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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Our Conversations with Bestselling author Miasha

Over the past few years her name has graced some of the hottest titles published as urban lit. This bestselling author has already released six full-length novels and participated in an anthology with some of the biggest names in the industry. On top of all of her success as a writer, in 2009 she saw her first book SECRET SOCIETY brought to life as a stage play and her latest novel was the first of its kind to be featured in Elle Magazine. All of this, and she hasn't even celebrated her 30th birthday. With the respect she has garnered and the national recognition her work has received, she need go by only one name: Miasha.

We recently caught up with her to talk about her life, her success and how she is able to balance everything that she has going on from day to day.

Miasha, thank you for taking out time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. First of all, for our readers that may just now be learning about you, how would you describe who Miasha is?
Thank you for the interview. I'm the bestselling author of five novels, just released my sixth one (Chaster)...I'm a wife, mother... a little of everything.

You have experienced tremendous success over the past few years, and it seems like part of that success is that it is really a family affair for you. Is that true?I'm really blessed. I really couldn't ask for a better support system in my family. My husband has been great from the beginning, and my extended family has really been helpful when it comes to my boys. They are able to keep them for us which allow us to do what I need to do for the business.

When you look at what you have done already, is there any surprise for you?You know, since I was young I saw that I was going to be successful, but I didn't know it would come at this rate. Again, I am very thankful.

I have read and heard different interviews with you over your career, and you always seem to be very appreciative of what you have. What keeps you grounded?I'm definitely very much into God and family, and the two keep me grounded. I've always been a humble person, plus I come from humble beginnings so I think everything I've been through in life has shaped who I am today. Regardless of what comes in the future for the good or otherwise I'm always going to be who I am.

When someone reads a book or story by Miasha they can always expect to find a strong story and strong female characters. Is it important for you to portray women in a certain way?Women come in all different sizes, shapes and so on so there is no one way to portray a woman. You have stories for all kinds, regardless of if it is good or bad. For me personally what I write comes from my own experiences or what I've been around. I just write from my heart.

What do you hope your sons learn about the way women are to be treated?I'm really proud of the mother that I am. I didn't grow up with a mother, so I have to be the greatest role model. When they grow up I hope they will look at the way I am and the way their father treats me, and see that as a way they should see all women.

Congrats on all of your success including the release of your sixth novel CHASER and the screen play. If our readers want to find out more about you, where would you direct them?They can find out everything about me and what I'm up to by going to www.miasha.com.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TAKE TEN: Our Interview with Author Shelley Seale

TAKE TEN: Author Shelley Seale

Author Shelley Seale is using her love of travel to not only find enjoyment across the world but also bring attention to problems that she sees taking place along the way. A native of Dallas, Texas, she has written a powerful book called THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE (Invisible Children of India). Conversations Book Club chose the book as its Book of the Month for August 2009 (see www.thebestbookclub.info.) The author took out time from her busy schedule to talk with us about the project, the role of her family in her life and what she hopes you get from learning of her research.

Shelley, first of all, congrats on the release of your book THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE (Invisible Children of India). It is a powerful read. Before we get into the book and the message you send the world through it, I want to talk a little about you. When did you first realize you had a love of writing?
I have read since I can remember, and my love of stories and reading is what evolved naturally into my own desire to create stories. I loved writing since I was a kid – as a child I used to go to my grandmother's nursing home and listen to resident's stories, and then I would go home and make little books about their stories. Kind of dorky, but I really always loved to write.

When it comes to books, is that something your family was into as well or just yourself?
No one in my family is nearly as much of a bookworm as I am. But when I was little, I was the first child and also the first grandchild on both sides of the family. So I got a lot of undivided attention in my first few years, and my mom and both sets of grandparents read to me a LOT. So really, that was what created my love of reading. It was an incredible gift.

Since I mentioned your family, Shelley, I guess this is as good a place as any to ask about your soft spot for children, especially those who seem to be less fortunate. Why do you think you are interested in making a difference in their lives when so many would just turn the other way?
Yes, again I think that this originally stemmed from my family. When I was in junior high school my parents became foster parents, and we began taking babies into our home who were being put up for adoption. Through the years more than fifty children lived in our home. In fact, when I was a senior in high school my parents adopted my little sister Katie, who had been one of the foster children with us. So the knowledge that not all children had loving homes or parents was known to me from an early age, and I grew up being interested in children's rights and advocacy. Besides these children in India that the book is about, I have also volunteered here at home through the years with Child Protective Services, teen mentoring centers, and CASA which provides advocates for children removed from their homes due to abuse. And both of my sisters work today for non-profits as well; one for a foster agency and one for Planned Parenthood.

To read the entire interview, visit this link: http://tinyurl.com/lmgk8k. Shelley Seale will be our guest on Conversations LIVE! Radio this Friday (August 28, 2009) @ 12p.m. CST (1p.m. EST/10a.m. PT). Listen to the interview at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/conversationslive.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our Conversation with Booker T. Mattison, author of UNSIGNED HYPE

There are few people who have achieved the success of Booker T. Mattison and managed to remain as humble and appreciative as he is. He is the author of the novel UNSIGNED HYPE as well as a filmmaker who wrote the screenplay for and directed the film adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's "The Gilded Six Bits," which aired on Showtime. His films have been screened at the Smithsonian Institute, the Library of Congress, the Directors Guild of America , and Harvard University . Music videos that he has written and directed have aired on BET, MTV Europe, and the Gospel Music Channel.

Mattison's novel UNSIGNED HYPE has been chosen as the Book of the Month for the Hip Hop and Books Club during September 2009. ( Listen to author Booker T. Mattison's recent interview with Conversations LIVE! Radio
here.)

In this discussion he talks about the parallel's between himself and the main character Tory, how he views success in his own life and what he hopes his children remember about him and the work he has created.



Thank you, Booker T., for taking out the time to talk with us today. Before we talk about your debut novel UNSIGNED HYPE I want to talk about you. How would you describe who Booker T. Mattison is?

I am an author and filmmaker, but more importantly I am a professional husband and father.

You have been busy working in music and even film. What led you to writing the book?
Believe it or not, the opportunity to write this book kind of fell in my lap. A publisher friend of my literary agent asked her if she could find a story with a teenaged black male protagonist that wasn't all about sex, violence and drugs. My agent asked me if I could write it because all of her other writers are women. Even though we didn't wind up going with that publisher, once the story was birthed it was ready to find an audience.

Is reading something that you enjoyed growing up?
I have always enjoyed reading. I'm thankful that my mother and father emphasized the importance of reading, and education in general. It's difficult to develop an appreciation for books if you're not introduced to them at a young age.

You happened to weave together a story where the characters dealt with their own personal demons as well as external forces. What led to your writing this story?
Since I'm a former rapper, producer and ex-knuckle head, the story flowed out of many of my own personal experiences. I think that's why the characters in the book resonate with so many people. Essentially, each character in the book represents an aspect of my life or a particular part of my personality.

You talk about being a proud father. When we talked on Conversations LIVE! Radio not too long ago I didn't ask you about the legacy you wanted to leave for your children. When they read the book, what do you hope they think of when it comes to who wrote it?
I want them to remember that their father was a man of integrity, a man of character and a man who embraced truth no matter what the cost. I also want them to recognize the importance of using their God given talents to promote a point of view that is consistent with how God views the world.

Read the entire interview here: http://authorstaketen.blogspot.com/2009/08/take-ten-author-booker-t-mattison.html

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Aug. 17-21, 2009: This week on Conversations LIVE! Radio

When movers and shakers of the arts and entertainment world have something to say to you, they say it to Conversations LIVE! Radio. For over six years, host Cyrus A. Webb has been talking to some of the biggest names and introducing rising stars that are on the brink of making it big. This week's interviews and discussions are no different. (Listen to any of the interviews live at show-time at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/conversationslive or via podcast later at http://www.conversationsliveradio.com .)

MONDAY, AUGUST 17, 2009 @ 12p.m. CST (1p.m. EST/10a.m PT) --- Members of the Award-winning R&B Group Day 26 discuss their new video album "FOREVER IN YOUR EYES"


MONDAY, AUGUST 17, 2009 @ 7p.m. CST (8p.m. EST/5p.m. PT) --- Recording artists KPC make their first appearance to talk life, music and debut their new single "Wildin' Out"


TUESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2009 @ 12p.m. CST (1p.m. EST/10a.m. PT) --- Mogul/Activist Dante' Chestnut talks literacy and debut new music by Cellow ("College Chick")


TUESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2009 @ 7p.m. CST (8p.m. EST/5p.m. PT) --- The Real-Life Billie Jean" Theresa Gonsalves talks about Michael Jackson, her writing career and what's next for her


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19, 2009 @ 8:30a.m. CST (9:30a.m. EST/6:30a.m. PT) --- Award-winning Journalist/Author Jack Ford discusses his novel THE OSIRIS ALLIANCE


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19, 2009 @ 12p.m. CST (1p.m. EST/10a.m. PT) --- Author/Activist Mahonek discusses history and his book MR. PRESIDENT AFRICA AWAITS YOU


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19, 2009 @ 7p.m. CST (8p.m. EST/5p.m. PT) --- Radio & Television show host/Author/Reality Show Star Abiola Abrams talks life, success and what's next for her


THURSDAY, AUGUST 20, 2009 @ 12p.m. CST (1p.m. EST/10a.m. PT) --- Actor/Author/Recording artist Tray Chaney (Poot from HBO's The Wire) discusses his career, literacy and his new music


THURSDAY, AUGUST 20, 2009 @ 7p.m. CST (8p.m. EST/5p.m. PT) --- PANEL DISCUSSION: C. A. Webb Presents "Racial Pride: A Thin Line Between Love & Hate" The group will discuss is there anything wrong with loving your own race, and when does such love cross over into something more divisive and dangerous. We will be taking your calls!



For more information about the above roster, contact Webb at cawebb4@juno.com or 601.896.5616. Know someone who should be a guest or if you have something you want to share, let him know! Past shows can be downloaded for free at www.conversationsliveradio.com.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Literary Soldiers Wage War Against Illiteracy

There's a powerful movement taking place across the world, and the battle that is ensuing involves everyone. It is a fight against illiteracy. One of the Generals in the war is Mississippi native 34 year-old multi-media personality Cyrus A. Webb (seen below with bestselling author Darden North at a book discussion in Waldenbooks).

"With so much going on in the world it's easy to forget how many lives are being affected by not being able to read and write well," says Webb, but he is determined to use the various platforms he is given to not only keep the awareness on literacy but bring others together to do the same.

In May 2009, ABC News reported that about 30 million Americans have trouble reading and writing. "There is no way I can reach all the people that need help," Webb admits, "but I am taking advantage of every opportunity to not only mention the problem but network with individuals who care about being a part of the solution."

Since 1999, Webb (seen below with a classroom and associates at Pearl High School in Mississippi) has been working in classrooms promoting visual and literary art and made his services available to non-profit organizations and others who wish to shine an all-important light on the subject and importance of reading. "Mississippi has had one of the highest rates for illiteracy, teenage pregnancy, obesity and high school drop-outs for a number of years," says Webb. "This is something that has to be addressed on a daily bases. Those who have been given a voice have to use it in order to make a difference and impact the lives of as many as they can."

Through his radio and television show, bi-monthly Conversations Magazine, the numerous chapters of the Conversations Book Club, his blog as well as articles and commentaries, he is introducing the world to authors of various genres and interests as well as discussing ways that those who are readers and non-readers can come together and join what Webb refers to as an "addiction to books."

He realizes that there is no one way to address the problem. "We all like different things," Webb says, "so it is our job as literary soldiers to find ways in order to reach those who are in need of help." Publications such as Crunk Magazine, Hype Magazine, S.T.I.L.L. Magazine and Nu South Magazines have also enlisted into the service to promote the importance of reading.


In order to tie all of his literary components together, Webb (seen above during a book discussion of Platinum-selling recording artist Corey "C-Murder" Miller's bestselling novel DEATH AROUND THE CORNER at Barnes & Noble) created the "Do The Write Thang" Campaign (see http://www.dothewritethang.com) Thus far Webb has joined with allies in over 30 states, including bestselling and up-and-coming authors, celebrities in tv and radio as well as recognizable names and faces in sports(including Tray Cheney of HBO's The Wire, Derrick Hargrove of MTV 50 CENT: The Money & The Power, Korto Momolu of Bravo's Project Runway, numerous cast members from VH1's I WANT TO WORK FOR DIDDY, Recording artists Nappy Roots and more). They are hosting and supporting what are called "Reading Parties" that provide networking for book lovers but also discussions as to how we can work together in order to help others. Webb is also hosting a series of town-hall style meetings in-person and through his radio show addressing issues that everyone are dealing with, offering solutions along the way.

One of the most popular tools that Webb is utilizing is a touring event called "Art, Books & Beats" (http://www.artbooksandbeats.com) During these events those involved in the various forms of the arts can come together with musicians and authors/booksellers to create an atmosphere that will attract a variety of groups that may not otherwise come together. Admission is free to these events. HunidRacks Energy Drink based out of California is the official energy drink of the literary campaign.

In order to cover travel, lodging and venue costs during this literary warfare, Webb is donating 50% of his artwork sales, 100% of his Hip Hop & Books compilation cd sales as well as 100% of his organization's newest Word Search book (available beginning Friday, August 7, 2009) to help take ocaer of the expenses. A website has also been setup using Give Forward in Chicago, IL (www.giveforward.org/thewritestuff).

For more information about the war Cyrus A. Webb and his associates are waging against illiteracy, contact Webb at cawebb4@juno.com or 601.896.5616. Also visit http://www.dothewritethang.com.