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Celebrating the word. Celebrating the reader.

Vol. VI, Issue V 2011

Great Gift Books Ma Harper talks gratitude | Thanks for five years

Inside Written




Celebrating the word

Celebrating the reader


Great Gift Books


And so it is…

Don't miss this list

What a year!





Recommendations for the fellas

A letter for you

Written Celebrating the word. Celebrating the reader.

Vol. VI - Issue 5 Written Magazine. © 2008, ISSN 1931-9029, Zipporah Publications, P.O. Box 250504, Atlanta, Georgia 30325. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part of any article without permission is prohibited. Address all editorial contributions to Written Editorial, Zipporah, P.O. Box 250504, Atlanta, Georgia 30325. E-mail: editor@ Letters may be edited and published or used in any medium. All submissions become the property of Written and wil not be returned.


Publisher/Founder Michelle R. Gipson

Marketing Demetria L. Sharp

Advisors Elisha Gipson

C.O.O. Tosha Link Bitho

Publicity Audra Cunningham

Research Assistant Marquez Summers

V.P. Business Development Mary Sharp Gipson

Sales Director Rockelle Henderson

Creative Director Natalia Griffin

Sales Manager Sabrina Walker

Photography Tara Surrat Earl Flippen Jr.

Editors Trina Love Sheronda K. Gipson

Sales Manager - West Coast Roger Waiters

Columnists Phill M. Branch, Jr. C. Elayne Harper

Sales Manager - Washington D.C. Ron Burke

Interns Jasmine Keys LeJoi Lane Shyniqua Stallings Turquoise Mosley

Distribution Yulonda Sharp-Flippen

Follow us on Facebook & Twitter: WrittenMag

Editorial Assistant Michelle Chester celebrating the word


Accounting Veronica Parker

Cover Ilustration: Shane W. Evans

celebrating the reader

And so it is…

5 Year Anniversary!

Letter from the publisher

What a year! When we embarked on our milestone fifth year of publishing, we planned to have a ground breaking year. It was certainly a year to remember, just not in the ways we expected. Our volunteer efforts were amazing. I am a proud board member of Boys Who D.A.R.E. (Dream About Reading Everyday), and we have assisted them as they encourage a lifetime of reading with African American boys.

Toast at BEA Black Pack Party

We donated books to libraries and elderly homes and spoke with youth about careers in writing and publishing. We proudly partnered with the American Heart Association and published a heart healthy recipe for book clubs and encouraged an alternative behavior to how we entertain around books. Our editorial shifted back to more book reviews and expanded other departments like movies, music and more to include music enthusiast in our publishing perspective. Our anniversary party in NYC during Book Expo America in partnership with Mosaic magazine,, Linda Duggins and was amazing. It was held at the beautiful Aloft hotel in Harlem. The attendees had a wonderful time. The staff and the accommodations of the hotel are astounding! It is now my favorite place to stay when I return to my second home—New York. Our 30 books in 90 days challenge was the largest to date, and our online community at continue to be theist supportive book club. Even though they are all reading different titles, the conversations are as if they have known each other for years. Tee Royal and the RawSistahs book club is one of our biggest supporters in the event, and our success is largely due to them.

Toast to five years of Written

I am grateful to the many authors who sent in manuscripts to be evaluated in our first Emerging Writers contest. You will meet our awardees—Yusef Poole, Christine Priester and Sharon Tubbs—in this issue. The biggest change was in our Written family. Adding Shyniqua Stallings to our staff as our Young Adult Editor has proven to be one of the best decisions I've made since beginning this company. Thanks to Phill Branch, who spotted this great talent, we have an added dimension to our reviews that have enriched you, the readers. Our dynamic duo, Sheronda and Trina, are now in graduate school. Although they have increased the complexities of their lives, Written is still at the forefront and I am appreciative of the sacrifices they make to keep us reading well. I wish you all could hear our editorial meetings. It is an indescribable experience to be in the midst of such intellectual bibliophiles.

Catching up with old friends

We have two expecting families in the Written family, and we anxiously await the births of our next generation of readers. As I sit and contemplate what we can do next, I find myself speechless when looking at what we can accomplish. When I was sitting on the floor of my dear friend Veronica’s living room combing through magazines and dictionaries to find the perfect name for this idea I had been blessed to nurture, the word Written was the fourth or fifth idea. When I read the definition, nothing clicked until I was halfway down and read aloud “the present participle of write”. Years later we are still present and anxiously look forward to how we can serve the writing and reading communities in the future. And so it is…

Michelle Gipson

Publisher / Editor

Black Pack Party Host Michelle’s photo by Phill Branch celebrating the word


celebrating the reader

The Gift that Keeps on Giving Here are five favorite picks for books that make great gifts this holiday season:

The Neelys’ Celebration Cookbook: Down-Home Meals for Every Occasion

Chocolate Me

Pat Neely,Gina Neely with Ann Volkwein ISBN 9780307592941

Taye Diggs Illustrated by Shane W. Evans ISBN 9780312603267

Television’s lovable cooking couple, The Neelys, publish recipes and antidotes in their holiday release, The Neelys’ Celebration Cookbook. Divided by the months of the year, the Neelys’ include holidays, family events and special occasions and provide simple Southern food that will please any palette.

Famed television and theater actor Taye Diggs pens a poignant tale of a child who is questioned and teased because of his darker complexion, broad nose and different textured hair. Through beautifully illustrated pictures and wonderfully crafted words, the book carefully navigates a child to a resolution of increased self-esteem.

The book has the same feel and tone as their popular Food Network show “Down Home with the Neelys” including photos of family and friends and intimate stories about their life in Memphis with their two daughters. Perfect gift for any foodie.

Go the F**k to Sleep Adam Mansback; Illustrated by Ricardo Cortes ISBN 9781617750250 This book has to be on the shelf of anyone who has ever felt the love pains of bedtime with a child. Go the F**k to Sleep will be the guilty pleasure of any parent. This beautifully illustrated book is filled from cover to cover with the profaned filled secret thoughts of parents as they wrestle their child in the night time ritual of going to sleep.

The perfect gift of children of any complexion.

This book would be a hit to any adults only baby shower or as a holiday gift to parents of children any age or expecting parents.

celebrating the word


Shaq Uncut: My Story Shaquille O’Neal with Jackie MacMullan ISBN 978-1455504411 It has been less than a year since Shaquille O’Neal decided to hang up his size 22 shoes in his retirement from professional basketball and release Shaq Uncut. In his own words, O’Neal answers critics about everything from his inability to shoot free throws, his short lived career as a rapper and his relationship with teammates from every organization he played with including the LA Lakers. This book is the perfect read for the basketball junky in your life.

celebrating the reader

Critiques Picks for the men Ice A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption, From South Central to Hollywood Ice-T and Douglas Century ISBN 9780345523280

attended was overrun with Crips. At the age of sixteen, he emancipated himself from his aunt, got an apartment and after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Army to support his newborn daughter. The military life, which was supposed to be very rigid, was where Ice would boost items on the base for a commanding officer. While hanging with Crips in high school, Ice–T began spitting what they called “Crip Rhymes” or verses that repped where his was from. Ice-T was heavily influenced by the original MCs from Bronx, NY and he soon turned his “Crip Rhymes” into songs that he performed locally. His local performances led to him being signed to Sire Records where he released one of his most popular songs “Colors” that appeared as the title track in the movie of the same name. Ice-T’s life has truly been a tale of being at the right place at the right time. He met Mario Van Peeples in a club, and Peeples asked him to audition for the role of Scotty Appleton in New Jack City. After a phone call from Andre Harrell who was the executive producer on New York Undercover, Ice-T got a few walk on parts that led to not only him playing Fin on Law and Order: SVU but it also led to his own short lived series called Players.

We all know him as the prolific 80’s rapper that penned the controversial song “Cop-Killer”. We also know him for rubbing elbows with Bishop Magic Don Juan and a bevy of women. But Ice-T, aka Tracy Marrow, had a life that didn’t start out in the hard streets that he has rapped about. Far from it. In his book “Ice”, Ice-T takes us on a journey of his life and how an unfortunate turn of events helped to create, shape and mold the man, the gangster, the rapper and the actor we see today. Ice–T grew up in Summit, NJ, the only child of middle class parents. Ice-T describes his fair-skinned mother as looking like Lena Horne or Dorothy Dandridge due to her Creole roots. When he was in the third grade, Ice-T’s mother died of a sudden heart attack. However, even as a child, he knew that he had to fend for himself. Shortly after he received a bike for Christmas, it was stolen. Ice-T went to his father to tell him what happened. His father, which Ice-T describes as not much of a talker, simply said, “Well, then, you ain’t got no bike.” After learning this quick lesson in having and not having, Ice-T learned how to boost bike parts from the neighborhood and assembled not just one bike, but multiple bikes with mismatch parts and pieces. He says that his father never noticed. Or if he did, didn’t say anything. While this was the beginning of him exerting his independence, it certainly was not the last.

This book really surprised me. In the murky sea of endless celebrity memoirs, this one is easily my favorite. What hooked me was that the book wasn’t just told from Ice-T’s perspective, it WAS Ice-T telling you the details of his life. Like he was back in Cali in a drop top deuce and a quarter, long hair blowing in the wind and a fly Fedora, running down the game to a newbie. His voice in “Ice” is clear, authentic and truthful—and all Ice-T.

Four years later, his father died and Ice-T was sent to live with his father’s sister in Los Angeles. Although he never actually claimed gang affiliation, the high school that he

–Reviewed by Sheronda Gipson


By Randall Robinson ISBN 9781617750229 What can one say about a book that seeps into your consciousness and transforms the way you think of yourself, your history and your heritage? Set upon the eve of the American civil rights movement, Randall Robinson’s Makeda connects the dots between every day people and the African-American experience.

EBM Professional Services is a full service firm specializing in the following:

• Copyediting • Proofreading

Through the humble characters, Mattie Gee Florida Harris March and her grandson Virgil Gray March, Robinson sets the novel in 1950s Richmond, Va., right on the outset of the American civil rights movement.

• Content Editing • Technical Editing

Readers will take immediately to Mattie, who we later learn was also named Makeda. Born blind, she welcomes us into her modest parlor and draws us into a world far greater than sighted eyes can see. Her visions have a ripple effect across continents, across time, beyond the pages of the book and into our sense of identity.

I also found myself rooting for Gray, who is like the African American Holden Caulfield—a young, angst-ridden, insecure boy searching for a sense of cultural pride, who has locked a mystery into his heart. Left unchallenged, this mystery has the power to result in a lifetime of chaos and self-loathing.

EBM Professional Services has an excellent reputation for quality and integrity. In business since 2003, EBM is committed to doing the best job possible at a fair price.

In Makeda, Robinson created an environment that allows us to appreciate who we are: beautifully flawed human beings who ultimately strive for love, knowledge and understanding. Unlike J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Robinson’s Makeda provokes us into wanting to solve this mystery—confront our past mistakes and allow understanding to rise like a phoenix from the burnt ashes of the African American identity.

Our goal is to edit your work to the best of our ability while striving to maintain your unique voice and style.

Not only is this a coming-of-age story about Gray, it is the coming-of-age story for the African American experience. Run, don’t walk, to read this novel—you will find you have reached another milestone in the journey of lifetimes.

For more information, contact Michelle Chester at 469-222-3418 or send an email to

–Reviwed by Cynthia Thomet celebrating the word


celebrating the reader

Handwritten By C. Elayne Harper

Gratitude in a Season of Thanksgiving

Dear Readers, I have been blessed to celebrate another birthday – another year of growth, wisdom and awareness. As customary, I have taken the time to pause and reflect over the past year and in doing so, I find that “Gratitude” is a most appropriate subject for my column.

I am truly grateful for my “children” from previous employment venues who continue to be part of my life – Charles and Michelle in particular. We are in touch on a regular basis to assure that we all are well – physically, mentally and emotionally - and we still share in important events in each other’s lives, one being my birthday (I celebrate my birthday almost every year with Charles and Michelle) as well as other social events. It goes without saying that I am thankful for my biological family – my loving son, Chip; my sisters, and all of my nieces and nephews and their families and cousins by the dozens. There is nothing like family and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival a new little addition due the latter part of December or the first of January.

Gratitude is defined as thankfulness, gratefulness or appreciation; a feeling, emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. I am happy to share with you some of the things for which I am thankful and grateful. First and foremost, I am thankful that I know God and that I live in a country where I enjoy the religious freedom to openly worship and serve Him in spirit and in truth.

I have one of the most loving and compassionate church families there is and that provides even more “babies” – young and old - for me to share my love with. Being a lifelong member of and having grown up in our family church, have afforded me the opportunity of forming lasting relationships that cross generational, familial and age lines. For this and more, I am grateful.

I am thankful for having learned to respect those whose culture, beliefs, traditions and forms of worship are different from mine. By embracing these differences, I have found that the basic principles are the same – love, respect for others and treating them the way we wish to be treated. I am grateful for everyone whose life path crossed mine and those who have allowed me to share in their lives. This is especially true of my wonderfully loving and distinctly different relationships with my extended family of brothers, sisters, children, nieces and nephews.

I am eternally thankful for those fleeting friendships that served to strengthen my belief that God places people in our lives for a reason and a season, regardless of how brief that season may be.

While working in the hospitality industry, I was exposed to a diverse group of co-workers. Two of my many special ones are Yvonne, who is one of my “Baby Girls” (I have several) and Jarrai who is my “Diva Daughter” (she is the only one with this title – Yvonne named us “Diva Mama” and “Diva Daughter”). Though both of them are from the Gambia, they have different religious backgrounds and observances, with one being Catholic and the other, Muslim. Imagine the beautiful experiences I enjoyed daily, with my work station being between theirs, especially when they broke out in a conversation in the Wolof dialect. I never learned more than a few words and phrases, but I would sometimes jump right in the conversation, making up my own words with plenty of attitude and even more laughter. They allowed me to share in traditions and events that were special – from their children’s confirmations, naming ceremonies and Sang Marie celebration to fasting for a few days during Ramadan and sampling dishes from the feasts held after the fast. I appreciated their willingness to expose me to the important aspects of their culture. Even more, I appreciated their openness to being enlightened on African American traditions that we observe in the United States, including Watch Night services on New Year’s Eve and black eye peas and collard greens for the New Year day dinner and extending to colloquial expressions and sayings handed down from generation to generation proving that “an even swap ain’t no swindle.” 

Whether I’m called “Ms. Harper,” “Ma,” “Ma Harper,” “Mama,” “Auntie ‘Layne,” “Miss ‘Layne” or just plain ol’ “Layne” by all of my darlings, we are all bound by the golden thread that wove our lives together in a beautiful tapestry called love. I am also thankful for and appreciative of being blessed by and through you – the loyal readers of Written magazine - for without you, we wouldn’t be. Scripture tells us that in all things – everything - whether perceived as good or bad, we should give thanks. From me to you – I say thank you for allowing me to share a part of my life with you through this column. With the holiday season upon us, what better way to express your good wishes than adding a little handwritten note to your holiday cards. Let someone know how special they are to you – just like letter writing, it will do your body good. Love,


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Dec ‘11


Fall 2011

Daring, Sexy & Unrivaled!

Available now!

Available now!

On Sale 9-27-11

“Weber delivers another eye-popping lesson in love.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“A great new taste in the literary world.”


“Forster creates such believable characters.” —RT BOOK REVIEWS

On Sale 10-25-11

On Sale 10-25-11

On Sale 11-29-11

“Diamond tells it like it is.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Octavia pens a great tale.” —THE RAWSISTAZ REVIEWERS

“Kiki captures the heat of the streets.”

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New York Times bestselling author Mary B. Morrison’s emotionally charged new novel chronicles the sacrifices, betrayals, and choices of three individuals who’ll do anything for true love, in an unforgettable story of lives at a crossroads, and the high price of secrets…

“Mix dirty red drama, relationship scandals, suspense, love and you get my girl Mary B. Morrison.” —VICKIE STRINGER


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