Category Archives: violence

5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Barbara Grovner, author of We Belong Together Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Barbara Grovner, author of We Belong Together
(Third Eye Publishing)

barbara grovner we belong together

Step into the mind boggling world of Mavis Rollins, a woman who wants her granddaughter to marry Makai Wilson, the grandson of the wealthy woman who stole her very own husband back in the day. While raising her granddaughter Sandy, she manages to brainwash her into believing she is destined to spend her life with Makai.

Sandy actually yearns for Makai but is disappointed when her best friend Kara meets him and falls in love with him. It seems Kara never knew about Sandy’s unnatural feelings for Makai., a perpetual charmer. After deceiving Kara with two beautiful women, she throws him out of their home. Kara is found dead in the parking garage near her job, and things begin to heat up. When the police begin digging around, the truth unfolds and secrets come tumbling out. Lives begin to unravel, revealing jealousy and raw rage, crazy relationships and most disturbing, pure insanity at its most dangerously evil depth and somehow, someway, justice must be served.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write We Belong Together?

Barbara Grovner: The idea for We Belong Together simply popped into my head. I was actually trying to out-do my last novel Even Numbers. That novel is about child molestation, which is a very serious topic. I am still hoping to keep the subject of child molestation in the forefront of our minds particularly for single mothers who are dating. Please pick up a copy of Even Numbers as well.

With We Belong Together which by the way releases on December 27th 2008, my love for “who-done-it” types of stories emerged and my story became a sort of quirky, crazy murder mystery loaded with colorful characters and insane dialog.

JP: What sets We Belong Together apart from other novels in its genre?

BG: The differences from this murder mystery “who-done-it” and others is the fact that there are so many other things going on apart from the murder. Things like infidelity, plotting and scheming, a little same-sex encounter as well is coupled with the most raw rage ever. The emotion within the scenes will prompt you to check all of your own feelings and your own opinions as well.

JP: This novel has elements of mystery, romance and erotica. How were you able to mix these genres together and maintain the integrity at the same time?

BG: The mixture of romance, mystery and erotica is actually how many of our own lives are lived. LOL. You may even find a bit about yourself within the pages.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish We Belong Together?

BG: I still write “old-school.” I use notebooks (paper ones) and hand write almost constantly. Then I transfer to the computer. This gives me a chance to add material as well as edit as I go along instead of backtracking. Sounds complicated, I’m sure, but it works for me.

JP: What’s next for Barbara Grovner?

BG: Currently I am working on the sequel to We Belong Together. The publishing company I am currently working with is not taking submissions of this type at this time. I would love to have both books published under the same company, but I am currently looking for another publisher. I have looked into a few promising possibilities, but…I’m open for invitations and points in the right direction. (WINK).

Also, I have been doing some editing, especially for young authors who are writing their first manuscripts. I offer extremely low prices and an especially lower rate if the author is enrolled in some sort of school. I’m all about promoting education. For authors I can be reached at for editing questions.

For inquired and for more info on my books, please check me out on my MySpace page at

Thanks so much for the chance to speak with readers and again thanks so much for your support.

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Urban Lit is DEAD!

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Urban Lit is DEAD! by Joey Pinkney

Yep, I said it… Urban Lit is dead. Done. Finito.


Who am I to say that? I don’t have the same status in the Urban Lit industry as Nas has when he said the same thing for his music. I don’t have to. I read a lot of Urban Lit, and it’s dead.

Why do I speak such blasphemous words? This sentiment stems from an email conversation I had with Therone Shellman after reading and reviewing his novel No Love Lost. (Read my review of No Love Lost, click here.) His novel was atypical and his approach to life after the streets was refreshing. Another one that comes to mind is Erick Gray’s Crave All Lose All. (Read my review of Crave All Lose All, click here. Read my interview with Erick Gray. Part I, click here. Part II, click here.)

In brief, we discussed how Urban Lit doesn’t do justice to the situations that people are relegated to in hoods across America and beyond. The immorality and reality of the streets isn’t present in a lot of stories on the market today. Without going into detail, that book was the first one that I read in a long time that actually shined the light on the side of the game that most people see but few want to talk about.

Call the Coroner…

The Urban Lit genre is pumping out books with the same book covers and the same stories. Most of the authors have to boast their jail experience to get the attention and respect they think they need to sell their stories. (Sounds like rappers who have to talk about their hood exploits in order to be respected, instead of being lyrically proficient.)

The Urban Literature landscape is taking the natural life cycle of all cultural trends. It’s just like Hip-Hop, born from desolation and neglect. Just like the Hip-Hop that influenced its current direction, Urban Lit has gone from being an obscurity to being shunned to being assimilated into popular culture. That’s why the larger publishing houses are following suit and creating imprints to cater to ravenous readership that Urban Lit definitely has. That’s why you can go to Barnes and Nobles or Borders or even Wal-Mart and see the latest and greatest in the (unofficial) Urban Lit section. It’s selling.

Before it got it’s name, authors like Omar Tyree (who recently stopped writing Urban Lit), Sistah Souljah and Teri Woods wrote books that spoke to a group of people who couldn’t get the time of day from the larger publishing houses. The prevalent thought at the time was that “those people” don’t read. Urban Lit has now been digested and regurgitated by the large publishing houses just like Master P did to rap music during his hey day. And just like his albums covers, words are blinged out, the men look mean and the women look horny.

From the Cradle…

With a “for us, by us” mentality, what would later become Urban Literature was strictly a person-to-person enterprise. Authors were printing up there own books and selling them out the trunk, on the corner, mom-and-pop stores and beauty salons. Full of sex, violence and grammatical errors, these books and the readers who loved them were looked down upon by the mainstream book industry.

Then the book industry got hip. “Those people” were buying those books terrible books. “Those people” were requesting sequels and anything else their favorite hood author put out there. Why? Because those books were entertaining, but they also had an underlining message. Readers could relate.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Now every book cover either has a young black dude with braids, two ear rings, tattoos, sagging jeans and a mean mug or the book has a young female in her early twenties wearing something that makes it easy to figure out what the birthday suit is like. The stories are still about the hood, but nowadays there is a twist. The money, clothes, hos, jewelry, expensive cars, huge houses and the swagger runs the stories.

Urban Lit authors still have to get on their grind, print up the copies and sell them by any means necessary. The difference now is that they have to compete for shelf space with the larger publishing houses. A lot of times, they have to compromise the integrity of their story to fit what the readers will buy. It’s no longer a novelty to have a book with the hood as the backdrop.

To the Grave…

The immorality and reality of the streets isn’t present in a lot of stories. This article actually stemmed from an email conversation I had with Therone Shellman, author of No Love Lost. Without going into detail, that book was the first one that I read in a long time that actually shined the light on the ___ side of the game. (Another one that comes to mind is Erick Gray’s ___.) Shellman is a person is has been there and done that, and it shows in his approach to his story.

A lot of people complain that most of the Urban Lit books are the same three or four stories with a different title and character names. For that matter, most of the authors have the same felonious background story in their bios. It’s just like Hip-Hop nowadays. You could take a black male between 16 and 36 (because you know we stay young looking for a while) and give him a grill, some tatoos, a fitted, a throwback (or white tee), some sagging jeans (and boxers), a gold necklace with some goofy pendant, a diamond encrusted watch, and some Air Force Ones. Then put him in front of a mansion with a couple of Lambourghinis and Escalades with a buch of women in their early 20s in bikinis. Throw on some music, let him pose and point around aimlessly showing off that goofy pendant. Oh yeah, I almost forgot let him rap…

That’s similar to what you see in Urban Lit. Most Urban Lit books has the guy that’s a drug dealer with all the name brand clothes and cars. He has enough jewelry to finance a small army. The problem is that that guy gets robbed and/or killed in real life.  A perfect example is all of these rappers getting their chain snatched left and right. They talk all that stuff on the albums and still get robbed when they leave the studio. Where are the guns? Where are your boys?

On top of the hood watching you, the cops are watching harder. Most of the dudes that make it to BET’s American Gangster get an episode because of one big mistake, being too flashy. Make a solid gold crown if you want, the cops will do everything they can to take that and everything else, including your life.


I understand what’s going on. People don’t read Urban Lit to get the scoop on reality. Like my girl Davida Baldwin said it, “You don’t read Street Lit for self-help and motivation, you don’t read street lit to help out the community, you read it for entertainment.”  If you put the average thug n!gga or hoodrat on the book cover, it wouldn’t sell. It would probably make it hard to sell the book right next to it, too. (LOL!) If it takes a model on the cover to get noticed, then sex has sold again. To be honest, authors don’t spend months and years to write a book for it to sit in a book store. They write it to hopefully put money in their pockets.

The larger publishing houses are in the game to sell units. If you like it, they love it. Business is business, but we the readers should expect more from Urban Lit authors.

Leave a comment and let me know how you feel.

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5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Portia Cosby, author of Too Little, Too Late Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Portia Cosby, author of Too Little, Too Late
(Distinct Publishing)

portia cosby headshot too little too late book cover

(Click the pictures to see reviews of this book on

Tameka James has always been a confident, outspoken, strong-willed woman with her one weakness being her ex-boyfriend, TJ. That weakness soon becomes the catalyst to a new life of fear, disease, and pain when one of TJ’s enemies rapes her and threatens to kill her if she goes to the police. Now with a police report on file, an HIV diagnosis in her medical records and the rapist running free, Tameka fights to maintain normalcy and save her new relationship. As tensions mount and stakes are raised, some lives are threatened while others are taken. The phrase “too little, too late” becomes a reality instead of a cliché when last minute efforts are made in vain.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Too Little, Too Late?

Portia A. Cosby: In ninth grade, I heard a story on the news about a woman that had been raped. I don’t remember the details, but it made me wonder how she got into that predicament. From there, my imagination ran wild. Tameka was born, and from day one, I knew her character like we were best friends.

JP: Rape and HIV drives the tension in Too Little, Too Late. Did you have any reservations about writing this novel that way?

PC: I had no reservations at all. All of my storylines are hard-hitting and deal with serious or controversial issues. I want my fiction to feel real. I specifically wrote the novel that way because there are so many young ladies that could easily be Tameka.

JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to Too Little, Too Late getting out to the public?

PC: I just believed. Since 1994 when I wrote the original piece, I believed. I didn’t envision what it could be until 2001 when I rewrote it. After all the rejection letters and near hits, I decided not to wait on someone else to validate me as an author and I started Distinct Publishing. Success is a learning process and a time-consuming process. Since writing is my passion, though, I don’t think twice about it.

JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Too Little, Too Late?

PC: My writing process usually involves music. I am a lover of words. I may be writing a chapter and think of a song that relates to it. Next thing I know, I’m pulling the CD out and playing it. Or, I’ll hear a song that relates to a character of mine and immediately find the nearest piece of paper so I can jot down a few sentences.

As for the order I write in, Too Little, Too Late was written straight through. I’ve been all over the place with It Is What It Is. At one point, I had the first three chapters done and then chapters eight, nine, and ten! I just write the material that wants to come out. I don’t care where it falls in the final product.

The rough draft for Too Little, Too Late was completed in seven months. I think it flowed so well because I had been familiar with my characters and their stories seven years prior!

JP: What’s next for Portia A. Cosby?

PC: It Is What It Is, the second installment in the Situations & Circumstances Series will be released soon – within the next couple months. I’m also looking to revise my screenplay for Too Little, Too Late so I can shop it around.

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