Sunday, November 29, 2009

Secrets and Lies Author Rhonda McKnight

Secret and Lies Author Rhonda McKnight

Richardson: Hello Rhonda! I am excited to chat with you, welcome.

McKnight: I’m excited about the release of my novel. Thanks so much for having me and taking the time to share it with your readers.

Richardson: My Pleasure. Your Christian fiction, Secrets and Lies, is slated to be released in December 1st. of this year. What is the synopsis of Secret and Lies?

McKnight: Faith Morgan is struggling with her faith. Years of neglect leave her doubting that God will ever fix her marriage. When a coworker accuses her husband, Jonah, of the unthinkable, Faith begins to wonder if she really knows him at all, and if it’s truly in God’s will for them to stay married.

Pediatric cardiologist Jonah Morgan is obsessed with one thing: his work. A childhood incident cemented his desire to heal children at any cost, even his family, but now he finds himself at a crossroads in his life. Will he continue to allow the past to haunt him, or find healing and peace in a God he shut out long ago?

Richardson: What do you want readers to take away from Secrets and Lies?

McKnight: Secrets and Lies is a story about faith, forgiveness and reconciliation. I believe it will resonate differently with each individual, but if I had to name one thing, I'd say I’d like readers to understand that forgiveness is a decision. Once a person decides that peace is more important than bitterness and pain, they will have a fuller, more complete life.

Richardson: Have you always known that you would write Christian Fiction?

McKnight: No, I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, and I didn’t even know Christian Fiction existed until 1998 when Victoria Christopher Murray introduced me to her novel, Temptation. That was when that I started to think about the kind of stories I wanted to tell. But even then I wasn’t sure I was the right person to tell a “Christian” story, but as I’ve grown spiritually, I’ve realized that it’s really the only kind I can tell. I write who I am and I love the Lord.

Richardson: You deal with Depression, suicide, and faith, in Secret and Lies. Did this require a great deal of research?

McKnight: Jonah Morgan is a pediatric cardiologist, and what he does for a living is central to the story. I had to do tons of research about pediatric heart disease. I enjoyed every minute of it. I love doing research. I’m personally acquainted with faith struggles and it just organically comes out as I write. I think we all know people who have or are dealing with depression, and I struggled with that for a short period of time when I first moved from New Jersey to Atlanta. I did do some research about suicide and I had to research the incident in the novel that led up to one of the characters considering suicide. So, yes, I guess I can say it did require a lot of research.

Richardson: What have you discovered about yourself on your journey to publication?

McKnight: Other than how to write a book, (LOL), I learned that this (writing) is what I was really born to do. (That is other than be a mother).

Richardson: Being a mommy, is one of the best jobs in the world! There is always a story behind the glory. How do/did you handle rejection (s)?

Ha! I never got rejected. I sold my book to the first publisher I sent it to. I did get a rejection letter two weeks later from another publisher, but I didn’t care. I had already sold. I must say I believe that was more about God’s timing than my writing.

Richardson: That is both wonderful and encouraging to hear! God timing is perfect and true. I have a book titled, The Certain Ones. Sometime, certain ones have to dig a little deeper and stretch a little wider. Delayed but not denied. God's timing, presents awesome testimonies; of how I made it over. :) What advice would you offer aspiring authors, Rhonda?

McKnight: Read, write and then read and write some more. Study the craft of writing. Buy craft books or take writing classes. Attend a writers conference. You’ll learn so much about writing and the publishing business. The more you know, the less mistakes you’ll make and the less painful the journey will be.

Richardson: Wonderful advice. How can readers contact you?

McKnight: The best way to reach me is by email at . I love having people stop by my website and sign my guestbook and I am a total and complete Facebook addict. You can catch me every day that the sun rises at

Richardson: Rhonda, it was wonderful chatting and discovering with you. As always in closing, continue to inspire as you aspire.

McKnight: Thanks so much for having me Vanessa and all the best with your writing and ministry work.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Marriage 101 Blog Tour

I am excited to have marriage coach Jewell R. Powell, the Marriage Coach and author of Marriage 101: Building a Life Together by Faith blog stop by my blog today!

Here is a question for our viewers and Jewell: How can a wife balance her time with out losing herself in the process?

Meet Jewell Powell, author of Marriage 101. In July of 1992, Jewell met her Prince Charming at a Roy Rogers restaurant. When the couple decided to marry four years later, both were aware of the latest marriage statistics and the legacy of divorce that lay between them. Her parents divorced when she was four, after moving the family to Maryland, leaving her to be raised by a single mother. To circumvent the odds, they went through pre-marital counseling, attended church regularly and felt a strong love for one another. They believed they were ready for marriage.

While desiring to have a happily ever after, Jewell found life after marriage anything but a fairy tale. In 2001, she and her husband, Lewis, had been married for five years but were growing apart, after experiencing problems with infertility, sleeping in separate bedrooms and Lewis’s increasing disinterest in going to church. As she searched for answers to her marital troubles, Jewell found herself on a journey, seeking answers to save her marriage.

Despite a shaky beginning, the Powells now have a relationship with a strong foundation. After successfully resolving their marital problems, they started the Happily Ever After Marriage Ministry to help others do the same. Her new book, Marriage 101: Building a Life Together by Faith (Revell Books February 2009, ISBN 978-0-8007-3332-2, $13.99), offers hope and guidance to help transform broken relationships through the use of biblical wisdom in a simple workbook format. Jewell serves as co-owner of Antiok Holdings, an emerging full-service management consulting firm, which she owns with her husband. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business from the University of Maryland and is pursuing a Master of Divinity. The Powells reside in southern Maryland with their two daughters. For more information, please visit

Your marriage can be strong, healthy, happy, and blessed. Marriage coach Jewell Powell shows you how in this 8-week plan for marital success. She reveals how God’s truths can transform two individuals into the union he desires. Laying a spiritual foundation is crucial to your marriage. In Marriage 101: Building a Life Together by Faith, you will discover God’s purpose for marriage, how to develop godly character, how to communicate effectively, and much more. With biblical examples, study questions, and Scripture meditations perfect for individuals or couples, you will be challenged to examine areas in your life that may need change so that your marriage can thrive.

Jewell R. Powell's: 15 Ways to Communicate Effectively with Your Spouse

1. Listen attentively while your spouse is speaking, rather than concentrating on what you are going to say in response. This way, you can hear what your spouse is really saying. You may be also able to hear what your spouse is not saying, as well as what he is.

2. Learn to speak the same things (for example, you want to live debt free or have a happy, fulfilling marriage). If you are speaking the same things, you are in agreement. The scriptures ask, “Can two walk together unless they are in agreement?” The answer is no. Therefore, agreement is very important in a marriage.

3. Make eye-to-eye contact when you are speaking. Eyes will reveal anger, pain, sickness, and so on. Eye-to-eye contact also creates a connection between you and your spouse.

4. Think before you speak, thereby giving yourself time to speak your words with love. People are easily offended. Once anger or offense enters the conversation, the person who is offended stops listening and goes on the defensive. So think carefully before you speak.

5. Pray together. Again, this brings agreement, but more importantly, brings God into the conversation.

6. Dream together and write a vision. Understanding the purpose for your marriage should drive you and your spouse to accomplish God’s will for your life. Whether His reason is for you to raise your children a certain way, to start a business, to start a non-profit organization, to start a prayer meeting in your community, or to sing, every couple has a purpose.

7. Know your spouse and why she does what she does (for example, is it based on her upbringing? military background? being from a single-parent home? growing up poor?). Knowing this will help you to communicate more effectively. For example, if your spouse grew up poor, then you can understand why she responds a certain way when you spend a lot of money. Because of your spouse’s past, she might be used to people telling her to not spend as much or feelings of poverty may rear their ugly head.

8. Communicate with your spouse—he is not a mind reader. You must communicate your wants and desires.

9. Know what your spouse expects from you (such as dinner every night, or a phone call to let her know you are okay). You have been with your spouse long enough to know what she expects.

10. Understand what your mate is trying to say. Men are definitely from Mars and women are different from Venus. We can speak the same things, but in different ways. Understanding your spouse’s background and gender, and knowing his heart, will help you to decipher what he is really trying to say. For example, your spouse may have a hard time expressing love verbally but may be able to express it physically, giving you hugs or kisses that say, “I love you.”

11. Forgive one another. Every marriage, including yours, will get to a point at which your spouse will do something to hurt you. At the end of that day, make up in your mind to forgive your spouse. If you don’t, that unforgiveness will grow day by day until your heart is hardened or your ears get dull and you no longer want to hear what he has to say. Those are walls that start the separation process. Don’t let that happen. Forgive and move on. God says that He gives us new mercies every day; therefore, because He has given freely, you should give freely, too.

12. Complement and say “I love you” and “I appreciate you” often. By doing this every day, this is something that can keep a marriage peaceful and strong.

13. Know the best time to talk with your mate. If your spouse is not a morning person, 7 AM is not the best time to have a serious conversation. If your spouse needs an hour after work to relax, wait to have that heart-to-heart.

14. Conduct family meetings regularly. This allows you to discuss what’s going on with the child(ren), plan dates and vacations, agree about large purchases, and other important matters.

15. Control your emotions. Keep your mouth shut! DO NOT discuss issues when either of you is upset. If your spouse is trying to discuss a matter while angry, find a way to let her cool off first. For example, excuse yourself to the bathroom and go pray. If you are the one who is upset, definitely pray first and wait until you are able to speak nicely.

© Jewell R. Powell, the Marriage Coach and author of Marriage 101: Building a Life Together by Faith. For more information, visit

Follow the blog tour at

For more information about, visit Jewell at

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Gate House Author Kathleen Heady

Authors Bio

I spent my childhood on a farm in southern Illinois, where I was fortunate to have parents who encouraged me to study, travel and learn about the world. Besides rural Illinois, I have lived in Chicago, Costa Rica, Colorado, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

V. Richardson: Hello Kathleen! Thank you for talking with me. Please, tell readers about your book, The Gate House?

K. Heady: I love to travel, and I am currently working on a novel set in Costa Rica and Italy, as well as developing a sequel to The Gate House. I have spent most of my professional life as a high school teacher, teaching English, Spanish and social studies. I share my home with my husband and two cats, Tang and PĂșchica. I have a daughter, two sons, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and a grandson who are all really cool people.

I was inspired to write The Gate House, while traveling in England, when I stay at a bed and breakfast very much like the one where my story is set. Later I visited Lincoln Cathedral in the same area of England, and found the inspiration for the sense of history and suspense that I hope comes across in the novel. I had written an earlier story in which I created the main character, Nara.

So for The Gate House, I moved her forward in time a few years, and from a Caribbean island to Britain. The story is set in an old gate house that Nara’s aunt, who runs the bed and breakfast, insists holds nothing more than useless trinkets and cheap copies of nineteenth century art work. When Nara awakes in her bedroom in the village in Lincolnshire, England, fretting once again about why Davis, her fiancĂ© on the Caribbean island of St. Clare, has not called her, she surprises a burglar trying to break into the house.

That same night, a local church was burglarized and several valuable artifacts are stolen. Suddenly the police force of the small English town where nothing ever happens is besieged with burglaries and a murder. Even as romance begins to blossom between Nara and Alex, an art expert who works with the police, he begins to suspect that Nara’s family is involved in the thefts. As the net of British law begins to close in on the art thieves, Nara finds herself and her family caught in the net. And the new man to whom she opens her heart is helping the police to close in on them.

V.Richardson: How long did it take for you to write The Gate House?. What would you love for readers to take away from it?

K. Heady: It took a total of about two years to write the novel. I wrote it in bits and pieces while teaching in a public high school in Maryland. After writing about half of the first draft, I traveled to Lincolnshire for further research.

Once I finished revising, it took me about six months to build up the self-confidence to submit it to Virtual Tales, and I was thrilled when they accepted it for publication.

First of all, I would love for readers to enjoy The Gate House as a good story. That is foremost. If they enjoy it, I hope they also appreciate that I have tried to create characters with the same doubts, uncertainties and failings that all of us have, but somehow we muddle through and become better people. Or at least we have that potential.

Since I wrote about the theft of art and antiquities, I hope the readers will think about the importance of preserving the cultural heritage in any country, and that art and history are for all of us, not just a wealthy few.

V.Richardson: What has your literary journey been like?

K. Heady: I have enjoyed writing since I was in elementary school. But sadly, I was never encouraged to take it seriously as a profession. I love to create stories, and several years ago I had the opportunity to join a couple of writers’ groups where I developed some confidence in my work.

I had a few articles published, and began playing around with longer fiction. I have two “almost novels” filed away on my computer. Eventually these led to my decision to write The Gate House.

V. Richardson: Promotion and advertisement comes in various packages nowadays; especially with online presence leading the way. How do you establish a connection with your readers?

K. Heady: The proliferation of sites like yours for promotion of writers and their works, as well as blogs and other book sites are a real boon for writers. I feel that I am able to reach many more readers than I would have if I were relying solely on signings at local book stores.

Especially as a new novelist, the Internet allows me to reach out and make my presence known in ways that would not have been possible a few years ago. And I appreciate the readers around the world who have found me while browsing the Internet.

V. Richardson: Are there any forthcoming projects you are working on that readers should look forward to?

K. Heady: I have a manuscript for a very different novel about relationships between mothers and daughters, and sisters, that is almost finished.
I am also in the beginning stages of a sequel to The Gate House, which will take us back in time to England during World War II, and Nara’s great-grandparents. This story will be partially set in Wales, where I spent some time this past summer.

V. Richardson: Thank you Kathleen, for chatting with me about your novel, The Gate House. In closing, please continue to inspire as you aspire!

Kathleen Heady can be reached at:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Lovechild Blog Tour with Ashea Goldson

Meet Ashea Goldson, author of The Lovechild
Ashea Goldson, originally born in Brooklyn, NewYork is a wife of twenty three years, a mother of two daughters, a grandmother of one, a graduate of Fordham University, a writer, a poet, a publisher, a reviewer, an internet radio host, an educator, and a co-founder of a Christian preparatory school. Active in the ministry, she is a dedicated member of World Changers Church International for many years. She has a lifetime of experience with writing which ranges from being published in local newspapers, magazines, and online publications to full length books.
Her first Christian fiction novel is The Lovechild, published by Urban Christian Publishers in 2008.

Ashea’s short story entitled “The Kit Cat Trial” will be released in an anthology named Pets Across America in September 2009. Her second Christian fiction novel, Joy Comes In The Morning, will be released in July 2010, also by Urban Christian Publishers. She has recently released a non-fiction title, Resurrecting Vision: 45 steps To Digging Up Your Destiny And Seeing It Through God’s Eyes through her own publishing company. Calling herself a kingdom writer, and passionate about this calling, she is currently working on her third novel, random poems, several short stories, a children’s book, and is organizing a literacy group for youth in her community. During her relaxation time she can be found hanging out with her family, snuggled up to a good book, or listening to gospel music.
In The Lovechild, Makaeli Hunt, a successful fashion designer, has been driven far away from home by her family’s dysfunction. While living in Italy, trying to heal the wounds of yesterday, ambition becomes her comforter. When a family emergency forces her to return to her home, in seven life altering days, amidst memories of a tumultuous past,will one revealed secret drive her away from her family and God forever? Or will she discover what it means to be God’s lovechild? Dealing with issues of racism, depression, self-esteem, drug addiction, mental illness, verbal and physical abuse,The Lovechild is a story of redemption and re-dedication, confirming our victory in Jesus Christ.


The Lovechild by Ashea Goldson (excerpt) -

Follow the blog tour at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vanessa Richardson's Interview With
Author Lori Johnson

Lori Johnson has a master's degree in Urban Anthropology from the University of Memphis. Her stories and essays have appeared in Upscale Magazine, Memphis Magazine, The Commercial Appeal, The Tri-State Defender, The Emrys Journal, The Best of Memphis Anthology 2003 and Obsidian II: Black Literature in Review. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and their young son.
For additional information about Lori, visit the profile page of her blog "Lori's Old School Mix" at

V. Richardson: Hi Lori! Thank you for chatting with me today!

Lori Johnson: Thank you for extending the invitation Vanessa.

V. Richardson: You have just released your latest book, A Natural Woman. What is the synopsis of A Natural Woman?

Lori Johnson: A Natural Woman revolves around Dr. Aliesha Eaton, a young anthropology professor who seemingly has it all--a nice teaching gig, a respected role in her church and an adoring boyfriend. However, while searching for the right someone to cut and style her natural hair, she finds herself drawn to a dark, handsome, mysterious barber named Dante. Unfortunately, Dante's complete disappearance within hours of their first night together leaves Aliesha wondering if he'd been out to play her from the start, or if he's become a victim of foul play at the hands of either her spurned boyfriend, or . . . yet another man from her recent past.

V. Richardson: What do you want readers to take away from this book?

Lori Johnson: Among other things, I'd like readers to be open to questioning some of the commonly held concepts and standards of beauty, particularly as they pertain to African American women. I think it's important to point out that in A Natural Woman, the focus isn’t solely on hair, it’s also on skin tone. For the record, the female protagonist in A Natural Woman, Dr. Aliesha Eaton, is a dark-skinned woman who sports a natural hairstyle. I'd also like readers to reflect on how the past influences the present and how the actions of our ancestors quite often exert a measurable impact on the choices we make in our everyday lives.

V. Richardson: What have you discovered about yourself on your journey to publication?

Lori Johnson: I've discovered that I'm wiser, stronger and much more resilient than I would have ever imagined. Through the course of this journey, I’ve also been able to confirm what I've long suspected to be true-- that neither my integrity as an African American woman nor my vision as an artist is not something I'm interested in compromising.

V. Richardson: What strong convictions to live by Lori! I love it! There is always a story behind the glory. How do/did you handle rejection (s)?

Lori Johnson: As a writer, you soon learn that rejection awaits you at nearly every turn. During the submission process, there will always be agents and editors primed to tell you, "no." Even after you finally achieve publication, there will always be readers and critics who diss and outright pan your work. So in some respects, rejection really is an essential part of the process. It can either help you grow or else lend you an excuse to quit and/or give up. What I've learned to do is absorb the knocks and move on. I refuse to let any of it keep me down for long. I think it helps to bear in mind that not every "no" means "never." Sometimes it just means "wait" or "not now . . . but come back again when you're ready."

V. Richardson: I was delighted to be a subject of interview in your series, “Natural Women: Our Hair, Our Stories.” Tell us readers about this series and why you formed it?

Lori Johnson: The hair series is an on-going feature of my blog, Lori's Old School Mix. ( It's not a new concept. A number of bloggers are profiling African American women who sport natural hair styles. I think what makes my series a bit different is the focus. My interest in natural hair goes beyond the visual or the stylistic, My aim is to shine a spotlight on attitudes and emotions. How do we feel about our hair? How do we respond to negative comments about our natural hair? Those sorts of things interest me. I also wanted to illustrate that not all "natural women" think alike or define their state of "naturalness" in quite the same way.

V. Richardson: What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

Lori Johnson: 1) Read--and not just anything, read and study the work of those who write better than you 2) Write--everyday, when possible.
3) Learn to take criticism and accept rejection because it comes with the territory and 4) Make a librarian your friend--they can introduce you to a number of valuable resources, networks and connections.

V. Richardson: How can readers contact you?

Lori Johnson: I love hearing from readers and they are welcome to reach me via my website ( My email address there is They can also reach me via the profile page of my blog, Lori's Old School Mix (

V. Richardson: Lori, thank you so very much for chatting with me. It is always delightful when connecting with you. As always in closing, continue to inspire as you aspire.

Lori Johnson: It was my privilege and pleasure, Vanessa. And what a truly wonderful closing statement, "continue to inspire as you aspire. I want you to know that I intend to embrace that as both a challenge and a mandate. Thank you.