Book Review: “Born at Dawn” by Nigeria Lockley

You may remember Nigeria from her stellar interview a few weeks ago. It’s my pleasure to review her debut novel! Check out the deets.

BORN-AT-DAWN-FRONTTitle: Born at Dawn

Author: Nigeria Lockley

Genre: Christian Fiction

Book Description: 

Thirty-four year old Cynthia Barclay knows that marriage is supposed to be for better or for worse. Unfortunately, for the last ten years of her marriage Cynthia has experienced the worst that marriage has to offer at the hands of her abusive husband Marvin Barclay. With the hope of saving herself and her family she turns to the Lord. Expecting to see God manifest himself greatly in her life sooner than later Cynthia is not content just waiting. She wants out.

Abandoning her hope, her husband, and her two young sons Cynthia boards a bus from New York City to Richmond, Virginia. She begins a new life armed with six thousand dollars on a prepaid credit card, a sketchy plan for success, and a promise to return for her sons. That is until she meets Cheo, a photojournalist with enough connections to take her where she wants to be and forget where she came from.

After six years in Richmond Cynthia’s dark past resurfaces. At the risk of losing it all–her past and her present Cynthia returns home to right her wrongs. Has Cynthia chosen the right time to return home or is it too late for God to restore everything she has broken?

My Review:

I loved this book! It forced me to re-evaluate so many of my moral codes.

Cynthia chose to do the unthinkable: she abandoned her children and left them with an abusive parent. She escaped, but left her two sons behind in a dangerous situation. I wanted to judge her. I wanted to dislike her. But Lockley manages to portray Cynthia’s humanity and brokeness in a way that garnered my sympathy. For Cynthia, leaving her children was the equivalent of putting the oxygen mask on herself first when the plane is going down. She had to save herself in order to have any chance of being there for her children.

Born at Dawn also offers narrative from the perspective of Cynthia’s abusive husband Marvin. The monster becomes human as we are allowed to see the history and patterns of neglect that stem from Marvin’s shady childhood. He is flawed, arrogant, manipulative and childish, yet I found myself rooting for his recovery.

Born at Dawn is unpredictable and delectable. I devoured this book and savored the flavor of love long after I finished it. I have mixed feelings about the ending, and I hope there’s a sequel or spin-off coming soon. If you want to read a book that will challenge your moral compass and have you feeling some type of way, then you HAVE to read Born at Dawn!

It’s Born at Dawn’s release day!!!! You can get your’s via Amazon now by clicking here!

First week sales are crucial for authors, so if you’re planning to purchase ‘Born at Dawn’ I encourage you to do so sooner, rather than later. 🙂 

Maya Angelou’s Legacy Continues: Caged Bird Songs

Photo Credit: MayaAngelou.com/media
Photo Credit: MayaAngelou.com/media

I have incredible news! AMAZING news! I’m thanking God for technology and the gift of a legacy, even as a wisp of a smile dances across my face. Yesterday I discovered that the late Dr. Maya Angelou is releasing a project posthumously. It’s like nothing she’s ever done before, yet so familiar and reminiscent of her style and grace. Check out the press release taken from MayaAngelou.com:

Maya Angelou’s Work Mixed With Hip-Hop for Album

NEW YORK — Sep 3, 2014, 11:38 AM ET – By MESFIN FEKADU AP Music Writer

Maya Angelou’s iconic words and lyrics will blend with hip-hop beats for a new album called “Caged Bird Songs.”

Shawn Rivera, the lead singer of R&B group Az Yet, and RoccStarr, who co-wrote Chris Brown’s “Fine China,” produced the 13-song set, to be released through Smooch Music on Nov. 4.

The album — the title taken from Angelou’s classic 1969 book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” — is one of the last projects Angelou completed before she died in May, her grandson said in an interview Tuesday.

“Grandma loved it from the beginning,” Colin A. Johnson said of the album’s concept. “These guys were inspired by grandma’s work, which many people are, and felt like giving it a different medium of delivery to make it more obtainable to a larger group of people.”

Rivera and RoccStarr started working on the album before Angelou knew of it. Johnson, who is in charge of Angelou’s estate with his father Guy B. Johnson, said once she was aware, she completely backed the project, which was recorded at her North Carolina home. Some of the songs use previously recorded Angelou vocals, while others were recorded specifically for the project.

Johnson said Angelou’s initial reaction to the songs was similar to when she first saw her own Facebook page: “She just laughed.”

“She loved it and was excited to hear more about what they wanted to do,” he said of the album. “She had a lot of energy around it.”

Angelou won three Grammys for her spoken-word albums. She previously released a calypso album and collaborated with Ashford & Simpson for 1996’s “Been Found.” She also was featured on Common’s 2011 album, “The Dreamer/The Believer.”

Click here to read more.

There’s a sample on Maya Angelou’s website of her melodic and powerful voice reciting the critically acclaimed poem ‘Still I Rise’ with soulful music in the background. Check it out here. You can also pre-order the album that is set to drop on November 4, 2014 via Amazon. Choose either the Deluxe Album or Standard Album. I’m sure they’re both absolutely fabulous!

Who’s your favorite author or literary hero? Why are you drawn to their work? What would you say if you had the opportunity to meet him or her? 

In case you missed it, click here to read the tribute I wrote to Dr. Angelou on the day she passed.

 

Confessions of Faith: Why Me?

CrossroadsIt’s the universal cry of victims everywhere: Why do bad things happen to good people? If the perpetuating description of an all-seeing, all-knowing, loving God is factual, then why did He allow something horrible to happen to me? Is He punishing me? Does He care? Is He apathetic or just vindictive? Why me?

I’ve been there. I’ve been in a position to ask all of the questions above and struggled with accepting the answers. I’ve been in a place where heaven was silent and my soul settled into desolate waiting, straining for even a whisper of hope. Here’s the thing about waiting: you only do it when you have an expectation. While waiting, your emotions run amok. From hopeful anticipation, to impatience, to anger, to disappointment, to hurt and doubt that what you’re waiting for will ever arrive. Eventually, the questions evolve from whether or not God is apathetic or vindictive, but whether you’ll allow yourself to become that way.

It’s a choice. A crisis of faith. It’s a crossroads with two choices: to decide that we live in a universe full of random unfiltered occurrences, or to decide that everything happens for a reason and that there is purpose in every life changing event. If you choose the former, the questions stop. Life is random, uncontrolled and the chips will fall where they may. If you choose the latter, the questions change, and a lifetime is spent coming to terms with the answers. I chose the latter.

My question became SINCE the perpetuating description of an all-seeing, all-knowing, loving God is factual, then why did He allow something horrible to happen to me? I chose to come from a place of trust, believing that the God who loves me would have purpose for my pain. The victim’s cry of ‘why me’ turned into the victor’s cry of ‘why me’. The question is the same, but the intent is different. If I believe that all things work together for my good, then I begin to look for that good in every situation. Is it easy? Never. Is it worth it? Always. My faith does not make me exempt from the valleys of life. My faith gives those valleys purpose.

So in the end, the ultimate question is why NOT me? Why should I be the one human on earth free of any sort of suffering in my lifetime? I shifted my mentality and accepted that if God is in control, then He allows both the good and the bad. I can’t thank Him for one and resent Him for the other. I chose to believe, and when I did I realized that heaven had never been silent and that in all my waiting, I failed to quiet my accusations and demands long enough to hear. The truth of His love was there all the time.

Do I have all the answers? No, and I doubt I ever will. What I do have is a firm grip on a faith that is not reliant on expectant outcomes. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve learned to ask the right questions. And I think that’s a good start.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 KJV

Xoxo,

Faith

Have you ever had a crisis of faith? How did you get through it? What did you take away from the experience?

Photo credit: Mavroudis Kostas / Foter / CC BY-SA

Facebook Fan Page, or Nah?

facebook-46

I’ve been low-key stalking authors and entrepreneurs on Facebook for a while now. I’m not ashamed to say that cyberly speaking I’ve been lurking in dark alleys, sitting low in my ride and hiding behind oversized newspapers. Which in and of itself should have been a red flag because when’s the last time you saw anyone read an actual newspaper in public? There’s an app for that. But, since no one can really see me, it doesn’t matter. Ok, so this little analogy has gone way off base. Anyway, I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s worth it for an author to have a dedicated fan page on Facebook. Is it worth the hassle? Does it benefit the author and provide maximum exposure? And the ultimate bottom line: does it help sell books? Surprisingly, the answer is more complex than you might think.

LET’S START WITH THE BENEFITS:

Scheduled Posts— With a fan page an author has the ability to schedule posts for particular days and times. This means that they don’t have to actively post links to their websites, promotional sales, etc.  They also have the benefit of posting content at peak times without disrupting their personal schedule. For instance, an author that lives on the west coast, but has a large fan base on the east coast can schedule posts during the east coast lunch hour: a time when most people check their social media. If an author is a planner, they can schedule constant posts for weeks in advance. A definite plus when considering an authors actual job is to write amazing books, not juggle social media. But that’s a whole other post.

Advertising— Facebook offers advertising incentives for businesses. When an author chooses to create a fan page, they have the opportunity for targeted marketing. At a price of course. For a daily budget ranging from $5.00 to $20.00 Facebook will advertise your page or author website to people who have interests related to the author’s content.  A good example is a children’s book author who chooses to target her advertisements to women aged 21-35. The promotion can be a one time deal, or run continuously until the author chooses to stop.

Stats— On the fan page Insights tab the author has access to statistics that tell them how many people their content reached, how many ‘liked’ it, how many people clicked on links to other content (like blog posts), and overall engagement. There is also the option to boost individual posts by paying a fee. Something that can be really helpful when promoting a new book or event.

facebooks-secret-message-to-me

NOW ON TO THE ANNOYANCES:

Interaction–With a fan page authors are limited in their interaction with their fans. Meaning that they do not have access to their fan’s page’s and cannot comment or like their status’. There is no news feed on a fan page, so the opportunity to engage with other people is limited to anyone that might comment on the author’s status. In my cyber stalking I discovered that many authors counteract this problem by having both a personal Facebook page and a fan page. They ‘friend’ all kinds of people and are better able to interact with them.

Unseen Posts–The business phenomenon that is Facebook is far from stupid. They’re not about to give away what they can get someone to pay for. Chances are that if someone takes the time to create a fan page, they’re looking for exposure and will eventually have something to sell. Therefore, if an author wants exposure, they’re sure going to pay for it. Without opting to use Facebook’s advertising, many posts from a fan page will get lost. News feed exposure is based upon ‘likes’. Posts with the most ‘likes’ appear at the top of users news feed’s. Therefore, if an author doesn’t have a huge and engaged fan base, many of their posts will never see the light of day. Facebook will make sure the author knows this by showing them on their handy-dandy stats page. Like I said, far from stupid. Again, smart authors counteract this by engaging on their personal Facebook page. When they’re ready to drop a new book, or offer a sale on an old one they can reach more people on their personal page.

Marketing/Engaging Using Personal Page–An author must be careful to remember that, once they decide to use their personal page to mix business and pleasure, they take certain precautions. Everyone that is a friend on Facebook ain’t friendly. Personal information like where the author lives, their spouses or children’s legal names, pictures of their homes or possessions should be shared with caution. It’s also important to remember that a published author has a brand, and status updates or posts should never conflict with that brand.

THE ANSWER:

I don’t have one. Whether or not to have a Facebook fan page is totally up to the individual. There are pros and cons to both having and not having one. Do some research and find out what works best for you.

And I’m pretty sure you saw this coming….Connect with me on my Facebook Fan Page!!!

Chime in authors: Do you have a Facebook fan page? Do you find it easy to reach and interact with people using it? Would you recommend that a new author start a fan page or simply allow strangers access to their personal page? Any precautions if they choose to do that? Feel free to leave a link to your fan page in the comments!

Photo credit: dkalo / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: boltron- / Foter / CC BY-SA

 

 

 

Book Review: “When You Let Go” by Unoma Nwankwor

I normally don’t review the books that I recommend in my monthly e-reader posts. Mainly this is because when I recommend those books, I have no idea whether they’re any good or not. I share them because the description sounds interesting and I plan to read them. Whether they’re any good or not is a total gamble.  But lately I’ve been hitting the jackpot! Check it out.

When you let goBook Title: When You Let Go

Author: Unoma Nwankwor

Book Description: 

An answered prayer. An unforeseen betrayal. A family healed by grace.
Amara and Ejike Dike had been married for six glorious years. Amara was convinced Ejike, was the perfect gift from God. Loving, charming and very easy on the eyes. They had a beautiful life. Well, not so beautiful. Amara’s inability to bear children made her feel like a less than the perfect mate for her husband.Then after many years, God lifted her faith and had finally heard her cry. The Dikes couldn’t be happier.
A surprise visit from Chinelo, Amara’s long lost cousin, turns Amara’s world upside down and threatens to turn her once-perfect existence into ashes.
Ejike loved his wife with a passion. They shared a burning desire and faith in God that burned deep. However Chinelo’s appearance would open a Pandora’s Box that had purposely been kept shut.
Faced with the loss of all she holds dear, Amara finds herself at crossroads. Would she lean on God’s sustaining grace to let go and travel the rocky path to forgiveness? Or would she throw everything to the wind and walk away?
When You Let Go is a novel about people who know what the Word of God instructs but struggle with actually doing it when the chips are down.

My Review:

When a couple gets married two individuals come together as one. Each of these individuals has an entire history and experience separate from the other. What happens when the past of one those individuals shows up in the happy life they’ve created and wreaks utter havoc? I’ll tell you what happens: all hell breaks loose and the fragility of faith is exposed. One thing I particularly enjoyed about When You Let Go is that strong faith does not equal perfection for any of the characters. They make mistakes. They try to cover those mistakes up. They hurt each other and let each other down. They lose a lot and fight to hold on to what they have left. Real life is messy and the heart of  Christianity is to help make sense of the mess and offer beauty for ashes. Unoma Nwankwor paints a picture of faith at its best!