Sunday, November 13, 2011

Black/Smith Consulting is proud to announce the 2nd Annual Big Stage Talent Challenge! If you think you've got what it takes to become the next superstar singer or rapper, here is your chance to show and prove. Let us put our money where your talent is!

In a concentrated effort to mobilize and challenge Detroit's talented dreamers to raise the bar as it relates to their performance presentation while reaching for the stars, Black/Smith Consulting has made it their mission to reignite the community's interest in rallying to champion our hometown talent by rekindling the passion for what Motown has always celebrated: Real music.

On December 17, 2011, fifteen contestants will perform before an audience of their peers, and industry judges, at the Boll Family YMCA in Detroit for a chance to win $500 in cash, a professional photo shoot, an artist development package from Star Factory and a 30 day consultation package courtesy of Black/Smith Consulting.

This is a no holds barred competition. Contestants will be judged on their stage presence, vocal ability, costume and crowd participation by a panel of industry judges who will select three contestants to advance into a final round that will be judged Apollo-style by the audience to determine who will emerge victorious as the winner of the Big Stage Talent Challenge.

The Big Stage Talent Challenge is open to Michigan singers and rappers of all ages. Auditions will be held at Star Factory, located at 13305 Capital in Oak Park, on November 26 at 4 p.m. The competition will take place at the Boll Family YMCA located at 1401 Broadway, Detroit from 6 p.m.-10 p.m.

Applicants must be Michigan residents and should be prepared to perform a two minute selection with no profanity or explicit lyrics. The registration fee per group is $20.

For more information please contact Brandon Smith or Janaya Black at 313-451-4272 or email

Monday, October 3, 2011

Movie Review: Courageous

I'm going to start this out by saying that every father in America needs to go see the movie Courageous.  This film, starring, written and directed by Alex Kendrick, was a beautifully presented as a clear call to action for men to step up and fulfill their duties as fathers and leaders of their communities and households.

The story follows the lives of five friends, four of which are police officers, who are all fathers dealing with various issues in their personal lives.  When tragedy befalls one of the five, it forces him to take a close look at the kind of father he has been to his children. Bothered by the fact that he only felt that he had been "good enough" by his own standards, he begins to seek out God's standards and is heavily convicted by what he finds in God's word as it relates to a father's duties.

Driven by the desire to be a better father, he creates a resolution and presents it to his friends so that they will hold him accountable to be the man that he promises to become in his resolution.  After reading the document the other men decide to join him in his pledge.

This action sets off a chain of events that tests the faith and resolve of all the men, while forcing them to deal with their personal issues of loss, abandonment, forgiveness, financial hardship, guilt and integrity.

When this movie ended, there was not a dry eye in the house.  Alex Kendrick did a masterful job of tackling the position of fatherhood from every angle imaginable.  Whether it was the "baby daddy" who was running from responsibility, the effects of growing up in a fatherless home, the father who's in the home but spends no time with his situation was left untouched.

Real talk, Courageous is a movie that is definitely worthy of Oscar attention because it is the best movie I've seen all year.  The story's message is one of critical importance to our society and the acting was outstanding. And to see a movie that openly proclaims God's Word and message of salvation through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is nothing short of a blessing.

This one gets ten very enthusiastic spirit-fingers! Do not walk, but run to go see and support Courageous at the theater! Let Hollywood know that there is nowhere that God's voice can't reach!


If you want to see more faith-based movies and theaters, please considered supporting Someone To Watch Over Me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

1-on-1 With Khary Turner, Co-Author of Surrendered: The Rise, Fall and Surrender of Kwame Kilpatrick

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Khary Kimani Turner for Shop Talk Magazine with respect to his recent project in which he co-authored the book Surrendered: The Rise, Fall and Surrender of Kwame Kilpatrick. 

This book has been on everyone's hot list, so I'm excited to present this interview. Enjoy!

Khary Kimani Turner: Storyteller At Large

The name Khary Kimani Turner is synonymous with hip hop journalism at its best. With everything from music and celebrities to social consciousness and hip hop culture, this man’s ability to skillfully craft the written word to stir emotions, provoke thought and open dialog has garnered him national renown.

After having been a featured writer in notable publications such as The Source, XXL, Vibe, Rap Pages, Metro Times, The Detroit News and Ambassador, this year Turner embarked upon one of the most pivotal projects of his career by co-authoring Surrendered: The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick, the highly anticipated tell-all book about the scandal surrounding the Kilpatrick Administration, with former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

In the midst of the media frenzy surrounding the book, Shop Talk got a chance to chop it up with Turner to find out how it all came about.

Shop Talk: Give us some background about yourself. 

Khary Turner: I’m from Detroit; born on Lesure off Fenkell. Raised on the east side; North Park, near Miller Middle School. I remember all of my schools from Gesu/Golightly/Duffield in elementary, to Miller Middle School and UD Jesuit High. Graduated in ’88, earned my bachelors from Xavier University in Cincinnati in ’92, and my Masters last year.

ST: Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

KT: I found hip hop in 1984 and started emceeing. Never stopped; I rhyme to this day. Through hip hop I discovered poetry and short stories in middle school, and opinion columns with my high school and college papers.

The true inspiration was the reaction I got whenever someone read or heard my work. I was a reserved pre-teen, and the written word drew me out and into a more social lifestyle. I found acceptance and uniqueness in that space. It became my thing because while other kids around me liked to rap, or write, or sing, or speak, no one seemed able to do all of those things well. So I committed early on to becoming that man. I’m still driven by that goal.

ST:  How did the opportunity for you to work with Kwame Kilpatrick on his new book come about?

KT: Full disclosure: my wife is a relative of the Kilpatrick family. Through her, I’ve known the former Mayor since 1995. During the summer of 2008, when his scandal began to pique, I was entrenched in my career as a journalist and was also nurturing a desire to write books. Specifically, I wanted to focus on controversial memoirs with some redemptive value. That desire comes from being a black man and feeling like I was born a suspect to so many American communities.

Naturally, the family connection was providential. Mayor Kilpatrick knew me well, and I was close enough to know that another side of his story existed; one that wasn’t being told. So I approached him at a wedding, a bit out of order but, again, providentially. I was just at the right place, at the right time, with the right idea. And I’m thankful that he trusted me with his life story.

ST: How did the experience affect you being that you were in Detroit as his case played out in the media?

KT: It was tough because, in that situation your subject needs to trust you implicitly before anything gets written. To gain his trust, I just spent time around his immediate family [and] got to know them. That time affected me tremendously because I saw his sons respond when forced to grow up quickly. They manned up at age 12, especially when Kwame went away. That floored me. Carlita became the true hero, in my opinion, because she remained upright through the entire saga, and she’s always been brutally honest with me. You’ll never get me to question her spirit.

As a writer, I saw a level of ugliness in the city that I just can’t be proud of.  Journalists have long had thankless jobs, and unfortunately, today’s journalists are groomed in an age of biased media and sensationalism. Before the Joint Operating Agreement, almost 20 years ago, newspapers’ goals were to tell stories. In today’s corporate-driven media climate the job is to sell headlines because headlines sell papers and gain ratings, and sales satisfy and attract advertisers.

So, the journalist is too often forced to compromise and historic storylines lose their balance. I think that happened with Kwame Kilpatrick, and the public suffered because we were positioned to judge the man, and by default the city of Detroit, without having a balanced account on the public record.  That affected my resolve positively because I won’t live in a community that mutes anyone’s voice, but I won’t run.  And so, I committed to helping tell that story.  It was just that important to me.

ST: Did your experience working with him and being able to hear the story from him personally change your view on his situation? How so and did you find it hard to be objective?

KT: Good question.  Kind of. I went in thinking there’s another side to this story; I came out knowing, and thinking, hey, maybe the world isn’t flat after all.

As for being objective, that wasn’t my job. I was co-author, not a reporter, and I was there to help Kwame tell his story. To that end, I maintained my respect for the fact that he was the mayor.  I only call him by his first name because he asked me to, and he and I talked for weeks and weeks prior to writing establishing along the way that I had to be free to challenge him in order for this story to be told successfully. I did that and, to his credit, he never ducked a question. Not once.

ST: What is the biggest thing that you want people to walk away with after reading the book?

KT: Respect for the fact that every story has two sides and there’s nothing you can do about it. You just don’t know everything until you know everything, and to pass judgment based on half the data is to set yourself up to be wrong.

Two, I want people to know that, regardless of your personal politics or preferences, this is a good book. It’s well written, well thought out and told well by two native Detroiters. I’m very proud of that.

ST: What other projects do you have in the works?

KT: My blog, at, is called Stay Low, Keep Movin’, named after my band Black Bottom Collective’s first album. I write entries weekly.

I also want to speak publicly. My passion points are media imaging and men’s health. Too many of my peers were lost or sickened young. We in hip hop and the hood are doing a poor job of taking care of ourselves. Proof. Dilla. Blade. Baatin. Bugz. Get better, Hex! I wish these men weren’t examples because I respect them, but I want them to know that I, for one, get the message. I’m heading to the gym now.

Of course, there’s the next book, but I won’t jinx that by going into specifics.

Surrendered: The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick is now available on, Truth Bookstore, Shrine of the Black Madonna and God’s World.  For more information on Kary Kimani Turner please visit, Facebook at Khary Kimani Turner, or follow him on Twitter at

For more information visit or follow me on Twitter at

Monday, August 29, 2011

Movie Review: Warrior

When I got the invitation to go to a private screening for the movie Warrior I was really excited because of the fact that it is a faith-based movie. I had no idea what it was about, all I knew was that I was going because it was in the genre that I wholeheartedly support. Little did I know how impactful that 90 minute movie would be.

Warrior is kind of a modern day Rocky meets The Prodical Son in the story of a family torn apart by alcoholism and abuse.  Paddy Conlon (played by Nick Nolte), who was once an abusive alcoholic, is now a born-again Christian who is trying to live for the Lord. In the process of taking his road to sobriety day by day, he dreams of the day that his family will be reunited; but unfortunately his two sons, Brendan (played by Joel Edgerton) and Tommy (played by Tom Hardy), want nothing to do with him.

Tommy is filled with a bitterness and hatred toward his father and brother over the loss of his mother and the hardship they faced after fleeing from an abusive home and his brother's perceived abandonment, while Brendan is bitter toward his father for the abuse and feeling like he was never able to live up to his father's expectations as a fighter.

As fate would have it, the three of them meet up in the most unlikely circumstances when they all find themselves at the Sparta cage fighting tournament to compete for a $5 million prize.

While the movie does have some harsh language and very aggressive fighting scenes (as the premise of the competition is mixed martial arts), the story paints a very real picture of the state of the family unit today.

What I really liked about it was that it didn't paint the fairy-tale picture with the happy ending where everybody lives happily ever after.  It showed the realness of the hurt that children suffer at the hands of their parents' selfish decisions and how the road to forgiveness and recovery is not always an easy one.

It also touched on the struggles of marriage and how husbands and wives are supposed to work together through the hard times instead of just opting for divorce when times get tough.

Warrior is definitely a movie that will touch your heart and keep you on the edge of your seat. The message is a strong one of forgiveness, self reflection and unconditional love. While the PG-13 rating should definitely be taken to heart when considering taking young ones, this movie is definitely worth the trip to the movie theater when it comes on out Sept 9.

Please go see it and support faith-based films.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Christians: Will You Stand?

Harry Potter (the series), Twilight (the series), Wizards of Waverly Place, True Blood, Vampire Diaries are just a few names of the dozens of movies and TV shows that are currently dominating the big and small screens.

What do they all have in common? They all, in some shape form or fashion, deal with the occult and go to great lengths to glamorize it all.  Our children are intrigued by magic and smitten with vampires and werewolves, as if these things are to be emulated and revered. But Christian brothers and sisters, I ask you: How do we combat these messages when we see it at every turn?

These images permeate the so-called "children's" channels, like Disney and Nickelodeon, and then channels like The Cartoon Network air what you may as well call soft porn during prime-time. And now to top it all off, they are trying to make Bert and Ernie get married!

People, the minds of our young people are at stake and it's time for Christians to take a stand. The messages of sex, violence, homosexuality and the occult are at an all time high and show no signs of slowing down, so we must arm ourselves with the Word of God in order to effectively combat the enemy. 

Since the Bible says that we should be doers of the Word, and not hearers only Black-Smith Enterprises, Goldline Films and Global pictures have teamed up to begin being the change we want to see by producing movies that are dedicated to help expanding the kingdom, starting with Someone To Watch Over Me.

Due to the fact that independent films, especially those focused on God, don't always receive the support that is required to ensure global success, our methods must be more grass roots in approach.  So, we are asking our community to stand with us as we make strides to embark upon this huge undertaking.

The Indiegogo campaign we have created will allow you, the viewers, to show the powers-that-be that you are ready for change; that you are ready to get back to the place where families can enjoy wholesome entertainment once again. Entertainment that showcases core values that are not laced with hidden agendas that are contrary to God's word.

By donating you are actively becoming a part of this project and will be instrumental in helping us bring it to the big screen. So please check out the video and share it with your friends and family, and if you can please make a donation.

Our voices must be heard and we can't do it alone.  So in closing I will leave you with this question: Will you stand with us? 

Peace, blessing and love to you and thank you for reading!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Movie Review: The Help

I have two words for the movie The Help: Awe and some!

I'm not sure about the book, as I haven't had the pleasure of reading it yet, but this movie had all the characteristics of a timeless classic.

Set in the early 1960's, The Help follows the lives of 3 women who are all facing various life issues in the midst of racial turmoil in southern Mississippi.

The lives of two black maids, Aibileen and Minny, are turned upside down when Skeeter, a white journalist from a southern aristocrat family, decides that she wants to write a story about life in the south from the black perspective in the midst of Civil Rights movement.

Faced with the imminent danger of participating in such a project, Aibileen (played by Viola Davis) and Minny (played by Octavia Spencer) begin to understand the importance of allowing their voices to be heard and ultimately find the courage to join forces with Skeeter (played by Emma Stone). 

Meanwhile, Hilly Holbrook (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), an ornery, pompous socialite, does everything in her power to keep the blacks in "their place" and ruin the lives of anyone who tries to get in her way.

What I loved about this movie is that it had a very strong message that was well presented through a great storyline.  The characters were believable and moving, the scenes played out magnificently, and the movie possessed all of the key elements: drama, humor and substance.

The Help is a great movie for the entire family to see.  Not only is there tremendous entertainment value, but there are also a lot of serious discussion points that parents and children alike can explore together.

All in all, this movie gets another enthusiastic 10 spirit-fingers! Go see it and enjoy.

If you'd like to see more positive movies in theaters please check out Someone To Watch Over Me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes- Spoiler Alert

Honestly, the Rise of the Planet of the Apes was not my first choice when I planned my recent trip to the movies but you know what they say...everything happens for a reason.  Needless to say, the 105 minutes I spent in the overly air-conditioned movie theater was well worth the ticket price.

This modern day reprise of the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes was an awesome display of cinematic ingenuity. With a starring lineup that includes John Lithgow, James Franco, Freida Pinto and an ape with more swagger than I've seen in most humans, this movie is sure to join the ranks of the likes of Avatar.

Will Rodman (played by Franco) is a scientist who is working on a genetic experiment, which is being tested on apes, that he believes will be the cure for Alzheimer's and all he needs is for the powers-to-be to give the green light for funding.  He is right on the brink of a success until all hell breaks loose and one of the apes runs amuck during a crucial presentation for the board of directors.

From that point on, Rodman's research is shut down and his boss demands that all of the lab apes be put down. Unwilling to give the only hope he has of finding a cure for the illness that plagues his father (played by Lithgow), he secretly takes one of the infant test apes home with him and continues his research on his own.

As the young ape, which he names Ceasar, progresses Rodman finds that his intelligence exceeds his wildest expectations. As Ceasar grows, he becomes not only more intelligent but more human in nature, and as he becomes more human in nature he begins to see just how different he is from other humans when he really starts to interact with the world around him.

Then the plot thickens after Ceasar tries to protect the people he has come to know as his family and is then caged like an animal, and then the city of San Fransico quickly learns the consequences of mistreating and pissing off a genetically enhanced primate.

Enter the guns, spears, explosions and such.

Long story short, I loved this movie! The acting and emotion of apes was phenomenal! The humans did a good job too, but the shear execution of how the animals were portrayed made this viewing experience a real treat.

I also liked the fact that there wasn't a lot of unnecessary violence and profanity. So Rise of the Planet of the Apes gets an enthusiastic 10 spirit-fingers. Go see it and take the family.

Don't forget to look out for my daughter's new book "The Lonely Kid" which hits stores August 31st!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Step Your Game Up! Rules of Engagement for the "Boys"

If I hear a grown man yell "Hey, baby!" at me one more time I am going to have a BF, for real.

Aside from the fact that I am a happily married woman, it's 2011 and that line is tired, lame, disrespectful and as a grown man if it's the only thing you can think to say, then you deserve to be single.

Heaven forbid some of these guys should venture to pull up their pants, brush their hair and approach a "woman" with a simple phrase like "Hello, how are you doing today?" or "Excuse me, Ms..."

In the 21st century where information is literally at your finger tips, there is no excuse for this type of ignorant behavior to still be in existence...I mean be for real. 

Due to the fact that this has happened far too many times in the past few months for my liking, I have decided to offer up some advice for those of the male persuasion, the boys not men, who basically just don't have a clue.

1. DO NOT yell, "Hey, baby!" or any other disrespectful cat-call to any woman at any time...ever and expect a serious, non-confrontational reaction or stupid look. Don't get angry at her because if you were dumb enough to put yourself out there like that, you deserve it. 

Instead of bombarding females with tired lines that only make you look immature, try approaching a "lady" (keyword here being lady) like you have some home-training and open up the dialog with some good conversation. You may be surprised at how far being charming and interesting can get you.

2. RESPECT THE RING! If a woman tells you that she is married...keep it moving! It is so annoying to have some random dude approach you and ask if you're married and then proceed to say, "So?", "Happily?", or even worse, "So am I," after you say yes!

First of all, if I took the time to tell you I was married and didn't offer up any additional conversation that means respect my situation and either move on to some appropriate conversation or get out of my face.

Second, what kind of dog does it make you look like to be trying to push up on a married woman despite the fact that she just told you she was married?

3. PULL YOUR PANTS UP! No grown woman wants to be bothered with no wannabe thug who clearly doesn't understand the concept of a belt or accurate waist measurements.  Wearing your pants sagging to your knees really makes us wonder if it's really us you're trying to impress or if you're secretly batting for the other team. #justsaying

If you're over the age of 25, you're grown so act like it. It's time to put your big boy clothes on and get a clue. For real.

Though that's just the tip of the ice berg, those are some key first impression issues you can work on that may help you make a huge difference in your female response rating.  Try it and see.

And ladies, stop letting these guys approach you any old kind of way! If you demand respect then they have no choice but to eventually get the picture.

We know that there are a lot of men out there who do know how to treat a lady, so if this doesn't apply to you then please share it with someone you know that could benefit from it.

Until next time...holla!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Punctuality Problem? Problem.

Habitual punctuality is a condition that I am clearly in the minority with. I will readily admit that I am very meticulous when it comes to my time; and this is only because I understand that time is the one commodity that you CAN NOT GET BACK!

In my line of work, meetings are a necessity. It's just what we do.  But more often than not (90% of the time), I find myself waiting for people who are running late for appointments that they themselves have set the date and time for and I just don't understand it.

For the doctors' offices that set appointments and then leave you sitting in the lobby for an hour past your appointment time, why not just give your clients a window of say 9-5 and take them on a first come first serve basis? After all, if they are late or miss an appointment you don't hold them up on charging that cancellation fee!

And for the the wedding parties that leave their guests sitting for hours waiting for the wedding ceremony or reception to start...don't even get me started on that.

Then there are the people that you have to tell that everything starts 2 hours earlier than it actually starts just so they'll make it somewhere near the "on time" mark; and we all know people like that.

Ergo, I present this post to let those who think it's cool to be "fashionably" late for everything that its very irritating to say the least and here's why:

1. It displays a lack of professionalism.

In my managerial capacity, I have had a total of 5 people show up late for job interviews. Can you guess what happened to those 5 individuals? Their resumes were thrown in the garbage and they were politely thanked for their time and told that they would not be considered for the job due to their lack of professionalism with being unable to show up to their INTERVIEW on time. 

Seriously, how do you show up late for a job interview and still expect to get hired? Who does that? 

If you are meeting with someone in a business capacity for the first time, your first impression is usually going to be the lasting one. Showing up on time says, "I'm ready to work!" or "I'm ready to get the job done!" Whereas showing up late says that you really don't take anything seriously.

2. It's rude.

Being late is rude, flat out. We all understand that sometimes things happen that can prevent one from being on time, but this should be the exception and not the rule.

When you make a habit of being late, it tells the person that is left waiting for you that you don't respect them or their time.  It's also a non-verbal statement that they are on your dime and whatever it is that has to be done can wait until you feel like showing up.

Did you really mean it that way? Probably not, but if you really cared enough to say otherwise you have would have planned better to account for unforeseen circumstances, traffic and whatever else you could blame your tardiness on.

Being on time is not a race thing and it's not a gender thing.  It's a respect thing. If making time deadlines isn't your thing and you're dealing with people who hold that in high regard then it's up to you to figure out a system that won't have people wanting to bite your head off when you finally do show up. 

As for me, if you decide to show up late, and more than 15 minutes late at that...don't be surprised if I'm gone when you get there.  Just saying...time is money. #keepitmoving

Ok, I'm done ranting now. As you were! :-) 

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Self-Publishing Lessons Learned

Since self-publishing my first book in 2004 I have learned A LOT.   Some of those lessons were nice cushy lessons that didn't cost me anything but time, while others were a serious pain in the pocketbook. Pocketbook...who says that? Anyway, I digress.

While publishing a book isn't rocket-science, it is still a very time-consuming and sometimes intimidating process. Since I have been blessed with a wonderful network of very knowledgeable people who were willing to take the time to share pivotal information with me, I have decided to share few key things I've learned with you.

1. Learn your craft.

Just because you like to read doesn't automatically make you a good writer. Not everyone was born to be a writer.  As astonishing as that revelation is, it's true. Not everyone is gifted with a firm grasp of how to articulate the written word, so therefore it is imperative to study the craft and learn your strengths and weaknesses. This goes for the gifted, as well as those who were destined to work a little harder at it. Things like knowing how to put sentences together, formulate a storyline, use proper tense and punctuation are all very important things to know if you plan to write a book.

2. Finish the book.

Finishing your book is the most important part of any book project, because lets face it: If you don't have a finished book to sell, then you're pretty much wasting your time, as well as everyone else's.  Writing a book is more than a notion, and it takes time, dedication and discipline to do. So before you start going around telling your friends, family and everyone else who will listen that you're publishing a book, get the book finished first.

3. Get your book edited.

After I finished my first book I was so excited about the fact that I had finally finished it, all I wanted to do was to get it out for the world to see. I wasn't working with a lot of money at the time, so I figured I would cut corners by editing the book myself and then have some of my friends take a second glance at it for me.  WRONG ANSWER! 

After releasing the first run of my book, which was chocked full of typo's, grammatical and punctuation errors, I was forced to endure the humiliation of receiving reviews that pegged my work as having the potential of being a great story if it didn't have so many editing mishaps as a distraction for the reader to overcome. 

As a writer, it's always a bad idea to try to edit your own work simply because you're not going to catch all of your own mistakes because your brain is only going to see what you "meant" to write. And as far as having your friends do "glance overs" for you, they may not understand the written word as well as you think they do.

So after you finally finish your manuscript, make it a point to find and hire a good editor who understands your vision for your story and has a proven track record with respect to editing.  This is not something that should ever be compromised. This is your work, so be prepared to invest in it. Your readers deserve it.

4. Pick a great cover. 

The cover of your book is your reader's first introduction to your book. For the hundreds, thousands or even millions of people that you want to buy your book, you have to give them a reason to pick it up in the first place. This too was a lesson that I had to learn the hard way.

The cover for my first book, The Breaking Point, was symbolic for me. I wanted it to be metaphoric for the story's subject matter, so it was a picture of shattered glass with a knife behind it with red undertones. It was very cerebral and thought-provoking in my mind, so when a marketing expert told me that I needed to change my cover to be more appealing I was thoroughly offended.

Old Cover
So, I ignored her advice because after all what did she know? My cover was special and I felt that what was in between the front and back cover was much more important that what was on the outside. I was so confident that my readers would just get it, because after my mind, I was a great writer.  As a result I spent a lot more time explaining myself, and my story, to potential readers than I did selling books.

Needless to say, a year later I took her up on her advice and, lo-and-behold, my book started selling itself because people would just walk by and pick it up to look at the cover and would then flip it over to read the back. The new cover gave me what the marketing expert referred to as "shelf appeal".

Revised Cover
 When designing your cover, don't plan to be cheap. Do your research and honestly ask yourself if this wasn't your book, would you pick it up off the shelf?

5. Know your market.

When selling anything, it's always important to know who you are selling to. It's a simple matter of the timeless principal of "supply and demand". If you study, learn and understand who is demanding your product and how to effectively supply that demand, then you will be successful in your endeavors. If you don't, you won't. It's that simple.

Marketing your book effectively takes imagination, drive and commitment.  Imagination to come up with creative ways to make and keep your book relative to your audience; drive to push yourself to find and keep up with the latest and most effective marketing tactics and to educate yourself on all aspects of the craft; and the commitment to see it through to reach and exceed your goals.

In the grand scheme of things, these five principals are the meat and potatoes of the self-publishing journey. If you are able to diligently and aggressively approach them the rest will be a piece of cake!

Check out the Prison Chronicles Series on Kindle or paperback!

Visit us at or follow me on Twitter at

Till Death...Do Us Part is now available for rent on Amazon!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Show Review: Single Ladies

I'm sure by now we have all bore witness to VH1's newest show Single Ladies starring Stacy Dash, according to it's 1.8 million viewers for the past 2 episodes, and formulated some sort of opinion as to whether or not this show will sink or swim. As for me, I've held off for two weeks and now I'm going to go ahead and jump right in.

First, I am going to lead off with the positive: I love LisaRaye. I think I'm a little biased because I met her and found her to be a very classy woman, with a great head on her shoulders. Stacey Dash is the perfect eye-candy because, lets face it, the woman is gorgeous and apparently doesn't have the ability to age, and I also have to give it up to the producers of the show for putting together an incredibly beautiful cast. 

Now that we've gotten the formalities out of the way...

Single Ladies is basically a 2011 version of Girlfriends that is set in Atlanta and explores all of the same scenarios: a core group of female friends in a big city who are trying to find or keep "the one".  Not only has this show premise been done to death, the acting on this show is un-good. Yes, I meant to say that...un-good. 

While I understand that this production is providing work for black actors, as a viewer I still want to be entertained; and when I say entertained I mean I want to get lost in the story because the actors have pulled me into it and I am able to experience it to the point that I get irritated when the commercials interrupt. With this show it was quite to the contrary in the way that I actually welcomed the commercials as a distraction from the flaccid delivery of the main characters. 

The celebrity cameos are cool, the colorful backdrops are definitely a plus, but all the set dressing in the world can't overshadow bad acting.

There's still a lot of season left and I personally think they can pull it off. As with Girlfriends, in which the acting was also not that great when the show first started, I have high hopes for Single Ladies. I think the show definitely has potential and I am willing to hang in there for at least a few more episodes to cheer them on.  

 Here's to keeping hope alive Single Ladies!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Movie Review: Jumping the Broom

Ok, I finally went to see Jumping the Broom today and I have to say that it was a very pleasant "me time" outing.

This movie was produced by T.D. Jakes and starred Paula Patton, Laz Alonzo, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Mike Epps and a host of others, in a story about two star-crossed lovers who, despite their vastly different backgrounds, just want to get married.

While the premise of this film is nothing we haven't seen before, the way in which the story was played out brought a bit of freshness to the whole scenario. A beautiful privileged young woman meets the handsome young man of her dreams that she has been praying to God for, and he not only has the debonaire looks and brains to match, but he is also the sensitive caring type who has pulled himself up by the bootstraps and has a lil something, something of his own to make a girl feel financially secure.

Enter the families and cue the drama.

The wedding is set, the families meet and fur begins that fly. Through it all, the audience sees how fragile relationships can be and why it's important for couples to learn how to cleave to one another and not allow outside influences to come in between them; be it the question of being good enough, a mother's inability to let go of her son or earth-shattering family secrets. 

Paula Patton and Laz Alonzo had great chemistry as the leading couple Sabrina and Jason; Angela Bassett was her typical amazing self as Sabrina's mother; Loretta Devine was the perfect overbearing mother; Mike Epps was Mike Epps playing somebody else; Tasha Smith was cool (P.S. it was really nice to see her in a movie where she was playing the typical A.B.W.); and Lil Romeo was...lets just say he's allllll grown up now and looking GOOD. 

So all in all I gave Jumping the Broom a solid B+. It's a great date movie and I'm always a big fan of movies that are positive and uplifting. This is a good film to support at the theater so that we can see more like it in the future.


Saw a trailer for a movie called Courageous that is about men being better fathers to their children and I was very touched by that 60 second presentation. So much so that I was moved to tears. I think every man in the world should go see this movie just to support the message that fatherhood is more than a title. So please be on the look out for the new movie Courageous that comes out in September.

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Till Death...Do Us Part now available for rental or purchase on Amazon!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reality Check: Grown-up Kids

While I consider myself to be a person who advocates for your people, today I got a staggering reality check when I visited with some students at a local high school in my area.

As I sat down to engage these young men and women in conversation about their lives, how certain outside factors affect them, and how they view things, I quickly came to realization that while these kids are much smarter than we give them credit for, they are pretty much grown and it's not because they want to be; it's because they don't have a choice! They are basically raising themselves.

I mean some of the stories I heard really touched my heart. Many of them spoke of situations taking place in their lives that people in their 30's have never had to deal with and then they have to turn around and deal with trying to finish school and all the drama that comes with that: peer pressure, jealously, trying fitting in, questioning their sexuality and the list goes on. And the saddest part about it all was that 90% of them voiced the fact that all they really wanted in the midst of it all was someone to they could talk to about the things they were experiencing and guidance about how to deal with it all.

It's a given that parents have to work in order to provide for their families, and we all know that every household is not a two parent household. But the reality of the situation is that your kids did not ask to be here. You brought them into this world so it is up to you to take care of them, and it takes more than just feeding and clothing to raise a child. Just like you when you were young, your child wants to know that you love and care about them.

As a parent, I recognize the fact that my teenage child is not going to tell me everything even though I feel that we have a very good relationship, but that still doesn't stop me from asking questions. I ask my kids how their day at school was, I watch their body language when they come in from school to see if anything seems to be bothering them, and my husband and I regularly check the school's online system to make sure that all homework is being turned in and the work is getting done in class.

Is that inconvenient? Yes! But guess what? That's called being a parent! It's a shame that some parents don't feel compelled to take a more active role in their childrens' lives and then they wonder why they are out in the streets acting crazy. They are trying to get your attention!

How does your child get suspended for five days and you don't know anything about it? Why is your child flunking every class and yet you've never been to a parent-teacher conference? How does that happen?

People, we need to re-evaluate our priorities. What do we have to look forward to with a generation of kids raised by television? We all know that's not anything that we should willingly look forward to. Now is the time to labor and invest in the future of your kids, because if you don' assured you will pay for it in heartache later.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book Review: Beautiful Rage: The Break of Dawn

Check out the book review author Monique Mensah wrote for my book Beautiful Rage: The Break of Dawn:

Beautiful Rage: The Break of Dawn is a twisted tale of maniacal revenge. The third installment in the Prison Chronicles series explores the tragic, but triumphant tale of Dawn Langston. Reporter, Vanessa Jackson, gives Dawn the rare opportunity to tell her side of the story, granting her the gift of redemption and giving her a voice she otherwise may have never been afforded.

When Dawn’s sister is kidnapped and brutally murdered by a heartless and narcissistic drug dealer, Dawn becomes obsessed with redemption. Following the adage, “Revenge is a dish better served cold,” she sets out to execute a convoluted, diabolical plan to make her sister’s killer pay with more than just his life. Keeping her plan a secret is a hefty duty that becomes even more complicated when the detective who worked her sister’s case becomes a love interest and a dangerous distraction. Dawn is continuously faced with the task of setting her morals and personal life aside in order to wreak havoc on the one man that took the most important person from her life and tore her family to pieces.

With Beautiful Rage: The Break of Dawn, author Janaya Black plunges readers into the dark and sinister mind of a woman gone mad with rage. There is no time to catch your breath as each scene is depicted with a straight forward and no nonsense illustration that keeps you turning the pages until the inevitable is finally revealed. In engaging myself in this quick and entertaining read, I found that I was questioning my own morals and feeling a tinge of guilt for rooting Dawn on during her sadistic conquest. We would all like to believe that we wouldn’t do something as heinous as taking the law into our own hands, but there is a thin line between raging anger and insanity.

This book will leave you with the question, “What would you do avenge the death of the person you love the most?” This book is not for the faint of heart as I found some parts a little difficult to swallow. But I was just too enthralled to turn away. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, hard-hitting adrenaline rush, you’ve found it with Beautiful Rage: The Break of Dawn. Check it out, but only if you think you can handle it.

This review was provided by:
Monique D. Mensah

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wake Up Call

When I saw this video a lot of different things went through my mind all at the same time.

First I was angry and then I was livid because once again the people who are supposed to represent us in office have failed miserably.  Then after I reminded myself that I didn't actually vote for governor this time around, so I in essence in directly contributed to Synder being in office, I felt silly.  After that passed, I was sad because I realized that at the end of the day all of these things must come to pass whether we like it or not. Why? Because God said it would and He can do anything but lie.

Over the course of the past few months I have been studying the book of Revelation and Isaiah and everything that we could ever want to know about what's going on right now and why it's happening is right there in black and white. And the tripped out part is that the worst is still yet to come.

Nevertheless, we should not be discouraged because if we know Christ as our personal savior we don't have to fear what is coming.  Yet we are still told that if we resist the devil he will flee and in the midst of what seems to be hopeless situations, it is our responsibility to still do what we're supposed to do. Despite Synder's proven disregard for the wants and needs of the constituents, in favor of his rich friends, this is still a democracy, and history has shown that when people unite together for a mighty cause then the powers-that-be have no choice but to listen.

So, I for one will be writing some letters and making a conscious effort to be more astute when it comes to political matters instead of turning an apathetic eye. Even though I honestly don't believe that the system works for the "common man", the fact still remains that if I don't at least make an attempt to do something about it then far be it for me to sit back and complain. What will you do?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Review: Str8 Laced

First off, let me start this off by saying that I have finally encountered an author who made me squirm; and I have read, and written, some disturbing and gruesome books, but Str8 Laced by Pheare Alexander was a book that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.

In this story, Dr. Jocelyn Reynolds was abducted by a woman named McClaine Henry, who is a twisted sociopath with a criminally insane agenda that is out of this world. After being held hostage, tortured and sexually abused for 8 weeks at the  hands of a monster with no conscious whatsoever, Jocelyn finds herself back at home with her loving husband and family.

Fast forward to nine years later and Jocelyn has managed to move past her abduction and settle back into some sense of normalcy; that is until her best friend Karen is abducted and the killer begins sending gruesome clues about the motive behind the madness as a sick and twisted cry for help.

In this book, Alexander paints a very vivid and horrifying picture of what goes on in the mind of a sociopath in painstaking detail. Once I picked this book up, I found myself being torn between wanting to throw it in a corner and never pick it up again for fear of finding out what would happen next and being unable to tear my eyes away from the pages because I had to know what was going to happen next.

Aside from a few inconsistencies with some of the details leading to the jaw-dropping revelation, Str8 Laced was definitely a page turner that will have you staying up till all hours of the night to finish it and you will most certainly walk away from the experience viewing people in a whole new light.

Keep an eye out for Pheare Alexander, she's definitely an author to watch.

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Check out the Prison Chronicles Series on Kindle! 

Friday, February 18, 2011

What's Wrong With This Picture:

Aside from the fact that she was wearing latex from head-to-toe, the more disturbing issue was that she showed up on Good Morning America wearing facial horns. 0_o

Now, we all know that Lady Gaga is known for her shock antics but at the end of the day you have to ask yourself why she goes to the great lengths to get people's attention. She calls herself an artist and activist, but an activist for what?

It seems like every time we see Lady Gaga reinvent herself, the occult symbolism becomes more and more apparent in her persona. So parents, as your kids continue to become more and more infatuated with this woman and her music you have to ask yourself:  What are they opening themselves up to?

Pay attention! This artistic show of "individuality" is not as innocent as they try to make it seem. The music and images that are put out in media are getting darker and darker and it will only get worse. And it's not just her, the industry is filled with it. So it is up to you, Christian parents, to be the champions in your household for what you allow your children to pollute their minds with. Censorship is not wrong, especially when it comes to protecting the minds and innocence of your kids. Contrary to popular belief they don't need to see everything that's on TV.

The Bible says, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15. In other words, study the truth so that you can recognize a lie when it's presented to you.

That is all for now. Be blessed and lets keep each other lifted up in prayer. It's the strongest weapon we have.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ginuwine: Introducing Elgin

Check out my interview with Ginuwine that will be featured in this month's issue of Shop Talk Magazine!

Ginuwine: Introducing Elgin
By Janaya Black

Heartthrob crooner Ginuwine is back with his seventh studio album simply titled Elgin. From pony riding on his first album The Bachelor to A Man's Thoughts and everything else in between, Ginuwine has proven that he is much more than a pretty face and this time he's got his serious "grown man" on.

With two new singles climbing the charts, he is still grinding hard, putting in work to show the wannabes how it's supposed to be done.

Shop Talk got a chance to catch up with him in the midst of his busy promo tour schedule to talk about the new album and how he balances life, love, family and music.

Shop Talk: First I want to talk about your new album "Elgin". What are your thoughts about that and how excited are you about it?

Ginuwine: The new CD, it's my number seven CD and it's called Elgin, and it's Bryan-Michael Cox on it, we have another producer who's a newcomer out of St. Louis, [and] we have Diane Warren who I actually had the opportunity of working with on my second CD. She did a song called Superhuman. Bryan-Michael Cox is the executive producer, like I said, he pushed it out and St. Nick who actually did the first single, What Could Have Been. So yeah, it's out Feb 15.

ST: So you didn't get to team up with Missy or Timbaland for any of this album?

Ginuwine: No, I didn't get to team up with them this time. We actually... our schedules didn't really allow us to do that, and they was doing a lot of other things and then, you know, it just didn't work out. So hopefully next time I'll be able to work with them, but I talk to Missy a lot. 

ST: From Ginuwine the "Bachelor" to now with your album "Elgin", the husband, the father, describe how your music has made that transition?

Ginuwine: Music has made the transition by just me growing, you know, being the way that I was. I still get urged from some dudes to do songs like the old sounds and everything, but for the most part I stick with my strengths which has been love ballads. And that's pretty much what I stick with and [on] this CD there's no shortage of that.

ST: How do you balance being a family man with being perceived as a sort of sex symbol?

Ginuwine: You know what, I always just do my job. I don't really think about all the sex symbol stuff. I mean, I'll take it if that's what it is. You know what I'm saying? But I don't really focus on that. You know, when I'm home, I'm home. When I'm on the road, I do my job and that strengthens my balance, really. It's just me taking care of my home first because that's what's most important to me is my house, and that's my wife and my kids.

ST: You were just here in Detroit for the Church Girl play, what other projects do you have in the works?

Ginuwine: Actually, we're doing another show of Church Girl...and then we have the CD coming, and I'm working on a book called My Ride, basically my life in the business, and that's pretty much it. I'm trying to start writing movies and stuff like that because the music business is, you know...I'm getting a little older and everybody can't stick around. So I'm trying to make it to ten CDs and then I'm going to go ahead and move on and manage people or try to get into something else.

ST: You mentioned that you're about to do a book about your life in the business, knowing what you know now what would you tell your daughters if they told you they wanted to be in the business and how would that differ from what you would tell your sons?

Ginuwine: I would tell them both, the girls and the boys, the same thing. Just to have integrity when you go out here and make sure of that because the things that you do will follow you for the rest of your life. We live in an information age now, and I mean that any and everything that you do anybody can find out. So you have to know that the things you do now they're going to follow you, so make the right decisions, and have the right people around you to help you make the right decisions. And what is your vision? I wouldn't want them to go into this just saying I want some money and I want to party, or whatever, you've got to say what's your vision because it's not promised to everybody.

ST: I know that you're a philanthropist and that you and your wife have a foundation. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Ginuwine: Yes, S.P.R.U.C.E is an acronym for Special People Requiring Unique Care Equally and we help to house mentally disabled people and help them to live the life that they deserve to live. A lot of things that we help them do they wouldn't normally do, like go out bowling, go to shows, go to baseball games, and stuff like that. So we're just trying to make their lives a little more easier because a lot of people think that they don't know and they do know, and they do realize things. So it's up to us as individuals to at least try to help and do our part, and I chose to work with the mentally disabled and try to help them make their lives a little better.

Elgin will be in stores everywhere on February 15. For more on Ginuwine and his upcoming concerts and appearances you can find him at Facebook: Elgin Ginuwine or follow him on Twitter at

Janaya Black is a Detroit-based freelance writer. For more information or to contact visit or follow on Twitter at

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Movie Review: Mooz-lum

Detroit native Qasim Basir has struck a major chord with his new film Mooz-lum starring Evan Ross, Nia Long, Danny Glover and Roger Guenveur Smith.

In this film a young Tariq (played by Evan Ross) struggles with his identity as a Muslim as he transitions into college, and adulthood, while being surrounded by Christian and secular values in the aftermath of the 911 terrorist attacks.

As the son of a devout practicing Muslim, Tariq had always found himself at a cross roads when it came to pleasing his father (played by Roger Guevenur Smith) and exploring his curiosity about the outside world.

When the opportunity finally comes for Tariq to choose to stand for his faith or give in to the pressure of fitting in, his family and friends find themselves in a very difficult situation when they are all forced to deal with startling truths.

Mooz-lum is a film that is based on writer and director Qasim Basir's personal experience and presents a very real portrayal of the persecution Muslims have endured, especially since the 911 terrorist attacks.

The story was very captivating and the cast did an awesome job of bringing it to life. Evan Ross showed a lot of range in the leading role, while Roger Gueveur Smith was very convincing in his role as Hassan, the devout Muslim father.

Nia long also had a standout performance as Safiyah, Tariq's mother. Though we are all used to seeing Long play the sexy role, it was refreshing to see her get to step out of the type-cast pigeon hole to take on a more meaningful and character driven part.

For me, from the perspective of being a Christian, it was very interesting to see this movie because sometimes we as Christians we tend to forget that others are also unfairly persecuted for their beliefs as well. And even though we may not all share the same beliefs as the next person, it is still not our right to attack and physically harm them. Rather we should learn to share our faith through love, open dialog and living by example.

All in all, I have to say that Mooz-lum was an excellent movie and Qasim Basir did an excellent job telling his story. After watching this man's career for a long time, it is refreshing to see that he has finally seemed to have hit his stride and I can honestly say that I am looking forward to seeing more of his work.

This film gets an enthusiastic ten spirit fingers!

Mooz-lum will be screening in ten select cities around the country and Detroit is one of them, so if you see that this movie is showing at a theater near you please go out and support it. Making movies on the independent level isn't easy, so when someone does it and does it well we should all show them the support they need to keep growing.

For more information about Mooz-lum, please visit

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Putting Forth Your Best You

Have you ever wondered why you've been going on all these interviews but haven't been getting any call backs? 

You think back and try to remember if you said the wrong thing or maybe wore the wrong outfit.  Or maybe, you just didn't exude the confidence or enthusiasm that they were looking for.

Maybe you're right in your assumptions, and then again maybe you did everything right and as it turns out you just weren't the person they needed for that position, but in any case if you can become more confident in your interviewing skills then you can put yourself in a better position to alleviate more than half of your anxieties. 

Bad interviews happen to everyone, but they don't have to happen more than once. All it takes is a commitment from you to remember a few key things and you'll be well on your way to becoming more effective in your interviews.

Due to the fact that I have interviewed a lot of different people in various capacities, and I have also been interviewed for everything ranging from jobs to promotional opportunities for my various personal projects I have been afforded the opportunity to experience being on both sides of the fence. So it is with that experience in mind that I wanted to share a few jewels with the masses.

#1- Always be on time. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, worse than being late for an interview, whether it's for a job, your album, project, or whatever...don't be late. As an interviewer, nothing would put me in a worse mood than waiting for someone who wanted something from me, yet didn't respect my time enough to arrive when they said they would. You should get in the habit of arriving to your interviews 10-15 minutes earlier. Not only does it look good, but it shows that you're serious.

#2- Always be presentable. For a job interview "conservative" is the word of the day. For the guys, a suit (preferably black or dark blue; no pastels or florescent colors) and a tie is preferred but a nice dress shirt and tie with dress slacks will do as well. For the ladies, business pant suits, skirts (below the knee) and blouses, modest earring and a sensible pair of shoes.  Unless you are actually auditioning for a rap video, don't go to a job interview looking like you just came from one.

If you are an artist, do you but keep it classy. Guys: no one wants to see your behind, underwear, etc... Ladies: try to leave something to the imagination, the person you're talking to will need to concentrate. M'kay? Thanks.

#3- Never chew gum. The only thing worse than an interviewee being late is having someone smacking on gum while they are talking to you. Fresh breath is important, so if you need to chew a piece to freshen up remember to spit it out before you begin your interview.

#4- Know your product and speak enthusiastically about it.  You are your product. If you're going an interview it's because someone wants to get to know more about you or what you're. So when you start talking about the business of you, you should always know what you're talking about and be enthusiastic about it.

If you're interviewing for a job, know your strengths and use those as your selling points. Employers want to know that you are one for the job, and if you can sell yourself to them, then in their mind you can sell anything.

If you're interviewing to promote yourself as an artist, know who are as an artist and the specifics of what it is your supposed to be promoting and be excited about it. If you're not excited about what you're doing, why should anyone else be?

These are just a few tips to help you along the way on your next interview. If you would be interested in getting more in depth comprehensive media training, Black-Smith Enterprises offers one-on-one and group sessions. To schedule your session contact us at 734-634-3151.

Check out the Prison Chronicles Series which is now available for Kindle!