking, and a very deranged Vietnam vet who leaves a legacy based on his cult like following which he passes through his lineage. I am also working on obtaining non-profit status for the youth and prison outreach program as well as a writing and publishing workshop for the county correctional facilities. There are so many great things on the horizon and opportunities to give back. I am blessed.

 Michelle: Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring, upcoming and seasoned authors when it comes to philanthropy and giving back?

 Envy Red: No matter where you are or what you do in life, take the opportunity to give back. You never know how far even the smallest gestures can go toward changing someone’s life. No one is too big to give back and no one is too small. It starts now and doesn’t stop because you’ve elevated in life or declined. In whatever capacity you can, stop talking and do. A fellow author and friend Felisha Bradshaw “Eyes on the Pryze” said something that stuck with me. What you put out in the universe shall be returned to you. If you do good, good will come to you. I honestly believe that.

 

 Synopsis for Jaded:

 Imagine having your life consumed with nightmares of a wildly drug addicted mother whose career in prostitution leaves no one including yourself exempt from its consequences. Visualize having an unknown father whose only mark left on your life are unexplained exotic features.  Envision learning that you were marked and written off as criminally insane at the tender age of 12.  Now picture the same mental illness having you torn between two extremely opposite worlds of fantasy and reality.

 Journey behind the walls of St Agnes, a maximum security asylum in rural Virginia, and experience the suspenseful tale that is Jaded through the complex mind of a beautifully torn woman. Can love conquer all? This is the question posed as a love interest battles to show support through his own personal dilemma and tragedy. Will a seasoned therapist be able to provide the help needed, or will the unveiling of shocking truths cause damage beyond repair?

 Come along for the ups and downs of this jaw dropping drama as Envy Red steps outside of erotica to bring you an intense read about social issues such as mental illness, childhood trauma, the sometimes tumultuous human transition from childhood to adulthood, and everything in between. The twists and turns of this true to life drama will leave you speechless when fact is ultimately separated from fiction.

 

 

About the Author:

 

Envy Red is a Washington DC area native by way of Birmingham, AL. A two time graduate of the University of Maryland, she resides in Southern Maryland with her two boys. She is driven by a firm desire to make a charitable mark on society. Through her weekly blogs, short stories, and appearances she promotes awareness of the sexual health issues plaguing the nation. As the founder of the “Free Minds Project,” a youth and prison outreach program, Envy Red is dedicated to promoting literacy, helping individuals realize their potential, and achieve their dreams. As a board member of Homebound Citizens Non-Profit, assisting homebound citizens and the homeless population, the journey to help others shall be realized one person at a time.

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What’s the situation with Erick S. Gray

Here’s The Situation… You’ve been in the game for over a decade, releasing one or two novels a year, and that’s in addition to the numerous anthologies and collaborations you’ve been a part of. You’ve self published and worked with various publishing houses, and you still don’t feel like you have gained the respect, recognition or rewards you have worked so hard to achieve. You only have One Lyfe To Live, so what’s it going to be? Are you going to throw in the towel or are you going to hang in there and fight?

AAMBC’s The Situation Room gets up close and personal with Erick S. Gray to discuss his hustle, the struggle and what he hopes to accomplish in the end.

 Michelle: I must admit, when we met during Kwan’s book signing at Déjà Vu Book Lounge, I was drawn in by your aura, and so were many of the other ladies in attendance. You have a certain sex appeal that is self-assured and confident yet also very down home and humble. How do you manage to stay modest and sincere when your books are so gritty and raw?

 Erick: Lol, thanks….having me blushing. But, that’s just me, down to earth. I like to have fun and make people smile and laugh. I’m about my business, but also know when to unwind, relax and enjoy life. I’ve seen my share of heartache, disappointments, violence and deaths over the years, and I refused to carry that stigma and stain around with me. So, thinking about the things I’ve been through yesteryear, and experiencing so much, has made me become the man that I am today—gotta live my life to the fullest, and never take anything for granted.  And now, I write about it…I express myself through my novels and poetry. It’s so therapeutic for me.  Being who I use to be, and Growing up in South, Jamaica, Queens, and living in Brooklyn at one point in my life, are what makes my books so gritty and raw.  I just love to tell about it, and not live about it now…

 Michelle: How did you become a part of the Déjà Vu Publications family and what is your involvement with the Déjà Vu Book Lounge?

 Erick: Sexy aka Deborah, we are best friends. She’s the best. We met four years ago, and since then, we clicked together like legos. Like myself, she’s ambitious, smart and outgoing, and she always pushes and encourages me. I got involved with Déjà Vu Book Lounge, because I believe in her. Sexy has always been talking about opening her own book store in Spanish Harlem. It was something that neighborhood needed… something positive and I’m always for helping to build up a community. And with the publishing company, we decided to do something jointly together.

 Michelle: With Crave All Lose All, you chose to name the main character, Vincent Gray, after your brother, who passed away in Attica in 2007. Were the book’s character and your brother one and the same, or did you use his name for another purpose?

 Erick: Nah, they weren’t the same. My brother was rougher and a true thug, but he had a warm smile along with a warm heart, and was a comedian. But the one trait that they shared was the ladies. My brother was a ladies man and women loved him.  Sometimes, with me, when I used a name that’s dear to me,  either family or friends… the story comes out ten times better, because it’s closer to home for me. I used Vincent, for one, because it was my way to dedicate something to him, and two, my brother lived a rough life, and even though he has his own story to tell, which I’ll write someday, Crave All Lose All was a hard and inspirational story, which I wanted to attach his name to. I was nervous about using my brother’s name in that book at first, I didn’t know how my family would react, but they all loved it.  

 Michelle: Your books tend to stray from the usual urban-lit formula, where drugs and money are glorified. Instead, you choose to show the negative aspects of the “good life.” Is there a method to your madness?

 Erick: No real formula or method, like Nike, I Just Do It! When I feel that I have a story to tell, I just sit down and write it. I don’t believe in far-fetched characters or fairy tale endings, where the protagonist is a super thug, and can kill dozens of people, got millions of dollars going on extravagant shopping sprees, with every cop and judge on his payroll and always having the badest bitch, and at the end of the story, he supposedly just that smart enough to get away with his crimes, maybe seek revenge and live secluded somewhere on a tropical island with his woman…bullshit! Shit, in my world, that don’t happen. I’ve seen all the negative affects of living that type of lifestyle and 95% of the time, it ain’t a happy outcome. Readers always tell me, that my stories are the truth and my characters are real life, cuz I’ve grew up in the hood. I’ve seen the pain and been through the emotions. I thrive on telling meaningful and thought-provoking stories, where the characters suffer through real life issues, either it being via drugs, gangs, sex, prostituting or murder. Not every drug dealer is a superstar or rich, every thug or stripper didn’t come from a broken home and not every whore is a nympho with a tainted past….sometimes, you gotta write why these people are the way they are, break it down…it’s called character development, and I believe in the cause and affect, in which an action or event will produce a certain response to the action in the form of another event.  The choices we make do reflect who we are and the future we’re bearing for ourselves. So, I feel when a writer glories drugs, violence and money, then what are you trying to tell these young readers?

 Michelle: The last installment to Crave All Lose All and Love and a Gangsta is America’s Soul, which was released on October 25, 2011. What, if anything, was done differently in this final chapter?

 Erick: Well, actually, the book isn’t released yet. It got pushed back. But it will be dropping soon. But with this final chapter, “America’s Soul,” I speak on so many things. The book is a love story, mixed with hip-hop, drugs and redemption. And I also bring readers into the world of two drugs, crystal meth and brown-brown, because I feel crack is played out, especially to write about in this era. And if you’re not familiar with brown-brown, it’s a form of powered cocaine cut with smokeless gunpowder. It’s popular in West Africa, given to child soldiers where they go on to commit heinous crimes. But this book, the readers I feel, will love it, cause you have the love story with America and Soul continuing, but with a few major obstacles coming in between them…but then the subplots will have readers in awe. The Blacks are at war with the Jamaicans and I have the Mexican cartel in the mix of things, too. My writing in this book, I feel is one of my best.

 Michelle: Like fellow scribes, Ashley & JaQuavis, you were also discovered by Carl Weber. Tell us how that came about.

 Erick: I’ve known Carl Weber for years now; we go way back since 1998, when he owned a book store in Queens, on Jamaica Avenue. We struck up a friendship throughout the years. I used to show up at his store all the time asking what’s a good book to read. He was one of the co-founders of this publishing company that started in 2002, and I was one of the first authors he had signed. My first published book was Booty Call.  

 Michelle: We know that you are an avid reader and a huge movie buff. Name one movie and one book that influenced your writing and why.

 Erick: Damn, only one movie and one book…that’s hard to do, because there are so many. But the movie or movies that influenced me, was Boyz in the Hood and Menace II Society, those two films were so gritty and raw, that it made me feel like I was in L.A with Ice Cube and Lorenz Tate. They were well written, and spoke volumes about the troubles, struggles and survival in the hood. I was 13 when Boyz n the hood dropped and sixteen when Menace II Society hit theaters, and I remember saying to myself, I want to write something that was so powerful and moving about life in the hood like those two films…especially something coming out of New York.   

                Now with books, it had to be Mark Anthony’s “Urban Massacre,” later renamed, “Paper Chasers.” And Donald Goines, “Dope Fiend.” And Monster Kody’s book “Monster.” Yeah, I know you said one, but I just can’t do one, lol. With those books, they pulled me into such a compelling story, that I just got so caught up and lost myself in those books, where as, my own reality ceased to exist. It made me realize that a good book could take you through so many emotions and have you thinking you know or experience that world yourself.  When you give your readers feelings like that along with a strong visual of that world you want to portray, then you’re one hell of a writer. And I have such a vivid imagination, too.

 Michelle: Have you had to face many struggles in your writing career? Please elaborate.

 Erick: Damn, where do I start? Lol.  But anything worth having in life is never that easy to attain…it was something I’ve learned a long time ago. But since I signed my first deal, it’s been an upward battle for me, from feeling underrated and unappreciated at times, and just trying to get your name out there and your books to shine. I’ve dealt with the harshness of criticism from all sides, the neglect, and being judged because of the books/stories I’ve chosen to write…where other genres and authors had turned their nose up, and scoffed at me and my fellow co-authors, because they feel that our genre, street lit, urban-fiction, or whatever you choose to call it, is not considered literature. Then I asked, what is? Literature is writing, no matter what stories you choose to write. It’s still a form of expression, and we all have a story to tell, don’t care what background it comes from. But there will always be struggles, its part of the come-up.

 Michelle: Rumor has it that you are ready to quit the writing game. If that’s true, why now?

 Erick: Yeah, it was true. It was at a point where I was just so frustrated and tired of everything that was going on, with this genre, among other things. But when you love something so much, and have a longing passion for it, it’s hard to give up and quit on it.  But I’m not going anywhere, I’m here to stay.

 Michelle: What do you think is the hardest part about being in this industry?

 Erick: Everything, lol.  I always say that the easiest part in this industry is writing and completing your novel. After that, it gets harder—from the editing, publishing, criticism and then the networking, marketing, promotion, etc… and then, trying to sell your book and yourself to the readers out there that already may have some doubt. If you don’t have thick skin in this business, you better hurry up and get some, cause you’ll get your feelings hurt quick and this industry will crush you and peel you open like a banana, real talk. I’ve been through it all…

 Michelle: You have been signed to many publishing houses. Why such a huge variety? Where were you happiest and why?

 Erick: I’ve been asking myself that same question for a moment now, lol. But where I was the most happiest…when I get to do this myself, and start publishing my own works, like with One Lyfe to Live. But I’m still learning this business, and you can’t learn this shit overnight. But I’m just happy that I’m being heard and read…I don’t take this business or this genre for granted. Being published, especially with so many titles out there, is such a privilege.

 Michelle: Do you have any publishing horror stories you can share with us? If so, what was the outcome?

 Erick: Oh, yes I do. The first publishing company I had signed with, they were a mess…the worse, editing issues, greed, ignorance, and on top of all that, these mo-fo’s had the audacity to spell my name wrong in the book, Eric Grey, when it’s spelled Erick Gray…still SMH at that one. And then on top of all that, they still owe me money, like sixty grand. But that’s paper I will never get to see, because they had the audacity to file for bankruptcy…so there’s my outcome, lol.

 Michelle: In your opinion, how can a new and upcoming author avoid some of the pitfalls of the publishing game?

 Erick: Simple, just do your homework. Ask questions and read, and I do mean, read everything. But it’s always good to reach out to other authors, to those that are willing to lend you a hand anyway…cuz you do have some shady and selfish individuals out there. But know how to network and study this business from top to bottom, build up strong relationships and don’t rush into it….take your time, be a little aggressive, but humble also, get to really know her, meaning this business…cuz foreplay usually leads to much greater pleasures.

 Michelle: I know that you want to branch out into movies and are currently working on the manuscript for your novel, Streets of New York. Why did you select this storyline above all the others?

 Erick: Well, I didn’t select Streets of New York, it was video director, Nick Quested that read the series, loved them and decided that he wanted to work with us and shoot the movie for the book. He’s well known with working with Nas, Dr. Dre, P. Diddy, cash money, Benny Boom, AZ, Trina, Trick Daddy, and many others. He’s well known in the industry and a really cool dude to hang out with.

 Michelle: With eight novels (or is it nine now?), thirteen collaborations, and now your move into independent film, what else can we expect from the unstoppable Erick S. Gray?

 Erick: I think it’s more like thirteen. But I’m gonna continue to keep them coming, and branch out into other things, like Sci-Fi, romantic comedies, and contemporary novels. I’m doing poetry; speaking engagements, especially with the youth, and the film business….which can be such a tedious and slow grind sometimes. It seems like it can take forever to get a quality film into production, so many things to try and get done…it’s so much different from the literature genre. But I’m also collaborating with a well known author to put out a book around Valentines, 2012. The story is bananas, and the title’s gonna have y’all jaws dropping. But I’m looking and so ready to get involved in so many things.

 Michelle: At the end of the day, when your last book is written and the idea well runs dry, what do you want to be remembered for?

 Erick: I don’t think the idea well will ever run dry, lol…I have so much to say and from my many experiences alone, along with my creativity, the pages are gonna keep turning, and as long as there’s breath and life in me, God willing, I’m gonna always keep producing something. It’s in my blood. But what I want to be remembered for….is that I truly lived my life, had a purpose and was one of the greatest that ever did this.

About The Author: The author of the urban sexomedy Booty Call has been writing seriously since 1997. His writing style of the streets, comedy, anecdotes, and well thought plots keeps the reader interested with every turn of the page.

 This entrepreneur is also the owner/founder of 3G Publishing, and is also partnered with the publishing of SLR (Street Literature Review) a well rounded magazine about urban literature and upcoming authors of a growing genre. Mr. Gray is also making moves in other markets as well—one particular market is in independent film, in which he’s working on his first script for Streets of New York.

 Being Born and raised in the south side of Jamaica, Queens, this 34 years young, gifted author has brought himself out on a high note with his first endeavor. His first book, Booty Call was published by Black Print Publishing in 2003, and has sold tens of thousand of copies in the past years, and from there on, he never looked back. He continues bringing you good stories as he shows in his collaboration with Mark Anthony and Anthony Whyte in the Streets of New York series Volume, one, two and three, along with Ghetto Heaven and his most recent smash hit, Love and a Gangsta, and Crave All Lose All, in which he won an award for best urban street lit book of 2007. With his other titles like Nasty Girls, It’s Like Candy, Money Power Respect, Flexin & Sexin, Booty Call *69, One Lyfe to Live and the highly anticipating novel soon to be released, America’s Soul,  and Nasty Girls 2…Mr. Gray shows longevity and ambition among his peers in the urban genre.

 Mr. Gray also has been involved in numerous anthologies, such as Menace, published by Melodrama, Around the way girls 5, published by Urban books, From the streets to the Sheets, Guns and Roses, the ground breaking, Heartbreakers anthology with powerhouse Kensington and Flexin’ and Sexin 2, published by Life Changing Books, with Treasure Blue, Deshawn Taylor and Nichelle Walker. 

 He’s been signed to many publishing companies from St. Martin’s Press down to Black Print Publishing, and has experienced many aspects of the genre, being to self-publishing Streets of New York with co-authors Mark Anthony and Anthony Whyte, or helping to edit stories with Q-Boro books or other up and coming authors, and he even modeled for one of his own book covers. Mr. Gray comes with seniority and has proven to hold his own in the game among literary giants such as Shannon Holmes, Nikki Turner, and K’wan with great story telling and being consistent with great material and other endeavors.

 Mr. Gray is the epitome of how an author should show consistency throughout the years, by dropping books on a yearly basis, and keeping his name going in the industry. Mr. Gray is definitely on his way to becoming a literary mogul by laying down the foundation with future endeavors and by not letting the world forget his name, because in his own words, he quotes, “Creativity burns through my skin and to let you know, I’m sentenced to life with a gift.”

 Erick S. Gray is showing that young African-American males don’t all fall into the same categories of drug dealer/thief statistic. His future is filled with promises of more intriguing and diverse stories for the masses to digest.

 Don’t ever judge a book by its cover!!!

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The Situation Room’s B-Side Of Publishing Series – Volume I with Author Geoffrey McClanahan

Here’s the situation… You just wrote the next best-selling Urban Fiction novel, or so you’ve been told by your grandmother and her reading circle. You take what you think is the next step and search the internet for companies that will help you self-publish your book. You select the one you think is best and you send them X amount of dollars to make you an overnight sensation. They set you up with your ISBN number and start to market your book. What they didn’t tell you is that THEY now own that ISBN, they set the sell price of your book, and if you sent in an unedited copy, an unedited copy is what will be released to the public.

 

AAMBC’s The Situation Room sits down with Author Geoffrey McClanahan to discuss his projects, his original self-publishing woes and how he reclaimed his rights and reinvented his brand.

 

TSR: Geoffrey, you released your second novel Chronicles Of Crush Onyx (Volume 1) on July 15, 2011, which is the first of a trilogy that’s touted as a “psychological thriller.” What does that mean exactly?

 

Geoffrey: Well, a Psychological thriller is mostly a Brain twister. Basically, the way the mind works. Thriller of course means suspense. Although I am From the Urban community, and I do love myUrban Streetliterature, I don’t want to limit my imagination to just one genre style to how I write. I guess you can say, I most definitely will change the lane of how we read Urban fiction.

 

TSR: Where did you get the idea for this type of book series?

 

Geoffrey: Chronicles of Crush Onyx was created with just one thought. How come we don’t have any Black serial killers? Lol. I watch SHO Dexter, and I am a fan of that show. But I asked myself, what if he was Black? And what would a serial killers life style be like inNew York City. Well, I have been told from my readers on that quote. “This is the sickest Sh#T I ever read, didn’t see this one coming.

 

TSR: Your debut novel, Wait’n For The Sun To Rise, focuses on domestic violence. Why did you select that topic to write about?

 

Geoffrey: First, my mother is a domestic violent abused survivor. My father was a drug user (so cliché) and beat on her through most of my childhood. She did leave him before I could really remember, I must have been 5 or 6. But it didn’t hit home, until I was incarcerated serving a 5 year bid in 2004, when my mother delivered the news that my female cousin was murdered by her spouse and found under her house naked. That’s what sparked me to write this first book. I wanted to write about that issue that does not discriminate against race, color, or creed. That’s why I made my characters biracial. But at the same time I want it to help our younger female readers get the message.

 

TSR: You have a very checkered past, what made you change direction and start a writing career? In other words, who or what was your inspiration?

 

Geoffrey: Checkered past. I like that, but I have surely “evolved” into the man that I am today. I am never ashamed of my past ya dig. I grew up hard, and fast. (By choice) at the age of 10, I hopped on the 6 train and made my way down to42nd StreetTimes Square. if you remember the old 40-duce, Pimps, prostitutes, Gangsta’s, Drugs, Crime and the Grit of it all, then you know where I’m coming from. I been on that train for 25 years in short. I was raised by the streets. To much to go into, but like Biggie Smalls said in 10 Crack commandments. “You cant tell me nothing about this crack, this coke, this weed…” to my real hustles. Other than that, my story would be called SNITCHING! I decide to change on my last bid in the box. I was washed up! Done! Game over. Tired!

 

TSR: What is the organizational makeup of your publishing company EliteRoyalties LLC? Will the company only focus on book publishing, or does it have other areas of interest?

 

Geoffrey: I am the CEO and owner of EliteRoyalties LLC. EliteRoyalties LLC is comprised of a small team that I trust and have know for more than 30 years, and will help with the daily operations of the company. My book publications department is one branch connected to the growing tree. The Publishing department will also open up on taking on new writers as it grows

It also has Film Productions that covers concerts, artist interviewing, and working on screenplay writing for movie productions for the books. In addition, the EliteRoyalties brand name, in the future, will take on fashion by introducing its Apparel and Accessories Clothing line.

 

TSR: Your books stray from the usual street-wise tales of most urban fiction novels. Do you consider yourself an urban lit or street lit author, or would you place yourself in a different category altogether?

 

Geoffrey: I love my urban street lit with all my heart on the real. It was the K’wan’s, Teri Woods, Donald Goins, Omar Tyree’s, Eric Jerome Dicky’s that sparked my desire to write about what I can relate to. Then there’s Zane, who I call the Queen of Erotica. But I also like Stephen King and Dean Koontz who opened up my imagination to suspense, thrillers and Horror. I also read about the Black panthers. My stories are a combination of all of these styles of writing, so it’s hard to place myself in one specific category. I am an African American writer from an Urban community. I told K’wan when I met him, that I do not want to write about the “hood” stuff yet, because it’s deeper than just wanting to make a profit. I am a member of an organization for 16 years since 1996 and my stories would be so real, even if I changed the names in my fiction, some will for sure know I’m talking about them and what we have done. And that I will never do.

 

TSR: What do you wish to accomplish through your writing?

 

Geoffrey: I really want to be recognized as a Black writer from an Urban Hood that didn’t stereotype cast himself or his work because they said I won’t make it writing Psychological thrillers, fantasy PG books, or what ever the hell I wanted to write. Of course I would love to see the money, who wouldn’t. But I truly enjoy this craft. And if I don’t make it in the literary world, than I will always push forward to the next. And most important, I don’t really like working

for anyone period. I eat lunch when I want. Lol.

 

TSR: What’s your opinion on the number of self-publishers in the game today? Do you think it’s overkill or do you feel that it’s a necessity?

 

Geoffrey: Its great if someone can self publish themselves. if that is what you are asking. It is necessary for many reasons. I wish I can give a more defined answers, but I had to learn the hard way.

 

TSR: You had a bad experience with a well-known publishing company, which will remain unnamed, that many new authors choose to work with. Can you tell us what happened?

 

Geoffrey: Yes, I had a very bad situation with my first book going to one of these self publishing providers (Cause that’s all they are) who promises you a successful book deal. I won’t say no names, but how the hell do I sell 1000 units, and they sent me a check for $27.00? WTF! Yes they will promise to connect you to various outlets to sell your book. But then you pay $2,500 – $4,000 and don’t even own the ISBN number. Then on top of that, they hit you with more cost to market your product. So now you want to get out? Goodbye, but leave your book here. I’m not saying they are all bad, but do your research first. It’s costly to own your own, but at least you can move it how and where you want. I own all my publications from the ISBNs and barcodes, and I have the freedom to choose my printing provider and control the royalties from the minute I start writing on that first blank page, to the last book sold.

 

TSR: Were you able to control the sell price of your book and the finished product as far as layout and book cover design with this publishing company?

 

Geoffrey: NO! Not with those people. They didn’t even design the cover the way I wanted it. The typesetting was formatted poorly, and the editing inadequate leaving the book full of missed spelled words. Now I can make my own sale prices. That’s why I feel so good about my product. I designed my covers from scratch. Also with the help from a good graphic designing company based out inAtlanta(Brand Concepts). Every picture you see on my book covers, I purchased and hand picked them myself to define the characters in my stories. I use to look at some covers and read their synopsis and be like, Huh? I also hooked up with people in the book world who truly care and have been supportive on helping me get it organized. like NCM publishing Author Ni’cola Mitchelle (Twisted and Over & Over again). She did the interior typesetting for both my books. I would also like to connect with Tamika Newhouse (AAMBC). Good people.

 

TSR: What, if anything, did you learn from that experience?

 

Geoffrey: Own your own sh#t.

 

TSR: How did you sever those ties and what affect did that have on Wait’n For The Sun To Rise?

 

Geoffrey: I had to get a lawyer to draw up a letter of intent between me and that publishing company to disconnect my services. That’s when I found out that I didn’t own that ISBN number attached to that book. Now I had to start from scratch making this book the third version. I’m still tying to get that cover off my amazon account as we speak. Crazy.

 

TSR: How hard was it for you to set up EliteRoyalties LLC?

 

Geoffrey: It wasn’t hard at all to own my own business. But costly to buy your license and domain. Once I had my brand name that I liked, now what do I do with my company? Going through all the bullshit with other people wanting to control my ideas, I couldn’t take it anymore. Now I have to work for my company, not someone else. My company needs to be fed one thing, MONEY!

 

TSR: What would you like to say to those publishers who take advantage of new authors, who are inexperienced and uninformed?

 

Geoffrey: I really can’t say anything to them. its not there fault. I was one of those inexperienced and uninformed writers. But that won’t happen again.

 

TSR: What advice would you give to an up and coming author who is looking to self-publish with companies such as the one you initially worked with, or who are looking to self-publish on their own?

 

Geoffrey: First; any writer wanting to come into this game better know the difference between a self publisher, and being an Independent Author! Please do your research first. Take the time to see what they offer. What’s their back ground history. Who have they worked with before? I have heard some crazy things so far in this book game. Every body is not out for your best interest. I know for a fact when I do open up my doors to new authors coming under the EliteRoyalties Publications family, they will make more than me. I shouldn’t be making all their money. They worked hard, so I will work hard for them. Don’t forget to check for my books in the meantime. http://www.EliteRoyalties.com. Peace.

 

About The Author: Geoffrey McClanahan is CEO of EliteRoyalties LLC, and EliteRoyalties Publications. He was born inBronx,New York in 1969. He has been a part of the Hip-Hop culture since the 80s, and witnessing the rise of many pioneers to Dance, Rap, and DJ-ing that changed the worlds perception of music and fashion as we see it today. His love for this Culture

led him to pursue acting and modeling that landed him as an extra in the 80’s hip hop smash hit movie “Krush Groove” and a streamline of following extra rolls on TV shows such as- A&Es “100 Centre Street” and various Rap videos. The tragic death of his female relative in 2005, due to domestic violence, catapulted the writing of “Wait’n For The Sun To Rise” released in 2009 and current release of his second Novel, the first of a trilogy collection, “Chronicles of Crush Onyx” in summer of 2011. He continues to take his company to new heights adding his Filming/concert coverage and artist interviewing catalog to his roster of many great R&B legends, Rappers and Actors. Faith Evans, Kerry Washington, Jada Kiss, Jamie Hector, Ron Isley, Meli’sa Morgan, Dru Hill, Big Daddy Kane, Monifah, The Brat, Allure, Lil Cease, Intro, Maino, Grand Master Kaz, Bobby Valentino, Red Cafe, Rick Ross and many more. Also inspired by his favorite writers, such as, Stephen King, Zane, Terri Woods, and Iyanla Vanzant, Geoffrey discovered his untapped talent… writing Urban Tales of Science Fiction, Fantasy,

Erotica, and Drama for his readers.

 

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What’s the situation with Author Treasure E. Blue

Here’s the situation… You’re a new author and you’re not signed to a major publishing house that can mass market your book to millions. You either self-published or are with a vanity publisher with limited resources. You’ve done the research, and the type of marketing campaign you would like to launch is not within your budget. You need an outlet that will promote to thousands in your target market, but at a price you can afford.

What if I told you you can have all that and more, and it’s absolutely FREE?! You don’t believe me? Well, it’s true. There’s a pioneering co-op program on Facebook that is strictly dedicated to new and upcoming authors.

AAMBC’s The Situation Room (TSR) has the exclusive from the renowned author, Treasure E. Blue, who discussed with us his reign, his message and his mission.

TSR: First off, CONGRATULATIONS on your signing with Cash Money Content. We’re so excited for and proud of you! Tell us how that came about.

Treasure Blue: Thank you. Well, to be honest, in the literary world, everyone knows who you are, but you will never know they are watching you. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, self-published and with the majors, so I have a clear and proven track record, in regards to sales. At the end of the day, when you are launching such a new venture, as the case with Cash Money, it’s all about business and who or what will make it successful. I guess it was a no-brainer to get at me since all my novels have produced so well and I happened to be available at that time.

TSR: What are you working on with Cash Money Content? What will your debut title(s) be?

Treasure Blue: My Debut novel I have with Cash Money will be entitled, “Get It Girls. A Harlem Girl Lost Story” We will be doing a Harlem Girl Lost series, the rest has yet to be titled.

TSR: You have such an amazing rags-to-riches story per se, how did you rise above so many obstacles to become the man you are today?

Treasure Blue: Yes, I had many ups and downs, both as a child and as an adult, but my key through it all was no matter hard many times I’m knocked down, I refused to stay there. I leaned at such an early age, that with hard work, you can obtain anything, and I did just that virtually my entire life. My dad was a street vendor his entire life in Harlem, and he taught his children at an early age, the greatest asset you can have in life is hard work and human skills. He had us out in the streets selling hats, socks, pantie hose, leg warmers, anything. He taught us that if you believe in your product so will the public. I remember, my father allowing me to take two shopping bags filled with various items and I went directly to Harlem Hospital, took the elevator up to the top floor and sold my goods to everyone from nurses, doctors and even the patients. By the age of ten, I started buying and selling my own products, because I saw the profit margin was much better, and ventured out to bars, beauty salons or barber shops to sell my goods. I was so little, I guess I was a commodity to them me being so young with such determination and verbal skills. It wasn’t long after did I pretty much master the art of salesmanship. In relations to publishing, once I made up my mind to be an author, I pretty much gave up everything, to be the best in the industry. I left my $60.000 a year city job with the Fire Department, gave up all my vises such as drugs and alcohol and left women alone. It was sink or swim from that point on. Long story short, I eventually, went on to sell 65.000 copies of my debut novel, “Harlem Girl Lost” which lead me to securing a major six-figure publishing deal with Random House Publishing. *Note – I do not suggest anyone leaving their jobs.*

TSR: Public speaking engagements catered to our youth about drug addiction and literacy is something you’re well known for. Why these two topics and what is your message?

Treasure Blue: Because I’ve been around addiction my entire life. I was consumed with a horror fill childhood because of my mother erratic alcoholism. I’ve experienced just about more shame, more guilt than any child should have to bear, from coming home seeing a gang of boys, having sex with your mother because she is passed out drunk, forcing the men that my mother would bring home out my house, them pulling guns or knives out on us, pulling her out of the gutter, or her coming home bloodied, rob, or even raped. But, what was worst then everything was to watch, wonder, and wait for the day she would die. That really does some damage to your mind as a kid, you can try to block it, but it will always be there and damage your whole outlook on society, as done to me and my other siblings. It all would catch up with me, as, I, too, acquired those same hideous traits of addiction years later, doing myself the same damage to myself and others, as my mother done to herself and us. Then, and only then, did I truly begin to understand during the mist of my own addiction, my own hell, come to understand why my mother could not stop even though she was killing herself, she had a disease, the disease of addiction, and so did I, but thanks God, he spared me, a day at a time, which is why I’m so vocal on educating the youth. It was no one there to tell me, or talk to me about what I was going through at that time, which in essence, would only turn me into a human time bomb. I know, if it happened to me, how many other children is it happening too? So, when I speak to them, whether it is High Schools or Juvenile Detention Prisons, I give them the chilling truth, and the one thing I WISH, someone had told my at that age, and that one thing is, “That it is not my fault!”

TSR: You are currently trying to form a group dedicated to new and upcoming authors. What is the name of the group and what is its mission?

Treasure Blue: It’s called ALL4One Authors Promoting Authors. Its a little brain-child put together by me and Kisha Green. I’m recently doing something similar in a campaign to assist my friend, mentor and the greatest writer in our genre, Kwan, reach something that he should have been on years ago, The New York Times Bestsellers List, for his newest and latest novel, “Eviction Notice.” It is proving to be quite successful thus far, so that’s when it hit, why not do the same thing for new and upcoming authors to help them in this sometimes tough industry. So, I put it out there and received a positive response, and Kisha Green immediately was ready, willing and able to be part of this, so much, so, she not only named the group, she structuralized it, and started it up as well. This woman is incredible.

TSR: When will the group be completely formed and ready to go public?

Treasure Blue: Hell, it up and running now, but will actually be ready for the first author to be push, I believe October 2, because we are still doing a drive for Kwan and his quest.

TSR: Do you already have established members who are willing to sign on and give of their time and experience? Mind letting TSR in on a few of them?

Treasure Blue: Actually, it’s too many to be named. We are still brand new, and don’t have it all fine-tuned yet, so, we learning as we go. But, I believe strongly, that it will only help, because it’s nothing anyone has to lose. 

TSR: As a published and established author, or a person providing services to the industry, how would one become a member?

Treasure Blue: In-box me or Kisha Green and we will add you. We are strictly dedicated to new authors however, to give them a leg up and create a buzz for them. It is some many talented new authors, that have stories you would not believe, but not being noticed because no one know about them. Well, we want to do as much as we could in a collective effort. Each One, Reach One, as Kisha Green says.

TSR: What are the requirements to join for unpublished, new and up-and-coming authors?

Treasure Blue: Only requirement is participation. The platform is as follows, each week; we support one new author to push. We do that by all members changing their profile pic to that authors book cover, and sort of go for broke and basically notifying anyone who will listen to check out or recommend them reading that book, in groups or on our page. Simple. To see its effectiveness, at the end of that campaign week for that author, they will reveal to the group, the actual gains that it enabled them whether, a 5 book increase or a 500 book increase. Either way, this is a tool to motivate. 

TSR: Is there a fee for sign up or membership?

Treasure Blue: No fee, no membership. We feel that it must be for the unconditional love and passion to help your fellow author for this to work.

TSR: Why did you feel the need to form this type of group? What was your inspiration?

Treasure Blue: To give back for what was so freely given to me. I’ve achieved so many accolades in this business, more than I can even count, and to still be here, and accepted; I’m overjoyed. It’s never been about money for a wretch, hell; I had it, lost it, and obtain it again. What really gets me off is helping other and seeing that smiling. That, is worth more than all the money I could ever receive in a lifetime. To be honest with, no matter how much I help or give somebody, I always get more out of it than they will ever know. They have a saying if you can find one true friend in your lifetime, you are truly blessed. Well, not only did I not find one true friend, I found four, Ms. Nakea Murray, Kwan and the DC Bookman and Deborah Cordona aka Sexy. These four people I mentioned stood behind me when everyone talked about me, turned their backs on me and wrote me off for finished, when my vile transgressions of my past reared its ugly head once again when I slipped and fell because of my addiction. I was broken, but these four loving people were still by my side to pick me up and not only told me, they showed me that all will be ok. Well, that was over 4 years ago, and life for me has been all well since. Now, I’m back with a fury, but not with any revenge or exploits of grandiosity, but with a humble heart, and show them perseverance through adversity. I am only human. 

TSR: What is your vision for ALL4One Authors Promoting Authors and what do you hope to achieve?

Treasure Blue: To be heard, simple and plain.

TSR: Finally, you seem to be a Jack Of All Trades, as a very successful author and now with ALL4One Authors Promoting Authors, what else can we expect from the unstoppable Treasure E. Blue?

Treasure Blue: That’s the secret to my success my dear, I keep em guessing~! But for now, it’s a Cash Money thing. Shout out to my label mates, The great Wahida Clark, The Dynamic Duo Geniuses, Ashley & Jaquavis and lastly, my brother till the end of time, Killer Kwan Foye. #JFK

About The Author:

Many have called Treasure E. Blue the reincarnated Donald Goines. This prolific author without doubt is one of the most shocking and controversial writers that we have seen in decades. Blue’s background is as almost as compelling as his mouth-dropping debut novel entitled “Harlem Girl Lost”. Using the streets as a means of survival, he soon found himself involved with some of Harlem’s most notorious elements. Retiring from the game at the tender age of sixteen, Blue, who dropped out of High School after being banned from the entire Board of Education system, in New York City, managed to become one of the youngest people to receive his G.E.D. in New York State. Joining the military at seventeen, he developed a voracious appetite for books going on to read well over 2000 novels. After serving his country honorably, he joined the New York City Fire Department and worked as a Supervising Fire Inspector in the Bronx. Blue is a father of 4 and won praise for his screenwriting skills. He is also an active member of the American Studies Association. Blue has an uncanny way of not only telling a story, he makes you feel it emotionally as well.

 

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Filed under The Situation Room With Michelle Cuttino

The Situation Room With Michelle Cuttino

Here’s the situation… Don’t you hate it when you join a book club or just follow their stats, and you never hear about books and business that pertain to you or subjects you’re interested in? How about the book club that only caters to their members and doesn’t travel outside the box to bring you books, news and views from those who aren’t in their immediate circle? Or as an aspiring or published author, a book club that isn’t supportive in helping you promote your book and your brand?

Well, have we got news for you! AAMBC has a new column: “The Situation Room with Michelle Cuttino.”  The column (TSR) is dedicated to bringing more exposure to the urban book industry as a whole and showcasing stories and novels that reflect African American culture and urban life in general. Our debut article was with the Queen of Urban Erotic Tales, Noire, and it was both informative and insightful!

“Thank YOU, Michelle! It was a great interview with thought-provoking questions! I’m blasting it everywhere and encouraging people to comment with their thoughts!” – Noire

And when we asked best-selling author, Treasure E. Blue, if TSR could have the exclusive on his latest project, he said: “Yes Michelle, I would love the opportunity. I read your article with Noire and thought it was fantastic. I even went as far to post some of the excerpts all over Facebook…”

TSR wants to promote authors, novelists and those providing services to the industry that may not get the backing and publicity needed from the mainstream. TSR is a new voice in the “African Americans on the Move Book Club” (AAMBC), and we hope you join us and support us on our journey.

If you’d like us to feature your book, your product and/or your brand, Contact Us and tell AAMBC that you’re ready to enter The Situation Room with Michelle Cuttino.

 

 

A Lil About Michelle: I just completed my first urban fiction novel and am looking to self-publish in 2012. Writing and music are my second loves. My firsts are my son, my father and my fiance, who are my everything. Those who know me know I shoot straight from the hip. Those who don’t know me, pull up a seat, make yourselves comfortable, and get to know me… This here is a Situation you won’t regret!

 

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Filed under The Situation Room With Michelle Cuttino