27 July 2011

New Read: Tears of a Hustler 3 by Silk White

Tears of a Hustler 3 picks up right where part two left off. Things get serious when Marvin, the leader of a powerful up coming gang, decides he wants to take over Pauleena's empire.

With her back against the wall, Pauleena defends her territory by any means necessary; even if it means killing everything moving. With her main soldier gone Pauleena has to step up to the plate and get her hands dirty. The streets will rain money or blood - it’sdefinitely a choice, but giving up her throne is not an option, for the formidable Pauleena. Who will be the last hustler standing?

Once again, author Silk White takes readers on a ride they won’t soon forget!
Now available on Amazon Kindle.

Also available: Tears of a Hustler, Part I and Tears of a Hustler, Part 2

20 July 2011

Author Interview: NYT Bestselling Authors, Ashley & JaQuavis

Image credit: ashleyjaquavis.com
Ashley & JaQuavis are the "Dynamic Duo" of the Street Lit genre, with over a dozen novels, including two New York Times Bestselling titles to their credit (The Cartel 2 (2009) and The Cartel 3 (2010)). I recently had the honor and pleasure to conduct a phone interview with this fascinating couple:

StreetLiterature.com: The StreetLiterature.com audience primarily consists of educators seeking to learn more about the Street Literature genre. In this vein, I'd like to ask you a few questions that will allow the audience to get to know you better, as premier authors within this literary genre. My first question is a typical librarian "wanna-know" question: 

What did you leisurely read while growing up? 

JaQuavis: I was always a big fan of Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes. What turned me on to street lit was Coldest Winter Ever.  It circles around the lifestyle that I was accustomed to growing up in the hood – I could relate. In my hood, we didn’t have doctors and lawyers to look up to, we always looked up to the dope dealers because they were the ones doing things.  This was the stuff we lived, the stuff we looked up to.

Ashley: I used to love to read. I was reading from an early, early age. I read Sweet Valley High, R.L. Stine, all those kinds of books from the library. I always had a love for that.  It was something that took me away from everything around me but it wasn’t my life. I wasn’t a blond-haired, blue-eyed girl from California. Coldest Winter Ever blew my mind because I could relate to that. The way Winter lived, moved, and spoke. I knew girls like that.

StreetLiterature.com: What originally motivated y'all to publish in the Street Lit genre? Why write Street Lit?

JaQuavis: We write Street Literature – we write authentic Street Literature. You will never hear us strain away from what got us out the hood – the people who read our books, who have always supported us. We want to be trailblazers and part of the staple that says that yes, this is Street Lit, this is Street Literature, this is an authentic literary genre.

Ashley: People say there’s a lot of bad Street Lit books out, but there’s a lot of bad books out – period. The content shouldn’t be judged because a novel is in a hood setting – you have to judge the book by the fact that it’s fiction, which means we’re entertaining you. Judge the genre on its value as fiction – not on characters that you may not personally relate to.

SL: What did hitting the New York times Bestsellers List, not once, but twice, say to you about your work? About Street Lit? 

JaQuavis: It was like a big thank you. We work very hard. And the years we were putting in - it was like a stamp of approval. Once we got that – we knew the sky was the limit. We see it as a thank you from our readers.

Ashley: That was never even a goal of ours – we never thought that a street novel could contend with traditional novels. It transitioned us from a hustle and grind to a valid career path. It feels good to be authors to help establish the genre.

Who would you say are your readers?

JaQuavis: We have a diverse demographic – from 16 year old readers to 65 year old readers. We see our diverse readership as a testament to our writing. Because good writing is good writing and will interest various readers. It doesn’t matter the genre, if the story and the writing is good, it’s good.

Ashley: It’s us though. It’s our people that’s reading our books. People say, oh people in the hood don’t read – they don’t like to read. But I’m here to say - people in the hood do read. It’s all ages, but it’s definitely us that’s supporting us – it’s the hood.

SL: It seems like Street Lit authors are starting to get into promoting their books as eBooks. Are you finding your readers more attracted to reading the eBook format? How is the eBook market treating y'all?

Ashley: At first I was skeptical as a reader – wondering if I was going to miss seeing that cover in my and readers’ hands. I don’t think print books are going anywhere. But I do think that eBooks help authors track their sales. Helps them to know what they’re selling – it gives you more control over your brand.

JaQuavis: You have a smaller overhead with ebooks. It goes straight from your computer to your readers. No middle man. It’s like getting it straight from the plug to the streets. The writer/author has a win-win situation because they get more hits and sales and readers get the novel at a cheaper price. It’s a good thing from that angle.

SL: You finished The Cartel trilogy – it was and continues to be very popular amongst readers. What can we expect from your new work, Murderville? The first installment of this new trilogy is set for release at the end of this month (July 2011). What will this new trilogy contribute to the Street Lit genre? How will it amp the game, so to speak?

JaQuavis: This is our best work thus far for a couple reasons: 1 – we’re stepping outside the box. This story is so deep that we worried, “Are we going to scare away our readers?”  This was our concern because we want our readers to grow as readers as we grow as writers. We want to tell deep, thought-provoking stories to give our readers food for thought. So we’re not going to dumb down our story. We believe it’s the best hood love story ever written. 2 - It’s not as cocaine-driven as our other stories – but the love story, spanning across continents, makes for rich content. And the CEOs of hip hop label, Cash Money Records, Bryan “Baby” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams, are endorsing the book. It’s gonna blow people’s minds.

SL: What are you reading now?

Ashley: To be honest, we don’t have time to read aside from the projects we are working on. The only thing we do is write. I don’t think there’s a book that’s been created yet that can tear me away from my laptop right now. (laughs) We barely sleep. In order to be a writer you have to love it; you have to do it every day, unceasingly.

SL: There are still many educators (teachers and librarians) who are skeptical of Street Lit. They are still citing bad stories, editing and writing as reasons to not support the genre. What would you say to a group of educators who had this stance?

Ashley: I don’t see how any kind of educator can put down a student for reading. As long as they’re reading. No matter what they read – be it Coldest Winter Ever or Langston Hughes – it’s reading. I would challenge any educator to pick up Murderville and then tell me they didn’t like it. Start at the top of the genre – there's bad fiction in every genre – start at the top – read the best of what the genre has to offer and use that to determine its literary credibility. 

SL: Thank you Ashley & JaQuavis for the honor of this interview! 

Readers, visit Ashley & JaQuavis's website for a full listing of their literary collection. You can connect with Ashley & JaQuavis on social media via Facebook and Twitter: @ashleyjaquavis.

Stay tuned ... Ashley & JaQuavis's new title, Murderville: First of a Trilogy, drops July 26th. StreetLiterature.com will be posting a review of the novel very soon after.

16 July 2011

Zane and Street Lit: Strebor on the Streetz

We all know the amazing author Zane for bringing urban erotica to the mainstream, helping readers to feel okay about the fact that as human beings, we're like, uh, sexual. Originally a self-publisher of her own novels (Addicted, Sex Chronicles 1 and 2, Shame On It All, Skyscraper, etc.), Zane quickly rose to the status of New York Times Bestelling Author as well as a consistent Essence (magazine) Bestselling Author. In 1999, Zane established her own publishing company, Strebor Books International, that continues to publish dozens of authors "to make sure extraordinary voices are heard" (love that) in the genre of urban erotica. Strebor Books is now an imprint of Simon and Schuster.

In 2007, Zane launched another imprint, Strebor on the Streetz, which focuses on publishing Street Lit novels. I have listed, below, some of the titles on this imprint:

Larry just got out of jail and wants to live on the straight and narrow. However, his boyz are still living the life, thus eventually Larry is drawn him back in to the game. Meanwhile, Larry's lady love is conflicted with trying to keep her boyfriend's activities on the down low while simultaneously trying to build a promising political career. (Adult) 

A grandmother is raising her deceased daughter's children, and she's determined to not have them fall into the snares of their drug-dealing father. (Adult)

This novel chronicles the hard twists and turns of four teen friends growing up in the hood. Realistic, raw, gritty, coming of age story. (A/YA)

A Latino Bronx couple must fight both sides of their families in order to stay together. Their drug-dealing relatives are rivals, and they just ain't havin' it. This novel has a Romeo and Juliet kind of flavor. (A/YA)

A gay man falls in love with a thug who has his own agenda. (GLBTQ)

12 July 2011

July 2011 Book Review: Wahida Clark's Justify My Thug

Clark, Wahida. 2011. Justify My Thug: A Novel. NY: Cash Money Content.
Paperback | $14.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1451617092 | 273 pages

Image credit: cashmoneycontent.com
Justify My Thug is the 5th installment in the Thug Love series that chronicles the ongoing dramatic lives of couples, Tasha and Trae, Angel and Kaylin, Jaz and Faheem, and Kyra and Marvin. The story picks up with Trae learning that his estranged wife, Tasha, had an affair with Kaylin's brother, Kyron. A lot of drama ensues with Angel and Tasha trying to keep things calm with Trae. Kaylin works hard to not get caught in the middle of this breach of loyalty from his brother, Kyron, to his best friend, Trae. In the meantime, Faheem's ex, Oni, mysteriously reappears on the scene, with a son, causing complications between Faheem and Jaz. Aside from drama with a pregnant Tasha, Trae is trying to get to the bottom of Kyra's disappearance. When he confronts Marvin on the situation, Trae is left with more questions than answers. 

The theme of the novel, reminds me of lyrics from Jay-Z's song, "Justify My Thug":
They say an eye for an eye, we both lose our sightAnd two wrongs don't make a rightBut when you been wrong and you know all along that it's just one lifeAt what point does one fight? (Good question right!) 
                                                                    (Source: azlyrics.com
Wahida Clark "does her thing" with this action-packed, yet nicely developed story. The continuous change of narrating voices will be manageable for readers who follow the series and know the characters. For newer readers, Clark makes up for the confusing shift in voice with adequate plot anchors and "catch up" characterizations. This novel's strength is the authentic, no-holds-barred street tone that Ms. Clark conveys so well. You are in the story, "like a movie in your head," as the saying goes. Some readers might cry foul at the continued demise of the Trae we all have grown to appreciate in earlier books of the series. However, Wahida keeps it real: this is an ongoing story about a group of people from the hood trying to live beyond the game, beyond the streets. The streets is a powerful 'monkey on the back' so to speak ... Trae's characterization in this installment depicts the struggle people often go through when confronting real life issues while trying to detox from a street mentality. It ain't always pretty ... and that's real.

Justify My Thug is about a group of friends settling karmic debts, and the way the Queen of Thug Love Fiction tells her stories, these characters are justified in doing so. If you don't have this novel in your collection yet, get it quickly. It will definitely circulate in public libraries.

To connect with Wahida Clark:
Facebook: Wahida Clark
Twitter: @WahidaClark

07 July 2011

Good Reads Spotlight: In Case You Missed It - A Street Girl Named Desire (2007)

Image credit:
Blue, Treasure E. 2007. A Street Girl Named Desire: A Novel. NY: One World. | Pbk-336 pgs | ISBN-13: 978-0345493286 $13.95USD | eBook:  978-0307498083 $9.99USD

AUTHOR BACKGROUND: Treasure E. Blue is, in my huge opinion, one of the best writers in Street Lit today - hands down. His writing is top-of-the-line literary, with very good character development and wonderfully paced storytelling. I appreciate the fact that Treasure Blue does not rush his storytelling. He brings you into his world of story and you are enchanted to sit, relax, and care about the lives of the characters he creates. Treasure E. Blue has four novels to his credit thus far, with his debut novel, Harlem Girl Lost (2006), now considered one of the top Street Lit novels of all time. The long awaited follow-up to Harlem Girl Lost, was released this past May 2011, Harlem Girl Lost 2; where on Amazon.com, it is holding at a steady 5-star rating boasting dozens of customer reviews. His 2008 release, Keyshia and Clyde, is the ultimate ride-or-die love story.

BOOK REVIEW: Desire was born, literally, on the streets of Harlem. An elderly woman, Miss Hattie Mae, comes to Desire (and her mother's) rescue, caring for baby Desire while her mother battles drug addiction. Eventually and unfortunately, Desire is turned over to foster care, and well, things quickly go downhill for her from there, with Desire being bounced from home to home, becoming resilient within the wrath of negligent, abusive caregivers.

To escape the unstable home lifestyle she endures, Desire grows up quickly in the dark realms of the streets. Fate weaves it so that by her mid-teens, Miss Hattie Mae saves Desire's life again, and for this, Desire gladly settles into a stable family life with Miss Hattie Mae and begins to attend church, where she learns that she can saaannggg (sing). A Hip Hop mogul discovers Desire's talent and lures her into the music world where life can be an even lonelier, colder, harsher reality than the streets. Overwhelmed by many abuses and betrayals in the business, Desire suffers a devastating rock bottom that is a seemingly endless abyss of despair. An unexpected guardian angel comes into Desire's life and gosh, things just kind of come full circle ... but not without some pragmatic "that's real" redemption and an 'ole fashioned beat down (or two). 

This excellently crafted story is a no-holds-barred tapestry of the realities of street life, showing the harshness of the streets, but also the harshness of everyday life even when you seemingly have everything the world has to offer. Author Treasure E. Blue also shows us that there is redemption in the streets via silent watchers in the form of neighbors and just plain 'ole good people who care about humanity and want to help others. With friends and family who refuse to give up on Desire and insist on loving her as she is, wounds and all, eventually Desire learns what we all must learn - that we are all right - just the way we are and we are ALL worthy to be loved.

If you don't have this novel and/or any other title by Author Treasure E. Blue (see titles below), your street lit collection has a huge void. A Street Girl Name Desire is "a must have," suitable for public and high school YA collections, ages 16 and up. I can see this novel working nicely in an English literature high school unit - for the courageous educator who would feel confident to stand for this work.



StreetLiterature site *ON HIATUS*

Greetings, This site is *on hiatus* until further notice. There are reasons: 1/ Since street lit has become pretty mainstream in publicat...