Page 1

page 2

In December 2012, the founder of WE Magazine, DeLisha Sylvester, found out her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. To make matters worse, she found out exactly on her 60th birthday. She believes that when they say cancer doesn't kill the person's spirit, they truly mean it. Know that everyone is rooting for you. Wear your scars with pride, and remember you are beautiful. Remember that God doesn't allow you to go through anything without learning something in the end. For those walking alongside the women overcoming cancer like my father and I, remember there are just as many people walking alongside you. They are feeling the exact same emotions.

page 3

Click here to join the fight

6 message from the founder You are strong, you are beautiful, and you are amazing.

7 down to business Launch a business built from passion in 4 easy steps

10 don’t gamble with your health Know Your Odds for Breast Cancer

14 naturally me campaign winner Maria Brown-Knight (cancer survivor)

28 perfectionist are not perfect Article by Tanya Angelique

24 breast cancer & fashion Tips and links for dressing up your journey

18 sonya lowery Of The Sonya Lowery’s World Next Door

42 fall time recipes Easy recipes for a delicious meal Announcing our winners for August 2013

30 author mary monroe NY Times Bestselling Author

46 cover story: amel larrieux She’s back with a new album and new inspiration!

46 a mother’s courage The story of a Breast Cancer Warrior

in this issue

Monique House Contributing Writer www.

Tanya Angelique Owner of RelationScripts

Michelle Hill-Smith Graphic Designer, Branding Specialist & Business Launch and Virtual Productivity Coach

this month’s contributors

page 6

With this month being Pinktober we wanted to include some articles and tips for women currently dealing with or have gone through breast cancer. This magazine is a huge supporter of breast cancer awareness. So, I want to take the time out to salute the women who are going through and have already gone through it.

You are strong, you are beautiful, and you are amazing. In this issue, we will still discuss business, fashion and everything else you’re use to, however, we definitely wanted to shed light on how you can help support the cause. As always... Happy Reading!

page 7

Wouldn’t it be just wonderful to be able to simply hit a key on your keyboard and magically appears the business of your dreams? Yes, we do live in the 21st century, but unfortunately, we’re not that far along yet. Building a business for many is a very nerve racking, depressing and often times discouraging adventure. As an aspiring entrepreneur, your mind is often from one place to another. You’re thinking of the amount of money you’ll need, the place you’ll operate in, the process of finding and convincing potential customers...the list goes on forever.

BUT, what if I told you that to start a business, all you had to do was define 4 easy steps and fuse them into your life and plan and you’ll be more happy than you’ve ever been?

1) Decide on what you love to do most and what you can see yourself doing for a long period of time that people want.

2) Search for the top 3 ways that you can showcase and deliver your product or service without breaking the bank.

3) Create and Develop your business brand (name, logo, color scheme, marketing materials, etc.) to represent exactly who you’re looking to appeal to. 4) Begin building your anticipated customer service strategies and operational practices. Do some hands-on exercises by imagining you’re dealing with live customers and prospects. Designing a lucrative business around your passion is the first thing you need to do. After that, it will either be rocky, a failure or a success. I’d choose “rocky” any day over “failure”. When things are rocky, you can a least sort your way out and make it better. It’s better to be prepared for the arrival of customers than not at all. Service them first. Business should be fun and inspiring. When you’re building from your passion, the money will follow and come after you. Don’t chase it.

Share Your Journey, Pictures & Inspiration with Us!

An estimated 232,340 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Women aged 55 years or older are most likely to be diagnosed with this form of cancer; although it has been reported in women of all ages. The survival rate for breast cancer is higher in its earlier stages, so it’s important for all women to know their risks and be proactive in preventing this disease.

What is Breast Cancer? Breast cancer is a form of cancer where the body develops malignant clusters of tissues, known as tumors. These tumors can spread to (or metastasize) other tissues throughout the body. If left untreated, cancer can metastasize to other organs of the body and be fatal. An exact cause of breast cancer has not been found, although factors such as gender, age, genetics, environmental exposures, race and ethnicity, and family history can all be contributors to the disease. Breast cancer occurs in stages based on the tumor type, rate of growth and whether the tumors have spread to other organs.

page 11

Doctors have been able to identify genetic markers for breast cancer, allowing them to hypothesize on a person’s likelihood to develop it in one’s lifetime. For this reason, some women decide to undergo a double mastectomy before receiving a diagnosis to avoid developing breast cancer. While breast cancer is most likely to be found in women, men can also be diagnosed although this is a rare occasion. Many famous celebrities such as Wanda Sykes, Angelina Jolie, Christina Applegate, and Richard Roundtree (to name a few) have undergone a double mastectomy to prevent or treat breast cancer. Treatments for breast cancer, in addition to a mastectomy, include radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, surgeries, and other drug therapies.

Preventing Breast Cancer Gynecologists often conduct clinical breast exams during routine visits. After the age of40 it is recommended that women receive a mammogram once per year. However, women can be diagnosed with breast cancer at any age. It is so important for all women (20 years of age or older, as currently recommended) to conduct breast self-exams. They can be done easily (like during baths or showers) and should be repeated once a month. Every woman should get to know her breast tissue. If you notice any abnormal bumps or lumps, make an appointment with your doctor or gynecologist as soon as possible. While it’s not uncommon to develop growths in your breasts due to benign cysts or fibrosis, it’s important to be seen right away to rule out cancer. Women should also get to know their family’s medical history. Make a point of documenting any family member’s instance with breast cancer (and other cancers as well) to share with your doctor. Genetic testing & counseling are always great options, but knowing relatives’ ages at diagnosis and types of cancer gives you and your doctor something to be mindful of. Finally, adopting a healthy lifestyle is an important step in reducing your risk for breast cancer— and various other forms of cancer and disorders. Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, and vegetables, fibers and whole grains, calcium and proteins is always desirable. Limit your intake of sugars, excess carbs, fats and high sodium foods. Don’t smoke, and avoid alcoholic beverages. Exercise regularly; 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or 150 minutes of activity of moderate intensity, per week is recommended for adults. And always keep up with yearly physicals.

Dealing with a diagnosis Thankfully, breast cancer no longer equates to terminal illness due to advancements in medicine. However, it’s so important to have a second (or maybe even third) opinion and find a doctor who you can trust. Be certain to immediately develop a treatment plan with your provider. Make sure you are well informed about your stage of cancer, next steps for treatment, and what to expect throughout the process. Stick to your treatment plan, and if any discomfort or adverse reactions result from your plan consult with your doctor.

page 12 Now more than ever, it’s important to have a strong network. Communicate with your family and friends. Let them know how you are feeling and whenever you need support. You may even want to investigate cancer support groups available within your community. Remember to stay positive, stay active, and strive to be your best self. Now, go out there and beat breast cancer!

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a strong network. Communicate with your family and friends. Let them know how you are feeling and whenever you need support. You may even want to investigate cancer support groups available within your community. Remember to stay positive, stay active, and strive to be your best self. Now, go out there and beat breast cancer!

References and Further Resources American Cancer Society: What is Breast Cancer?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Basic Information About Breast Cancer Breast Cancer

WebMD: Breast Cancer and the Breast Self Exam

WebMD: Breast Cancer in Young Women


Message from founder: I just want to take the time out to say thank you to Maria Brown-Knight for being a part of this issue. It saddens me to say that before this issue she lost her mother. Because of the relationship I have with my mother I know that it must be devastating. I could not imagine the pain you are going through. On behalf of WE Magazine and myself we offer our condolences. Maria Brown-Knight is our September “Naturally Me� campaign winner. Not only did we feel she represented what it meant to be naturally you, but we later learned that she has a story of courage and strength that would inspire women battling with breast cancer. I sat down with Mrs. Brown-Knight to get to know her as a mother, a grandmother and a survivor.

D. Sylvester: When we decided to address breast cancer in this issue, we had no idea we would end up choosing a woman who has not only survived breast cancer once, but twice. Tell our readers a little bit about yourself. M. Brown-Knight: I am a two time breast cancer survivor; I am also a wife of 19 years. My husband and I will be celebrating our 20 year anniversary on Christmas day. D. Sylvester: Wow, that’s amazing. Congrats! M. Brown-Knight: Thank you so much. We have four beautiful children, two boys and two girls, and our first grandchild, a girl. My daughter is in college so we are having a blast spoiling our granddaughter. That’s really just me. I feel like I have a new lease on life, and I just like to celebrate every day. Celebrate who I am and the life that God has blessed me with. I used to feel somewhat sorry for myself, and would say things like, “God, why me,” until one day my pastor helped me to realize, “Why not you?” Everything that I have gone through, there was always a lesson in it, and I always saw that lesson. Everything that I have gone through has enabled me to help somebody else. I realized that I struggled so that I could help someone else; that it wasn’t for me it was for them, and I’m okay with that. I can remember telling God to use me, and it’s not always something easy that He uses you for. You never know that when you say “Lord use me,” you could be saying, “I’m taking this cancer on for someone else who couldn’t.” You have to realize that you are strong enough to withstand whatever He throws at you. So this was just an avenue for me to grow spiritually because I have such a tremendous passion for helping people.

If God could give His only son for us, who am I that I can’t give something to someone else? D. Sylvester: I think that’s very powerful. As I do this interview with you, I am drawn back to the fact that you are a breast cancer survivor, and my mother is actually going through breast cancer now… M. Brown-Knight: Oh my, bless her!

D. Sylvester: Thank you. What I wanted to do with this issue was incorporate breast cancer tips and stories. So it is amazing that we were able to connect through the “Naturally Me” campaign. By sharing your story, you are helping others. How have you been able to maintain such a positive state of mind? Outside of God and leaning on the Word, I know that it gets tough. How do you stay strong? M. Brown-Knight: My hair was so long before the cancer. I loved my hair, and I never wore my hair off my face. I always wore it to the front and everybody knew me as the girl with the long hair. So it was kind of hard then. That part was harder for me than the actual cancer. The day that I started to lose my hair, I will never forget (it was a Tuesday last year in September), and I was getting ready for work. I was combing my hair and it just started to come out in clumps. I had had the chemo before with the first [occurrence of] cancer, but it didn’t take my hair; it just made it shed really badly. But this time was different. After I combed the hair and saw

that it was falling out, I attempted to pull it back and big patches [of hair] just started to come out. My youngest daughter, who was 16, was standing behind me in the mirror and she just started to say, “It’s okay mommy; it’s okay, we can fix it.” So I stopped combing it and just started rubbing it. I went to work feeling like, “Satan you will not defeat me today.” A coworker, who was also one of my prayer partners, noticed that something wasn’t right with me. “You’re wearing your smile, [but it’s like] you’re not wearing your smile.” We walked to the bathroom and she could see where my hair had fallen out. Hair was on my shirt, and I had just kind of rubbed my hair and it came out in my hands. She suggested I should just go home. When I got home, my husband was there; mind you he didn’t know anything was going on and just happened to be home. I told him my hair had fallen out. I pulled it back off of my face and I showed him. My head was as bald as my hand. He and I got in the car and went to the barbershop. I had never been to that shop before, and I told the stylist that I wanted to cut off all of my hair. She called me back and asked me what had happened.

Low and behold, before I ever told her anything, she had put one of the barber shawls around me— a breast cancer shawl that one of her customers had given her. She said she had no idea what the shawl was before she wrapped it around me. She cut my hair off, and I asked her how much, to which she replied that it wasn’t going to cost me a thing. She gave me a scarf, which I still have, and then she referred me to a stylist who makes wigs for people with cancer. She called her, made the appointment, and took me there. I tried on the wigs, and asked how much one would cost. The wig stylist told me it was going to be $270.00. I said that I would have to come back another time. “Well, how much do you have on you?” she asked. I told her $90.00, and she told me to give her the cash and take the wig. She said, “Be blessed because you just blessed me.” And I didn’t understand what she meant until I told my pastor, who explained, “You blessed her by allowing her to be a blessing to you.” D. Sylvester: Your story is definitely amazing. God brings people together for a reason. It was to connect us for you to share your story. I really thank you for participating. M. Brown-Knight: This was awesome. I had never won anything in my life, and I just thought, “Let me try something new.” I had never uploaded a picture on the internet with my hair. No one had ever seen a picture of me like that. D. Sylvester: I appreciate your bravery, and I am glad you shared your story because it is going to be a blessing to someone else. M. Brown-Knight: I will be keeping in contact with you to find out how your mother is doing because by His stripes she is already healed.

When I started this campaign, I never would have imagined that I’d encounter a story like this one. Thank you so much Mrs. Knight, for feeling comfortable to share your story with me and our readers. I am sure that it will touch not only the lives of the women that are going through cancer, but also those who are on that journey with them. Stay blessed.

Stay Bold. Stay Beautiful. Be Naturally You.

WE MAGAZINE: Tell us a little bit about the show itself. You are showing them what’s near them that they can possibly pursue; things they may have never even thought about, like sky diving or just trying new restaurants. You also put on an event called the “Forest of Fury.” S. LOWERY: You know it’s not just about doing things that are right around the corner. It’s really about changing people’s thought process and encouraging them to try new things. Adventure could be something as small as tasting a new food, or a new flavor or something that you never tried. [Adventure could be] taking a different route walking home from work or school. It’s about small changes that some times have us out of the norm. Sometimes we have our lives on auto pilot, I especially. I remember just when I did everything the same-- I go here to do my grocery shopping, I pick up my clothes from here, I go to this gas station. I read somewhere that something as small as changing the direction you normally walk in around the grocery store can [take you out of] your comfort zone. And that's what we’re trying to get people to do: small changes at first. Everyone doesn’t want to jump out a plane, but we can try to find adventure in anything that could otherwise be considered a hum drum lifestyle. WE MAGAZINE: To add to that, it allows you to free your mind. One of the things I enjoy the most is walking around M street & N street in NW, DC. I just like walking through the homes and realizing that there are a lot of great places in this area, even just to walk. S. LOWERY: Absolutely. Usually I drive to Georgetown, I park the car, I go kayaking, or I go to brunch. It was not too long ago when one of my girlfriend’s and I decided to take the train to the Smithsonian. It was when the cherry blossoms had just bloomed; we got off the train, and looked around in awe. I thought, “Okay, this is really cool.” We just kept walking until we reached Georgetown, and then we started walking through Georgetown. It was just a great day. It just depends on where you are or what you want to do. I always try to tell folks to look in other parts of the world. A lot of times we travel to the same places like the Bahamas or Jamaica, and that’s it. I ask people, “Hey, have you ever been to China?” “Why would why I want to go there?” they ask me. And I respond, “Why wouldn’t you want to go there?”

WE MAGAZINE: You have a trip planned in September? S. LOWERY: Yes, this will be our 3rd Annual Adventure Vacation, and so last year we took folks zip-lining, horseback riding, and white water kayaking in Costa Rica. That was awesome. In the year before that we did a really great trip to Italy as part of a cruise that starts in Spain. We stayed in a nice little boutique hotel; did a tour of Barcelona and then caught a ride on the cruise ship for Norwegian, called Epic. WE MAGAZINE: So these trips allow people to experience different cultures? It seems new experiences are a major aspect of your brand.

S. LOWERY: (laughs) I have to check off my bucket list before I kick the bucket. WE MAGAZINE: Do you see yourself expanding your brand to include other pieces outside of the TV show and the great trips? Have you considered radio maybe or something like that? S. LOWERY: You know I’m not necessarily—I will never say no to anything, because you never know what direction life is going to turn. The only thing I can say is that I will be ready for whatever opportunity comes, and to take life by the horns. I can’t even tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow, so to be open and prepared for it is the only thing I can try to do. WE MAGAZINE: How have your entrepreneurial motivations changed since you first started this journey with the TV show? You are running a business, a very fun and exciting business, but a business nonetheless. How have your thoughts changed since when you first began? S. LOWERY: I have been running my own business since 1999; I know the business doesn’t go the way you always think it’s going to go. Sometimes it can go in a much better direction than you previously thought and sometimes you wake up one day and need to make some changes.

I did this because I wanted to get out and try new things and tell people about it. As time went on, I realized that it was much more important for me to share the experiences with people as opposed to just having people watch me do them. That’s why I have not done any new episodes in a while. I have been focusing more on having people join me for a lot of these experiences, building my meet up groups, and just trying to get them to join in the fun. I think that’s my biggest push now. There’s so much to do and see, so come do and see it with me. WE MAGAZINE: Yes, doing something different outside of your comfort zone seems to be a huge part of your brand. It’s important to definitely get people involved. We would be a much happier people if we just tried something different in life. S. LOWERY: Exactly, and not only that, but sometimes things can be really hard for you. You’ll look to your left and right and see somebody else, and it’s hard for them too so we can help each other work through it. WE MAGAZINE: And you’re building a community so to speak. S. LOWERY: Of course, hopefully. WE MAGAZINE: I’m pretty sure you are and you will be and your following is large and you’re doing a great job. S. LOWERY: Thank you. WE MAGAZINE: So now we just have some fun filled questions; nothing too hard. S. LOWERY: Okay. WE MAGAZINE: What is one of your favorite things to do when you are not working on something related to World Next Door? S. LOWERY: You know, I don’t know because people really don’t know that I’m a homebody. WE MAGAZINE: Well, that might be your thing… to be alone. S. LOWERY: You know, cooking actually would probably be it, because it sounds so weird but… I love going to the grocery store and literally I could walk around in Wegman’s for two hours. WE MAGAZINE: Well that’s a huge store so I can understand that. S. LOWERY: Yeah, picking out different ingredients for something I want to try, or trying new spices, and different things like that. Sometimes I’ll start at the magazine section and look at the different recipe magazines. I’ll open one up, take it, and go walk around and get all the stuff for it and bring it home. WE MAGAZINE: What’s your favorite thing to cook since you like going to the grocery store and cooking? S. LOWERY: Oh my god, everything. I love jambalaya, I love turkey wings, and it can be anything. I love rice and gravy and other down home soul food. Yeah, I like gravy, rice, potatoes. WE MAGAZINE: I heard gravy twice, so I assume you really like gravy (laughs). page 22

S. LOWERY: I love gravy. I like my food wet, and I don’t like anything dry, so I’m going to drown it with everything. Just put it all together. WE MAGAZINE: Who is your favorite musical artist? What are you listening to in your iPad, iPod, car, or whatever? S. LOWERY: I love Erykah Badu. I love Beyoncé; she’s a great entertainer. I love Jay Z and Biggie. I’m an old hip-hop head, so I like their old stuff. WE MAGAZINE: What is your favorite book to read when you’re at home? S. LOWERY: Well, I’m more of a magazine person. WE MAGAZINE: That’s fine, that’s fine. S. LOWERY: I’m more of a magazine person so I’ll pick up Upscale, Ebony or Essence magazines, but honestly I will pick up a food magazine first. WE MAGAZINE: You love to cook so that would make sense. S. LOWERY: Occasionally I do [pick up] one of the travel magazines [to read about] where I want to go next, or where I haven’t seen. And I love pictures that draw you in; a picture is worth a thousand words. Whether its food or a new destination, if the picture pulls me in, I want whatever’s in it. For more information on Sonya Lowery check her out on: Twitter: @WorldNextDoorTV Facebook: Website:

Each year, many women undergo a mastectomy or lose their hair due to breast cancer. They may feel somewhat self-conscious about their new appearance. If you’re in the fight against breast cancer, you can find fashion pieces and makeup options that enhance an already beautiful you. Check out the options below:

Hair Loss Women who’ve lost their hair (balding and/or eyebrow loss) may struggle with makeup choices and whether to wear wigs or head coverings. The option is totally personal as no woman should feel that they need to abide by a certain standard. Choose what makes you most comfortable.

Wigs and Weaves If you decide to wear wigs or weaves, you can visit a local beauty supply store, or find top quality hair online. Try: Indique Hair ( Sensationnel ( Extensions Plus (

Don’t be afraid to do it yourself if money is an issue—hair can be expensive but there are plenty of YouTube videos to guide you through the process. Ones to watch include: xoSamandthaVon xo lover4FASHION Tiarra monet

page 24

Hats & Scarves There are no limits when it comes to hats and head scarves, but here are a few options:





Remaining Bald with Options Many women, with or without medical reasons, have made the choice to go for the big chop—which is just as beautiful! When choosing not to wear any hair, choose large beautiful earrings to complement your fashion statement.




GET THIS KIT page 25 19

Mastectomy Bras & Tops Today, more women at risk for breast cancer are choosing to undergo double mastectomies. Others diagnosed with aggressive forms may have had to remove one or both breasts to avoid the spread of cancer. Whatever your situation, you can wear any top or dress that you desire. If you’re feeling apprehensive about your new bust size, the following options will give you a new perspective.





Statement Necklaces for Flattery Statement Necklaces that draw the eyes up, and are flattering for all body types.




Improving Overall Physical Appearance Cancer treatment can leave you looking tired and exhausted. You may lose some weight and muscle mass, and notice more fine lines, wrinkles and dark undereye circles. You can stop or reverse the effects of your treatment with very little effort. When you look your best, you feel your best. 1. Be sure to maintain healthy habits. Follow your doctor’s advice. Exercise as much as you can (even a leisurely walk will be beneficial). Try to eat a well-balanced diet. If you find that your cancer treatments leave you nauseated and with a loss of appetite, talk to your doctor about supplements to ensure you stay nourished and hydrated. Continue to stay in contact with family and friends, and engage in your favorite hobbies and past times. Taking care of self will radiate beauty from the inside out. 2. Keep your skin moisturized using a good body lotion or cream once per day to make your skin feel better and look better too. 3. Indulge! Manicures and pedicures, spa treatments, and even a nice warm bath can make all the difference. 4. Try foundations, concealers , bronzers, and lipsticks that highlight and make your skin glow:





page 27 19

By Tanya Angelique

Do you ever find yourself trying to make things "just right?"

Are you

always racing against a deadline because you spend too much time focusing on something that isn't exactly as you desire? Maybe you're the mother, wife, sister, or friend who has become critical or even judgmental because others do not think or behave to your standards? If you can identify with any of the above then maybe, just maybe, you are a perfectionist. Perfectionists aspire to be top achievers and do not allow themselves or others to make even a single mistake. They are always on alert for imperfections and weaknesses in themselves and others. They tend to be rigid thinkers who are on the lookout for deviations from the rules or the norm. Perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence. People who pursue excellence in a healthy way take genuine pleasure in working to meet high standards. Perfectionists are often filled with self-doubt and fears of disapproval, ridicule, and rejection. The high producer has drive, while the perfectionist is overly driven. John Maxwell said it best: "Avoid perfectionism and pursue excellence." As you move through life, strive to be good at what you do, not perfect. There are some distinct differences between perfectionists and those whose objective is excellence, as listed below: 1. Perfectionists can be devastated by failure; pursuers of excellence learn from it. 2. Perfectionists remember mistakes and dwell on them. Pursuers of excellence correct mistakes and learn from them. 3. Perfectionists want to be number one Pursuers of excellence are satisfied with not being the best, especially when they know they’ve tried their hardest. 4. Perfectionists have to win to keep high self-esteem. Pursuers of excellence can finish second and still feel good about it.

page 29 19

Starting today, take the steps necessary to liberate yourself from the need to be perfect. Often, our lack of trust in our capabilities can be the greatest obstacle between ourselves and our goals.

If you don’t believe in yourself or believe that you or your life can change, it just won’t happen—you will either never begin, or will have given up quickly, never giving yourself the opportunity to succeed.

You cannot deny that a positive attitude is very important for living a successful and satisfying life-- it is only right to strive to have a positive attitude. I have struggled with reforming my perfectionist’s attitude as well, but over the years, through persistence and self evaluation, I have managed to change for the better.

You can too!

To learn more about Life and Business Coach Tanya Angelique visit

WE Magazine: You’re one of my favorite authors since childhood, so I am so excited to interview with you. What inspired you to become a writer? M. Monroe: My whole life really inspired me. It’s hard to say what first inspired me because I have always been making up stories even as a little kid. Writing came after me; I didn’t go after it. I’m from the Deep South [during a time when there were many] uneducated people who had no interest in reading or writing. So, I really don’t know where it came from; all I know is that it was there.

WE Magazine: That’s great that you were able to recognize that passion so early on. I studied English in college. My passion wasn’t necessarily to write but I loved to read different stories. I loved to slip into another world and I think that’s what books allow you to do. M. Monroe: I loved reading them so much, but I was reading a lot of books and stories where I would say, “I can do that or I can do better than that.” Especially with the stories I didn’t enjoy or I didn’t like the ending of it. I’ve always been a storyteller; when I was young and we used to have to work in the fields [with my parents who were sharecroppers), I would entertain myself and my playmates with stories. And I knew ever since elementary school that I would write books one day, and here I am. WE Magazine: Before I continue, my mother asked me to find out from you if there will be a sequel to Lost Daughters because she loved the characters (laughs). M. Monroe: When I did Upper Room, I didn’t plan on doing a sequel or a prequel to it. I did Mama Ruby, which was the prequel. I [wrote] Lost Daughters so that I could show the fans that the girl finally found out that Mama Ruby wasn’t her real mother, but there is nowhere else the story can go. What I can do or will probably do is incorporate some of those characters within another story. Put them in as background people that are unrelated to the story, but the bottom line is you have [to] end the story somewhere. WE Magazine: I know, I know you’re right (laughs). M. Monroe: If you get too crazy with it people will get bored. WE Magazine: No that is true, and I have read authors that do that continuously, and every time you turn around there is a new story for the same character. M. Monroe: I think that you should end every story on a high note. It’s best to end a story when people are still interested in finding out more about the characters. The thing is that I have so many new characters and other new stories on the table right now that I have to focus on them. I say that, but Mama Ruby may just come back. WE Magazine: Well I love Mama Ruby so I’m for it. M. Monroe: She’s my most popular character! page 31 19

WE Magazine: When she ran after Maureen at the end of the Upper Room that was such a powerful scene in the book. You felt her pain. I would have to say my favorite books include In Sheep’s Clothing, Red Light Wives, Mama Ruby, and of course God Don’t like Ugly. M. Monroe: Well in case you didn’t know all of my books are based on things that happened to me or somebody I know… WE Magazine: What!? No way! M. Monroe: Yes there is a Mama Ruby… WE Magazine: What? There’s really a Mama Ruby? (Laughs) M. Monroe: There were some Red Light Wives; I grew up next door to a brothel. WE Magazine: Wow that’s crazy. M. Monroe: And the God Don’t Like Ugly storyline where the girl was sexually assaulted, that was me. WE Magazine: Wow. M. Monroe: All the stuff that I write about is stuff that I know or have gone through. WE Magazine: Well I am sorry about what happened to you. I didn’t know that God Don’t Like Ugly was a true story. Because that was one of my favorite stories, and I wanted Mr. Boatwright to die so badly, and I am sure that I am not the only one. I mean, that was my introduction to you and I read that book in one day. That’s how good that book was, and I hate that I do that, but that shows you how good of an author you are if your readers can’t put the book down. M. Monroe: I love to read a book in one sitting. I love that feeling. WE Magazine: But then you have to wait for the next one. At least with your books, there is no issue with going back and rereading them. M. Monroe: There are several books that I go back, and I reread. The one that I reread over and over again is The Autobiography of Jane Pittman, and there are a few others. And each time I read them it’s like I’m reading it for the first time. WE Magazine: I would have to say that I found my way into African American fiction by happenstance. I started with Omar Tyree with Flyy Girl.

M. Monroe: I loved Flyy Girl. WE Magazine: I think everyone did; it was either that book or The Coldest Winter Ever. So after I found those books, I wondered who were all of these wonderful authors, and where were you when I was reading Jackie Collins or Mary Higgins Clark? I didn’t even know that this genre truly existed, but once I did I was hooked. Now that I know how you come up with all of these interesting stories, I find them even the more interesting. What type of novels are you working on right now? M. Monroe: I just completed a book entitled Family of Lies; it’s a Romeo and Juliet type of story. The wife of a wealthy man leaves him for a security guard and the husband tries to kills him; but he doesn’t know that the wife overhears the plot and is going to go to the security so she can die with him. That comes out in June of next year; we’re working on the cover right now. I am working on a book right now entitled Rachel’s Revenge, and it’s about a woman who was going to marry a guy. Everything was going fine until he finds out that she has [a] mental illness in her family, and abruptly leaves her but not before using her, and he tells people why he dumps her and then she finds out. She’s going to fix him (laughs). WE Magazine: Well I know she will fix him if you’re writing it (laughs). M. Monroe: She learns from her experiences, and he will too. You can’t use and abuse people and not come out unscathed. But it will end on a happy note. One of the things I am realizing is that I have so many things on the table right now. I don’t go through writers block; I don’t even know what that is because of all of the different stories that I know about the crazy people just in my family alone. My publisher keeps telling me that I need to write my memoir, so I am working on that as well. WE Magazine: Awesome! I will be reading it! M. Monroe: I have some relatives and friends that you do not want to know, and they don’t even know where I live. They have a PO Box (laughs). WE Magazine: Sometimes you have to do that though. I love that you are very open and honest in this interview.

page 32 19

M. Monroe: My life is an open book— I have been through a lot. I have been through some shady, shady things. I don’t hold anything back, and when I lecture I tell people the truth. I’ll tell them I grew up around prostitutes; I got caught up in that. The only thing I haven’t done is drugs. I am from a family of criminals, how could it not rub off on me, but I got out of it, and I want to write about how I got out of it.

WE Magazine: I am still reeling from the fact that these people are real, and these stories actually happened. So, you’ve never attended college or any writing classes, and I find that to be amazing. M. Monroe: I knew a lot. My IQ was so much higher than some of my classmates. So I got bored a lot in school. I learned everything I know from reading. The reason I didn’t go to college is because my mother was broke. I am the only member of my family that made it out of high school. I didn’t even think about going to college. Everything I know I taught myself. WE Magazine: Have you ever thought about going to college now or doing writing classes now? Not that you would need to, but just to get a formal education. M. Monroe: I’m too lazy and I am not going to get caught up into anything that I am not passionate about. I turned a teaching position in Houston down because that’s not what I want to do. People say why don’t you turn your stories into plays like Tyler Perry, but that’s not what I want to do. WE Magazine: What advice would you give to those people who are sitting in those college courses and are hoping to one day become a great writer? Besides just sitting there and writing, what does it mean to be a writer? M. Monroe: One of the most important things for an aspiring author to know is that you have to know what you’re up against. You have to be realistic. You have to understand that rejection is a part of the game. If you’ve got the secret to not being rejected, then share it with the world. You can’t expect to write a book that everyone is going to like; even God couldn’t do that. People are running around complaining about the Bible. Another thing is that you have to keep a level of humbleness. I’ve met authors along the way that have missed so many opportunities because of their attitude. One of the most important things that an aspiring author can do is read. Find time to read 2-3 books a week. That’s creative nourishment. WE Magazine: That is a different response than saying you just have to sit down and write.

M. Monroe: Well you have to have a story to tell, and everyone on this planet has a story. You need to know how to approach it and how to tell that story because this is a business. When I was younger I was sending out manuscripts and at the same time I was sending out letters to the editors telling them, “Please send my check by Christmas so I can get my Christmas shopping done.” I mean that’s how naïve I was, and it took years for me to figure it out. You can cut a lot of that out by joining a workshop, and you’d be surprised what you can learn by just networking with other aspiring authors. WE Magazine: I am glad that you mentioned that this is a business because writing is another form of entrepreneurship. How do you navigate through the business side of things in terms of selling your books to the masses? M. Monroe: For many, many years I worked at a 9-5 job, and at night I learned as much as I could about the business of writing. When I finally got my foot in the door I realized that you have to know how to promote yourself. If a publisher is going to send you on a 25 city book tour (and that is hard work let me tell you), you have to do everything you can to promote yourself. I reached out to all of the bookstores and book clubs to get my name out there. I printed 500 copies of a flyer and I went into a parking lot and I put one on every car. You also need to know that it’s a legal business too. You can’t just get a contract and sign it. You have to carefully read it; you need to get an attorney to look at [the contract] because you don’t want to sign away your life. I’ve seen that happen. It may seem wonderful, but without the proper education you will end up signing away future book rights. Like in the music and the movie businesses, a lot of young or uneducated people get taken advantage of. Don’t be so eager to sign something, and be willing to go out and promote yourself. WE Magazine: I don’t think a lot of people know and think about what it means to be a writer. People just think you write a book and all of a sudden, there is a Mary Monroe. They don’t understand what it took to get those books into Barnes & Noble. I want to thank you for explaining that to our readers. I also want to thank you for being a part of this issue. I want to end this article with my last question: who are some of your favorite authors? M. Monroe: Ernest Gaines is definitely my favorite because I believe The Autobiography of Jane Pittman is one of the best novels ever written. It’s my favorite book. The close second is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossein. I buy everything [by] Jackie Collins, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Carl Weber, etc. WE Magazine: You have really given great insight, and I really enjoyed this interview. Thank you so much for being a part of this issue. It was great to interview you. I can’t wait to read your next books. M. Monroe: Thank you, so much appreciated. For more information on Ms. Monroe check her out on: Facebook: Website: Twitter: @MaryMonroeBooks

I wanted to dedicate this issue to my mother. She didn't know that I would be writing this. So...

She's never had anything written for her, so here you go mom. I love you. We made it through a heart attack, bypass surgery, and we will make it through cancer. Remember that there are millions of women fighting alongside you. I know you haven’t met them, but they are there. I realize my mother is not the only person battling breast cancer. I also realize the amount of strength it takes to go through it, and keep moving, keeping a smile on your face. When they say cancer doesn't kill the person's spirit, they truly mean it. Know that everyone is rooting for you.

Wear your scars with pride, and remember you are beautiful. Remember that God doesn't allow you to go through anything without learning something in the end. And for those walking alongside the women overcoming cancer like my father and I, remember there are just as many people walking alongside you. They are feeling the exact same emotions. They too are learning how to be a support system, while understanding there is nothing they can do beyond that. Be strong— if not for yourself for your loved one. If they can endure the treatments, surgeries and everything else that comes with battling cancer, you can surely keep a smile on your face for them.

Remember your attitude affects them, so keep calm and give it up to God.

By first acknowledging your destined path and purpose, you will then be able to embrace your true identity. From your embrace stems your identity. Your identity is fused by one of two things. 1. Your inner quality, outer positioning and overall image (collectively) or 2. Your obsession with someone else’s image. Once you’re able to accept yourself, your destined path and image you decide to embrace will be easy. Find out who that is and the rest is history. Love who you are, what you’re going through and make it work for you. There’s a star quality that you naturally possess. Embrace it and watch it sparkle.

SPICY CHICKEN AND PEPPER JACK PIZZA DIRECTIONS: AprilHeat 7th, 22011 Yield: Serves 3 tooil4 in a small teaspoons vegetable saucepot over medium-low heat. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until golden, about INGREDIENTS: 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and water, stirringcanola to combine. 1 Tbsp. or olive oil

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

INGREDIENTS: Vegetable oil 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

Stir diced in the brown sugaryellow and increase the heat 3 cups fresh red, and green bellto peppers (I used all red) medium. Bring the sauce to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 (13.8 oz.) tube refrigerated pizza dough (I used 1lb of homemade crust) 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce 1/2 cup salsa (I used fresh salsa)

1/2 cup water

2 cups (8 oz.) Sargento® ChefStyle Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese [1] Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4inch pieces, then it with the cornstarch. Chopped cilantro ortoss dried oregano (optional) Place the coated pieces of steak in a sieve and 1 ½ cups cooked and shredded chicken shake off any excess cornstarch. Allow the steak to sit 10 for minutes.

2/3 cup dark brown sugar 1 (1-pound) flank steak 1/4 cup cornstarch

3 scallions, sliced into 1-inch pieces

DIRECTIONS: 1. Heat oilainlarge a large skillet over heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add bell peppers; Place sauté pan or wokmedium over mediumhigh heat andoradd 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Once sauté 5 minutes until crisp-tender. the oil is hot (but not smoking), add the beef to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes until it is seared 2. Meanwhile, pizza doughinonto a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray; on all sides unroll but barely cooked the center. press doughthe evenly all the edges pan. Bake in preheated 425°F 8 minutes. 3. Stir salsa into Remove steakto from panof with a slotted cooked vegetables; partially baked crust. Top with chicken and cheese. spoon and transferspread it onto aover paper towel-lined plate. Pour any excess oil out of the wok.

3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown. Cut into squares; garnish with cilantro or oregano if desired. Place the sauté pan back over medium heat. Add the prepared sauce to the hot pan (it should come to a boil almost immediately), NOTES: then add the reserved steak and cook at a - adapted fromconstantly, Sargento 2 minutes. Add the boil, stirring sliced scallions, stirring to combine.

Transfer steak and scallions with a slotted spoon to a plate and serve.

This delicious recipe brought to you by My Baking Addiction

Taken from: Just a Taste

DIRECTIONS: Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a small saucepot over medium-low heat. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and water, stirring to combine.

COCONUT CHICKEN W/ SWEET CHILI DIPPING SAUCE Ingredients 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts $3.96 2 large eggs $0.30 ¼ cup coconut milk (optional) $0.16

Stir in the brown sugar and increase the heat to medium. Bring the sauce to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.

½ cup all purpose flour $0.28 1 cup panko bread crumbs $0.43 1 cup shredded coconut $0.50

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4inch pieces, then toss it with the cornstarch. Place the coated pieces of steak in a sieve and shake off any excess cornstarch. Allow the steak to sit 10 for minutes.

½ tsp salt $0.05 ½ cup vegetable oil, divided $0.29 1 cup sweet chili sauce $0.94

Instructions Place a large sauté pan or wok over mediumhigh heat and add 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot (but not smoking), add the beef to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes until it is seared on all sides but barely cooked in the center. Remove the steak from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer it onto a paper towel-lined plate. Pour any excess oil out of the wok.

Place the sauté pan back over medium heat. Add the prepared sauce to the hot pan (it should come to a boil almost immediately), then add the reserved steak and cook at a boil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add the sliced scallions, stirring to combine.

Transfer steak and scallions with a slotted spoon to a plate and serve.

Cut off any extra fat globules from your chicken breasts. Cut each breast into 6 strips, diagonally to prevent the end strips from being really short. See photos below. Prepare your breading station by gathering three bowls. In the first bowl combine the flour and salt. In the second bowl, combine the eggs and coconut milk. Whisk together until well combined. In the third bowl, stir together the panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut. Place ¼ cup of vegetable oil in a large heavy duty skillet and heat over medium/ high heat until it is just below smoking. You can test the heat by throwing in a little bit of flour. When it is hot enough, the flour will sizzle and create a lot of bubbles. After breading the strips, the oil should be hot enough. Place about 6 strips in the pan at once. When all of the strips are done frying, serve immediately with sweet chili sauce to dip in. I garnished mine with a little bit of chopped cilantro.

BLUEBERRY LEMON POUND CAKE Ingredients 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar 1/2 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup lower in fat cream cheese, softened 3 large eggs Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 Tbs) 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 tsp vanilla 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 1 (8 oz) carton non-fat lemon yogurt Cooking spray 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar 4 tsp lemon juice

Instructions Preheat oven to 350ยบ. In a large bowl beat the sugar, butter and cream cheese at medium speed with a mixer until well blended (4-5 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest. In a smaller bowl measure the 3 cups of flour. Remove 2 Tbs and sprinkle over the blueberries, gently stirring and tossing to coat. To the remaining flour add the baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir to combine. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture alternately with the yogurt, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, being careful not to over-mix. Gently, fold in the blueberries. Pour the batter into a 10-inch tube pan (angel food cake pan) coated with cooking spray. Sharply tap the pan once on the counter to remove air bubbles.

Bake at 350ยบ for 1 hour and 15 minutes Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove cake from sides of the pan. Cool an additional 15 minutes on a wire rack, then remove the cake from the bottom of the pan. Allow to cool completely. Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over the cake. Cut with a serrated knife and serve. Enjoy! -

WE Magazine was so excited to secure an interview with this dynamic songtress. Amel Larrieux is known for her powerful voice, and for being a part of the 90s group Groove Theory. Since then she has managed to not only stay relevant in the music industry, but is releasing a new album entitled "Ice Cream Everyday." WE Magazine: Amel, you were a part of a group called Groove Theory. How did you begin your career in the music industry, and how did you become a part of the group? A. Larrieux: I attended an alternative high school where I was able to do an internship in any area of my choice. I chose to work for a company that strove to abolish apartheid in Africa, while songwriting for Zaba Music Publishing. While at Zaba, I interned for a woman named Karen Durant. When I graduated high school [Karen] ended up calling me. She took me under her wing and had me sing for a couple of producers. I sang on a hook for a group called LA Posse, which was really great because I was only 17 at the time. Karen called me and asked me to be her assistant for her new music publishing company, and I felt great. I am the daughter of a professor, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go to college, so I chose music. She had just signed someone who was looking to start a group, and was considering different singers and songwriters. After working there for a couple months, Karen asked me to write a few songs for the group. So, I wrote the songs and ended up recording the demos myself. When the group’s founder heard the demos he said, “You sing and you write. Do you just want to be in the group?” My joining the group would avoid tricky situations with intellectual property, so I agreed. Groove Theory helped me define who I am as a songwriter. I was also looking to put a stamp on my style, and therefore I did all of my own vocals and backgrounds. WE Magazine: That’s awesome that you did all of your own vocals. You have definitely transitioned from being a member of the much loved Groove Theory to a really awesome solo artist. A. Larrieux: Oh thank you! WE Magazine: Tell us about your new album called “Ice Cream Everyday”. What can the listeners expect from it? A. Larrieux: It’s like an “unformulated formula”; that’s a catch phrase that Laru, my husband and producer, and I use. That’s what you can expect from my solo albums. My albums don’t follow one particular style or one particular tempo. It’s definitely not a systematic album. We start with a track that’s really bare boned, and once I hear it I start writing to it. Or if [Laru] has something completely done I’ll start writing on it. We allow ourselves to just create art, and then edit it so that it’s cohesive.

It’s kind of difficult because we’re both perfectionists. We want everything just perfect but it can never be, so we find styles and different ways to approach a song. When we feel we’ve done our best and have a bunch of songs that could coexist together, it becomes a lot easier to say, “Ok, this song is where it needs to be— no more and no less.” That’s kind of how this album, and I believe most of my albums, have been created. They have been really natural and organic, with a kind of progression of music, lyrics, sound, and voice. WE Magazine: You have been around for quite a while now and you have such an amazing sound. You have one of the most unique voices. You’ve created a wonderful Jazz standard album, and remakes of songs such as “Try Your Wings”. It’s hard to have such a unique voice and style, and remain relevant in this industry. How have you been able to be successful and remain true to yourself, when countless others come into this industry and don’t make it? How have you managed to maintain such a large following?

page 48 19

A. Larrieux: There are a number of different ingredients, and I don’t think that there’s one formula that works for everyone. They say for women, “when you go and try on jeans, don’t think that you don’t fit the jeans; think of it as the jeans don’t fit you.” You have to remember you’re okay. Every artist thinks of themselves as an individual. [Music] is a business and you have to think of yourself as a product, which has its pros and cons. Thinking of yourself as a product diminishes the chance that you’ll take things personally, and you understand that there is no conspiracy against you. We all have to go through the same things. You need to have a great team and the right set up. You must maintain individuality because it sets you apart from the rest. However, you’ll need a team to support and promote you while you focus on the music. Also, you must have a certain amount of objectivity and gut intuition. I know that I have to be true to myself. I know that if I have a strong feeling in my gut, I have to follow it or I will be a shell of a person. But, sometimes, I need to know that I don’t know everything. I want people on my team who I can trust and who have good track records. You’re not always right and you have to be able to admit that. I have learned that I do not want to fit into a certain mold or even external trends in any way. I am very much interested in being a part of what the universe has allowed me to create in my own space. I’m influenced by things that are past and present, but I am not interested in following something because it’s trendy.


~ WE Magazine

A. A. Larrieux: I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to follow trends, but I’m a chameleon; I am always evolving. I have a passionate point of view, whether it’s the way that I look or sound or the things that I write about; I just have a passion. And that point of view can change. Maybe if I didn’t have a strong passion and perspective, someone could give me a look or a sound and I’d wear that. But I am just a very particular person. WE Magazine: It’s great that you realize that you are an individual, and you want to set the trend of being unique. There is so much of the same sound on the radio right now; it’s good when you find something that’s different. A. Larrieux: There should be room for it all. I think that some of the trendy stuff is fun. It’s great to have multiple avenues. It’s great to have someone like me and then someone else because we can all be successful. WE Magazine: Exactly. What kind of advice would you give to ladies who would like a career in the music industry? A. Larrieux: Everything that I told you regarding why I believe I have longevity— I think that is all completely applicable. There’s a non-glamorous side of being an artist: you must have a financial machine behind you. Whether that’s a label, your own money, or your family, you need a plan. Major CEOs and self-made millionaires will talk in their books about how people invested in them, allowing them to do what they believed in. Having a dream is the first step, but beyond that you have to actually have some form of investment before you can make any moves.

Whether that be having great venues at which to perform, an amazing website, or making sure your presentation is good. You have to understand what it takes to do this professionally; either you have a major label that’s funding you or you’re funding yourself. WE Magazine: Those are all good points. People sometimes forget about all the background work that supports a musical artist. What is one myth that you would want to shatter about the music industry? A. Larrieux: There’s nothing that can prepare you, psychologically, for what you’re getting into. There are courses that explain the ins and outs of the music industry. However, from an artist’s standpoint there isn’t really a course you can take to prepare you for the things you will experience. There are tons of things that arise that you haven’t planned for but must accept. Everyone who knows my husband and I know that we don’t necessarily plan vacations because you never know what could happen. You have to always be ready to change your plans in this profession. Someone may want you to do a photo shoot or a video shoot that can change your schedule. You have to perform when you don’t feel well. You have to be ready not to take things personally. I have to reiterate that. Sure, there is pettiness. It really sucks when people are biased, and think they know who you are before they really get to know you. People are human, and it happens in any business, not just the music industry. I’d encourage aspiring artists to remember that you are an artist first, always hold on to that. But, when you realize that you want to make music a career, it is always business first. Just deflect that other stuff and be thankful that you can pay your rent and eat. You also have to understand the difference between wanting to be a star and wanting to be an artist, because they are different. I knew early on that I did not want to be a star. I wanted to be an artist because I am a very private person. I loved Michael Jackson, Prince and the Beatles but I realized that I wanted to just make art. WE Magazine: It seems that in the music industry there are a lot of stars, and not a lot of artists. Artists sometimes get lost in the shuffle; thank you for being honest in clarifying the difference between the two. A. Larrieux: I feel very lucky and fortunate because I get to be somewhere in the middle. I don’t want to be a starving artist, but I also love my privacy. I don’t love being in front of the camera all the time. I struggle with that to this day. I love being on the road but I also love being grounded. So you have to look at who you are in order to determine what you want to do. WE Magazine: Thank you for being a part of this issue. One final question: Do you find it more difficult to sell your music? A. Larrieux: The music industry is always changing, so you have to be super flexible. The reality is that people may not want to buy your entire album; they may only want to purchase one song or a few songs. And that’s okay. The reality is that people can download a lot of songs for free, and yeah that hurts, but it is reality. If you’re purchasing my music you’re supporting me, and that’s all I ask for. c

For more information on Amel Laurrieux check her out on: Twitter: @AmelLarrieux | Facebook: Website:

October issue 2013 with Amel Larrieux  
October issue 2013 with Amel Larrieux  

October 2013 Issue with Amel Larrieux, formerly of the R&B group Groove Theory!