Wednesday, May 20, 2015

THE PERFECT SUMMER



It’s summertime! That means it’s time to sit back, relax and just have fun, right? 

Wrong! For Marlena Fernadez, Gloria and Valerie James, and Max and Mickey Martin summer is all about life lessons in these three, page-turning tales about kids in search of The Perfect Summer.

Synopsis of each Story
Jackie Lee
A Lesson for Summer
Fourteen old twins, Gloria and Valerie James, had the ideal plan to spend their summer vacation. They would spend their summer shopping, talking about boys, and going to the movies. However, when their dad felt the calling of the Lord, they were now going to have to spend their summer moving to another town and volunteering to mentor a bunch of snotty nose seven year olds. The twins do everything to sabotage their parent’s plans for them. However, in the end they learn lessons in life that truly makes this the Perfect Summer for both of them.

Excerpt from A Lesson for Summer
I knew that look meant that my twin sister did not like what she was hearing.
“There you are. We were wondering what was keeping you,” Dad said in a cheerful voice.
I politely smiled and took a seat beside my sister on the sofa. My eyes darted over to the
strangers in the living room. The man had fine gray hairs around his bald spot. He wore thick
glasses that made his eyes look like a huge red moon. He also wore too much cologne. Whew!
He had the living room lit up like the perfume part of Macy’s. The woman beside him wore this
big Kool-Aid smile. She had on a red dress with blue flowers. Her dress was loud enough for my friends to hear her across the street. “I have heard so many wonderful you, young lady,” said the balding man.
The lady with the loud dress just kept smiling.
“Your parents tell me that you are the captain of the church praise dance team and worship leader for the youth. That is wonderful! I love to see our youth active in church,” the man continued.  
I just continued to stare at him. My sister elbowed me, so I managed to say, “Thank you.”
My mother jumped into the conversation.

Morgan Billingsley
A Country Summer
It's summertime and Max and Mickey are headed to their grandmother's house. But these two city kids aren't ready for a Wi-Fi free country summer. But when Max makes new friends, he learns to adapt and have fun. Can he get his twin sister to see that attitude is everything and can determine whether they have the Perfect Summer!

Excerpt for a County Summer
When that last bell rang, signaling the  beginning of our summer vacation, I felt like I’d just been given a Get Out of Jail card. I had been counting down to this day and was looking forward to hanging out with my twin brother, Max, playing video games, and taking daily swims in the pool my parents had built last  winter. You know, just having fun. I wasn’t expecting this.  I mean, in the fun dictionary, a road trip to a country town was nowhere in the book. Yet,  that’s exactly what we were doing.
“Ugh! Are we there yet?” I asked my dad, who was driving our large SUV like a skilled truck driver. My mom was next to him and they  were singing some corny old people song on the

Gabrielle Anderson
It's summer vacation time, and the Fernandez family is headed to Disney! Marlena, the oldest, is not excited about riding the teacups, she out grew those long ago. She decides that she is old enough to hang out on her own. With her cell phone in tow, her parents allow her tackle the park alone. It's no surprise that she learns many life lessons the greatest of which is family love.

Excerpt from Two Big for My Teacups
Six hours, four arguments and three stops later, they made it to the hotel in Birmingham. It was early evening and all Marlena wanted to do was swim. They were staying in a room that had two queen beds and a pullout sofa.
“I call the sofa bed,” Marlena said while   putting her bag on it.
“I want the sofa bed,” whined Kyle.
“It’s big enough for the both of you,” her dad  said.
Marlena protested. “I don’t want to sleep with him. I called it first.”
Her mother let out a loud sigh then gave Marlena a look.
“It’s been a long ride, let’s go swim,” her   father suggested.
“Good idea,” her mom replied. “Get your suits on.”
Marlena and Kyle got dressed quickly. He in basketball shorts, and she in her one-piece. Of course she wanted a two-piece, but her parents said that was out of the question. Not until she was old enough to buy it herself. Marlena didn’t think it was such a big deal, most of her friends had one. While her mom was in the bathroom, she decided to dress Chloe in her suit. She found her little pick suit with ruffles around the bottom and put it on her. Chloe was such a cute little girl. She and Marlena always got along. If her mom wasn’t around, she preferred Marlena to anyone else. Sometimes Chloe even slept in Marlena’s room.

Biography of each author
Morgan Billingsley is a seventh grader, who loves writing, acting, swimming and volleyball. She enjoys helping out and making people laugh. Everyone who knows her, applauds her nurturing heart. Morgan can often be found assisting her mother, ReShonda Tate Billingsley at book signings. She is active in her school organizations and serves as secretary for her Teen group in Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Follow her on Instagram @c_momo_b

Eleven year old, Jackie Lee is a lover of the letters and the arts. She has starred in three theatrical productions produced by Cherie Garland. She portrayed Crystal in “The Christmas Present,” Glenda, The Good Witch in “The Wiz” and the Ballerina in “One Night with a King.” Jackie’s love of arts also extends to church. She participates in the praise dance ministry at East New Hope Baptist Church. She utilizes her musical talents as a clarinet player at Forest Hills Elementary School Band. Jackie can often be found at various literary events assisting her mother and guest authors. She also enjoys journaling and making sketches in her notebooks. She resides in Virginia with her parents and siblings. You can follow her at http://thecreativelifewithjackielee.blogspot.com/

Eleven year old, Gabrielle Simone attends Pulaski Academy College Preparatory School, where her teachers describe her as hardworking and passionate about learning. She is the student council representative for fifth grade, plays both basketball and soccer and has a personality bigger than life. The confident young writer is also the daughter of young adult author Celia Anderson. Having grown up tagging alongside her mom at book signings and lectures, it’s no surprise that she has become interested in the art. Gabrielle says that one day she would like to attend Stanford University in California, but that may change as she grows older. Currently she resides with her mother in Little Rock, Arkansas, enjoys playing dress up, singing and playing with her American Girl Dolls. She lists both her mother and maternal grandmother, whom she affectionately calls FeFe, as the people who have influenced her the most.

Links to Purchase:



Sunday, May 17, 2015

WHAT 2015 LOOKS LIKE!

This is what the 2015 year looks like. I won't even mention the surprise or two that I might be throwing in. And 2016 will be just as eventful. At some point I'm going to need a vacation but right now I'm writing my butt off!



Friday, May 08, 2015

DRIVEN BY THE DRAMA


I've never been a big fan of self-help books. I’ve read my fair share and more times than not felt like they didn’t apply to me or the problems discussed didn't really mirror my own issues. I always had a wealth of excuses to justify avoiding them all together.

Recently, I was excited to support author and friend Val Daye. Val is family and so I purchased a copy of her new book Driven by The Drama. Then Val gave me a copy. An ordained minister Val is also an author, speaker, life coach, and training expert with a sincere passion for people and a genuine commitment toward their success.

Now I’m going to be honest. Driven by the Drama threw me for a loop. It took several attempts before I was actually able to finally sit down and finish it. Each time I would get a few pages in when something would strike a nerve. It was attempt number three when I realized I simply wasn't ready to receive the message Val was trying to deliver. I was going through some things. And going through some things had my head and my heart in a space that had become comfortable. Too comfortable. The drama was real and I was wallowing in it.

A few weeks turned into a few months and then the tide turned. I realized that comfortable space really wasn't. In fact, it was actually pure hell and I needed to dig my way out if I were going to survive. So I picked up Val’s book for the umpteenth time determined to finish it, finally ready to hear what I had been unwilling to accept earlier. 

Driven by the Drama is actually a quick and easy read. The book is very much Val. The writing style is straight to the point peppered with just enough personal anecdotes and humor to keep you turning the pages. Personally, I have always struggled with my own faith. What I loved most about this book was that it truly reflected Val’s relationship with God and her steadfast resilience in maintaining that. This author walks and talks her faith and offers a quick and easy guide to lead you to your own divine purpose by eliminating the drama in our lives that so easily deter and detract us from our journey.

There is so much to learn with Driven by the Drama and the lessons are presented simply. As noted on Val’s website, Driven by the Drama will help you to:

Strengthen your Faith
Become more Disciplined
Improve your Relationships
Maintain a better Attitude
Stay MOTIVATED
Have an Action plan before you need one

I wholeheartedly appreciated the challenge to do and be better. Val’s message struck many cords with me but her advice was timely and much needed. Since that first read, I've read it twice more. For me, the most notable difference in how I approach drama in my life now is that I spend more time in prayer and praying in a more meaningful way. I will keep reading it as I continue to practice the techniques and advice shared.

If you are ready to let go of the drama that might be holding you back, I strongly recommend you give Driven by the Drama a chance. I’m so glad that I did. Get your copy HERE!

Friday, April 03, 2015

WHERE EMPIRE GOT IT WRONG



I loved the show EMPIRE starring Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard. Everything about the weekly program was on point, from the storylines to the music and casting. But as I sit here re-watching the season finale, I can’t help but think that the writing team got something horribly wrong.

EMPIRE wasn't just a rags to riches story. It wasn't just a story about one man’s or one woman’s drive for power. It was a show about family dynamics. We were rooting for Cookie AND Lucious. We wanted to see Cookie reconnect with her sons, to be the mother incarceration denied her.  We were excited to have Cookie reclaim her man and her position as the family matriarch. And then just like that, the writers snatched that from us, leaving us wanting more...and better.

They got it wrong. Without a doubt, Cookie and Lucious should be our television Barack and Michelle. They should be that power couple kicking ass and taking names as they fight tooth and nail with and for each other and not against each other. There should have been no doubts about Cookie having Lucious' back, even as she put a pillow over his face, frustrated and disappointed with his bad behavior. Cookie should be Lucious’ queen and even with his dirt, he shouldn’t have had any problems letting her, us, and everyone else know it.

With EMPIRE’s massive following, this should be the golden opportunity to demonstrate the sheer power of a black family standing together on that foundation of family, even as they pursue their individual ambitions. We applauded Cookie for beating the disrespect out of her wayward son and we would have applauded her beating the disrespect out of her man. Because Lucious Lyons is HER man, heart and soul, and viewers will always come back for a good love story, anxiously waiting for however many happy endings we can get.

As the writer’s sit around the table, hashing out next season’s story lines I pray that they turn things around and put EMPIRE back on track. They need to get it right. Cookie and Lucious are the fictional BeyoncĂ© and Jay-Z, the black Romeo and Juliet, a modern-day Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and I really want to see them joined in hand and heart, conquering life together, even in those moments when they might be apart.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

IRIS BOLLING Presents A ROYAL AFFAIR




Friday, June 26, 2015 at 6:00 PM - 

Saturday, June 27, 2015 at 11:30 PM (EDT)


For more information click HERE!

Keep updated HERE!

Friday, March 06, 2015

FOR ALL THE NAYSAYERS

Quality television is back and in full force. Shonda Rhimes presented one of the best, most thought provoking episodes of Scandal Thursday night. It was epic and jaw-dropping and I’d wager that there wasn’t a dry eye as the closing credits ran across the screen. Shonda Rhimes is a beast! She had many of us caught up in our feelings as we sat on the edge of our seats to see how the storyline would play out and how our beloved Olivia Pope would fix what was broke. And for all the naysayers, Shonda is proof positive that black, female writers can tell stories that appeal to the masses. She’s been doing it since the first episode of Grey’s Anatomy and with the success of Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, I don’t see her stopping any time soon.

Then there’s Mari Brock Akil and the success of her show, Being Mary Jane. Much like I follow ABC faithfully on Thursdays, I’m a BET addict on Tuesdays, catching up with the antics of Mary Jane Paul played by Gabrielle Union. It’s a different kind of vibe and Mari brings a whole other voice to her stories. But just like Shonda, Mari is doing her thing!

And now the men have jumped into the fold! Lee Daniels has a whole nation fiending for his Empire on Wednesdays. Empire is breaking the bank with its numbers and those who haven’t declared themselves #TeamCookie are far and few! I can only imagine the withdrawal when the season finale eventually airs.

John Ridley, of Twelve Years a Slave fame, has now added American Crime to the lineup. Ridley is giving us a crime drama that is sure to have folks talking around the water cooler as he deals with race, class and gender politics head on. Ridley’s anthology has already been met with wide acclaim from critics. It is superb storytelling with award-worthy acting. The first episode had me caught up and yelling at the television screen. Thursday nights just keep getting better and better!

Quality television is definitely back and in full force! We are getting stories that not only pull at our heartstrings but stories that have a whole lot of us rooting for actors of color and stories that are putting black writers in the television writing rooms once dominated by white males. I can only hope that television is just the tip of the iceberg and movies aren't too far behind. Then maybe, just maybe, they’ll move the books by black authors off those two shelves in the back of the bookstore and put them front and center at the door when readers walk in. Too much writing talent is going unrecognized in the literary world and just like what’s happening now in television, I would really like to see that change. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

IT'S RELEASE DAY!


GET YOUR COPY OF PLAYING WITH FIRE WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD!



    Advance Praise for PLAYING WITH FIRE

    “At the heart of this narrative is a two-pronged love story. One is a standard romance; the other is an absentee father’s role in his son’s life…But at its core, this is a page turner that will please and, hopefully, lead to a follow-up. The characters are compelling, the heartbreak is palpable and the tension runs high.” – RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

    “Mello delivers a fascinating tale of family deception while looking inside the soul of a man who grew up without a father.” – Publishers Weekly

    "Mello lives up to her reputation of providing quality reading material. Curl up with a cup of hot chocolate, tissues, a blanket and get lost in Romeo's story as he is PLAYING WITH FIRE in more ways than one." - Romance in Color

    "Ms. Mello has a gorgeous vocabulary used to describe the many delicious hues of skin we encounter in the story. Cocoa-kissed complexions and dark chocolate draped muscles make for enjoyable, moist and artistic reading." - Romance and Smut