Writing Sensation August 2017 – Sonia Johnston

Hello, Everybody! Thank you for stopping by.

Today, I am excited about presenting another guest author who will share her literary journey and other talents. Sonia Johnston and I were two of seventeen authors who contributed to the Best-selling book Single Mama Dating Drama, published by Brown Girls Books.

I am taking a bow as I present Sonia Johnston.


Author, Poet, Songwriter, Screenwriter

Best-selling Author, Sonia Johnston, was born in Richmond, Virginia during the time of eight-track tapes and analog television. Though technology has changed, a few things have remained the same: her enduring love of music and books.

An early reader, Sonia found herself drawn to her mom’s extensive collection of albums, which included superb songwriting and her mom’s extensive book collection. She could easily spend an entire day listening to Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, or Earth, Wind, and Fire while reading any and everything from Nancy Drew to The Catcher in the Rye. She realized that learning music notes were not her thing, but writing was totally within her grasp. She wrote everything from plays to poetry that later evolved into raps and songs. While maintaining her own business, she juggled wife and mom duties, and started writing, but stopped without completing five different novels.

In 2015, Sonia made the decision to get back on track with her writing. So, she dusted off a novel that she had started almost ten years earlier. She worked on the plot issues and enrolled in writing classes led by NAACP Award-Winning Author, Victoria Christopher Murray. After taking additional classes and gaining more confidence, she had a vision of the right character in mind when Brown Girls Books opened submissions for their anthology Single Mama Dating Drama. She developed a story to fit her character, prayed, and sent it off. A few months later, her short story was accepted for publication, and Sonia received loads of excellent feedback on Hundred Dollar Money.

Afterward, she set out to finish one of her novels, but not before submitting her second short story, Home for Christmas, to the Brown Girls Books anthology All I Want for Christmas. Again, she was thrilled when she found out that her story had been accepted for publication.

Currently, Sonia is still committed to the two things that wowed her initially. In September, she will host a radio show on WQMIX, and she is going into the studio to produce three songs all while continuing to work on her full-length novel. She is determined to finish her songs and her novel before the end of 2017. You can keep up with her on Facebook and Instagram at sonia.lovestowrite; on Twitter at sonias_pov; and her website at www.sonialovestowrite.com.


Writing Sensation August 2017 – Rekaya Gibson

Welcome to my blog site! I want you to know that I appreciate all of your comments, and please keep them coming in!

I have a question. Have you ever met someone and felt like you had known the person for years? Well, this is how I felt after I met Rekaya Gibson. We met about nine years ago after we signed our first book deals with the same publisher, Xpress Yourself Publishing. While on the literary trail, we have stayed in touch, and I am honored to feature Rekaya as my guest author today.



Author, Writer, Blogger, Podcaster


Rekaya Gibson has penned six books including a young adult, Mama Don’t Like Ugly, and a cookbook, Cooking on a Dollar Store Budget. She has contributed content for Amtrak, Writer’s Digest Books, and various lifestyle magazines. Currently, she maintains a food blog based on her first fiction novel, The Food Temptress; and contributes content regularly to Cuisine Noir Magazine. When Rekaya is not freelance writing, she is talking sports on her weekly podcast, Black Girls Talk Sports, or exploring Virginia’s 200+ wineries. For more information about this author, go to www.rekayagibson.com.


Stay Connected:

Twitter: @RekayaGibson

Facebook: AuthorRekayaGibson

Facebook: thefoodtemptress

Instagram: the_food_temptress


PB: Tell us about The Food Temptress, 2nd Edition?

RG: This magical realism story is about Ambrosia Bourgeois, the New Orleans Goddess of Gastronomy, who uses food to seduce men in hopes of concocting Mr. Right. Paralleling Southern cuisine, each chapter captures the hearts, minds, and even the bodies of various men. Ambrosia tries to perfect her craft by using traditional recipes from her deceased grandmother, while occasionally consulting her eccentric elderly aunt. When she discovers that her meals fall short of converting each man to her calculated preference, she moves on to the next one–a total of sixteen. Her subjects range from a local sheriff to a Bourbon Street musician. Will she reach her goal of complete succulent seduction before the monstrous hurricane hits her city? The Food Temptress offers countless delectable treats illustrated through Ambrosia’s continual quest for both romantic and culinary perfection.

PB: How did you come up with the idea for The Food Temptress?

RG: I developed the concept from the adage, “a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”  I took my interpretation and expanded upon it, using my creativity.

PB: What does Ambrosia’s name mean?

RG: “Ambrosia” comes from Greek mythology meaning food or drink of the Greek gods.

PB: What made you decide to release a second edition of The Food Temptress? When was the first one published?

RG: I wanted to repackage The Food Temptress and release it under my own publishing company. This version went through revisions and I provided additional content. I hired a graphic designer and she developed an awesome book cover. I’m proud of the second edition. The first one will always be my baby and I’m forever grateful to my publisher, Xpress Yourself Publishing Company.

PB: What do you have in common with Ambrosia?

RG: We are both home cooks with no formal training.

PB: You have a blog with the same title as The Food Temptress. Tell us about it.

RG: In 2009, I started blogging under the same alias to keep readers engaged. I wrote about relationships, dating, food, recipes, and book news. Readers started referring to me as The Food Temptress, and they wanted more information about cooking and recipes with cool photos. In 2014, I decided to make The Food Temptress Blog exclusively about food, which included recipes, reviews on food-related products, and a food holiday calendar.

PB: Where can readers find The Food Temptress?

RG: Readers can order it at national booksellers such as Barnes and Noble. Find it online at Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com or request it at their local libraries. The Food Temptress is available in paperback and eBook.

PB: What’s next for Rekaya Gibson?

RG: I’m promoting the release of The Food Temptress and conducting several book signings throughout the Hampton Roads (Virginia) area. In addition, I’m working on a nonfiction book, “100 Writing Prompts Inspired by Social Media” that will come out this year.


Five Things You Should Know about Social Media for Marketing

Many people entertain misconceptions about social media for marketing their products, services, and platforms. There is cause for some concern given hacking, fake news, and predatory behavior exists. However, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) remains one of the least expensive ways to promote your work. Here are 5 things you should know about it:

  1. Social media is social. Virtual relationships can equal real relationships and real results for a marketing campaign. Keep the tone and intent social, and you have half the battle won.
  2. Social media is what you make it. More than half of the world can be found on social media networks. A portion of that world is the audience you need and desire. If you don’t use it, you will lose it. If you use it, then you can gain what you need to progress with your business or cause.
  3. Social media is inexpensive. Well, sort of inexpensive. Agencies charge brands in the thousands of dollars per month to do what you can do – with some dedication – on your own. The cost of social ads is near nothing compared to taking out an ad in a newspaper, magazine, or putting one on television.
  4. Social media is great for customer service. Who has a budget for customer service representation? Few of us do, but you can use social media to reply and respond to customer queries.
  5. Social media is always changing. You would think that makes it something you have to keep up with, right? Wrong. Knowing the basics may be all you will ever need. You can track changes according to your time and curiosity. There are experts, but even the experts will not be able to keep up with all of the changes. You’re in great company.

In 2017, there really is no reason for a company or person with a product like a book not to use social media for marketing. Though it is not guaranteed that you will have instant success, it is guaranteed to expand your presence.

Do you have a favorite social network? If so, share a link in the comments.

New Hootsuite Facebook and Twitter Features for Your Social Media Plan

Assuming you use social media to market your books or products or services, there are some new features and changes you should be aware of for your plan.


  • Facebook Workplace Free Version is available until September 30. It has limited abilities and features but it’s good enough for small teams that work and communicate together. Paid or free, Facebook Workplace also offers some great resources for building a business.
  • Facebook Pages Cover Video. Instead of a cover image, you can add a short video. The specs are: 20-90 seconds of video uploaded in the same manner you upload a photo. Video footage can be looped any way you’d like. And the size of the video must be 820 x 312 pixels. Visitors can manually cut on the sound. Need an example? Visit Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ page.
  • Facebook Live Chat and Live With. You can create a private chat room now with Facebook Live. The feature allows the person on Facebook Live to pull viewing friends into a private room. Live With enables you to go live on Facebook with a friend in the form of FaceTime in a picture-in-picture mode.
  • Facebook Event Cover. If you create Facebook events, then the old size is no longer, and the new size is wider and more compact. The dimensions are 1920 x 1080 pixels.


  • The typography has changed. It is subtle but the fonts on their buttons are bolder and overall all fonts are easier on the eyes.
  • Twitter for Business accounts can create call-to-action buttons in the DM (direct message) center.
  • Though it is not new, the Moments feature is really nice for curating hashtags & tweets to tell a story. Each Moment once published creates its own link for you to share on any social site.


  • The dashboard has changed. You logout from the upper left hand corner. Also, they are beta testing a feature for you to create your posts before putting them in the scheduling applet.
  • As of June 30, 2017, Hootsuite is no longer accommodating scheduled posts to LinkedIn Groups.

These are the most useful updates to each of these tools. Hopefully, you will be able to incorporate some of the changes into your social media plan. If you have, please share in a comment.

July is Freedom Month: 7 Challenges

Technically, July 4 is Independence Day and the only official freedom day of the month. However, we can commemorate our personal freedoms too. Here are 7 challenges to push towards more personal and professional freedom.

  1. Admit or confess a dream that you want to come true. Confession often pushes us to action. Tell someone what you want to do.
  2. Give away something you’ve been hanging on to just because… Make room for something new.
  3. Wear a color that you’d never consider. Wear it as an article of clothing, lipstick, or as an accessory.
  4. Go somewhere by yourself. Maybe it’s a concert, play, the movies… Go alone and enjoy your own company.
  5. Be a kid again. Buy a squirt gun and have a blast shooting the water. Play jacks. Jump rope. Run through the sprinkler. Let go.
  6. Play Secret Santa in July. Do something for someone without telling a soul. It can be something as simple as leaving a gift card on a co-worker’s desk or dropping off groceries at the home of someone in need and going through a tough time. Do it in secret.
  7. Pick one day and wake up without the alarm. Let your body rest and receive the benefits of sleep.

These challenges don’t have to be yours. Create your own. The point of the challenge is to do some things differently and enjoy life more. Have you made any plans to do something out side of your comfort zone? If so, share in the comments.


Writing Sensation July 2017 – Donya Fenner

Happy July and welcome to my blog site! As many of you know, I am a firm believer in promoting my fellow authors’ books. And throughout the summer, I will invite a few guest bloggers to share their book(s). As writers, we all know that marketing and promotion, social media involvement, networking, and so much more, are important to spread the word about our work. Sometimes, we have to jump outside the box and be bold, brave, and persistent in our efforts to solicit the attention of our readers.

So, I would like to introduce my first guest writer, Donya Fenner.


About Donya

Donya Fenner was born in Hearne, Texas where she discovered at the tender age of eight that she had a gift and a passion for singing. She also discovered her love for writing as well. Donya’s grandmother, who was her legal guardian, encouraged her and introduced her to all kinds of music, like country, classical, gospel, rock and roll, rhythm and blues.

Donya is an author and a motivational speaker. She has two published books. Her first book, “A Creative Creature’s Testimony,” and “Second Chances,” which was re-released by Redemption Press on May 19, 2017. “Second Chances” is also being considered for adaptation into a screenplay for filming.

Donya is also a Stellar Award-winning gospel singer. Her Group LXW (League of Xtraordinary Worshippers), led by Oxygen Network’s Preachers of L.A. gospel sensation Deitrick Haddon, won their first Stellar Award for Best Contemporary Choir of the Year at the 2015 Stellar Gospel Music Awards, hosted by Taraji P. Henson at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Music ministry has provided unique opportunities, and Donya has shared stages and made television appearances with some of the industry’s renown artists. Some of the artists included Yolanda Adams, Tamela Mann, Shirley Caesar, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Donny Mc Clurkin, Hezekiah Walker, KiKi Sheard, Tasha Cobbs, Mary Mary, Dottie Peeples, Beyonce Knowles, Brandy Norwood, Ray J, Destiny’s Child and a host of others.

In addition, Donya is the founder of Creative Creature’s Women’s Organization in Torrance, California, and is currently the Program Medical Secretary for the National University Nurse Managed Clinic. The clinics, located in Watts, Compton, and Inglewood, CA, provide free healthcare services for under-resourced communities. On March 16, 2017, the Nurse Managed Clinic entered into a partnership with The Salvation Army – Southern California Division, and Donya was very instrumental in helping this collaboration come to fruition.

Donya resides in Torrance, California with her husband and daughter.

For Booking Donya Contact:
James Fenner

Please connect with Donya on LinkedIn and Facebook.

“Second Chances” is available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com

“A Creative Creature’s Testimony” is available on Amazon.com


7 Links to Seven Must-Visit Sections of Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly is considered the publishing industry’s bible. Goodness knows there are tons of features on their site to glean information of all kinds. Below are seven linked sections on their site that are absolutely fascinating, and they are also chock-filled with information to help writers, publishers, and even readers.

Industry News

This is where you can learn what other authors are doing to market their books and anything publishing and news. They even cover media and books.

The Tip Sheet

Like short-reads and lists? The Tip Sheet provides just that for readers and authors. Catch a glimpse of what their staff thinks in this section.

Industry Deals

This section is an extension of Industry News (see above), but it reports the money side of things. Remember the $60 million dollar deal former president Obama made? Well, details are in this section.

Awards & Prizes

This section both announces winners of awards and prizes as well as award and prize competitions.


This is another extension of Industry News that features trends, bestsellers, and bookstore news. Try this article in this section: Amazon Starts Weekly Bestseller Lists.


Great section to read interviews with authors, publishing influencers, and other industry people PW finds fascinating and newsworthy.


This section reports on conferences important to publishers and writers.

Publishers Weekly is one of the greatest resources for writers and publishers, including self-publishers. Subscribe to the site or to individual newsletters. Or take some quiet time at your local library to read a hard copy.