Category Archives: street lit

5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Ben, author of Up The Way Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Ben, author of Up The Way
(DC Bookdiva Publications)

(Three of the first ten people to comment on Ben’s author interview will win a FREE copy of Up The Way from

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Up The Way?

Ben: The idea to write the story started as more of a challenge by a friend who I was incarcerated with. My inspiration was based on my previous experiences. A lot of it was loosely based on things that I witnessed while there.

JP: Many readers fantasize about prison culture without truly realizing the corrupt nature. What does Up The Way show about “belly of the beast” that has not been seen?

B: I believe that my book exposes the realities of what actually is taking place in most of the prisons today. It deals with corruption at the hands of the inmates, employees and our government. It also deals with homosexuality issues that affect our community.

Many individuals believe that prison life does not affect them because they are not in prison. However, most inmates will come home. There are issues that I deal with in the novel that directly affect us as a race from homosexuality to community unity.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to Up The Way getting out to the public?

B: I first believed in my self. I wanted to change my reality and start to focus on myself as a man, for me first and my family second. I wanted to change my life and focus on recreating myself and my legacy. Writing was my outlet in prison and has been a my passion since grade school.

I wrote Up The Way as a form or entertainment for my fellow inmate friends and myself to laugh to keep from crying about the conditions we were in. I used the novel for entertainment and to also bring awareness to social issues within our community.

I shopped the book to several publishers who were not interested because my manuscript was not typed along with an outline of several other books that I was in the process of writing. We worked via mail and brief phone conversations to bring the project to completion, distributing over 1,000 copies in our first day of publication.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Up The Way?

Ben: There is no formula. I have a wild and vivid imagination, so it comes with ease. The actual book took me about three weeks to write.

JP: What’s next for Ben?

I plan to expand into several other genres. I am currently working on an erotica series, a children’s book and a motivational/self help read.

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Book Review: Scattered Lies by Madison

Scattered Lies
by Madison
(Influential Writers Publishing)
3.5 out of 5 Stars

Scattered Lies, the debut novel from Madison, gives the reader everything that makes Urban Fiction delicious. On the surface, this novel is full of high-priced cars, upscale backdrops and inner-city squalor. The entertainment factor is high, but the psychology of and interaction between the characters of Scattered Lies is what will make this a great read. Madison created characters with deep, dark layers giving the reader plenty to digest.

Scattered Lies starts in the middle and works its way to the beginning and the end simultaneously. This is one of the things that makes the novel such an interesting read. Most of the characters are related to each other in multiple ways. As the characters reveal bits and pieces through strong dialogue, the plot twists unravel and will make the gears turn inside of the critical readers’ minds. If you have to go back and re-read parts of Scattered Lies, rest assured that it is not due to poor editing. The complex plot twists keeps the reader engaged.

Although Greg is not the central character in terms of the amount of pages dedicated to him, he can be directly or indirectly attributed to the tangled web of events the author Madison has put together. Greg is a locked up master-mind of a criminal enterprise. More than just a common street thug, Greg’s vision for what was possible for his Melrose Projects crew is infinite. Greg attempts to set his people up for legal success gained mixed results. The intricate mix of personalities, abilities and sense of loyalty is what will separate Scattered Lies from the average Urban Fiction book.

Gabrielle is Greg’s loyal wife and a successful lawyer. Her parents are ashamed of her decision to marry a convicted criminal. Her love for Greg is as genuine as his love for her. The bond gives her the strength to be married at a distance. The monthly conjugal visits are great sexually but not enough to convince her to have children. Gabrielle met Greg while hanging out with her cousin, Denise. The bond with Greg was instant but is later strained when Gabrielle starts to figure out exactly how Greg landed in prison.

Denise, Greg’s protege, shows the most promise out of Greg’s associates. Instead of becoming a statistic, Denise became the exception to the rule. From teenage “good girl gone bad” to ruthless killer to a mature business executive, Denise is a testament to the fact that bad people can come from good families and good things can come from bad people. In the hood, she is known for making people who cross her disappear. At her day job, she is known for keeping everything under control and getting things done no matter what. However, she can’t stay away from street thugs with nothing to offer besides mind-blowing sex. She’s seen it all from being pimped to contract killings to multi-million dollar real-estate deals, and Denise still manages to keep a job strictly for the health benefits.

Tony is a nobody in the hood who is at the helm of a platinum-selling music career with the help of Greg’s direction and connections. With average looks and an overboard ego, Tony lives a life that most wanna-be rappers would die for. He is able to obtain a beautiful girlfriend who is equally successful in her R&B career. His sexual addiction makes it hard to enjoy his girlfriend. Unlike Denise, he has a rep for being a pushover in the streets.

In her debut novel, Madison shows her mastery of melding together name brand items with high level psychology. The characters in Scattered Lies know enough about each other to know that there is more to know. It is that surface tension that keeps the reader afloat amid infinitely deep plot twists. The realistic dialogue is matched with issues that will hit home with many readers: family favoritism, being in love with old flames, skeletons in the closet coming back to destroy stability, among others.

The additional characters and scenarios perfectly accommodate the flavor and complexity of Scattered Lies. Denise’s niece Morgan deals with issues that most teenagers struggle with such as teenage sex, being a critical thinker at a young age and being treated differently because of beauty. Gabrielle’s clientele also engages issues like money laundering practices by wealthy people and rich women who are sexually addicted to boy toys from the hood.

There were two things that did not sit comfortably with me: the book’s cover and the book’s ending. Past the fact that “shattered” rhymes with “scattered”, the only connection I could see between the book cover and its story was that two shards of the broken glass had an image of a microphone (Tony, the rapper) and a woman wearing an unbuttoned shirt with a pearl necklace (presumably Denise, but possibly Gabrielle). However, this cover is much more welcomed and classier than just posting up a pin up model. Scattered Lies’ ending was shocking, but not satisfying. Given the lives of the characters up to that point, I struggle to see how ending the story that way brings closure to the various plot twists or opens the opportunity for sequels.

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Book Review: Her Little Secret by T. Freeman, Jr.

Her Little Secret
by T. Freeman, Jr.
(Sleepy Eye Publishing)
5 out of 5 Stars

t freeman her little secret on myspacedotcom

T. Freeman, Jr’s Her Little Secret is a masterpiece which encompasses gritty situations, the perfect use of slang and picturesque scenes from the roughest hoods to the absolutely luxurious locales from the East and West Coasts. Freeman invades the mind of his readers with the sometimes harsh but thoroughly adventurous life of Lerrez Crawford. Born in complete squalor to two drug-addicted parents, life deals Lerrez a bad hand from the very beginning. Dark-skinned, thick and undeniably beautiful, her life would be anything but sweet as she struggles to escape the grips of the cold streets of inner-city Camden, NJ.

Lerrez’s attempt at elusiveness is met with the domino effect of tragedy after tragedy. Before she can reach 18-years-old, she gets shuffled off to a foster home, thrust onto the streets, housed in juvenile detention and taken by her long-lost grand mother. During this whole ordeal, she experience sexual and drug abuse, murders and misadventures that are not too uncommon for people surviving in inner-cities across the nation. A chance meeting with a big-time producer from L.A. proves to be the ticket to stability. Just when she finds solace with the love of her life, all of the dirt she did in Camden threatens to snatch away her fairytale ending.

What really makes this novel pop is T. Freeman’s effortless use of slang and location. Being the perfect guide, he puts foreign slang words in context. He also gives you a street-level view wherever his characters are. Her Little Secret takes you from the crowded projects of Camden to the city blocks of New York City to the socio-economic extremes of L.A. Freeman doesn’t just reference a location. He gives you street names and landmarks in a way that perfectly complements the wicked plot twists.

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