Don’t Throw It Away: How Short Stories from My Teenage Years Became An Urban Fantasy Fiction Novel

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood

When I was about seventeen and eighteen, I wrote stories about my sisters and our friends in this red notebook. Then, we would all sit on the porch, and I would read it to the neighborhood. Everyone had nicknames but also knew who they were so it was hilarious, and they loved it.

When I moved out of my mother’s house a couple of years later, I carried that notebook. One day, while reading it, I decided I wanted to turn it into a play. There was only one problem:

I was not the teenager who wrote it.

By now, I was deeply biblical, had loc’d my hair, and changed my name. This hood tale didn’t fit the newer version of me.

I decided to keep the characters but change their names and give them more dignity. They were successful Black men and women instead of whores and hustlers. In the original story, Tina was a lawyer because when we were younger, that’s what my twin sister Tracey wanted to be when she grew up. In the red notebook, Tina was Tracey.

This dope cover for my first screenplay was designed by Black graphic artist Andre Hawkins of Kenosis Design Innovations

I published Pearls Before Swine in 2014, registered it with the Screen Writer’s Guild, and participated in my first book signing at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Chicago, which went well. 

And then, I started this blog!

I made the mistake* of naming this blog after the book hence why it’s called thepbsblog. Over time, I decided to keep the name for a few reasons. You can read about that here.

*I don’t recommend authors start blogs and name them after the title of their book any more than I would advise authors to create websites with the name of their books. You will write more books. Are you going to create a new website for every book? It is easier to brand yourself using your name.

Although it did okay when first released, and I love the cover, I better understood how to use my voice and messaging after The Stella Trilogy. I had grown again and vowed to be more relatable. The story was also not properly edited and the plot was confusing to people outside of my immediate circle.

But instead of throwing it away, I reworked the first chapter and shared it on this blog.

Then, I shared another chapter.

And another and another until I was ten chapters into this crazy fantasy world that, to my surprise, ya’ll loved!

And that’s when it hit me.

The story would evolve again.

I would turn Pearls Before Swine into The Men with Blue Eyes. And then, for the last change, I decided I wanted these angels to be women, which is how The Women with Blue Eyes was born. I used the backstory and characters of PBS with a fresh plot.

TWWBE is still heavily spiritual, but in a way where even if you are not religious, you could still relate to it. This was intentional.

I would love for this story to take on another evolution: for Shonda Rhimes to turn it into a TV series. (Somebody tell her people to call my people.)

I am also considering sharing more of the backstory of PBS in another installment of The Women with Blue Eyes. The details about Ronnie and Big Sam and how it all went down was in the first book. This is material I can still use.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only Black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.

The moral of this story is don’t throw anything away! Just repurpose it.

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews: Starving the Wolf: The Journey of Freeing a King by Dr. Oliver T. Reid

Title: Starving the Wolf: The Journey of Freeing a King
Author: Dr. Oliver T. Reid
Publisher: Publishing Advantage Group
Published: Officially Releasing August 27, 2022 (Available for Preorder)
ASIN: B0B933ZZJQ
Pages: 80

Prince Amir was born into royalty, but his parents verbally abused him, and his father, Naz, took credit for his work. This haunted Amir, causing him sadness and affecting his relationships with women.

Perhaps the most profound aspect of this book surrounds the wolf, which the author calls Liar.

Liar represents Amir’s inner sadness, depression, and low self-worth. Whenever Amir’s parents talk down to him or anger rises within him, this negativity feeds the wolf inside of him. It is something we can all relate to, as we have each had to deal with the wolves in our own lives.

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These Love Jones bookmarks tho!! Designed by Inspire the Tribe.

Finally, the prince meets a woman that will help him overcome his inner wolf. Princess Khari comes into his life and pours goodness and kindness into his heart. Not only that, she also makes his parents aware that their words are hurting their son.

Discover how the love story between Amir and Khari unfolds and how the wolf gets starved out in this African-themed love story.

Although not marketed as a children’s book, Starving the Wolf: The Journey of Freeing a King is a quick read with some powerful concepts that are easy to digest.

The illustrator also did a wonderful job with the images, which are absolutely beautiful and illustrated throughout the book. The story is easy to follow, there is no profane language, and the pictures are a gorgeous representation of black beauty.

Ratings:

Plot Movement / Strength: 5/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Now available for preorder in digital, paperback, and hardcover.

Reid


About the Author

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Dr. Oliver T. Reid is multi-best-selling author, motivational speaker, founder and president of I am a Solution Consulting Firm LLC. He is a Black Man Image Award Winner and 2016-2017 NAACP Image Award recipient and has been featured on Black Enterprise, CBS, Fox, iHeart Radio, NBC, Time Warner and much more.

Dr. Reid is most known as “The Writing Coach,” where he uses groundbreaking writing and coaching techniques to help entrepreneurs, speakers, and coaches to write their books.

If you need help writing your book, he’s the plug! But first, be sure to support him by preordering your copy of Starving the Wolf.

www.drolivertreid.com

Instagram + Twitter: @drolivertreid


To have your book reviewed by me on this blog apply here.

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Please read through the entire policy and note the books in the queue so you know how many books would be in front of yours. That will determine the turnaround time.

Space is very limited so don’t sleep. Apply right now.

(For more options, such as IG promo visit the services page of my website HERE.)

 

The Women with Blue Eyes 2: Chapter One


Chapter 1: And a Little Child Shall Deceive Them


The young woman smiled and waved at the jeep as it sped by, and her brown eyes turned blue.

Paschar twisted her neck, cracking it as it spun around on her shoulders. She looked down at her hands, stretching her fingers.

“Not bad,” she admired herself, ran her hands across the youthful body, and sat down on the bench. She stared down at her chest. The boobs weren’t much to speak of, but she couldn’t expect much in this form. She had heard stories of humans and puberty, a foreign thing to angels who could masquerade in adult bodies instantly.

Paschar watched the cars zoom by, the school busses pick up children, and the scores of humans rushing off to work. An elderly lady sat down on the bench next to her.

“How you?” she said, looking through her purse.

Pas nodded, afraid to speak. She had never had a body this young before.

Noticing the silence, the woman looked up and clutched her chest with one hand. “Your eyes,” she said in a breathless voice. “I ain’t never seen ‘em that bright before.”

Paschar blushed and smiled awkwardly, thankful to see the bus approaching.

The woman stood, swinging her purse over her shoulder, unable to take her eyes off the young woman with the majestic eyes.

“Go on, baby,” she said, letting Paschar in front of her as the bus came to a halt and opened its doors.

Pas coughed and cleared her throat. “Oh no, that’s okay. You can go.”

“No, it’s alright. And you’re gonna wanna do something about that cough. Put something around those skinny lil arms of yours.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

The woman nodded.

Portrait of Young Woman
Artwork for TWWBE by David Collin

Paschar dropped her coins into the machine and moved to the rear of the bus, and cuddled up to a window seat.

As the bus prepared to take off, it stopped to allow a car to pass and Paschar’s eyes flashed in that familiar way. Her senses heightened as she picked up the familiar scent. Every human had a signature smell to their blood. Like fingerprints, no one was alike.

Pas licked her lips. She didn’t need to turn to see Kayla sitting in the passenger’s seat of Miss Bernice’s car or Micheal sitting in the back. She could practically taste their essence—the purest of energy.

Her eyes twinkled, and her leg bounced up and down. She knew she had to calm herself before she growled. It was all so exciting. Pas could hardly contain herself thinking about seeing Janiyah’s Jeep just moments ago and now Micheal and Kayla. Why had she not thought about this before?

She had had it all wrong. No one cared about Black men. But people were extremely friendly to young humans, naïve even. There were no limits to how far her powers could stretch as a sixteen-year-old in Ethiopian skin.

She felt a coolness come over her as a low, deep throat growl threatened to spill from her mouth.

Paschar leaned back into her seat and exhaled. All was not lost. Her legion might have lost the battle, but she was going to make damn sure they did not lose the war.

She couldn’t wait to start her new job with Janiyah and Tabitha.


twwtbe

This is a continuation of The Women with Blue Eyes series I turned into a novel.

To read sneak peeks of book one published to this blog click here.

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To buy me a cup of coffee, purchase the book by CLICKING HERE.

Freedom Ring – Part One

Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels

The Train

Louis pulled the olive-drab wool service cap down as far as it could go. Why he was hiding his face, he didn’t know. It was not like anyone could see him. Louis’s heart fluttered. After all these years, even the thought of her made him blush. His excitement was quickly replaced by sorrow. He had not been the best husband. Maybe if he were, she would not have asked for that restraining order, he would not have joined the Army, and the terrible future he knew was coming would not happen.

But Louis was on a mission, so now he couldn’t think about that. Life was funny in that way. Sometimes you don’t realize your purpose until after you have already lived.

The scream of the train’s horn startled him out of his thoughts. The 63rd Street Station in Chicago was lively, with travelers. He looked down at his watch as the train’s horn sounded again. They will be here any minute now.

“Now, where do you think you are going?”

Louis looked up and smiled. That tiny voice and round, golden-brown face always did something to him. Then, she had the nerve to have those sexy glasses on. But Mamie wasn’t talking to him and had not spoken to him in years. No, Mamie Carthan was talking to their son.

Louis stopped thinking about her beauty and rushed over to stand next to them. There was not much time left, and although he knew neither one could see him, the whole situation still made him nervous. Nerves. Was that even a thing anymore? Louis brushed imaginary lint from his wool, four-button olive coat. It was the same coat he had been wearing for ten years now. The same uniform he has worn since he died.

“Come on, ma. I’m gonna be late,” whined the chubby little boy.

Louis smiled. He knew Emmett would be a handful the day they discovered he was a breech baby. That’s why he gave him his name because he knew he’d be hard-headed, just like his father. Emmett Louis Till. Bursting into the world wide-eyed and feet first.

“Yea, but you didn’t kiss me goodbye.”

Emmett smiled and gave Mamie a peck on the cheek.

Give her the watch.

Louis cleared his throat. He hadn’t realized how long it’s been since he had said anything out loud. He looked around at the people walking by. It was strange the way they seemed to look right at him.

Give her the watch. 

He repeated the command as he stared down at his son.

You won’t need it where you are going.

He could see the boy thinking the words over in his head. He knew he thought they were coming from his own mind. Louis had come to learn that sadness was different in the after-world, but if he could, he would shed a tear. He stood watching his son remove the watch he was wearing and give it to his mother, and his heart ached at the future.

“Here,” said Emmett, “take my watch.”

Mamie frowned as she put it on, “Why?”

“I won’t need it where I’m going,” he said, turning his back to his mother and dashing off in the direction of the train where his cousin Wheeler and great Uncle Moses were waiting.

“Bobo, wait! What about your ring?”

Louis turned away from Emmett to look admirably at his ex-wife. She was the one and had always been the one. He thought she was chosen for him to be his wife this entire time. But the truth is she was chosen to be Emmett’s mother.

He pulled himself away from her face. He was running out of time. Emmett had to be on that train.

Show it to the fellas.

Emmett turned around and pulled the ring from his pants pocket, and put it on, rubbing his fingers across his father’s initials. He lifted his head and stared straight ahead, like someone who had just discovered a new world or happened upon a new invention, and flashed a big grin.

“I’m gonna show this to the fellas!”

Mamie laughed and waved her handkerchief.

“Alright then, boy. Go on ahead now.”

Louis watched his son jump on the train and Mamie staring after him. He remembered the day he got the thing made in Europe, just one year since he had been drafted into the Army. But it was not his ring anymore. Soon, the whole African American community would wear that ring. 

No. This was no longer LT’s ring. Now, it was the ring of freedom.

The quietness of the station alarmed him, and Louis looked around in awe of the now dark, empty station. The Master warned him that time moved differently here. He had better get a move on it if he was going to make it to Money in time.

Louis inhaled deeply as his body disintegrated into the wind for his next mission.


After watching ABC’s “Let the World See” about the role of Mamie Till and how she handled Emmett Till’s death, I was happy to see some discussion about Emmett’s father, Louis. Since grade school, I have been studying the Emmett Till story, when I first learned about it, heard many versions of the story, and have seen countless documentaries. My favorite is the one that aired in 2005, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” on YouTube. I like it mostly because Mamie Till was still alive and could tell it the way only she could.

But in all the docs, even my favorite one, there was never anything about his father. This had me thinking.

What if we tell both of their stories at the same time? 

Louis Till died at the young age of twenty-three when he was accused of assaulting some Italian women in Europe while serving overseas in the Transportation Corps of the U.S. Army during World War II. He and a friend were found guilty and lynched in 1945. 

What if our story doesn’t end here? 

What if the spirit world informs Louis about his son’s death and its necessity to jump start The Civil Rights Movement? 

And what if it becomes Louis’s responsibility to make sure Emmett wears his ring so that they can identify his body? 

And what if his soul isn’t allowed to rest until he does? 

What if we can tell both stories through the power of the ring that binds them?

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Living in the Land of I am: Your Life Journey Reveals Your Purpose by Tiffany James

Title: Living in the Land of I am: Your Life Journey Reveals Your Purpose
Author: Tiffany James
Publisher: Encourage Touch Enterprise
ASIN: ‎ B07SB68C1F
Publication date: ‎May 22, 2019
Print length: ‎ 158 pages

Living in the Land of I am: Your Life Journey Reveals Your Purpose is a hopeful read about the importance of embracing your authentic self and operating in that truth. According to the author, losing our identity also means relinquishing the authority given to us to fulfill our purpose. (p. 67)

I enjoyed the author’s testimony, examples, and analogies to expand on her point further. We are invited into her world and we learn the many things she overcame and how we too can live in that land of I am, that is our truest self. We learn there is beauty in acknowledging and accepting one’s set-apartness.

My favorite example is the one of Simba from Disney’s 1994 animated feature film, The Lion King. The story of how he was born into royalty and stood proud and strong in that purpose until the death of his father Mufasa made him lose his voice was very nicely recounted.

Simba with Pumbaa and Timon
Published: Jan 28, 2021
By AnimeAngelArtist1990

When Simba meets Pumbaa and Timon and starts basking in what looks like a carefree life, the author reminds us that while he seems happy, he forgets that he was born to be a King. Now a grown lion, Simba has been reduced to a confused, scared, angry, and hurt little cub (p.37). When he returns to fulfill his purpose, he becomes the strong and mighty lion he was born to be. I thought this laid a strong foundation for the rest of the book.

The author’s voice is poetic, and she leaves inspiration pieces between chapters she calls inspirational moments. If you remember, Mrs. James is this year’s first-place winner in the 4th Annual Poetry Contest. I noted many sayings I found powerful such as “Love is not the absence of truth.” (Tiffany James)

I was not a big fan of the author’s Christian views because I’m not a Christian. Still, overall, I found the book to be a great reminder of the importance of standing in our truth and being authentically and unapologetically ourselves.

Strong Introduction: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Organization: 4/5

Thought-Provoking: 5/5

Solid Conclusion: 3/5

Final: 4/5

You Can Pick up Your Copy of Living in the Land of I am on Amazon

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Family Medicine: A Psychological Suspense Thriller by Natasha Jeneen Thomas

Title: Family Medicine: A Psychological Suspense Thriller
Author: Natasha Jeneen Thomas
Publisher: Newham Wilcott (October 8, 2021)
ASIN: ‎ B0992VHVWH
Publication date: ‎ October 8, 2021
Print length: ‎ 340 pages

Family Medicine is a psychological thriller with many twists, turns, and a healthy dose of suspense. With vivid description and detail, we meet Therese Hughes-Baldwin, an aspiring dancer who works at a cafe. She is offered an escape to a beach house mansion by her favorite customer and psychiatrist Dr. Dara Clemens. When she and her best friend Phoebe make it to the house, things start to get weird. First, there are no pictures in the place, and Phoebe is acting strange. The story alternates between Therese and Phoebe’s experiences at the ocean-view getaway (including Therese’s romance with a man named Tomas) and an unbalanced oral surgeon named Victor.

As the story progressed, I wondered how the two threads were connected, as I knew they had to be, and I kept turning the page to see how it would all play out. I was especially drawn to Victor’s thread in an attempt to understand his behavior. What is with this man fantasizing about killing someone and dressing up in women’s clothes as a disguise? Victor even self-abuses himself as punishment for not thinking through a stakeout that ultimately got him questioned in one scene.

The truth of how everything is connected will blow your mind. While I can’t give away much more detail, I will only say that everything you think you know, including the little I’ve told you, you don’t know.

I also felt so bad for character Summer being arrested as she was menstruating. It made me think of how people don’t understand what women have to endure in these situations. I felt humiliated for her and I am sure all of my women readers will understand.

I did think there was a tad bit too much description of minor details throughout the book, but I assume that’s because nothing is as it appears to be! I did find myself going back to the beginning, and as I reread some scenes, I could see the ending.

This is the novel for you if you are looking to read a book full of mystery, suspense, and a psychological thrill that will keep you guessing until the very end. Speaking of the end, I suspect the author is working on another part of this. You’ll understand what I mean when you read the book.

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

You Can Pick up Your Copy of Family Medicine on Amazon

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Fields of Grace by Wendy Waters

Title: Fields of Grace
Author: Wendy Waters
Publisher: Wendy Waters
Publication date: October 24, 2019
Genre: Biographical Fiction
Pages: 444
ASIN: B07ZL2FHBG

It is September 23, 2009, and there is a dust storm in Sydney. But, Grace is from a family of pagans, so it is not only a dust storm for them. As the amber glow, which Grace calls the glowing, tangerine-colored fog, blankets the city, Grace Fieldgrill, now in her seventies, senses her time has come to die. The amber glow will want a sacrifice, and she is ready to give herself.

Grace believes the day she unlocks the trunk in the corner of her room, the spirit of John, her feu sacré or sacred flame, would come, as prophesied by her mother, to whisk her away. But, before she dies, she wants her son, Christian, to know the truth about his birth father and her granddaughter Samantha (Sam) to succeed in her career. These are affairs she must sort through before sunset. Grace commands Sam to unlock the trunk, and this is where our story begins.

“73-years is a long time to remain earthbound when you want to fly.”

I am not convinced Ms. Waters is not a poet. As with Catch the Moon Mary, Fields of Grace is full of poetic language and reads like a romantic love story and a historical fiction novel. When Sam opens the trunk and pulls out items, we follow Grace back to 1934, where she lives at the Wyncote House, a ladies-only establishment. The women of the house are hilarious. Although, Julia’s low self-esteem and constant complaints about not being pretty made me want to jump through the page and shake her.

As a history buff, I loved how the author used actual historical figures to interact with the fictional characters, which I love doing in my own writing. Sir John Gielgud was an English actor and theater director whose career spanned eight decades. And Peggy Ashcroft was an English stage actress who appeared in both classic and modern plays. Peggy and Gielgud’s relationship in the novel reminded me of brother and sister:

‘Our new thespian is rich, flings money like confetti at a wedding. A little flattery will grant me artistic freedom.’

‘Peg pushed my remaining ribbons aside and swiveled to face Mr. Gieldgud. ‘How rich?’

‘I knew that was all you heard.’

Wendy Waters, Fields of Grace

The author also gives us updates on Hitler and the pending war and where the world stood on women’s rights at the time.

Some parts were so fun I found myself reading some of the lines aloud as if I was in a play. Here is a funny exchange between Peggy and Grace about a handsome man named Dashiell Tanner, who has just replaced another actor:

‘I think he has talent, don’t you?’

‘No.’

‘He’s incredibly handsome.’

‘He’s incredibly arrogant.’

‘So, you’re not in love with him?’

‘Do I sound like I’m in love with him?’

Wendy Waters, Fields of Grace

You will learn the significance of this exchange when you read the book.

The story goes back and forth from past to present. I was worried about getting lost, but the author did this so well it was not confusing at all.

My only criticism is the book is very long, and it might be too much for readers with not a lot of time on their hands. (It took me a while to finish myself). Otherwise, I found Fields of Grace to be an exciting and entertaining read. 

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

You Can Pick up Your Copy of Fields of Grace on Amazon