Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Writer's Megaphone shouts out author, entrepreneur and humanitarian, Emlyn DeGannes

The media has been guilty of reporting news that may be disconcerting, heartbreaking if not downright shocking.  We are reminded that we live in a imperfect society.  We are also reminded that the depths of the human spirit can sink to all time lows, and just when we think that it can't sink any lower, we will receive a report that proves that indeed it can.

I use this platform as a means to give a little bit of exposure to authors, poets and entrepreneurs that might otherwise not have the opportunity to let the literary community know about their work.  I use this forum to bring a 'human' side to the people of the industry because I know that it is very much needed.

Today, I bring to you author, entrepreneur and humanitarian, Emlyn DeGannes.  She owns a bookstore located in Claymont, Delaware that goes by the name of MeJah Books.  She is also the owner and proprietor of ANU Direction Publishing and it is through her own publishing company that she released her novel entitled, "Letters To Ms. Em."  It is within the pages of this work that you find that she forged an unlikely friendship with an inmate doing life in prison.  Told through a series of letters, Ms. DeGannes tells the story of 'Rainn', the inmate who admittedly made some wrong choices and is now paying dearly for them.  Please see the formal review located at the bottom of this piece.

Ms. Em

Emlyn DeGannes true passions does not lie in her publishing business nor does it reside in her writings.  Her true passions are quite visible in the work that she does in and around her community.  Her heart goes out to the disenfranchised; especially the children.  Knowing that many children didn't have a place to go to read and consequently learn, she created MeJah Books as a safe haven so that they could do the one thing that would ensure that they would have a fighting chance in a society where the rules are stacked against them.  She gave them a place to read.  I will not continue to bore you with the many accolades that I can give Ms. DeGannes; or whom some people have come to know as Ms. Em.  Instead, I will let her tell you who she is and what she is about!

JLW:   Would you mind telling the readership the history behind your book, "Letters to Ms. Em?"

EG: The history behind my book “Letters to Ms. Em” can take one down many different roads in life.  The book tells of a young man’s this case, a misguided choice; the broken family structure, a topic you wrote so vividly about in your novel “Bruthas” showing the lifeline of civilization; the loss of a life because of his misguided choice; a life sentence in prison, accepting his responsibility, designing his rehabilitation plan for redemption.  Along the way he was given a new family which further brought about his transformation and led him to a new way of living; living with compassion and love and experiencing the rewards which were love and respect of his children and many others who were touched by his poems and letters to me.

JLW:  You are known in the Wilmington, Delaware area as the local humanitarian.  What are some of the outreach efforts that you have participated in and what impact has it had on you?

EG:  Some of my outreach efforts in the city of Wilmington, Delaware are too many to mention.  I live my life based on compassion and as we all know, many individuals are walking around suffering.  I encounter people every day with a challenge; at time I have the solution and at time all I am supposed to do is to listen.  I am most proud of my relationship with the younger generation-the hip hop generation.  I love their energy and they need the most direction and dialogue.    I love sharing my time with the detention centers:  Ferris and Grace Cottage, I share my time with inmates from Gander Hill, Graterford prison who have requested a visit.  I also have shared five year of my life with girls from Wordsworth Treatment Facility.  I truly cannot remember all of my contributions but I will say that the time that I shared was necessary.  My work is in direct correlation to why I was placed on earth.  I am living my vocation and daily I am still discovering and sharing my talents.

JLW:  Out of all of the projects that you have undertaken, which one of them stands out first and foremost to you and why?

EG:  Out of all  the project I have undertaken, the one that stand out front and foremost is the relationship I have developed with Rainn in “Letters to Ms. Em.”  I gained a brother, a friend, a new niece and nephew; a better understanding as to how I can better help children of domestic violence; living with parent behind bars.  Most of all I understand that not all prisoners are bad people and many people are not responsible enough to break the cycle so the cycle continues.  This undertaking has also allowed me to use Rainn’s experience as a lesson to teach the younger generation about choices and to use his life experience as an intervention and prevention measure.

JLW:  What drives you? 

EG:  What drives me is the feeling I experienced when I first arrived in America at age 13.  It was the feeling of being alone amidst the opportunity my mother struggled to provide for me and my siblings.  I always wanted to do the right thing because my mother always did the right thing.  My mother was my hero and she gave me the determination to always keep it moving, no matter what.   I will forever continue the drive of compassion in honor of my Mom; it hasn’t failed me.    

JLW:  Tell us a little bit about your bookstore, "MeJah Books?"

EG:  My business MeJah Books, Inc., has been a part of my life and the community for fifteen years.  That’s a long time!  I don’t take credit for its longevity; it is the expression of the community and the many people who have found a sense of peace at the bookstore.  It is located at the Tri-State Mall in Claymont Delaware.  Check us out on the website or visit us and experience what I am talking about.  It has definite been a journey in maintaining a bookstore in a time where technology is trying to “kick us to the curb” but it is so much better to have a conversation with a friendly face than a hand held device.  This is what MeJah Books stands for: community, communication, literacy, sharing, service, diversity, culture and of course laughter, along with a cup of tea or coffee.  What more can you ask for? 

To learn more about MeJah Books, please visit the website at:

To read the formal review of 'Letters To Ms. Em' click on the link below:

~J.L. Whitehead



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Writer's Megaphone shouts out author Roxie H.

"How Far Would You Go For The Ring?"

I remember the scene in "The Color Purple" where the character Ms. Sofia gets married to Harpo.  After they were pronounced husband and wife, rather than kiss her husband, Sofia turns to her family and friends and says, "I's married now!"  Back then, and has it has been for generations afterwards, the goal for some women has been to get married and have some children.  For some, it was simply to get married.

Forward wind to the present and you'll find that the idea of marriage may have fallen by the wayside and what's in it's place is simple co-habitation.  Terms like "wifey" have become commonplace and the idea of traditional marriage is something that may be in the cards for some, but instead of it being in the immediate plans of the couple, it is pushed to the far back that it may not be reached at all.

In "How Far Would You Go For The Ring?" author Roxie H. pushes the envelope and takes you into the sad world of a woman who lacked so much self-esteem that she was willing to endure anything to ensure that she came first in her man's life.  She didn't even seem to be worried about fidelity...just as long as the man came home to her.  I had to ask the author some questions that would help me understand the mindset of a woman that would allow so much to be done to her, while simultaneously inflicting her own set of pain in the wake of the poor choices she has made.

JLW:  You mentioned that there was an non-fictional element to your character Candice.  Would you care to elaborate?

RH:  Yes, I am Candice. I lived the life of a woman who endured the abuse, betrayal and manipulation for the sake of loving a man. My self-esteem and self worth was the lowest it has ever been in my life. I lived and breathed what ever my ex wanted from me. I sacrificed my being to one day aspire to be his wife.

Author Roxie H. (Left Side)
JLW:  Having walked in Candice's shoes (at least to a certain degree), what advice would you give to women that currently face the same situation as Candice?
RH:  Some women invest many years in a relationship with a man feeling a sense of obligation that she should be the one they marry.  He will not get better after you become his wife.  Love yourself as hard as you love him and in doing so, you will see your value.  The continued cheating, verbal and financial abuse is not worth the ring.

Really, what value does the ring have when you are crying every night?  You are humiliated amongst your friends and family because they know he is a cheat, liar, beater and manipulator.  Most women who have read my book come back and tell me they could identify themselves in some part of Candice’s life.  They don’t want to be a Candice and they don’t want to love a Champ.  It is easier to recognize bad decisions and choices in others besides ourselves.

I wrote the book in the hopes that women will see just how much we abuse ourselves in loving these types of men.  Begin to love and respect yourself and others will have to do the same.  It starts with your ladies.  You are worthy to be loved; not used.
JLW:  So now that you've written your first book, what is in next for Roxie H?
RH:  I enjoy writing. I am currently writing my sophomore novel, "Sitting on the Pew". Also I am working on the sequel to How Far Will You Go For the Ring?  My readers want to know what happens next for Candice.  I am a motivational and public speaker. I plan to continue to tell my story and give words of encouragement to women. I speak about knowing your worth and empowering women.
JLW:   How hard was it for you to transition yourself into the literary world and what advice would you give new authors?
RH:  It is hard to get into the literary world. You need a mentor to assist you with the process. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to travel the journey through typing the first word to your book to holding the finished book in your hand. Invest in a good editor. It is the most expensive service to get your book to print. It is also the most important one.
JLW:  If there was one thing that you could change in the literary industry, what would it be?
RH: It is my belief writers are under paid professionals. I would change the compensation for the professionals in the literary industry. 

To learn more about author Roxie H., please visit her website listed below:
~ J.L. Whitehead

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Best Friend by J.L. Whitehead

The rain falls in gentle pellets, tapping my window pane.
It reminds me of you - echoing in my heart how lonely I am.
The place across the room where you used to sit is painfully empty,
Who knew that losing something so precious could reverberate a quiet so loudly?

I remember running on the beach with you,
riding up the coast with the wind tossing you in glee.
You had a perpetual smile, encased in deep brown eyes;
and I knew that you loved me unconditionally.

I could always count on you, knowing you had my back,
which is why I cared for you as deeply as I did.
Not a day went by when I didn't say, 'I love you.'
And you didn't have to say a word because they were said through eyes so deep...
eyes that truly saw me.

Sometimes I can still hear the patter of your feet.
And my heart breaks all over again because you aren't really here.
And as the rain continues to fall from darkened skies,
I think how someone could hit you, then leave you.

How could someone take away my best friend,
and shatter my world without a backward glance?
I buried you with saddened eyes and tear-stained cheeks,
with your favorite toy - your favorite blanket - your favorite collar.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Writer's Megaphone shouts out author Andre Carter

At any given time, you can go into any bookstore in the country and find a book that is designed to help you to be a better you.  These books, commonly known as self-help or advice books are presented with the intention of providing direction to someone who may need directing...helping them to achieve a sense of peace and self-accomplishment that may allude them in everyday living.  I've read some of these books, implemented some of their strategies; and admittedly some of the advice paid off while others fell flat.  Men don't normally read self-help books (at least not in broad daylight) because it goes against the nature of a man.  To admit that he needs help or guidance in any given situation lends credence to him perhaps not being strong enough to handle his business.

Maybe that is part of the problem with men all along.  We don't know when to reach out for help when we need it.  We have to be strong two-four-seven, not show any signs of weakness even when circumstances may put us in the position where we may have to.

Author Andre Carter has written a book that will hopefully address issues that face men on an everyday basis.  His book entitled, "The Man-ual" was written with the intention of opening the eys of men across the country to help us to be better at what we should already be...and that is leaders, husbands, fathers, nurturers and providers.

JLW:  Would you tell the readership about your book and how you hope it will impact our community?

AC:  The Man-ual is a book designed to alleviate the average mistakes made in common relationships.  By alleviating those mistakes in relationships that occur, you can expect a lower divorce rate, a lower rate of childhood pregnancies and a lower high school drop out rate due to broken homes.  The Man-ual will teach men how to bring back the spark that earned their mate's attention and affections.

JLW: Who is your intended target audience and why?

AC:  My target audience is men; married and single.
JLW:   In your opinion, what is the one thing that is hurting our community respectively, and what would you suggest as a means to change it?

AC:  Education and the lack of it is what is hurting our community.  Children having children hurt our community.  A child doesn't know how to be an adult because they haven't been one.  Yet they are stuck with making adult decisions when it comes to raising a child.  If you decided to go back to school, would you want your teacher to be a child?  Children teaching children is the on going vicious cycle in our black communities.  The disease is called Teen Pregnancy.  The cure is The Man-ual...The Relationship Manual Created Just For Men.  The Man-ual provides men with the education needed to make smarter choices when choosing a mate.  Therefore, relationships last longer. The percentage of divorce and broken homes drop.  With both parents in the home raising the children, there should be a drop in teen pregnancy as well as a drop in the high school drop out rate.
JLW:  What possessed you to write a book such as this?

AC:  I wrote The Man-ual...The Relationship Manual Created Just For Men because I, myself have made a lot of relationship mistakes and thought that I should pass on what I learned from my experiences.  Knowledge is to be shared, not hidden.

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

AC:  "Say No To Less Than 7 Figures In Real Estate" is my next book.  This book will train real estate agents to be successful from their first year in business.

Author Andre Carter

To find out more about Mr. Carter and his work, check out the contact information below: - Book link for Kindle - Soft Cover Book Link

Mr. Andre Carter (Author)
(516) 457-7946

Saturday, August 3, 2013

"Blurred Lines" by J.L. Whitehead

You were all legs and deep brown eyes
Chocolate skin so inviting that if I were a room away, I could taste you.
Your braids cascaded over your shoulders like a midnight waterfall,
and as I looked at my pale hands, I thought, "She could never want me."

"They would never understand," I thought to myself
"I know my family." I looked in the mirror, my eyes slightly upturned.
But when you're near me, I melt like butter on a pavement in July.
I want to kiss your lips, hold your hand, and gaze into eyes the color of the sky,
and forget for a moment what my Asian parents have taught me.

Lying on my back, looking up at the ceiling with a slight smile painted on my lips...
I loved you deeply, bringing you to the brink of tears.
You wrapped yourself around me with raven hair flowing over my pillows.
Supple butter almond skin so soft, pressed tightly against rigid midnight muscle,
until I burst into you for the third time, lost in a flurry of Latin words.

My father fixed my veil, and then folded me into his arms.
Strands of my flaming red hair caressed my cheek, and I can't stop crying.
Lines that had separated us - compartmentalizing us into neighborhoods have been blurred.
Now I only see you, my African King, who will love and cherish me.
Loving all past hurts away, successfully blurring lines.

J.L. Whitehead

Written July 17 and 18, 2013

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