This is the first time that DJGBC has decided to post an Official Top 25 List for our members. We thought long and hard about the listing as we wanted to include a variety of Authors & Genres. Some authors may have not published a book in 2015 but their presence was felt in the industry in other ways. We feel it was important to kind of bring our members back to the essence of why our DJ Gatsby Book Club was formed in the first place. That was to promote African American Literacy and The Art of Writing in the Black Community. We feel these 25 Authors have honored that tradition and are worthy of being part of this Top 25 list for 2015.
- Reshonda Tate Billingsly – Says…..I am a former news reporter and anchor, who now writes books full-time. I’m the author of 35-plus books and a mother to three. My sophomore novel, Let the Church Say Amen, has been made into a movie, directed by actress Regina King and produced by Queen Latifah’s Flava Unit, Royal Ties Productions and Bobcat Films. (Oh, and I do make my film debut as well! Look for me in the church scene!)Honored to have won the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Say Amen, Again and been nominated again in 2013. I am also the cofounder of Brown Girls Books, a boutique publishing company with over 20 authors. I’m also a proud University of Texas at Austin graduate. Not only do I love writing, I love reading almost as much!
- Jaquavis Coleman – JaQuavis Coleman is one half of the writing Duo “Ashley & JaQuavis”. NY times best seller author, USA Today top 100, and film director, he is considered one of the best African American Authors in the country.
- Carl Weber – Carl Weber is a New York Times and #1 Essence® bestselling novelist. In addition to his writing, Weber is the founder and publisher of Urban Books and in 2005, he was named Blackboard’s Publisher of the Year. He is the owner of the Urban Knowledge chain of book stores and a past recipient of Blackboard’s Bookseller of the Year award. Weber graduated from Virginia State University and holds an MBA in marketing from the University of Virginia.
- Ashley Antionette – Ashley Antionette is one half of the bestselling duo responsible for the Ashley & JaQuavis novels.
- Walter Mosley – Walter Mosley is one of America’s most celebrated and beloved writers. His books have won numerous awards and have been translated into more than twenty languages.Mosley is the author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins series of mysteries, including national bestsellers Cinnamon Kiss, Little Scarlet, and Bad Boy Brawly Brown; the Fearless Jones series, including Fearless Jones, Fear Itself, and Fear of the Dark; the novels Blue Light and RL’s Dream; and two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, for which he received the Anisfield-Wolf Award, and Walkin’ the Dog. He lives in New York City.
- Zane – Zane is the author of Addicted, The Sex Chronicles, Gettin’ Buck Wild, The Heat Seekers, The Sisters of APF, Shame on It All, Nervous, Skyscraper, Afterburn, and Love Is Never Painless and is also the editor of Chocolate Flava and Caramel Flava. She is the publisher of Strebor Books, an imprint of Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, and lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her family. Visit her website at http://www.eroticanoir.com.
- Wahida Clark – Wahida Clark was born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey. She decided to start writing fiction while incarcerated at a women’s federal camp in Lexington, KY. Her style is street, raw, and she has an imagination that’s in overdrive. When you read her novels they are so real you are convinced of one of three things: that you are inside the book, you know the characters, or you just have to meet them. Her novels include New York Times and Essence Magazine Bestsellers:Thugs And The Women Who Love Them, Every Thug Needs A Lady, Thug Matrimony, Thug Lovin’, Justify My Thug, Payback is A Mutha, Payback With Ya Life, Sleeping With the Enemy and What’s Really Hood.
Wahida now owns and operates the most popular and fastest growing urban independent publishing house in the industry: Wahida Clark Presents Publishing (www.wclarkpublishing.com) in East Orange, New Jersey.
- Mary Honey B Morrison – Mary B. Morrison, New York Times best-selling author also writes as HoneyB. She has 17 novels including her newest release, If I Can’t Have You.Writing for both Kensington Publishing Corporation as Mary B. Morrison and Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books) as HoneyB, Mary is at the top of the African-American fiction genre. In her novels, Mary addresses social and sexual issues that impacts relationships. Mary is pro-female empowerment and believes all women are worthy of living free from abuse.
Mary received her Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from Vista (now Berkeley) Community College. She worked 18 years for the government. Earning nearly six-figures, Mary resigned from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development on June 3, 2000, and withdrew her retirement to self-publish her debut novel Soulmates Dissipate.
Soulmates Dissipate is currently being made for motion picture by Codeblack Entertainment and Lionsgate.
In 2006, Mary sponsored an anthology publishing 33 students entitled Diverse Stories: From the Imaginations of Sixth Graders.
Mary currently resides in Oakland, California. Her wonderful son Jesse Byrd, Jr. is writing his first novel for 6th to 8th graders.
- Terry McMillan – Terry McMillan fell in love with books as a teenager while working at the local library. She studied journalism at UC Berkeley and screenwriting at Columbia before making her fiction debut with Mama, which one both the Doubleday New Voices in Fiction Award and the American Book Award. She lives in Northern California.
- Pamela Samules – When attorney and author Pamela Samuels Young isn’t practicing law, you can usually find her penning her next legal thriller. Described by one reviewer as “John Grisham with a sister’s twist,” Pamela is an award-winning author of seven legal thrillers.The prolific writer has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. Fed up with never seeing women or people of color depicted as savvy, hotshot attorneys in the legal thrillers she read, Pamela decided to create her own characters. Despite the demands of a busy legal career, the Compton, California native accomplished her ambitious goal by rising at 4 a.m. to write before work, dedicating her weekends to writing and even spending her vacation time glued to her laptop for ten or more hours a day. In the process, she discovered her passion.
Pamela’s sixth novel, Anybody’s Daughter (2013), which tackles the horrific world of child sex trafficking, was the recipient of the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction. Her debut novel, Every Reasonable Doubt (2006), won the Black Expressions magazine’s Fiction Writing Contest, received an honorable mention in the SEAK Legal Fiction Writing Competition and was a finalist for USA Book News’ Best Books of 2006 award in the mystery, suspense and thriller category. Her second novel, In Firm Pursuit (2007), was honored by Romantic Times magazine as a finalist for Best African-American Novel of 2007. Murder on the Down Low (2008), Pamela’s third release, was an “Editor’s Pick” by Black Expressions magazine and a finalist for the 2009 African-American Literary Awards in the fiction category. The Black Caucus of the American Library Association honored Pamela’s next novel, Buying Time (2009), with its 2010 Fiction Award, calling the book “a captivating, suspenseful thriller.” Attorney-Client Privilege (2012) was a finalist for USA Book News’ Best Books of 2014 award in the multi-cultural fiction category. Her seventh legal thriller, Lawful Deception (2015), brings back some familiar characters in a legal battle that escalates from merely contentious to downright deadly.
Her writing repertoire also includes the short stories Unlawful Greed, featured in the anthology The Funeral (2013), Easy Money, featured in the anthology Scoundrels: Tales of Greed, Murder and Financial Crimes (2012) and The Setup, featured in the Sisters in Crime anthology, LAndmarked for Murder (2006). She also has an essay in the anthology, A Letter for My Mother (2013).
Pamela has achieved a successful writing career while working as Managing Counsel for Labor and Employment Law for Toyota in Southern California, specializing in employment law and social media law. Prior to that, she served as Employment Law Counsel for Raytheon Company and spent several years as an associate with the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, in Los Angeles. A former journalist, Pamela began her broadcasting career at WXYZ-TV in Detroit and later worked as a news writer and associate producer at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.
A graduate of UC Berkeley’s School of Law, Pamela has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a diehard member of Sisters in Crime-L.A., an organization dedicated to the advancement of women mystery writers.
A frequent speaker on the topics of sex trafficking, fiction writing and pursuing your passion, Pamela lives in the Los Angeles area and attends Hope in Christ Community Church in Compton. To read an excerpt of her books or to schedule her for a speaking engagement or book club meeting via Skype, visit her website at http://www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com or contact her publicist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are also a multitude of ways to connect with her via social media.
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pamelasamuelsyoung and http://www.facebook.com/kinkycoilypamela.
- David Weaver – National best-selling author David Weaver is not one to let obstacles stop him, instead of waiting for a big break, he successfully took his writing career in his own hands and launched a publishing company despite the odds stacked against him.Weaver created Smart Black and Rich publishing while on the phone in prison after the guard announced he only had 30 seconds remaining to talk. Today, after serving five years in federal prison, Weaver has become an unstoppable force in the publishing industry.
Literary critics and readers of his work describe his writing as poetic and captivating. Weaver leaves his audience astonished by his intricate similes and unbelievable metaphors. Smart Black and Rich is a product of Weaver applying his visionary mind as writer to publishing to help other black authors and promote literature relevant to the African American culture.
Weaver’s publishing company has been rated as one of the top urban publishing companies. He has managed to recruit more than 26 new authors to his publishing company after being out of prison for only two years. In this short time frame, Weaver has also been honored with the African-Americans on the Move Book Club Literary Award for 2012 and 2013. His series, Bankroll Squad, has sold close to 60,000 copies to date.
Devotees of Weaver’s writing have shown him an abundance of support — even getting tattoos inspired by the book series to show their love for his work.
The Smart Black and Rich publishing company has catapulted Weaver to the forefront of the urban literary community as a new leader. The author wants to continue to instill the life lessons he has learned in prison to up-and-coming authors.
Weaver’s very strong foundation of faith has brought him through his tumultuous time in prison to his newfound journey in publishing.
“Faith is believing in things unproven, seeing things unseen, and reaching for things not there yet,” said Weaver.
Fans can look forward to other great works from David Weaver as well as from the other writers under the Smart Black and Rich imprint.
- Victoria Christopher Murray – Victoria Christopher Murray is the Essence bestselling author of the novels Truth Be Told, Joy, and Temptation. Visit her at http://www.victoriachristophermurray.com. She lives with her family in Inglewood, California.
- Tamika Newhouse – Tamika Newhouse is a self-published bestselling author who founded Delphine Publications, at the age of 21; Tamika appeared on various bestseller lists and won Self Published Author of the Year at the 2009 African American Literary Awards only 9 months after her debut novel. In 2010 she was inducted into Who’s who in Black San Antonio and she landed a major publishing deal without an agent and still continues to write independent projects. In 2011 her company Delphine Publications won an African American Literary Award for Best Anthology as well as Tamika won for the second time Self Published Author of the Year. She was also nominated by the National Women in Business Association for the 2011 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. In 2013 she was honored with the Author of Distinction E. Lynn Harris Award. Her latest award for the 2013 African American Literary Award for self published author of the year.Along with Delphine Publications, Tamika is the founder and President of African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) – an online book club and radio show catering to avid readers across the nation. She is also CEO of Obsessive Soul Media. With future projects in the works from short films, stage plays and much more, Tamika is a young woman on a mission. She has been featured in Uptown Magazine, Essence, Hello Beautiful, Juicy Magazine, and in Vibe Vixen Magazine.
Tamika presently tours the country speaking about overcoming her teen pregnancy to fulfill her dream, as well as teaching aspiring writers the publishing ropes. A former radio host, she hosted her own internet radio show (AAMBC) for over three years and continues to expand her brand. She is currently living in Atlanta with her son and daughter and is currently working on her next novel.
- Kimberly Lawson Roby – Kimberla Lawson Roby is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the popular Reverend Curtis Black Series, which include: The Ultimate Betrayal, The Prodigal Son, A House Divided, The Reverend’s Wife, Love, Honor, & Betray, Be Careful What You Pray For, The Best of Everything, Sin No More, The Best-Kept Secret, Too Much of a Good Thing, and Casting the First Stone, along with many standalone titles. She is the 2013 recipient of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction, and a #1 Essence magazine bestselling author. She lives with her husband in Rockford, Illinois. Web Site: kimroby.com, Facebook: facebook.com/kimberlalawsonroby, Twitter: twitter.com/KimberlaLRoby
- Teri Woods – True to the Game by New York Times bestseller author and publisher Teri Woods has been undisputedly titled a classic. While working as a legal secretary for a law firm and juggling motherhood in Philadelphia, PA Teri Woods completed her first novel, True to the Game. She submitted her story over a period of six years to more that twenty different publishers, all of whom rejected her. When major publishing houses refused to embrace True to the Game she wasn’t discouraged. In 1998 instead of giving up, Woods’ printed, bound, self-published and began selling hand to hand her first book True to the Game.On December 18, 1999 with the support and encouragement of friends, Teri Woods recognized the selling power of her story. She credits her overwhelming success to hard work and perseverance. Teri Woods often slept in her car and on the couches of acquaintances, as she spent countless hours selling her books on the streets of New York. Moving thousands of books primarily from the trunk of her car she was determined to have her story read. Her grassroots tactic paid off; Teri Woods became a self-made millionaire in just three years selling her novel, True to the Game. With the release of True to the Game, Teri Woods has reinvigorated the urban fiction market and created a growing trend in publishing.As owner of Teri Woods Publishing, Woods’ published: True to the Game, DUTCH I, DUTCH II, Deadly Reigns I and II , Angel, B-More Careful, The Adventures of Ghetto Sam, Triangle of Sins, Rectangle of Sins, Tell Me Your Name, Predator and Double Dose. True to the Game, B-More Careful, DUTCH, Triangle of Sins, Rectangle of Sins, Deadly Reigns I and Deadly Reigns II has all been featured on the Essence Bestseller list numerous times collectively. Teri Woods Publishing has sold over 1 million copies independently and generated over 15 million dollars in gross revenue. Woods jump started the entire urban-book marketplace. Teri signed a five book deal with Grand Central Publishing in 2007. True to the Game II (GCP, 2007) and True to the Game III (GCP, 2008) both debuted on The New York Times Bestsellers list.
- KiKi Swinson – Born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, Kiki Swinson discovered her flair for writing twelve years ago after completing her first novel entitled “Mad Shambles,” while serving a five year sentence at a federal prison for “being the wifey” of a known drug dealer. This charge is known as “knowing of and/or about a criminal-enterprise.”
After being released in December 1996, she did a little research and learned about the success of authors such as Bebe Moore Campbell, Terry McMillan and Sheneska Jackson. She said, “Dang these women got it going on. And if they did it, so can I!”Ms. Swinson, later went on to self-publish “Mad Shambles.” Her passion for writing didn’t stop there. Writing feverishly into the wee hours of the night, she completed her second novel, Wifey, which was picked up and published by Melodrama Publishing. After the success of Wifey, there was an overwhelming demand for her to write a sequel. Her fans wanted more so Ms. Swinson decided to answer all unanswered questions. The result is a creative, gritty work of fiction entitled, “I’m Still Wifey.”
- Erick Jerome Dickey – Eric Jerome Dickey is the author of twelve novels, including the bestsellers Genevieve, Drive Me Crazy, Naughty or Nice, The Other Woman, and Thieves’ Paradise. Dickey writes full time and is developing a six-issue mini-series of comic books for Marvel Enterprises featuring Storm (X-Men) and the Black Panther.
- James Gordon – G.P.A.(Greatest Poet Alive) is an International Award Winning Author from Chicago’s South Side and has penned seven books, contributed to various anthologies, and in 2015, he written his first novel, The Warmest Winter(A James Gordon Mystery). G.P.A. can be seen on episodes of Sirens, Chicago Fire and PD, Empire, and Shameless, as well as the critically acclaimed film “Animals”.
- Shameek Speight – Shameek A Speight is an Amazon National Best Selling author who manages over 20 authors through his company; True Glory Publications.His first book, “Child of a Crackhead” is based on his true life story and has propelled the creation of over thirteen self-published books. Shameek believes in turning ones pain into triumph and leads by example as he mentors his writers into new levels of success. His stories are harsh, gory, urban nightmares, which a few reflects on his own personal struggles growing up.
“I love to look within when I write. People cannot believe what I have gone through and I’m so blessed to know my story is a source of inspiration to others. Believe me when I say, if I can escape the hell I lived through, anyone can. You have to believe in God and you have to believe in your own talents; and we all have them. Be blessed.”
To learn more about Shameek Speight Novels and True Glory Publications, visit his FaceBook page Shameek A Speight. and join his reading group #TEAMTRUEGLORY. email@example.com
- Racquel Williams – Author turned Publisher and now Bestselling Author who has just inked a book deal with Author, Publisher and Movie Producer “The one and only” Carl Weber. Racquel Williams is by far one of the smartest and most business savy women in the book game right now. Her talent as a writer is unquestionable and she has the books to prove it. The Bottom Bitch Series and The My Husbands Whore Series are just a few of the books that have made her a household name in the Urban Fiction Genre.To purchase books by Racquel Williams on Kindle & In Paperback visit Amazon.com. To learn more about Racquel Williams and Racquel Williams Presents just Follow her Facebook, Twitter & Instagram
- Ben Burgess – Ben Burgess Jr is the author of the award winning novels “Monster”, “Wounded”, the poetry book “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange” and the new novel “Love and Happiness” He is an active performer of spoken word poetry. Ben Burgess Jr uses his love of writing to inspire and influence youths to strive for what they believe in, and to never give up on their dreams. His poetry book “Times Have Changed and Life is Strange” and his novel “Monster” are currently used in schools on the lower east side of Manhattan. Ben Burgess has a BA degree in Business Management, and a MA degree in Educational Leadership. He is the proud father of his daughter Jaelynn and is active in trying to improve urban neighborhoods and communities.
- LaDonna Marie – Hailed by American and European literary review experts as one the greatest up and coming act-provoking writers, is LaDonna Marie. The literary artist is an award-winning, international and best selling author. She also is a motivational speaker and founder of Planting Positive Seeds. Having earned some of the industry’s most glowing reviews, the critically acclaimed writer will be the first to tell you that she traveled a long way to the remarkable destination she now enjoys. LaDonna published her first poem in an anthology, “Whispers with The League of American Poets,” in 2007, and went on to self-publish her freshman book, “Expressions of the Mind, Body & Soul,” three years later. Without any effort on her part, she was recognized and received a Certificate of Congratulations from Congressman Bennie Thompson, 2nd district of Mississippi. There’s nothing minimalist about her accomplishments which include wide-ranging collaborations and associations ranging from a U. S. Representative, to Australia, London, South Africa, and Italy hosts. In addition to her extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the literary industry, she’s also a vibrant keynote and motivational speaker for several youth groups. LaDonna has a penchant for inspiring entrepreneurs, children, artists, writers and politicians, alike. The world-renowned writer can be inspirational and melancholy. At one moment she’s vulnerable; the next, she’s conveying a display of empowerment. Her astonishing talent and proverbial delivery paints portraits in vivid detail for secular and spiritual audiences alike. LaDonna Marie says that “Becoming a writer and my love for words are my passions and greatest gifts from God. They help me maintain a humble spirit.” She loves creating an atmosphere for learning and growth. She’s often quoted by a variety of publications such as The Glory Journal, ASU Alumni Magazine, and Sibella Poetry Magazine. Her book titles such as, “Until Tomorrow Comes,” “Lessons: Shattered Pieces Being Restored 2014,” and “Quiet Moments with God,” and have all yielded world-wide attention. She is the recipient of more than a dozen awards including a 2012, Humanitarian Award, and the 2014 DJ Gatsby Book Club Literary Award in Poetry.
- Nigeria Lockley – Nigeria Lockley possesses two Master’s degrees, one in English Secondary Education, which she utilizes as an educator with the New York City Department of Education. Her second Master’s degree is in Creative Writing. Born at Dawn is Nigeria’s first published novel. Nigeria serves as the Vice President of Bridges Family Services, a not-for-profit organization that assists student parents interested in pursuing a degree in higher education. She is also the deaconess and clerk for her spiritual home King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Church of God. Nigeria is a New York native who resides in Harlem with her husband and two daughters. Join her online at http://www.NigeriaLockley.com
- Eartha Watts Hicks – Eartha Watts-Hicks is the former director of publications for Cultivating Our Sisterhood International Association (COSIA), as well as a member of Project Enterprise, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and the legendary Harlem Writers Guild. A fellow of the North Country Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color, Eartha’s writings have appeared in several online publications, including Harlem World Magazine, TheUrbanBookSource.com, and Future Executives.org. Her writing advice has been featured in The Writer’s Guide to 2013. In June of 2013, she received the Just R.E.A.D. Award in the fiction category from the NYCHA branch of the NAACP and was named New York City literacy ambassador. In 2014, she was featured in the Congressional Black Caucus as part of the Write It Down panel discussion. She currently leads workshops for the New York Public Library, The National Writers Union, and The New York City Parks Department
- Iris Bolling – Iris Bolling was born in Richmond, Virginia, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management. Her passions are reading (especially romance novels), writing, sports and politics.The inception of Iris Bolling’s writing career began with combining her passions for education, politics, and romance into her first novel, Once You’ve Touched the Heart. This self-published work, released in March of 2008, was the first of the five additional books to complete the Heart Series. The popular Heart Series has captivated the eyes and hearts of Bolling’s readers and includes: Once You’ve Touched the Heart, The Heart of Him, Look Into My Heart, A Heart Divided, A Lost Heart, and last but not least The Heart.
In May of 2011, Iris introduced a new cast of characters in her novel Night of Seduction/ Heaven’s Gate. Its characters continuing to blossom in the sequel, The Pendleton Rule. Iris recently began a new Series, Gems & Gents, with the introduction of Teach Me. Her tenth novel, The Book of Joshua I – Trust will be released the summer of 2013.
In 2013, Iris stepped into a new venture geared towards bringing the characters of her books to the television screen. In 2014 she produced, The Heart, a television series based on her popular novels from The Heart Series.
Iris has gained the attention of her readers and the respect of her peers which is noted in her work being nominated for and graciously receiving various awards, including three Emma awards. She openly welcomes you into her world of writing and truly hopes that your mind is awakened, your thoughts are stimulated, and your desire to read about true love and romance is quenched.
For more information please visit her website: http://www.irisbolling.net