Books that I want…


Love Heist by Jackie D.- PURCHASED!!!!!!!!

A Moth To A Flame by Ashley Antoinette

Dollhouse by Kourtney, Kim, and Khloe Kardashian- PURCHASED

Inner Circle: The Wives Association by Evelyn Lozada

In Search of Tea Cake by Stacy Australia

Janet Jackson: True You

Urban Web Tales by Gregory JT Simpson

The Prada Plan 2: Leah’s Story by Ashley Antoinette- PURCHASED

The Mind & Soul of Tiffani Real by Tiffani Real-PURCHASED!!!!

A Diamond in the Rough by Jacqueline McDuffie-PURCHASED!!!!

The Dirty Divorce by Miss KP

Leveled Mind Confused Heart by Angelique

Onyx and Eggshell by Wyatt Bryson- PURCHASED!!!!!

The Dopeman’s Wife by Jaquavis Coleman- PURCHASED!!!!

After the Party by Harvis Mathis

Prince’s Donor by Sindee Lynn

When A Tattered Past Catches You by Tasha Wright

Black Diamond 2: Nicety by Brittani Williams

Livin’ Ain’t Easy by Peron F. Long

Memoirs of a Creole Crime Cartel by Red Snapper- EXCHANGED COPY OF DITR FOR THIS BOOK- YIPPEEE!

Get N’ Serious by Rory Sheriff

Get N’ Serious 2: My Addiction by Rory Sheriff

Perfectly Addicted by Chermean Taylor Gregory

 

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Check out my Chit-Chat with Carmen!


Let me say this first, never in a million years did I think to do a blog post where I interview one of my characters. The closest I came was Behind the Book and that definitely doesn’t feature character interviews. It just gives you a quick behind the scenes glance at characters and places in the series.

Thank goodness for Lena Sledge who came up with this idea for a blog series! By participating in this post, I was able to sit back and look at my character as if she wasn’t someone I created. In a way, it was almost as if I was interviewing a celebrity.

If you want to check out my interview with Carmen Davenport, click the cover of Diamonds in the Rough. By the way, Carmen’s answers are based off things that happened in the first book. I hope you enjoy!

Behind the Book: More on the Washingtons


After doing some thinking on the characters of Malik and Rakim Washington, I realized that I didn’t clarify something in regards to their parents. I did mention that the two were killed in a car accident while they were on vacation, but I didn’t mention much about their lives prior to that incident.

What I wanted to share was that Malik and Rakim were raised in a two-parent Christian household despite being brought up in West Brookstone. When I first discussed the city, I described West Brookstone as being the part of Brookstone where the lower middle class and those in poverty lived. It was known as being the hangout for drug dealers, pimps, etc. while East Brookstone was where the majority of the rich resided.

When most people think of the “hood,” they rarely envision a two-parent household. It seems that most people think of single mothers and absentee fathers. I didn’t want them to be subject to the same stigma, but I needed a way to explain the absence of their parents. A car accident was harsh, but death was the only excuse for their parents to never be around for the entire series. To be honest, I could always do a flashback scene with Malik and have them there. Well, you just never know!

SN: The next Behind the Book post will discuss Jayceon “King” Santiago!

Behind the Book: Malik Washington


After discussing Rakim Washington on my last post of Behind the Book, I felt it was only right for the next post to feature his fraternal twin brother, Malik.

Malik is a character who played a rather small role in Diamonds in the Rough (DITR) in my opinion. To me, his presence grew in Diamonds are Forever (DAF) and remains relatively the same in The Ace of Diamonds (AOD- not yet released).

He is considered to be loyal friend because he was the main person who stayed in Jay’s corner ensuring that he had funds available whenever he was released from prison. He also kept watch over Jay’s business affairs, which eventually went sour due to the lack of income that was coming in and his inability to fund them (Sapphire remained open for a short period after Jay’s arrest, but was soon closed down in addition to the laundromats that he owned).

The sad part about of all Malik’s hard work is that he doesn’t have ownership in any of Jay’s establishments. He has just helped to bring them into fruition. His main sources of income come from his role in the Santiago cartel and Jay does pay him for his services when it comes to his businesses.

Aside from his work with Jay, Malik was instrumental in getting Carmen out of prison. Due to this, Malik became allies with Kane, thus putting him in the middle between him and Jay. This does cause some tension between them, but it is obvious that Malik treasures his friendship with Jay more than the one with Kane.

Moreover, it is also during Jay’s time in prison that Malik falls in love with Tiara. They date secretly for a total of ten years until their relationship is made public (they end up going to eat at the same restaurant as Carmen/ Jay and decide not to hide it any longer). This was bound to come out because Malik was looking to take their relationship to the next level. He felt that he had spent the majority of his life being godfather to Carmen’s kids (King and Kristian) and wanted children of his own. He also wanted to get married. Close to giving Tiara an ultimatum, she finally showed a change of heart and they were soon engaged. Within the same year, they were married and she became pregnant with their first child, a daughter named Robin Giselle Washington.

When it comes to Malik’s role in the rest of the series, I wanted to show some growth, which can be seen in AOD. Although he was the one who was trying to convince Jay to enter the drug trade to get his money back up, he is also the one who encourages him to stay away from the drama when things start crumbling with the cartel. Malik’s transition into a family man begins to rub off on Jay who soon follows in his footsteps.

Tidbits on Malik Washington

-He is godfather to all of Carmen’s children

-King lived with him for a short while in DAF

-He was named after the actor Malik Yoba from New York Undercover

-He graduated high school, but does not have a college degree

 

Behind the Book: Jay Santiago


Out of all the characters introduced in The Diamond Collection, it seems Jay Santiago is the most popular. I don’t know if it’s because of his protective nature or the description of his looks, but he’s definitely a fan favorite.

The name Jay Santiago came from a couple different places. I will start with his last name only because I’ve gotten the question if it came from The Coldest Winter Ever by Sistah Souljah. In that particular novel, the main character’s last name is Santiaga. While The Coldest Winter Ever is one of my favorite books, I chose the name Santiago because it was of Spanish origin and I loved the way it sounded. It is just a coincidence that the names are similar.

As for his first name, I named the character after the rapper, Jay-Z. I have always admired his career as a business person and knew that I wanted the main male character of The Diamond Collection to follow a similar path. In addition, most of Jay’s businesses have connections to the color blue, which is heavily associated with the rapper Jay-Z (it’s rumored to be his favorite color). For example, the club, Sapphire, is named after a blue gemstone and the soul food restaurant, Blue Magic, is named after a song that appeared on Jay-Z’s American Gangster album called, “Blue Magic.”

In terms of Jay’s background, he was born in Brookstone, New York to Hector and Lady Santiago who are both deceased at the beginning of the series. Both of his parents were born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and moved to Brookstone, New York in their mid-twenties. Jay’s father, Hector, is 100% Puerto Rican while his mother, Lady, is a black Puerto Rican (she was born and raised in Puerto Rico, but has some ancestry in Africa). The idea to make his mother black came from reading an article in Latina magazine that featured La La Anthony. In the article, she says:

A lot of people don’t realize that I’m Latina, which is fine. One thing about being Latina is that there isn’t one look that comes with the territory. I don’t expect people to know my cultural background just by glancing at me. I do, however, expect that when I tell people my family is from Puerto Rico, that I will be believed and not accused of trying to be something that I’m not. It usually goes something like this: a person having a conversation with me discovers one way or another that I’m Puerto Rican and fluent in Spanish. That person then expresses their shock over these realizations for any number of reasons—common responses are, “You don’t look Latina” and “I thought you were black!” I never said I wasn’t black. And since when does being black and being Latina have to be mutually exclusive?

This statement made me look at race, ethnicity and nationality in a whole different light and I wanted to somehow incorporate that into my novel. I chose to do it through Jay’s mother, Lady, and will explore the topic more in The Ace of Diamonds. If you want more of a visual of his parents, think along the lines of Raul Julia (The Addams Family) and Reagan Gomez-Preston.

When it comes to Jay’s physical appearance, several people have asked me to reveal who I see when I am writing about Jay, but I refuse to give up this secret (even for Behind the Book!). However, I will give the list of names that I commonly hear readers say they envision: Terrence Howard (I think it’s the eyes), Laz Alonso, and Michael Ealy.

I must say that Jay Santiago is a character that developed on his own. In the beginning, I had certain intentions for the character, but as I wrote, his character got somewhat watered down. Maybe, I was afraid to show how wild and crazy he really could get. I think that if I had of really let my imagination run wild, his transition from kingpin to family man would be much greater. Of course, this is my own personal opinion. There may be some who think he was crazy enough in Diamonds in the Rough.

What do you think? Feel free to share!

Tidbits about Jay Santiago

-He doesn’t have a middle name.

-He is 6’5 and has beautiful hazel eyes

-His hair is naturally curly, but he wears it closely shaven.

-He is an only child (currently)

-He has a high school diploma, but never attended college.

-He is twenty-seven years old at the start of Diamonds in the Rough and forty-four at the start of Diamonds are Forever.

-He owns a home in San Juan, Puerto Rico where his personal butler, Silvas, lives.

-At the conclusion of Diamonds are Forever, he has three businesses under his belt, Sapphire, Blue Magic and is set to open Iceland, a jewelry store.

Behind the Book: Flame, Inc.


When Flame is first introduced in Diamonds in the Rough, it is nothing more than a small, but trendy boutique located in downtown East Brookstone, New York. The store, owned by Carmen’s mother, Patricia Davenport, caters solely to young women although Carmen dreams of designing business suits for men. As the series progresses, so does the business. The store eventually becomes a company with several different collections under its belt.

The idea to incorporate fashion into the book came from my random visits to Cato in Greenville, SC where my sister worked as a manager. During my breaks from college, she would allow me to come to work with her on occasion which gave me a glimpse into the ins and outs of running a clothing store. However, before my sister was even of age to work, she had always dabbed in fashion design. I can remember plenty of times when we were younger watching my sister draw different outfits. Often times when I am writing a scene where Carmen is designing, I try to envision these experiences that I shared with my sister.

In terms of the name of the store, Flame, this came about after watching Romeo Must Die, a film which starred Aaliyah and Jet Li. If you’ve seen the movie, you may remember that Aaliyah’s character, Trish O’Day, owned a clothing store called Serpentine Fire. The way the store was portrayed was almost identical to the way that I envisioned the store in Diamonds in the Rough. Therefore, from this movie, Flame was born.   

The transition from store to brand came from following the career of Kimora Lee Simmons- Hounsou, most known for being the former President/ Creative Director of Baby Phat. She also starred in her own series, Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane, which gave the public a firsthand look at how she simultaneously ran her business and managed her family. I tried to show this same concept with Carmen’s life in Diamonds are Forever.

I will admit that it was from watching the growth of Baby Phat that I got the idea to branch out Flame with different collections (see the list below).  It was also the Baby Phat Kids ads that featured Kimora’s daughters, Ming Lee and Aoki Lee that gave me the idea to have Carmen’s daughter, Kristian Kane as the face of Peaches.

Last, but not least, there are currently three locations of Flame aside from headquarters. The first store is located in downtown East Brookstone, the second store is in Time Square and the third store is in the fictional Brookstone Galleria Mall.

The Collections of Flame, Inc

Flame- the original line, geared towards women, aged 21 and up

Peaches- created by Carmen Davenport for teenage girls. Her daughter, Kristian Kane, is the face of the collection

King- created by Carmen Davenport and dedicated to her firstborn, Jayceon “King” Santiago, a collection of business suits for men

Fresh Prince- created by Carmen Davenport, a collection of clothing for boys (toddlers), this collection is introduced in The Ace of Diamonds

The Major Key Players of Flame, Inc

Carmen Davenport, President 

Tiara Washington, Vice President

Jerry, Senior Director of Marketing (introduced in Diamonds are Forever)

Cathy, Carmen’s receptionist/assistant (introduced in Diamonds are Forever)

Something else you want to know? Leave a comment!