Monday, May 30, 2011

Win A Free Copy of Victoria Christopher Murray's Latest Novel - "The Deal, The Dance, and The Devil"

What would you do for five million dollars? In a new novel by national bestselling author Victoria Christopher Murray, comes THE DEAL, THE DANCE, AND THE DEVIL: A Novel by Touchstone Books.

Release Date: June 7, 2011

To be entered in a random drawing for a free copy of this book (cover price $15.00), please send me an email:

Contest ends June 17, 2011.
Good luck!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Poet Never Dies, For Their Words Live On Forever - Rest In Peace, Gil Scott Heron

(April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011)

To all the youngsters who think hip-hop was invented during their lifetime, check your history.

The "Godfather of Spoken Word," Gil Scott-Heron died on the afternoon of May 27, 2011, at St. Luke's Hospital, New York City, after becoming sick upon returning from a European trip.[

Survived by his wife, Brenda Sykes, and daughter, Gia.

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"

Friday, May 20, 2011

Veteran Journalist Gregory Lewis Dead At Age 57

Gone too soon.

Gregory Lewis whose career spanned more than two decades and included work at the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner has died due to complications from prostate cancer. At the time of his death, Mr. Lewis had worked at the Florida Sun Sentinel for over 10 as a reporter covering the African American community.

Mr. Lewis was also a founding member of the Bay Area Black Journalists Association (BABJA).

Mr. Lewis is survived by his wife, Chandra, daughter Gina; son Desmond and a host of other relatives, friends and fans.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 21, 2011 at St. Benedict's Episcopal Church, 7801 NW Fifth St., Plantation.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prayer Request: Singer Etta James Hospitalized

The one and only Ms. Etta James, is being treated at a Southern California hospital for an infection according to her son, Sametto James. As you probably know, Ms. James, 73, is said to be suffering the effects of dementia and reportedly, though not confirmed, leukemia.

Those of us of "a certain age" have enjoyed her sultry ballads (including "At Last") for many years. Etta has been through a lot in her lifetime, she's seen a lot and I'm sure she's helped and encouraged a lot of people along the way. As my late grandmother used to say, "When you're up you're with a crowd, but when you're down, you're by yourself."

Please send warm thoughts her way.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sisters Network San Francisco Luncheon and Fashion Show


Judge Mablean Ephriam Will Be On-hand When
Breast Cancer Survivors Take to the Fashion Runway

Sisters Network San Francisco Hosts 10th Annual
Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show

Sunday, May 22, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Annually, the San Francisco chapter of Sisters Network, Inc., a national nonprofit African American breast cancer survivorship organization, hosts its signature benefit Luncheon and Fashion Show "Celebrating Our Survival." Event proceeds benefit Bay Area women who have been stricken with the breast cancer disease. On Sunday, May 11, 2011, attendees (men and women) will enjoy an appetizing luncheon cuisine, a runway presentation of style and sophistication by lovely breast cancer survivors, and stimulating remarks by former Divorce Court star Judge Mablean, author of Life Lessons: Tools for Weekly Living.
Judge Mablean

Sisters Network, Inc., San Francisco Chapter
(A National African American Breast Cancer Survivorship Organization)

10th Annual Luncheon & Fashion Show - "Celebrating Our Survival"

Sunday, May 22, 2011 | 3:00-6:00 pm

Hilton San Francisco Airport, 600 Airport Blvd., Burlingame, CA 94010

KEYNOTE: Judge Mablean, TV personality, author, entrepreneur

ENTERTAINMENT: Grady Wilkens, "The Whispers" musical director, vocalist, songwriter

MODELS: Breast Cancer Survivors

COST: $60 per person / $1,000 per sponsored table for 10

Sisters Network is grateful to its sponsors and supporters for their respective contributions, namely Genentech, Lennar Urban, Gumbo for the Soul Publications, Desmond Bishop of the Green Bay Packers, UCSF, and PR, et Cetera, Inc.

In 2000, one year after her initial breast cancer diagnosis, Gail D. Bishop established and became president of the San Francisco chapter of Sisters Network, Inc. It was Gail's giving heart that motivated her to head the organization's San Francisco chapter that provides breast cancer sufferers, survivors and their families with group support, agency and medical referrals, joyful activities, encouragement, education, advocacy, friendship and prayers.

In addition to its ongoing work, annually Gail's San Francisco chapter hosts a free health fair, a young women's breast health summit, and a benefit luncheon and fashion show at which prime, pretty and proper breast cancer survivors proudly take to the runway to model the latest of fashions.

Founded by Karen Eubanks Jackson, CEO and 16-year breast cancer survivor, Sisters Network Inc. (SNI) is a leading voice and only national African American breast cancer survivorship organization in the United States. Membership is approximately 3,000, which includes more than 40 affiliate survivor run chapters nationwide. The organization's purpose is to save lives and provide a broader scope of knowledge that addresses the breast cancer survivorship crisis affecting African American women around the country.

As a nationally recognized organization among leading medical establishments and breast cancer physicians, Sisters Network is also recognized as a critical information resource for African American women.

After season seven – the final run of Divorce Court (1999-2006), Judge Mablean is a much sought after motivational speaker and relationship expert. She has written and published her first book, Judge Mablean's Life Lessons: Tools for Weekly Living, and is currently working on her second literary offering

Toni Beckham
209.832.8020/408.499.3664 c
Gail D. Bishop

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pearl Cleage Discusses Her Newest Novel, "Just Wanna Testify"

PC: First of all, I just want to say that you are without doubt one of my all-time favorite authors. I have read all of your books. They are not only brilliantly written, but they give me a hope for my people.
You are not one of these authors who churn out two or three books a year. In fact, you always leave your fans desperately waiting on the next novel. How long does it take you to write a book? Do you write every day?

PC: It takes me about a year to write a book. I always complain about deadlines, but the truth is, i think having a deadline is an important part of the discipline required to actually finish the book in a timely fashion. I am very disciplined about my writing schedule and when I'm working on a book or a play, i write from 10 to 4 every day except Sunday. Everybody needs a day off to let your mind relax and refresh itself. I know many writers who like the finished product, but really don't enjoy the process of getting all those words on paper. I'm not like that. I actually love the process of discovering characters, figuring out the plot, deciding which word says exactly what you're trying to say. It's the only kind of work I know how to do!

My daughter always tells her friends at college that her mother is one of those idealistic people who believes that African American neighborhoods can survive, turnaround and be healthy again. Obviously, you are too. Where does that come from?

PC: I believe that the many of the problems we face in African American communities come from high unemployment. I grew up in Detroit and when the auto industry was booming and everybody who wanted to work could find at least one job, and usually as much overtime as they could handle, it was a great place to live. The unions had guaranteed workers living wages and people bought homes, educated their children, and retired with secure pensions. Once the factories moved out of Detroit because they didn't want to pay living wages and they knew they could move their factories to places where unions had little or no power, the city fell apart. The availability of drugs, from crack to heroin, made matters worse and soon neighborhoods became a contest between predators and those being preyed upon. Detroit is an extreme example, but i think many of the neighborhoods some of us have given up on across the country are so awful because people aren't working. Without work people not only can't pay their bills, they have no frame for their lives. Families fall apart, houses can't be repaired, homelessness becomes a constant reality. So... I have no illusions or romanticized ideas about the problem. What i do believe is that jobs are at the heart of the problem. I also believe that there are poor, jobless, hopeless people of every race in america and when we stop thinking of our communities in strictly racial terms, we can more likely find solutions that cross racial lines, too.

How would you describe “Blue Hamilton,” and is he someone you’ve known?

PC: I love the Blue Hamilton character. He's a fictional character, but i "borrowed" a lot of his character traits from my husband, Zaron Burnett, who is the kind of man who takes responsibility for the place where he lives. I think that Blue is a complex character. He's capable of great romantic love, but he is also willing to do the things necessary to keep the bad guys under control. He is a man capable of producing beautiful music, but he's also a man who is prepared to "eliminate" neighborhood predators who cross the line. He's a good father with high expectations for young people and a willingness to be involved in the development of young men. Plus, I love that he can remember past lives. My husband described a past life to me in conversation a few years ago, and at first I thought he was kidding. When I realized he was serious, I asked him to tell me everything he could remember. It was pretty amazing to me so I asked him if I could use that moment for Blue. He generously agreed! The truth is, all the good guys in my books and plays are similiar to my husband. He's a really good man!

You delve into topics that other African American authors only scratch the surface of (i.e. AIDS, drug addiction, domestic violence). What makes you so courageous and intent on telling it like it is?

PC: I’m always trying to tell the truth of what I know and what I see outside my window, watching my neighbors going about their lives. All the problems I write about are real to me because they are taking place all around me. If I lived in a quiet little village in New Hampshire, I'd probably be telling different stories. I write what I know -- the good, the bad, and the ugly!

I still live in the same neighborhood I grew up in which is a very different place than it was even 30 years ago. Can one person really make a difference? Any suggestions on where those of us who refuse to leave can begin?

PC: I think one person can always make a difference. These problem neighborhoods can only change one house, one street, at a time. It's difficult because during the transitions these neighborhoods are often unsafe, especially for women. I don't have any suggestions beside the obvious ones; get to know your neighbors; be in touch with your elected officials; try to get people who would be good neighbors interested in your community; and be open to a more diverse population in neighborhoods that are now primarily African American. I also find it is really helpful to plant a garden, grow some flowers, go outside and water your grass, sit on the porch and drink a glass of wine. The more people are out and about and know each other, the better it is for everyone! Plus, you can't beat fresh tomatoes and collard greens in your backyard garden!

You newest novel “Just Wanna Testify” will be released May 10th. Can you give us a “sneak peek?” I can’t wait!!

PC: “Just Wanna Testify” is set in West End and brings back many characters who have appeared in my other books, including Blue and Regina Hamilton, Peachy and Aunt Abbie, Aretha and Joyce Ann. The new characters are five beautiful women who are in town to collect a debt owed them by five young men about to graduate from Morehouse. Tall, thin and strangely attracted to tomato juice, these women are not the high fashion models they seem to be, but who, or what, are they? Only Blue Hamilton seems to know. The question is, what's he going to do about it? Okay! that's enough for one beautiful friday afternoon. Thanks for your interest and support!