Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Year of Change

I've thought long and hard before diving head first into this issue.  Initially, I thought that this would be something that I could discuss, possibly even write about without opening up too many doors that I struggled to keep locked over the years.

I don't look at myself as a victim.  I don't look at what happened to me as something so tragic that I've lost all sight of who I am or who I strive to be.  I'm still walking the walk.  I am a work in progress.

I wish I could tell you that being a survivor is full of triumphant moments and that I have a deeper understanding of myself.  To say that would be a half-truth.

The reality is that between the ages of six and fourteen, I had been the victim of child molestation.  The reality is that I had been changed emotionally and that to this day, my life reflects those changes.  I still catch glimpses of who I would have been, but I also deal with who I am now as an individual.

Much like an alcoholic who is in recovery that works their program one day at a time, as a survivor, you have to do the same.  Simply because you realize that something of extreme value was taken from you doesn't mean  that all of your problems that resulted from those encounters will be over.

You will have good and bad days.  Some days will be very easy and others you will struggle with. 

As part of initiating a much needed dialogue about this topic, I've participated in a documentary about it.  I am very candid about what took place.  I take my share of responsibility willingly.  Maybe I should be angry or hold grudges about what happened to me.  Ironically, I don't.

I had the good fortune to meet another abuse survivor when I reviewed her book entitled, "Without Permission."  Author Sharon R. Wells tells her story in the way that only she can tell it, only now, she is attempting to help others who have experienced the trauma of being violated by a predator.

2015 will be the year of change...both for myself as well as others around me.

Here is the link to the trailer of the documentary, "Without Permission."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Men Don't Talk About It!

Men Don't Talk About It!!

We're used to being protector's, providers and caregivers.  We are used to being the ones that our families come to when they need strength and protection.

Unfortunately, many of us (1-6 to be precise) have been the victims of child molestation.  We don't talk about it because it is so far removed from the roles in life that we portray.  In all of those hats that we wear, being a victim isn't one of them.

We don't talk about it because it is easier to repress and forget rather than to relive and recover.

In the course of speaking with some male survivors, I've come to realize that when something is taken from you unwillingly, your response may range from anger to indifference.  We may not understand that from the moment of that first touch, wanted or unwanted, your emotional psyche has been altered.  For heterosexual men, the emotion thrown out of whack for them may be anger.  After all, it isn't natural for a heterosexual man to sleep with another man.

But what about gay men?  If it is natural for a gay man to sleep with another man, what emotion is thrown out of whack for them?

Being an abuse survivor who admits to being gay, I've come to realize that the emotion that was compromised for me was the need for love, inclusion and acceptance.

In "45 Years of Dark" I chronicle my personal experiences from the time of my molestations ( happened more than once by more than one perpatrator) to my realization that I was a victim and that I needed to reclaim what many a gay man needs to reclaim...their sense of their true self.

It took a lot out of me to put this project together and initially, I didn't even want to write it because I didn't want to relive the darker parts of my life.  But as the title suggest, I've lived in the dark for most of  my life.  It's time to shine the light into those dark places and walk into the warmth of healing.

This book is for any gay man who knows what it is like to have their innocence compromised because of a predator.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Egotism in the Writing Industry

Every author thinks that he or she has written the next million seller.  Every author who puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) will enter the literary industry thinking that their writing talent and business savvy will take them into a different way of life.

It takes guts to begin a project and see it through to the end.  You don't know how your work will be received.  You don't know how well it will sell...and no matter what you may tell yourself, you secretly hope that you  hit lightning in a bottle and somehow propel yourself into the realm of novel-writing royalty.

Realty has a tendency to wrap you in it's cool embrace when you start to realize that the Kathryn Stockett's of the world are far and few between...that indeed, the fame that was obtained by the author mentioned previously is the exception and not the norm.

I like reading the works of my fellow authors.  It helps me keep my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the literary industry; and while I understand that the viewpoints expressed in my reviews is exclusively mine, I try to be as fair and objective as possible.  In the course of writing a review, I send out a listing of the Pros and Cons of their work; something that most people in my position don't have to do.

The problem comes when author's only want to hear the "good" but not the "bad."  Or more succinctly put, they want the praise, but don't want the constructive criticism that comes with being an author.

With that being said, here is something that I wrote in September, 2013.  In some cases and with some authors, it really is worth repeating:

Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before Entering The Writing Industry!

1No matter how good you think you work is, everyone will not like what you've written...and they aren't supposed to.

     Writing is driven by perspective, and everyone will not share yours.  No matter how many  nods of approval you get, there will always be someone that will look at your book and not give it the approval that you feel it deserves.  Take it for what it's worth.  Don't let it discourage you and move on.

2.  Read the works of others...constantly!

     Don't become so involved with your own storyline that you don't have the time or patience to read the works of others.  Overall, it will make you a better writer and it will help you keep your finger on the pulse of the works of your constituents in the industry.

3.  Don't do business with friends.

     This sounds cold, but it really isn't.  I've lost a great deal of money and had friendships tainted because we decided to go into business together.  Oftentimes, it was because the person that I went into business with couldn't deliver what they instead of giving me what I paid for, they gave me something and then hoped that for the sake of friendship, I wouldn't be too upset over the loss.  The problem is, they aren't willing to give you even a portion of your money back because in their mind, they gave you "something."  Save your time and preserve your friendship...unless you are absolutely sure that they can live up to your expectations, don't do business with friends.

4.  Make sure that whomever you decide to do business with have verifiable references and examples of their work.

     People are funny.  Many times, people that go into business for themselves are always looking for new clients.  In doing so, they may see a need in you that they believe wholeheartedly that they can fill, even if they can't.  Save yourself some time, money and aggravation by asking two important questions:  1.  Do you have examples of your work?  2.  Do you have verifiable references?  If they don't have those two things, keep it moving.  I could have saved myself so much money if I had asked those two questions before forming business relationships.

5.  Have your work proofread...and then hire a reputable editor.

     I don't have to elaborate on I?

6.  Listen to constructive criticism.

     I released the second half of my book recently.  It is currently on Amazon right now for sale.  During the upload process, I lost all of my quotation marks.  Another author pointed it out to me.  And even though I already knew it, he was bringing it to my attention not to be mean or callous, but to advise me of something that he may have thought I overlooked.  Bottom line is that he was right.  Learn to accept the criticism as well as the compliments.

7.  Promote your own work, but don't alienate your audience.

     This is hard because while you want people to know about your work, you don't want to bombard them to the point where they have no interest in it.  For instance, if you have a Facebook account and you drop people into conversations to tell them about your work, some people don't like being included in conversations that they haven't elected to participate in.  I see it all the time.  Know who your audience is and play up to them in such a way that you don't appear like the only thing of interest to you is your work...even if it's true for the moment.

8.  Be prepared to take your knocks!

     Things very rarely go as planned.  Many times, you will encounter obstacle after obstacle that will hinder you from getting you to where you are trying to get to.  It can be maddening, but it is part of the process.  For instance, when I uploaded the second installment of my book, I thought to myself, "That's it.  I'm done."  And then I took a deep breath only to find out that the my quotations marks were eliminated during the upload process and that I had to do more work to give my readership a better reading experience.  It's crazy, but I wasn't prepared for so many obstacles to block me from reaching my goal.  But they're there.  Just be ready for them.

9.   Write when your mind is clear.

      Have you ever had a bad day at work or had something personal going on but you wanted to work on your book anyway just for the sake of getting another chapter done?  I am a "mood" writer.  I can't write when I'm upset or worked up about something.  Others can.  But the ones that can find that they don't do their best work when their mind is otherwise preoccupied.  Clear your head.  Or better yet, deal with what pissed you off as best as you can before you start putting fingers to keyboard.

10.  Set aside time in this industry to write for you and only you.

       I blog and have two columns in two publications.  Most of the time, I'm writing to showcase someone elses work.  I thought by paying it forward, I could shed some light on another author that could use it and at the same time, shed some light on myself.  It doesn't always work out that way; yet I wouldn't change the way I do things...except for this:  Make sure you set aside time to write for you!  Work on your book, your poetry, your letters...anything that you can call exclusively yours.  Because sometimes at the end of the day, you are all you have.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful mothers out there who had put their children first and worked overtime to lead by example and prepare them for a sometimes harsh and unforgiving world. In 2011, I prepared a dedication to my very own mother who I treasure dearly. The words written then are more than appropriate today. Thank you Mom for all of the remembered birthdays, joyful holidays and motherly love that you have showered myself and my brothers with throughout our lifetime!

~ J.L.Whitehead


Monday, April 14, 2014

What is "Climbing to the top?"

Every author has had this thought in his or her mind when they initially embarked on creating their first published work:

"I'm going to write something so awesome that people will want to know my name.  I'll be able to make money doing what I love...and if I'm lucky, achieve celebrity status."

That's about it in a nutshell.  We've all thought it.  We've all aspired to accomplish it.  But what is the proper way to achieve it?  What is the direction of climbing to the top?  Is it the destination, journey or a combination of the two?

What happens to the millions of us who may never achieve super stardom status?  Will you be content with making a few dollars from your work?  Will you be satisfied with the journey into the literary industry or will you keep pushing until you hit pay dirt?

And I guess the only way to really answer that question is to ask yourself another one.  Why do you write in the first place?  If you are writing for profit, what is your game plan?  What is your strategy?  Who do you know in the industry that can help you to achieve your goal and if you don't know anyone, who do you intend to get to know?  Who comprises your literary network?

By now, you should know that being an author isn't about book signings and royalty fees.  It's hard work.  It's grueling and sometimes even thankless.

But the climb to the top has it's rewards as long as you educate yourself, build up a thick skin and are prepared to take your knocks.  Climbing to the top is truly in the journey...and if you're lucky, you'll pause and be able to look back at where you've come from and be proud of how high you've ascended.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Friday, March 28, 2014

Re-Thinking Writing

I've been thinking about writing lately.  As a matter of fact, I've been praying about it.  Although I've accomplished so much in this industry, at times I feel like I've hit the proverbial "glass ceiling" and no matter what I do, I can't get past it.

It's not that I don't enjoy writing.  It actually brings me a great deal of comfort when I have the time to do it.  The issue at hand is that I am taking a step back from writing to regroup, re-plan, recharge and re-form.

As I continue to live life and carve out time for my full time job, my other half, family, friends, loved ones and God, I realize that I have to allow more time to hone my craft to be the best that I can be in this industry.  Indeed, don't we all?

I smile as I say this because my other half always asks me when am I going to become rich and famous so that we can both retire.  I had to explain while laughing that we're both going to retire whether I am rich and famous or not.

But I digress, when it come to writing, I am of the mindset that different people write for different reasons.  Many of us hope to be able to carve out a living with our craft.  Others hope to gain recognition for what they love to some point, they may even hope to obtain celebrity status.  Still, some of us just love to write and will take the accolades along with the criticisms.  They will sell a book or two and still keep pushing.  I believe that I fall into the category of the latter.  But with all of that being said, I would love to be able to do what I do and make my living from that.  That is part of my objective.  Maybe this is why it has taken me so long to get to where I want to get to.

Still, I've heard that it's not so much the destination as it is the journey.  You learn about yourself and you learn about others.  But like any traveler when embarking on a journey, you get tired and you need to rest.  In my case, I need to regroup, re-plan, recharge and re-form.  Regroup to gather my bearings; re-plan to figure out my strategy; recharge to rediscover my passion and re-form to implement my plan.

I love to write.  I always have and I always will.  Giving up is NEVER an option.  Slowing down from time to time?  Yes.  But quitting?  No!

Hit me up at and share your thoughts with me!

~ J.L. Whitehead

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Writer's Megaphone shouts out author Janell

Most times, when stories are written, the interpretation of the story is left up to the readers.  Recently, I wrote a review for the novel entitled, "Spell" written by author Janell.  In addition to reading the book, I had the pleasure of sitting down with author Janell to ask her five individual questions about her work.  The Writer's Megaphone is proud to put author Janell in the spotlight, giving her a well-deserved shout out.

JLW:  Since the release of "Spell", how has this work been received?

Janell:  I've received a lot of great feedback about the book. Spell was my first thriller novel and I wasn't sure how readers would respond to a story about such a rarely discussed topic. Writing about witchcraft and religion took a lot of courage. It forced me to research ideas and explore notions that even I wasn't completely comfortable with. The answers to common questions weren't always clear, so I tried to take all that I'd learned in the research process and give it back as authentically as possible to readers through Christian fiction. Though some have reported feeling a little "creeped out" or uncomfortable at times, for the most part, readers have appreciated both the message in the story and a fresh storyline that has not been overdone. 

JLW:  Would you mind sharing some of the feedback that you have received, both pro and con?

Janell:  Most readers have reported enjoying the ending. There are some unexpected surprises in the book's final chapters that have left a lasting impression. Many readers report the fast-paced style and short chapters made it difficult to put down. People also seemed to enjoy the three character point of view which allowed each of the main players to have a voice, and prevented the "good guys" from looking too good and the "bad guy" from being all bad. The biggest con would people readers wanting more. I originally did not plan for a sequel to the book, but right before its release, I realized that readers weren't going to be happy if I didn't continue the story. Not that there isn't an ending, because I do end the book with a resolution, but like any good thriller, readers are left contemplating the future of the characters. This is a con for me because like many authors, a sequel is not always the next book we want to write. Sometimes the characters get on our nerves too and we're ready to wash our hands of them. Nevertheless, Spell 2 is in the works.

JLW: Without divulging the entire plot of the book, what is the message that you hope your readers will take away from the storyline that you presented?

Janell:  With Spell, I tried not to tell the reader what to think about witchcraft, but to understand that it's dangerous and nothing to play with. In the story, I raise the question of can Christians be impacted by witchcraft. In some ways, the book provides an answer to this, and in other ways, it does not. My goal was not to give an exact answer, but to stir up conversations and awareness, exploring the possibilities instead. I want readers to examine their perceptions of evil and spiritual warfare, and to realize that while good is working on your behalf, evil is also working to kill, steal, and destroy.

JLW:  How difficult was it for you to create a storyline that some would say would be a complete departure from your normal writing style genre?

Janell:  It was both difficult and easy. It was easy because writing thrillers allows me to be more creative and use my imagination much more so than writing reality-based novels. I enjoyed coming up with the most insane ideas and watching them develop over the course of the story. Alternatively, it was difficult because I had to face new challenges such as finding new readers for this change of genre, persuading my old readership to follow me to the "dark side" (LOL), maintaining a fast-paced storyline which is different from my usually medium-paced style, and dealing with the spiritual attacks that come with writing spiritually-oriented books. No one told me that when you write about spiritual warfare, you find yourself smack dab in the midst of it. That wasn't much fun, but I survived it and learned a lot in the process.

JLW: Will there be a sequel to "Spell" or are you done working with these characters?

Janell:  As I previously stated, there is a sequel to Spell. Spell is actually a trilogy that consists of the initial novel, the sequel, Spell 2, and the prequel, Spell 3. My hope is release both Spell 2 and 3 in 2015.

Review of Spell as printed in The Examiner:

~ J.L. Whitehead

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review Writing 101

Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing the works of one of my constituents in the writing industry.  After reading her work carefully, I phoned her and we chatted at length about her project during which I cited the high points of her work.

When I sat down to write the formal review, I gave the work four out of five stars, but as my fingers touched the keyboard, I realized that something was missing for me regarding her storyline, and it wasn't until I started writing the review that I realized what it was.

The review itself was not what I would have considered poor by any means.  As a matter of fact, I actually wrote that the work was good.  But within my review, I pointed out something that from my perspective wasn't there for me as a reader which may have come across as a negative.

After speaking with the author, I realized that the mistake that was made was that I strayed from my formula for putting reviews together.  Normally, I email the pros and cons to the author regarding  what I enjoyed about the work as well as what I didn't particularly care for...whether it be the editing, character development or interpretation of plot.  In this instance, I didn't send an email.  Instead, we talked.

Creating the email allows me time to let the full story marinate in my mind so that I can be as objective as possible when I write the review, and it allows the author the time to prepare for what is ultimately going to be written about his or her work.  Hence, they know what I am going to write but not necessarily what the exact language is that I am going to use.  No one will be blindsided.

For as long as I have been writing reviews, this formula has worked for me because it allowed me to be able to say what I truly thought about the author's work without my words coming across as if I were attacking him or her.

Moving forward, this will not happen again because I realize that part of the review writing process is to be completely transparent.  The author will be ready to accept what you write (even if the review is less than stellar), as long they know what you are writing is honest and fair.

As I move forward into 2014 the reviews that I will write will have several components to them including the most important piece which is the "Pros and Cons" email.  The review will appear on The Examiner and possibly CNN.  I will also host the Q&A section on The Writer's Megaphone platform which will include the link to the article and promote it accordingly to grant further exposure.  This, of course, will be at my discretion.  Some works will appear on this site, some will just have the review...but all of this is is done with the intention of granting exposure to authors using the social media tools that I have at my disposal.

There is so much talent in the literary industry and much of that talent is well deserving of having as much exposure as possible.  This is something that I enjoy doing and that as long as it is still enjoyable, I will continue to do since I do this on my own time.

Look for features that will showcase the talents of writers that you've heard of and some that you haven't.  The best is yet to come!

And while you're at it, take a look at my new website! It was in great need of an overhaul!

Keep Writing!

~ J.L. Whitehead

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Paying your dues in the Writing Industry

I used to think of "paying your dues" as an expression that indicated that you've invested the appropriate amount of time in a craft and now you were ready for the rewards.  I used to think that it meant that you had to make the right amount of connections, taking perhaps years instead of months.

I used to think this.

But I've realized that as I write this, paying your dues means so much more than that.  Paying your dues isn't based on how many books that you did or did not sell.  That's a very small equation of the process to say the least.

I believe that paying your dues is time invested, networks trusted and failed, friendships gained and lost in addition to the proverbial gauge of monies made.

I took a risk when I entered this industry many years ago.  I had a manuscript that was picked up by a publisher who initially thought the world of me and my work.  We talked endlessly about the plot shifts and changes; so much so that I came away feeling that I truly had a best seller on my hands.  It ended with the the dissolution of our business relationship.  But  in our brief business dealings, I gained knowledge which fueled me to move forward and establish my own company to publish my own books.  Initially, I thought that I would want to publish other authors, and while I may consider that option in the future, that isn't the avenue that I wish to pursue currently.

Everyday brings a different experience for me.  Every week, there is something new to learn.  Every month, I am meeting someone new who may add to my thought process in what direction to take my business and my work.  That is the norm for me now, but it wasn't always the case.

Paying your dues isn't a destination, it's a journey.  You learn your industry, hone your craft, build connections...but above all, you keep writing.

I've lost money.  Some of my friendships have been permanently tainted.  There are business relationships that I used to have that no longer exist.  But through it all, I'm still learning because at the end of the day, this is what you are supposed to do.  It is all part of the paying your dues process.

Branding yourself is also part of the process.  Who are you?  What do you want to be known for?  Are you a publisher?  If you aren't and you aspire to be one, why?  Are you a writer?  If so, what do you write and why?  What do you hope to become in this industry?  Besides money, what do you hope to gain?  How do you want people to remember you?  These are all questions that you need to be asking yourself.  I asked myself those questions.  And at least once a year, I still do.  Goals and reasons change.  Sometimes, you aren't even aware of when they do.

Keep learning, because in addition to the vast amounts of talent that saturate our industry, there is also a wealth of knowledge.  I've found out that paying your dues, never really stops.  It just changes from time to time with the knowledge and experience that you gain.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Quote:  "I believe that paying your dues is time invested, networks trusted and failed, friendships gained and lost in addition to the proverbial gauge of monies made."

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Writer's Megaphone shouts out author Jay S. Lewis

As I start off 2014 with my first author to put on a positive blast, I am reminded of why I do what I do.  I know that some authors will reach out to me for purposes of getting whatever media exposure that they can.  I know that some will distort who they are and paint an image that may be far from the truth.  After all, in this industry, it isn't who you truly are but how the world perceives you that matters.  However, I am a firm believer that the truth will always come out in the end.  It's this thought that comforts me if I find out later that I've made a mistake and promoted someone who perhaps didn't deserve it initially and then made it worse by painting a false image of themselves to perhaps make themselves likable if not downright acceptable in the public eye.

Still, The Writer's Megaphone was set up to put people on a positive blast.  Tearing them down is not my game plan.  It never was and it never will be.

I don't know much about author Jay S. Lewis.  He reached out to me initially to have us post reviews of each others work.  As an author, I would love more than anything to receive an honest, favorable review.  The keyword here being honest.  So, what I offered author Jay S. Lewis is a spot on the Writer's Megaphone because I truly believe in paying it forward.  Everyone deserves the opportunity to have positive attention drawn to themselves.  I also stated that I would be more than happy to review his work and post a write up in my column on The Examiner and on CNN iReport.  In order for me to post a review, I would have to read it first.

Mr. Lewis is a young author who is both bright and ambitious.  This I could tell from the brief interaction that I shared with him.  He has a book out currently entitled, "Jamaican American Thug Drama."  I decided to pose five questions to this author to find out more about him.

The Writer's Megaphone is proud to put on a positive blast, author Jay S. Lewis 

Author Jay S. Lewis
JLW:   I am familiar enough with Jamaican culture to know that homosexuality is so taboo that citizens that are known to be of the LGBT Community can risk losing their lives if they are ever discovered.  What made you tackle this genre and why?

JSL:  I began writing the story back in 2010, exactly three years after I was almost gay bashed. I sat and I thought about how cruel the world can be towards gays and I remembered how it broke my heart. I almost became a hermit and for a moment, I chose to lock myself away from the world. It broke my heart that you could get killed for loving who you choose to love in this country and then slowly I heard voices inside my head and then step by step the story began falling into place. Soon afterwards, the characters voices became clear and distinct. I remembered feeling the urge to share a story about what it’s like to be gay and living in Jamaica and then it wasn’t difficult, it was like someone or something was talking to me and the words came easily whenever I wrote in an amazing manner of divine ecstasy and I would just write, write, and write. 

JLW:   In your opinion, why is homosexuality viewed with so much disdain in the Jamaican culture?

JSL:  The Jamaican culture in its very essence is heavily influenced by its music that originated there. This would be reggae music. For decades, strong homophobia influences have been injected into reggae music and absorbed into the spongy minds of its inhabitants who basically played out on a subconscious level all that was recorded since they were toddlers. Reggae music is a genre that many people around the world have come to love and enjoy because it does preach love and oneness… just not towards homosexuals.  Recently, laws were passed which placed a ban on violent lyrics in music so this was a great step because now entertainers have to sing about other subjects rather than violence which they have participated in ever since.

JLW:   What are your plans after this particular project moving forward?

JSL:  My plan is to contribute my rich talent and lend whatever support I can to the Global LGBT community. I have so much love, light, happiness and motivation to share. I passionately believe we all have a right to freedom, life, love, expression and well-being. I see myself as one of the most outstanding Philanthropist of the LGBT community and I believe that with time, this goal can and will be accomplished.

JLW:  Would you mind telling the readership something personal about yourself?

JSL:  OF COURSE. I would love to tell everyone that I am a believer in light and love. I have so much love pouring out of me and I wish to share it with the world.  I have come a long way and I will keep on keeping on because I believe in love. I belief we are great; we are magnificent beings capable of immense love and I wish we as human beings can stand together and love each other more, regardless of class, race, ethnicity, religion, social or political status.  We are all connected by a stream of positive energy that is universal and that’s the power and light of love. 

JLW:  What do you hope to accomplish in 2014?

JSL:  I believe that before the year has ended I will make the New York Times Bestsellers list and the world will know I exist and that I have something to contribute that this world is lacking. I am just one of many who have come forth to help humanity regain its balance and open their hearts up to love. I have the power of the pen and I am offering it; using it to transmute my immense love to the world. My faith is so strong I can already see this goal accomplished, I see myself making the New York Times Bestsellers list like so many magnificent authors before me. I am a believer in dreams and goals. As James Allen said, “Dreamers are the saviors of the world.”

To purchase the above mentioned work, click on the link below

~ J.L. Whitehead

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Year...New Beginnings...New Challenges

As many of you know, writing is and will probably always be an intricate part of my life.  I have books to read, books to write and interviews to grant.

My integrity is so important to me because it is the backbone of who I am as well as what I strive to be in this industry.

I have two books in my queue this year.  The first is somewhat autobiographical, aimed at encouraging and motivating my brothers within the LGBT Community.  The book is entitled, "45 Years of Darkness" and chronicles what I went through (and to some degree continue to experience) as a sexual abuse survivor.

I had to dig deep for this.  It was painful in some ways and liberating in others.  Some will come away enlightened while others will think that I got what I deserved.  It wasn't written for sympathy.  It was written for a group of people who may be hurting and not even know they are.  I make no apologies for this.  As a survivor, I shouldn't have to.

The second book is entitled, "Second Chances."  It wraps up the "Bruthas" family saga.  In this last book we find out what really happened to Nate (the youngest brother), what's going on with Jai (the oldest brother) and if Ryan's relationship with Ethan will survive the trials and tribulations of issues from Ryan's past that have come home to roost.  Once again, it is tied around another murder mystery taking place in Philadelphia.  Who shot and killed Ryan's upstairs womanizing neighbor to death?

I'm getting ready to change the website carrier for Four Brothers Publications.  With that being said, it may be down for a little while.  But rest assured that it will be back up with a new look that will compliment the direction that I choose to take my company in.


“Second Chances and Do Overs”
Chapter One

The thumping was faint initially, like the bass in a car’s stereo system that cruised by with the windows rolled down.  Ryan turned onto his side while scratching his clean-shaven head absently.  He glanced at the digital clock on his side of the bed.  It was just a little after four in the morning.  He yawned, which gave way to a series of unexpected coughs, and then he fluffed his pillow in the hopes of trying to find a comfortable position that would allow him to go back to sleep.
“You okay?” The male voice said drowsily from beside him.
Ryan turned onto his back, glanced in Ethans direction but could barely see him.  Ethan was on his stomach, his face buried into his pillow, but the spikes of his reddish hair stood out, begging for a comb and some styling gel later that morning.
“Yeah babe.” Ryan ran his hand over his own muscular chest. “Just this damn cold.  Go back to sleep.”
“Alright.” Ethan reached for him absently and rested his hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “If you need something…” He stifled a yawn.”
Ryan glanced down at Ethans hand, a stark contrast against his brown skin.  He smiled to himself.  They didn’t come any whiter than Ethan and they didn’t come any better.
The thumping sounded again, louder this time.  A man’s voice yelling something inaudible made Ryan sit up abruptly.  Ethan turned on the lamp that sat on his side of the bed and rolled over onto his back.  A woman’s voice shouted something back at the man but they couldn’t tell if what they were hearing was fear or anger.
“The bullshit’s starting again.” Ethan said with a glance at Ryan who had already bolted out of the bed and was rapidly pulling on a pair of jeans. “Rye, you can’t just go over there and stop the asshole from beating up on this …”
“Baby, I can do anything I want.  You just call the cops.” Ryan said as he buttoned the top of his jeans and reached for a tee shirt in the closet. “This bullshit’s gotta stop and it’s ending tonight.”
“Fuck!” Ethan swore under his breath as he reached for the phone that sat beside the king sized bed that they both slept in.  The king sized comforter slipped down to his hips as he reached for the phone, dialing 9-1-1 frantically.  The woman’s shouting became louder, but the mans voice rolled over hers like black thunder.
Ryan whipped open the front door of his apartment and raced barefoot down the steps taking them two at a time until he reached the first floor landing.  He rushed down the concrete walkway, making a sharp left before he hit the sidewalk, cutting across the lawn that been so meticulously kept by the owner of the twin duplex that he lived in.  His eyes fell on the small form of a woman standing in the middle of the adjacent walkway looking up at the window of the second floor apartment.  Ryan recognized her as his neighbor that lived on the first floor of the twin.  She lived underneath the couple that was fighting.  Now what was her name?  Charmaine?  Shelby?  It didn’t come to mind.
“Did you call the cops?” She asked as he neared her.
She was shorter than he remembered.  Short hair cut close to the scalp…almost boyish.  It kind of reminded him of Jada Pinkett-Smith in the earlier stages of her career.  She was small, maybe all of five foot three if that.  But there was something about her that made him think that she wasn’t someone to mess with.  It was in the eyes.  Her eyes were huge, doe-like but full of expression topped with long lashes that gave her a soft femininity that her wiry body betrayed.  She was wearing a pair of flannel lounge pants, pink slippers and frilly tank-top underneath a nearly floor length peach colored bathrobe.
“My buddy did.” He said and then looked upwards.  The man was yelling at the top of his lungs and the only thing that they heard was the words. “fuck” and “bitch”.
“Fuck this shit!” the woman marched towards the side entrance and began to ring the bell.  Before giving the couple a chance to answer, she began banging on the door.  Ryan rushed to her side in case the man came downstairs and wanted to swing on someone.  Since he obviously didn’t have a problem with hitting his girlfriend, he probably wouldn’t have a problem popping his neighbor; that’s if she didn’t pop him first.
Still, if he was going to hit someone, then he wanted him to try his luck with him.  He would quickly find out that Ryan wasn’t some little woman that would take his punches without giving one back.  And no matter how hard he thought the little woman that was banging on the door could hit, he was certain that he could do more damage than her.
“Open the fuckin’ door!” The woman yelled as the thumping from upstairs increased.
Ryan glanced at his neighbor and then at the upstairs window.  As if by magic, the thumping and the cursing stopped.
“Yeah, I thought so.” The neighbor muttered under her breath, and then she took a step back from the front door as she listened to the upstairs door open. “Punk bitch only likes hittin’ on women.  I got sumthin’ for him.”
The tread of heavy feet echoed in the hallway and then the front door whipped open.  For a second, no one said anything.  The man stood big, shirtless and angry.  He stood all of six foot four with a clean-shaven head and a thick bush of beard that fell to just about an inch beneath his chin.  His small eyes blazed hatred, but Ryan’s neighbor seemed to be completely unfazed.  Time seem to stand still for all of them as they each regarded each other.  The man was huge, muscular and he had a tattoo of several bullets over his abdomen.  His huge hands flexed as if he wanted to grab someone by the throat.  The woman looked at him thinking that he probably already did that to her neighbor at some point in the morning.
“What the fuck you want!!  Bangin’ on my door at this hour in the muthafuckin’ mornin!” He growled.
“So, I finally get to see for myself what a woman basher looks like up close and personal!” The woman snapped while looking him up and down. “I’m not impressed.  I expected more.”
Ryan cut her a look and then turned his attention immediately back to the man that stood in the doorway.  He didn’t know what the man was going to do, but whenever he made his move, he knew for a fact that he wouldn’t give no kind of warning.
“Bitch, I’ll fuck you up!” He took a step out of the doorway and Ryan stepped forward at the same time that the woman stepped back, reaching under her robe . “Oh, you the punk bitch that live next door!” The man looked at Ryan.
“And I’m the bitch that lives down stairs, now you want to come for me?” The woman whipped out a straight edged razor. “’Cause I’ve danced with niggas bigger and badder than you!”

"Second Chances" is due out in late Spring 2014

~ J.L. Whitehead

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