Tuesday, May 22, 2012

READING SPOTLIGHT D-Cup Divas 2: Rossalyn by Vonda Howard @VondaHoward VIA @aambookclub

D-Cup Divas 2: Rossalyn by Vonda Howard


Rossalyn McMillan is full figured and full of big dreams and aspirations. At a healthy size 18, she flaunts and struts it just like her older sister Chandra. She is a new graduate of Howard University and is looking to get her career started in the fast paced world of couture fashion. She is a brilliant designer, and gets constant ridicule from her colleagues when she decides to launch her couture plus size clothing line. She is an instant hit and gets attention all over the world as the new "it" girl for plus sized ladies. How will her newfound fame affect her friendships and romantic relationships? Will she be able to tell the real from the fake?



The secluded tree-lined back road was perfect for Rossalyn to test out the engine on her brand new sports car; a pink, custom made Aston Martin V12 Vantage. It was a graduation gift to herself, one of the first things she bought out of her freshly unlocked trust account. She had worked so hard and it had been such a long wait to get her hands on the money her mom and dad had set up for her. She worked her ass off at her now Alma Mater, Parsons School of Design in New York City and could proudly boast her new Masters of Fashion Design. It wasn't an easy decision to go there after she graduated from Howard University and leave the sister that she had been joined at the hip to for all her life, but she did it. She was actually a little shocked that Chandra was so good about it.

Normally, she would get a raised eyebrow if she went too far out of town with girlfriends.

It was almost like she never left anyway because Chandra would come up and stay with her in her apartment at least once, sometimes twice a month. She didn't mind though, it actually helped her adjust better to being away from home. She knew exactly what she was going to do with the money. She was going to start her own plus size couture clothing line. Her friends wondered why she didn't go and blow half of it on multimillion dollar houses, designer clothes and gaudy handbags. All that stuff is nice, of course, but she wanted to fulfill her dream and bring "Daisy" to life.

Not only was Daisy the name of her favorite flower and cartoon character, it was going to be a movement for her. It was her chance to step out of the baby sister spotlight that Chandra kept her in. She was bustin' out! Her clothes already had a little buzz around them from her including them in some local fashion shows and showcases sponsored by Parsons. She was even featured in a few very prominent blogs and magazines as one of the hottest up and coming designers in the country.

Even Mo'nique was wearing one of her designs, (she practically stalked her when she was in New York. After she chased down a former design assistant that was part of the style team for Mo'nique; and paid him a healthy sum of money to get her measurements, she worked like a dog getting that dress perfect. So, when she saw her wearing it on her talk show she was on cloud nine. After that, she couldn't stop all the phone calls or interviews and requests for her to design for other celebrities and models, but she wanted more. She wanted Daisy to be an internationally known brand."I don't have time for this." Rossalyn sucked her teeth as she looked up in the rear mirror at the flashing lights of the police car behind her. She was already 30 minutes late for the graduation celebration her sister Chandra was throwing her.

She knew she would have to hear it…Her big sister lecturing her once again about the importance of punctuality. She knew Chandra meant well, it's just that ever since their mom died about three years ago, she hadstepped in as her surrogate mom. There was no doubt she would be in her ass about getting pulled over yet again.

She wasn't really rushing to this "foo-foo" thing Chandra was throwing anyway. She would have been just as happy with sitting around at her friends eating pizza and tripping out. No, Chandra wanted to make a big deal and show her of, so she was letting her.She pulled over on the side of the road; looking in her driver side mirror, smiling and admiring the god-like physique of the policeman that was outlined beautifully by the bright glare of his spotlight. He was even sexier up close; strong squared jaw line, smooth acorn brown skin, and chocolate brown eyes that she could have dived into. She tried her best not to lick her cherry flavored glossed lips as her eyes slowly made their way up his body, spending extra time on his crotch, which was perfectly placed in her view.

"License and registration please?"

His voice had a silky low tone."Is it okay if I reach over into my glove compartment?" She answered as she leaned to the side. She has used this trick on many occasions. She would bat her naturally thick eyelashes and push out her perky D-cups and get herself out of the jam. Unfortunately, this officer was not affected.Yes, ma'am it's fine." He replied, straight-faced shining his flashlight in hers causing her to squint. "Do you realize how fast you were going?"She reached over, grabbed her insurance card and registration out of her glove compartment and handed it over to the waiting officer.

"No sir. Must not have been that fast if you caught up to me."

She tried to make a joke, but it fell flat."Ma'am, you were doing 60 in a 25." "Was I?" She tried to sound unaware of her speeding, but she was fully aware. She has always been a bit of a lead foot. Chandra refuses to ride with her because she claims she scares her half to death; weaving in and out of traffic and speeding like they are in the Daytona 500.

She got her very first ticket the same day she got her license at sixteen years old and it just never stopped. Her license has been suspended more times than she liked to think about. "Yes, you were. What's the rush, Ms. McMillan?" He asked looking down at her license. "I'm on my way to a party and I am very late." "Well, I'm sure the people at this party would like you to arrive late and safely rather than get a call that you were in the hospital or worse. Do you know this far over the speed limit constitutes as reckless driving?"

"Ooh, does that mean you pull out your cuffs?"

The officer was not amused by her obvious flirtations. "Ma'am, this is no joke. I'm two seconds off hauling you to jail,
right now." You're absolutely right, officer. I apologize." Her smile quickly fell to a serious expression.

Vonda Howard grew up in Southeast DC and has been writing since 10 years old.  In 2007 she wrote her first self-published novel named "Diamond Lives, Platinum Lies" which was a huge success.  Her second book, "It's Always The Pretty Ones" (released in 2008) had very similar success. In June 2009, she was signed to Anexander Books where she released the very popular "D-Cup Divas" Series that spotlighted confident and beautiful plus size characters.

Vonda Howard also runs her own graphic design firm, Cupcake Creative Studio, which has serviced such well known clients as Brian W. Smith, Torrian Ferguson, Kaira Denee and Marissa Monteilh.  She is also the Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief of the multi-award winning Black Literature Magazine.





Get to Know Vonda:

1.) The D-Cup Divas Series is centered around the lives of four plus sized professional women. Why did you feel this series was needed?

I started this series because I felt there was a need to create some characters that portrayed full figured women in a positive light. Often times, full figured in books and movies are sad, wretched, unattractive loafers that are the butt of the joke. I am none of these things and neither are any of my full figured gal pals. That is why I created a series that I affectionately call the "Sex In The City" for curvy girls. All of my characters are smart, beautiful, career driven women.

2)  This is the second in the series (Rossalyn) and we know you are currently working on the third D Cup Diva (Lanora) , how do you feel you have progressed as a writer?

I can definitely see the growth in how I tell the story. Like with anything, the more you do it the better you get. I also make it a point to research, read and learn along the way. I've also had a pack of awesome teachers and mentors around me helping me along the way too.

3)  How much of your real life inspires your writing and the lives of your characters?

A lot of it actually, real life is the best fiction! I am often inspired by news stories, movies, television shows and even songs.

4)  Which of the four Diva characters is your favorite?

I would have to say Chandra. Not because she was the first, but I love her intensity and her work ethic. Chandra does what she wants, when she wants and by her own rules. She's also flawless in her fashion sense and love for herself.

5)  Who are some of your literary influences and how have they influenced your brand of writing?

I would say some of my influences are Nickolas Sparks for the way he writes true and realistic love, T. Styles for her grittiness and the way she pushes the boundaries and Zane for her undeniable sense of sexuality and sexiness.

6)  This book has a really serious scene in it (we won't ruin it for readers). How hard was it to write that scene? What did you have to do to mentally prepare for it?

That scene was hard to write. I tend to let my characters do and say what they want, i'm just the transcriber. (I know that sounds crazy) When that scene came about I actually had to step away for a second angry that it was even happening. (Again, I know that sounds crazy. LOL) I just went there and tried my best to capture every emotion and reaction the way it should have been. Hopefully, the readers will feel the intensity of it also.

7)  What are some of your hopes / plans / goals for the future of your writing?

All I really want is to continue to be blessed enough to do what I love, and readers continue to enjoy it. I also want to continue to learn and help others as much as I can in the industry. Of course the New York Times Bestseller List and a movie deal sweeten the pot too!


Twitter: @VondaHoward
Email address : vonda@vondahoward.com
The books can be purchased on my website (www.VondaHoward.com) or on Kindle, Nook, and IBooks.

~a woman with a vision

Monday, May 14, 2012

SPOTLIGHT: Seeds from Mama’s Garden by Kat Smith @goddesskat via @aambookclub


Seeds from Mama’s Garden is an inspiring, based-on-truth account of one woman’s journey to a rainbow of happiness, led by the spirit of her youth. With help, she weeds her life of the strangling debris of memories. Inspiration gives her the strength to uproot the pain of generational abuse, unearthing the source of the family’s unhappiness and their mother’s true identity; an accomplice in the crimes committed against her daughters.

At a time when KATARINA LEBLANC thought her world was settling close to normal, everything changed, again. An attempted rape opened the gates to a deluge of memories and dreams to which she began communicating with herself as a child, quickly reconciling the past, which she had buried long ago.

Therapist LAURA THOMKPINS, helped Katarina uproot the painful history of her family, cultivated generations before. Together with the heroine from her dreams, (herself at the age of the abuse) she unravels the mysteries which led to answers long awaited. Likened unto a flower that blossoms between the cracks in the sidewalk, she saw her youth as strong, beautiful and determined.

Her family’s garden had been tended by women who forsaken their desire for love and endured tainted relationships in exchange for the comforts of financial stability. Women like her grandmother MADEAR, whose brutal rape in a cotton field formed her opinion about men. LORAINE GERARD, her mother, who recklessly bore twelve children, fathered by ten men. When she married GENE GERARD, Loraine ultimately sacrificed her daughters to sexual torment by neglecting the sprouts of her womb and propagating seeds of lies, deception and denial.

Katarina develops a three dimensional view of her childhood, teenage years and adulthood. She and Laura examined the patterns Katarina displayed and suffered from repeatedly. Encounters with her younger self and therapy gives her insight into the relationships with her siblings and the part they play in the infestation of incest.

Ensuing weeks filled with emotional turmoil, became even more dramatic as Katarina fought to mask her pain while challenged with the assignment of a new account, Survivors of Abuse and Incest in Families (SAIF). TELLANI GRAYSON, a representative of SAIF and a clairvoyant, inspires Katarina by sharing visions of Katarina’s past and future.

With physical and spiritual forces bearing down, Katarina also struggled to emotionally cope with a separation from husband JONATHAN LEBLANC. His affair, accompanied by the assault leaves Jonathan desperate to scale the walls she’s built around her heart, while a budding new love interest, BRAXTON JUSTICE is overshadowed by Katarina’s need to end her family’s suffering.

First she must confront her mother Loraine, for failing to expose her husband, Gene for what he is; a child molester and rapist. Seen as his accomplice, Loraine ignores the fact that he may prey on yet the next generation of girls in the family.

Next is her sister LOUISE, who holds the truth as to the father of her first child, CLARISSA. Twenty five year old Clarissa only needs confirmation that her grandfather is actually her father.
In the end, Katarina experiences closure with her little spirit, setting her free of the vines that bound them.

Loraine and Gene are arrested, tried and convicted. During the trial, Clarissa reveals that she secretly tested Gene’s DNA to prove that he is her father. With vindication brings wholeness and healing for the family and Katarina blossoms into a new life.



 I noticed God’s presence. He or she understood the pain I unleashed and, befitting the sadness, created the perfect scene. For at that very moment, darkness moved in and covered the cheerful glow of the sun, allowing me a moment to grieve.
Innocence was lost. The light that once filled my heart was now shrouded. Tears remained for what was lost or taken and all hope was buried with my dreams. Aware that I must face this unhappiness, I aerate the garden of my mind. Loosening the soil to increase the penetration of life giving elements, I uprooted the source of my pain. Pulling at the tangled roots of my past I fight to free myself from the stranglehold of the overgrowth of lies, deceit and denial.

 *  *  *

    Sitting quietly I held tight to the tapestry pillow on the sofa in the therapist’s office. The cold, stiff leather squeaked as I adjusted in my seat. Shadows cast, despite the absence of sunlight, darkening the antique upholstered chairs and walls lined with bookshelves. Laura Thompkins’ wavy, auburn hair cascaded long curls down onto her shoulders. Uncanny to the d├ęcor of the office or her age, she donned a compassionate, caring face bright with youth’s dew. I deducted that Laura’s devotion to her work was the fuel that drove her to spend numerous hours a day here; listening, taking notes, offering advice and seeking solutions.
Laura sat across from me, Katarina LeBlanc. At thirty two, I’m reliving my childhood. But not as you would think. I’m revisiting that time, led by my youth.

Clasping her hands together and leaning in, she asked, “Why don’t you describe the dream to me in detail?”
I hesitated while contemplating our initial visit, which exposed the fact that Laura had witnessed enough abuse to inspire a career to help women refuse to live as prisoners of their past. Well respected in her profession, I had read of her accomplishments. She carefully recommended and encouraged her patients into a more normal view of living in her books.

Normal, I chuckled at the reference. For the most part, normal is for people on the outside looking in. Many of us will never reach normalcy. Our lives have been altered forever.

Laura observed closely as I searched my heart and mind. With all my strength and where with all, I tried to maintain control. Focusing on a sunbeam that walked up the arm of the chair, I noticed by hour’s end, it had created a halo around Laura’s head.

Suddenly my sight is fixed on something or someone in a corner of the ceiling.

A concentrated look formed lines on Laura’s forehead. Momentarily, I thought maybe she’d thought I’d lost it. I shook my head to break up the war of memories which often consumed both awaken and sleeping hours. I stared back at the image up high. “We share each other’s thoughts, but somehow, she is the keeper of my memories.” The static crackled from the broken lines of communication from her voice in my head.
“I remember the first time I heard the small tiny voice. It was ever so quiet, but as time passed she became clearer and definitive, demanding to be heard.”

Quick scribbling of a pen and the slight rustle of pages quieted my sniffles as I fought to conceal the onslaught of tears.

With closed eyes and hung head, heavy images battled for attention. In my mind my eyes darted about the room. Like a camera lens, my pupils tried to freeze-frame one of the many thoughts.

I gasped to breathe between words detailing my awakening. “I was seated at the vanity … in what seemed to be my old bedroom … staring in the mirror … I reminisced … unhappy days spent in that room … in that house … in my life … like a ticker tape … across the mirror… glimpses of my past… piercing.”

Connecting to the pain, I grip my chest as I labored on. “No one thought more prevalent … just space … emptiness … a deep void … a pit … gray … in black and white … shadows … wooden … the floor and furniture all lacking color … like food missing salt … bland and tasteless … cracks in the walls … pulling apart … that’s ironic … my family torn apart … painfully … like shin splints.”

Laura flipped a page on her notepad drawing my attention. Without opening my eyes, I turned my head and cocked it to the side, temporarily removed from my trance. She paused, “you were saying?”

“Suddenly … in the mirror I see a little brown eyed girl … about nine or ten … shy and thin … her hair parted down the middle … braided on each side … like Madear used to comb my hair … I hated that style … she’s wearing my favorite dress … I hear her say ‘It’s me!’… I turned around and she’s not there … I’m not afraid … I stare back without a word … finally I said hello … anticipation … In my head I hear, ‘I’ve been waiting’… my throat tightened … choke back the deep sadness … a sorrow … can’t speak … her eyes plead … ‘See me!’” A bead of sweat rolled down my face and blended into my tears. The trance ensued as I nervously wringed my hands.

“Stares never wavered… eyes telegraphed so much… she’s so sad… I asked her name… but she did not respond… I see her tears… they run the length of her caramel colored, heart shaped face… I reach to wipe away my own… then, as quickly as she appeared… she turned away and vanished… the darkness 
enveloped me.”

Cries ripped up my throat and uncontrollable sobbing broke free from the containment I fought for so long. 

“It was me. She was me.”

“Was she?” Laura coaxed.

“Yes. I don’t know.”

“Why do you think she met you there?” Laura guided.

“I didn’t remember her. I forgot.” Through my grief, I reached up to her in the corner. I needed her forgiveness, she needed my love. It was more than I was willing to face.

“But you remember now. You went home to reconnect and you did Katarina.”

Reality was sucked in like a vortex. I realized that I had totally opened up. I felt naked. This dream had ripped out both my heart and that of the little girl of my past. I affectionately call her, my spirit.

Recovering from my momentary weakness, I challenge the mystical message. “But the dream was dark and gloomy. My memories of home are filled with color.”

“But those dark memories were hidden and are now resurfacing in your dreams. You have to think about what she is trying to tell you,” Laura reasoned.

“I’m sorry. I can’t… I have to go. I, I’m sorry.” Snatching my handbag, I walk away as fast as my legs would carry me avoiding Laura’s attempt to stop me.

“Katarina, wait!”

I heard Laura’s call in the distance before I burst through the glass doors of the building getting hit in the face with the humidity synonymous withNew Orleans. Running to my car, the thick air challenged my breathing, bringing me inches away from hyperventilation. I trembled from the voice that lingered in my head.

Safely inside, I locked the door and started the car. Turning the air up full blast, I angled the vent directly into my face and let the cold air slap me in the face.

Reruns of my dreams played over and over in my head as I drove in the evening’s maze of traffic. Idling at a stoplight, I broke away from the confusion to assess the damage to my make-up. My image. My mask.

Pulling down the visor, expecting to see red and puffy eyes, the result of mascara filled tears, I see the eyes of my little spirit.

The honking horn of an impatient driver jolts me back.
Katherine “Kat” Smith is formerly a co-host of a four year, syndicated morning radio program with ABC Radio Networks, Inc. 
Her Wednesday one hour show, A Woman’s Point of View, focused on relationships.

Recently certified as a relationship coach Kat also created and manufactures a communication game for couples. She is native of New Orleans, who learned early that life is not fair, it’s just life. One of twelve siblings from ten fathers, Kat was born to a mother who’s own confusion with love created damaging patterns that she and her sisters repeated in their own relationships. Now she speaks to help women who cannot articulate or communicate their experiences with topics that concentrate on love and life enrichment, clarity of message in both career or personal relationships and recovery.

Kat is the author of several books including Romantic Retreats in Texas, Seeds From Mama’s Garden and has several programs and products that support healthy emotional living.

Get to know Katherine:

1.  What inspires you as an author?

Stories inspire me. My life has been filled with vivid stories both real and fiction. This story is based on a true account of my life. I changed the names ever so slightly to protect myself, not the guilty. I wanted to share this story with the hope that it may inspire just one woman to release her bonds from childhood trauma and live a life filled with love, free from what haunts her.

2. Are there strong female characters in this story?

Yes, I believe in our strength and gratefully I was given examples of that in my life and I cherish that. We don’t have to use that strength against ourselves by being combative or by sabotaging our relationships. We have to balance that strength with love and self nurturing. Katarina LeBlanc, is my main character. She find strength in her mentor and boss, Susan Williams who takes her under her wing and grooms her with love and support. They have a special bond. Katarina also experiences the failing of love as she endures a separation from    her husband Jonathan. But with a twist of fate, love blossoms elsewhere for Katarina.

3.  You use horticulturist terms to identify the chapters in Seeds From Mama’s Garden. What is the 

From the seed we grow. From seeds gardens grow. Although these chapters show a chronology of the growth of the characters in the book, they also represent growth in life and how if we neglect our gardens they can get over run with weeds and the not so pretty things that grow there. But, if we cultivate and nurture them, they produce beauty and harvest. Katarina learns that seeds of deception and pain were propagated in her family’s garden and the keeper was none other than her mother, Lorraine.

4.  How is the story is laced with a touch of spirituality?

Katarina is forced to deal with her past when she sees visions of a nine year old. Laura, her therapist guides her into a session where Katarina  relays a dream. When she realizes its meaning it starts the spiral into her struggle to uproot the weeds that choke her life’s happiness. In addition, the Universal powers will not allow her to bury her past any longer. At work she is assigned a new client; SAIF (Survivors of Abuse and Incest in Families). Tellani Grayson, their representative and a clairvoyant can see this little spirit  and the pain that Katarina carries with her.

5.  Now the cover is quite an eye catcher. You designed it, so how did you come up with the design.

There is three messages in the cover: Sin of the flesh, is represented by nakedness. Seed of the womb for the female body and the southern woman is represented by the magnolias. I am born and raised in New Orleans, and have very full and colorful memories of my life there. Especially with my Grandmother, Madear. Honestly, that is what we called her. My cousins called her Greenie. And we refer to her mother, my great grandmother as Mama Jo.(Short for Josephine). They were strong women and I wanted to honor them in my story along with my sisters which I liken to various trees that matched their personalities.

6.  What about you personally? What do you want readers to know about you?

I am passionate about my craft of writing. I have eight books now with the recent release of two at the same 
time: Seeds From Mama’s Garden and a romantic Texas travel guide – Romantic Retreats in Texas. Presently, I am now on chapter eight of my next book. I love writing and publishing. I created an event in Dallas called the Muse Literary Mingle where I feature a publishing professional each month (i.e. author, agent, editor, etc). It is a casual, after work gathering which allows networking and one-on-one conversations with the guests and the opportunity to sell and promote their books and services. I have volunteered for literary organization and provided consultations for those seeking publication. In the past I was a model and actor. I am the eighth of 12 children, 6’2” tall and I love to cook, travel and the ocean.

7. Who are your favorite authors?

Again, I am drawn to stories of strong female characters. Toni Morrison won me   over with Song of Solomon, Beloved and Bluest Eyes. As a young girl I was  introduced to Victoria Holt to which now I have an entire collection. Mostly I read inspirational books.



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