Monday, April 28, 2008

Romance Slam Jam (and the mini swag bag)

On Thursday, I’m headed to Chicago to the annual Romance Slam Jam. I love this conference – actually it’s more than a conference – it’s an experience! And it’s a gathering where black romance gets the large helping of love and respect it deserves. The organizers have been working for over a year, and have pulled out all the stops. I know it will be fabulous!
This year I’ll be on the other side of table. Instead of scooping them up, I’ll be handing out goodies. Check out this little bag. It includes a bookmark and sample of Ayo’s fragrant, luxurious cream. She loves to cook, eat and drink, so there’s a pretty postcard with a recipe from the first meal she cooked for Bilal. And then there’s that drink she enjoyed on Paradise Island (watch out, Miami Vice)!
Of course, there’s the CD. Both Ayo and Bilal are music lovers, and while writing the story, I decided it would be good to share their favorites with readers. One frequent visitor to my blog suggested that it would be a good companion to the book. I agree. From Dusk to Dawn – The Mix is definitely a musical journey through the love story of Ayo and Bilal. Some songs speak to Ayo’s realization that love is here at last. Others are the couple’s favorites – the songs to which they work and play. Others reveal pain, insecurity, determination and most of all, a deep and abiding love. Isn’t that what romance is all about?
And speaking of appreciation, thanks so much for your comments on the first chapter. Wait ‘til you get to Chapter Three!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bringing the Heat

Eyes the color of dark amber? Full lush, lips? Body like a gladiator? You know I couldn’t stop there. Just how did Ayo recover from the sight of such magnificence? To those of you who mentioned the heat, believe me - there’s another layer added to the snap, crackle and pop. And it has nothing to do with DC’s infamous August heat! Read on...

Damn! As stupid as she looked, he probably thought he’d been paid
to appraise a collection of wall-mounted singing fish and wide-eyed
puppies painted on velvet.
Ayo scrambled to regain her composure, unaware that Abdul-
Salaam’s brows had knitted together into a frown. He speared her
with a sharp glance. “Since we made an appointment for today at 2:00,
who else could I be?”
Ayo’s head jerked up. Fine or not, he’d better check himself. Better
yet—she’d do it for him. “Since you didn’t show up wearing a name
tag, I had no idea who you were. I saw a man standing on my porch
with a duffle bag. For all I know you could be a baller or a burglar!”
Abdul-Salaam raised one thick, silky eyebrow. “Then you must be
familiar with a better class of burglar than the rest of us. I’ve never
heard of one who knocked on the door and introduced himself.”
Ayo’s patience unraveled. The heat flushing her body had nothing
to do with the cloying humidity that left the entire city gasping for air.
It was a warning, a Beware-of-Ayo sign: look out, because whatever
came to her mind would come flying out of her mouth like a poisoned
But not this time. Especially not in front of her next-door neighbor
who had just come out onto his porch and was paying more attention
to her and Bilal Abdul-Salaam than the circulars crammed into his
mailbox. Besides, she had started the drama. Even more, she needed
the appraisal. He was number one on Eileen’s list; how long it would
take to get an appointment with number two? This man must be a
damn good appraiser, but he needed a client relations intervention—
quick, fast and in a hurry.
Sighing, Ayo gave in. “Okay, look; we’re both wasting time,
bickering outside in this heat.” And the sooner he got to work, the
sooner he could be out of her house and on his way to whatever cave
he called home. “Since we’ve solved the identity crisis and I’ve already
paid my deposit, let’s put an end to the verbal sparring so you can
earn your money!” Ayo gestured to the open door. Bilal’s jaw
clenched. She expected him to turn on his heel and stalk away without
a word. Instead, his gaze swept over her bare arms and the expanse of
skin exposed by the scoop at the top of her dress.
“Oh, good Lord,” Ayo groused to herself. “What’s next? A speech
on modesty? If I’d known the jihad squad was coming, I would have
answered the door in crotchless panties!”
A long low whistle snapped her out of a mental recitation of words
synonymous with Neanderthal. “Man…this is beautiful!” Next to him,
Ayo’s eyebrow raised. She gave a smug snort. The room had that effect
on first-time visitors. Against walls the color of pale butter, a marble
topped mahogany console held her collection of barware. A large
armoire with carved pineapple columns sat between two windows
hung with curtains of sheer white batiste. It was the smaller version of
rooms found in great houses of the eighteenth century Caribbean. This
room, in fact her entire home, paid homage to the skill of West Indian
“Beautiful,” he repeated, murmuring his praise in a late-night
“Quiet Storm” voice that made Ayo think of a rainy night in front of
a fire with a man like him. But as gorgeous as he was, he’d waste the
romantic opportunity to deliver a stern lecture on the sins of the flesh.
When he stopped in front of the gleaming teakwood table, Ayo
squashed that thought and replaced it with a fantasy of his hand on
her flesh, the same way Bilal’s long fingers stroked the dusky rose
Weller vases arrayed on the long gleaming table. Slowly, he circled,
paying the same loving attention to the Roseville Pottery, gleaming
cobalt blue stemware, and the butterfly perched on the shoulder of
bisque Piano Baby in mint condition. For the first time since his
arrival, the furrow between his brows disappeared. “You have some
lovely pieces here.” He looked up at Ayo and her breath hitched. It
was the smile—it transformed him from scowling to spectacular. This
time the heat that flushed her body had nothing to do with anger or
the weather and everything to do with the slow, sensuous movement
of his hand. Ayo willed away the sharp and unexpected attraction to
the man whose face she wanted to slap just seconds before.
“Thanks,” she murmured, lowering her eyes in case they beamed
her erotic thoughts straight out into the room. She gestured to the card
table that could hold his laptop and camera. “If you need anything
else, I’ll be in the kitchen. It’s through that door.” She pointed to the
golden mahogany door, painted from top to bottom with a graceful,
curving palm tree. The word “welcome” was etched above it in
stenciled script. His lush lips turned up into a smile. “Beautiful and
creative.” In spite of the heat, she welcomed the warmth that surged
through her body. Maybe I misjudged him.
Ninety minutes later, Ayo pushed away from the table, intending to
head for her home office. Instead, she stood rooted to the spot, unable
to tear her eyes away from the sight that greeted her. Bilal stood with
his back to the door. His long legs were spread apart. Dark gray fabric
cupped his sculptured butt like the palms of a lover. A roadmap of
veins stood out in the lean, muscular arms raised high over his head.
He arched his neck, and the luxurious locks fell like a curtain of velvet
around his broad shoulders. It was just a stretch, to work out kinks
that must have come from an hour and a half of bending,
photographing and cataloging, but from him it was an erotic, primal
celebration of masculinity. Ayo felt a sharp pull in her solar plexus,
and lower; the sweet tightening that a woman never forgets, no matter
how long the dry season has lasted. Baby, baby, baby! A play list of
suggestive song titles slid into her brain like a sexy slow drag. No
doubt this man did more with his body than sit at a desk, poring over
books on glassware and pottery. She slipped back into the kitchen,
glad that her bare feet made no sound. An involuntary, sensual smile
curved her lips. What a waste! A man so mouthwatering had no right
being a puritanical zealot.
Bilal pulled a paper towel from the roll stashed in his duffel bag,
swiping it across his forehead and inside the collar of the shirt that
stuck to his back like wet tissue. Shaking his head, he looked up at the
ceiling fan and over at the floor model in the corner. Every piece that
adorned the pale yellow walls and gleaming hardwood floors bore the
grace of Ayo Montgomery. Like its owner, the house was beautiful. But
today it was as hot and steamy as a sweat lodge! At least the final
picture of each piece and its markings had been taken. He placed the
digital camera and tripod back in the duffle bag, glad he could
complete the rest of his valuation in the cool comfort of his air
conditioned home. Bilal stood and stretched again. Right now what he
needed was a tall glass of cold ice water.
When he knocked on the half-opened decorative door, Ayo
Montgomery twisted around.
“Oh! You surprised me, Mr. Abdul-Salaam. Can I help you?” She
stood quickly, tugging at her dress with one hand and pressing the
other against the skin at the base of her throat. Bilal’s head jerked up.
He fixed a stare on the green and yellow stripes on the kitchen
curtains; anything but the bare skin of the woman in front of him.
“May I have a glass of water, please?”
Her expression changed from surprise to chagrin. “Oh, I’m so sorry!
I know it’s boiling in here. I should have brought you something to
drink a long time ago. Every air conditioning repairman in the city
must be on call. I guess that’s why I can’t get one of them to show up
here.” When she smiled, he noticed a dimple that ended just below the
constellation of three tiny moles on her right cheek.
While she filled a glass with crushed ice and water from the door of
the refrigerator, Bilal looked around the room. In the bright yellow
kitchen, a blend of aromas wound around one another. The sharp,
tangy scents of pineapple and lemon were laced with coconut and
softened by another fragrance with a similar, richer scent. Through a
window over the sink, the green length of a luxuriant back yard was
visible. Although the high heat of summer had driven most of the
blooms into hiding, the graceful weeping willow, ornamental grass
and wildflowers made the garden an urban oasis.
“Here you are. This should bring you back to life.” Without its
earlier sharp bite of anger, her voice spread over him like cook silk.
When she offered him the cold, sweating glass, Ayo Montgomery was
close enough for him to breathe the clean, orange-blossom scent of her
hair. He stood frozen like a display window mannequin.
“Mr. Abdul-Salaam?” she repeated, holding the glass out further.
“Oh, sorry,” she exclaimed, plucking a green-bordered cloth napkin
from the table and wrapping it around the damp surface. Her fingers
brushed his hand. Bilal flinched and stepped back, as if the cool drink
had suddenly transformed itself into a hot poker.
Ayo blinked. A fleeting glimpse of confusion crossed her face before
it morphed into a mask of controlled anger. She banged the glass
down, sloshing icy water over the striped table cloth. “You know
what? You Taliban wanna-be’s piss me off, trying to prove you’re more
Muslim than the Grand Ayatollah himself! I touched your hand, Mr.
Abdul-Salaam; I didn’t grab your crotch!”
Bilal’s eyes flashed a stormy dark brown. A muscle twitched in his
clenched jaw. His voice was cold as the slushy liquid he didn’t get to
drink. “Well check this out, Mrs. Montgomery—I wouldn’t let you
close enough to grab my crotch! First you treat me like I’m a home
invader; make me work in that sauna without a drop of water, and
now this? You’re just like those other Bible-beating Crusaders—instant
experts on Islam after hearing a five-second sound bite by a gang of
know-nothings. You have no idea of what you’re talking about, but
I’m not surprised!”
Ayo spun around and turned her back, tossing the last words over
her shoulder. “Here’s what I do know—if you weren’t finished in
there, you are now! Don’t bother to come back with your report. Mail
it along with your bill. And you can see yourself out!”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ayo and Bilal - The Beginning

I've been talking about it since the beginning of March and so many of you have shown your support. Now that the book is about to hit the shelves, a sneak preview is in order. Enjoy!

A stab of pain jerked Ayo Montgomery awake. Peering at the clock
through slits of barely opened lids, she dragged herself to a seated
position. This pale orchid room had always been her sanctuary but
today it was a fragrant, steamy prison. She reached out, groping for
last night’s glass of water and two red and white capsules. Before
tossing them down her throat, Ayo grimaced. She eased her head back
against the mound of pillows. Shifting again, she drew her knees to
her chest. The phone rang, disturbing her short-lived relief. That
morning, the soft tones sounded like shrill clanging. Glancing over at
the caller ID, Ayo squeezed her eyes shut, picked up the handset and
jabbed “talk.”
“You know why I picked up this phone? Just so I could hang up on
“Whoa, Ayo! Are you still pissed?”
“Pissed? Pick one reason, Justine—the oiled-up blubber belly or the
scrawny scarecrow?”
“Come on, Ayo—I told you last night that I’m sorry!”
“You ought to be.” Ayo’s snarl eased into a low chuckle. “Just
teasing. I’m not pissed, I’m in pain. It’s my never-ending female
problems.” She sighed, twisting to press her side against the pillows
bent into a wedge of firm support. “But back to last night–I let you
drag me to your cousin’s book club, but why did the discussion end
up with two broke-down, cut-rate strippers? Where’d they get those g-strings?
A ten-pack from the dollar store?”
“Stop!” Justine Lewis-Randall giggled. “Elmira decided it was a
fitting finale to the discussion of Erotique Noire.”
“She did, huh? Then Elmira should stick to selecting books and
leave the selection of man-candy for somebody else. The only thing I
wanted to do after seeing those two erotically-challenged jokers was
laugh. And that skinny one—ole boy should have been dancing to
‘Hungry Like a Wolf.’ Besides, if I want to, I can get my own halfnaked
sweaty man.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, Ayo dropped her head in one
hand. Too late. It was just the opening her best friend needed.
“Oh you can? According to my recollection, you’ve only been out
with two men in eighteen years.”
“Then you must have been sleeping with Rip Van Winkle instead of
Nick Randall,” Ayo shot back. “Besides, men our age want a model
just off the showroom floor. And I’m not nipping, tucking or sucking
anything out of my body to please some old dude who’ll need a blue
pill before I’ll need K-Y jelly! And I’ll be damned before I turn into a
“Cougar? Ayo, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I can’t
wait to find out.”
“Don’t worry,” Ayo chuckled. “I’m not going “Animal Planet” on
you—besides you’ve already got your man.” Ayo teased. “But for
your information, a cougar is an older woman on the prowl for
younger men. According to the woman I saw on TV there’s a whole
movement out there. But this one looked like a dried up stick of beef
jerky with lots of hair and a wrap-around grin. They should have
picked a better spokes-kitty to represent them,” Ayo giggled.
Justine gagged on the laughter stuck in her throat. “Ayo, you are so
wrong. I do not believe you said that!” she croaked out.
“It’s true! Anyway if the time is right, the man will find me, he’ll
have to because I’m sure not looking. But I’ve got to get myself up and
ready for an appraisal. You remember my mother’s collection of
pottery and glass? I’m certain they’re worth more than I thought.”
“So who did you get to do the appraisal?”
Finally something to veer Justine off the track of her relentless
matchmaking. She meant well—in the thirteenth year of her own
happy marriage, she wanted something close to that kind of life for
Ayo. But Ayo’s life didn’t need fixing—she was finally at a place of
peace, and although it might be nice, she didn’t need a man to make
her life complete.
“His name is Bilal Abdul-Salaam. Eileen recommended him. He’s
done some work for her gallery and he was at the top of her list.
Anybody who’s alright with her is more than good enough for me.”
“What a strong, masculine name—is he a Muslim?”
In slow motion, Ayo pushed herself off the crumpled sheets, pulling
the damp t-shirt away from her sticky skin. “I don’t know, but it’s hot
and my whole body is crying for mercy. I want as little fabric as
possible touching me, so whatever he is, he’d better be prepared to see
some skin.”
Justine was too genteel for a full belly laugh—her chuckle escalated
into as much of a guffaw as she could muster. “So what do you think
he’s going to do? Run out of the door at the sight of your bare arms?”
“At $100.00 an hour, he shouldn’t care if I’m flaunting a furtrimmed
see-through and three-inch heels. Some Muslim men have a
problem with a woman not being covered, but if he’s one of them, he’d
better walk with some blinders.”
“Ayo, give the brother a break,” Justine giggled. “Besides, this Mr.
Abdul-Salaam might be interesting…” She let the sentence trail off
into an unspoken suggestion.
In spite of her pain, Ayo burst out laughing. “You don’t give up, do
you, Miss Matchmaker? You’re hopeless; at the rate you’re going, any
man who can get the subject and verb to agree might be interesting.
Right now the only man I want to see will be toting a toolbox and a
container of Freon. But I love you anyway,” she chuckled. “And I’ll
talk to you later.”
Ayo didn’t feel like it, but just before two o’clock, she pulled on a
simple orange shift and slipped her feet into matching flat sandals.
Although her cramps had all but disappeared, what she really wanted
was to drape herself in the shapeless bag of a Hawaiian print housedress
that barely touched her skin. She pulled her fingers through her
hair. The light brown twists fanned out, brushing the tops of her
shoulders. A pale tinted gloss was the only makeup she could bear to
touch her face. Out of habit, she reached for “Ayo’s Ambrosia”, the
signature scent she created for herself. But she set the vintage atomizer
back on the dresser. One spray would be a return invitation for the
headache she’d finally gotten rid of.
At two o’clock the brass pineapple knocker struck the door. When
Ayo swung it open she couldn’t keep her eyes from rolling. Not today!
Here we go again…”
“Yes?” The word unfurled like the sneer it was intended to be. Why
couldn’t these street ball players follow one simple sign? The public
courts were only one more block down the street. Look at him—vanity,
thy name is baller. Apretty boy at that, posed at her door like the prince
of the city.
Nothing was out of place on this man, not even a drop of
perspiration on a day that was a preview of hell. The dove-gray linen
shirt and charcoal pants fit as if each thread had been woven over his
body—but she didn’t know what kind of ball he planned to play in
that GQ ensemble. He was clearly lost, but he was wasting her time.
“Mrs. Montgomery?” When he leaned back to stare up at the
numbers above the brass knocker, the cool gray fabric flattened
against his broad chest. “I’m Bilal Abdul-Salaam.”
Ayo’s mouth dropped open. She was glad he didn’t extend his hand
because hers was stuck to her side. “You can’t be!” The haze of
annoyance cleared, and Ayo’s stomach took a slow somersault. Good
Lord! He was nothing like the picture she had formed in her mind—
the one in which Bilal Abdul-Salaam would be an academic, no-nonsense,
righteous right-on brother. Instead she stared up into eyes
the color of dark maple syrup. His face brought to mind a magnificent
tribal mask—eyes like chips of dark amber, high cheekbones and lush,
full lips. Could skin really be that color? His was ebony brushed with
a hint of amber and gold. A slender mustache rimmed his mouth and
chin, blending into the fine beard that dusted a strong jaw line. Each
coil of his immaculate locks flowed past broad shoulders, tied back by
two pencil-thin pieces of his own hair. He was over 6 feet of primal,
yet refined masculinity. If Gladiator had been filmed south of the Sahara, this man could have been its star.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wait - There's More!

Yesterday’s Dusk to Dawn online launch party was so much fun! Who knows what would have happened had those virtual mango martinis been the real deal? Blogtalk Radio was lit up – host Yasmin Coleman kept the questions and conversation flowing smoothly. And the chat log – it was hilarious with good-natured back and forth over just who would be the winner of Ayo’s Beach Bag. And speaking of prizes, we were so caught up in the good time that I forgot to mention the Dusk to Dawn CD. It’s a mix of songs – some rhythm, some blues, some soulful ballads and a little bit mo’. There are five available. To whet your appetite, the first track is Jill Scott’s Celibacy Blues. The same rules apply. Visit the blog, post a comment, and be in it to win it!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's In the Bag!

Calling all beach lovers - by now you've read the blog and received the notice about Sunday's Dusk to Dawn online launch party. I dropped a couple of hints about the prize and even promised a sneak peek. Right after that, my camera conspired against me, and it has taken me this long to get a picture. But I am nothing if not determined, and instead of a few days ago, at 7:18 pm on the day before the party, I finally got it to work. So here it is - the grand prize, la piece de la resistance, the beach bag of all beach bags! But first, some background information.

In the midst of despair, Ayo Montgomery makes a "save her life" decision and seeks refuge and peace on Harbour Island in the Bahamas. For the hours she spent on the pink sand beach, she carried a fully packed beach bag. But for some fortunate party guest, there's be something more than sunscreen and shades. This very special version of Ayo's Beach Bag contains a cream, coral and green striped towel, a copy of From Dusk to Dawn, the matching bookmark, two lovely champagne flutes and a set of "Sun and Sand" tealights. For the winner's listening pleasure, I've included the Dusk to Dawn remix, a soulful musical journey through the story of Ayo and Bilal. You may not know it, but Ayo creates her own line of bath and body products. For apres-beach pampering, enjoy Ayo's Maracas Bay Coconut Cloud, Orange Blossom Balm and Pink Sands Soap.

See you Sunday, April 20th, 6:00 pm est at www.blogtalkradio/ycoleman - you might be the lucky winner!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Queen for a Day!

That’s exactly how I feel. I’ve already been interviewed by Romance in Color ( And today I’ve been invited, not once but twice, to sit a spell and chat with both Shonell Bacon and Gwyneth Bolton, two women who’ve already made their mark in the literary world. They’ve graciously given me space at their spot to talk about From Dusk to Dawn, my road to publication, and even a little bit about me :)
You can find my interviews at
Please stop by and leave a comment.
P.S. Don’t forget to join me on Sunday, April 20 from 6:00 to 7:00 pm for the official launch of From Dusk to Dawn. For more information,
contact or

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Let the Countdown Begin!

This time last year, I didn’t know when it would happen (but I knew it would). And now it’s finally here. Next week marks the release of my debut novel, From Dusk to Dawn, and the beginning of the “Against All Odds” Book Tour.
Against All Odds? Why not From Dusk to Dawn? Before I give you a sneak peak of what’s in store (and what goodies there are to be had) a little explanation is in order. Many book tours have a name; a kind of hook that stays in the minds of readers. For my book, “Against All Odds” is the best way to describe the story of two such mismatched characters.
Their first meeting was as explosive as a nighttime lightning storm. That first verbal showdown should have spelled the end of Ayo and Bilal. If they couldn’t manage a civil conversation, how could they fall in love? But they did – deeply and completely. However, in fiction as in real life, the course of even the greatest love never runs smooth. Bilal and Ayo make it through the minefield of differences in age, faith and family opposition, only to face an unexpected challenge and the greatest threat to their future. For one of them love means letting go, but for the other, it means holding on, against all odds.
Now for the goodies: they’re all to be had on Sunday, April 20 at 6:00 pm. That's when APOOO Bookclub kicks off the online launch party. Get ready for a good time - there’ll be great conversation and prizes, including books and Amazon gift certificates. The piece de resistance and grand prize is a tropical-themed gift basket filled to the brim with a copy of the book, bath and body products made by Ayo herself, a pair of exquisite champagne flutes, and an accompanying CD with music inspired by the book. Next week I’ll post a picture – it’s a beauty!
Stay tuned for daily excerpts and samples of music inside the book. The countdown begins now – see you there!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Good News 'Round Midnight

What did we do before the internet? It’s not really a question, because I know exactly what we did back in the land before time. We were slaves to the twin terrors - the IBM Selectric and King Xerox. And prisoners of the jack-in-the wall landline phone. But it’s a new day. All it takes to spread the word or good news is one click of the mouse. So imagine my delight, when in the middle of the night, my first review for From Dusk to Dawn appeared in an email. Read this 4+ review and you’ll know why my early morning buzz had nothing to do with coffee. Here’s what Marguerite Lemons, Romance in Color reviewer, had to say about From Dusk to Dawn:

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE |4+| Marguerite Lemons
REVIEW: Ayodele “Ayo” Montgomery was widowed at a young age. She returned to the Washington, D. C. area from Trinidad after the death of her husband, and built a successful skin care company; all while raising her son Kedar, who is now in college. The last thing Ayo is looking for is love, and especially with a younger man. Bilal Abdul-Salaam is a much sought after antiquities appraiser and restorer who has been waiting for the right woman to marry and have his children. When Ayo answers her door she is unprepared for the feelings that assail her at the sight of Bilal and he is just as taken aback at the sight of her. Ayo cannot believe that she is attracted to a younger man, and she is afraid of how her son will react to their relationship. When she finds out that she may not be able to give Bilal the family he desires, she decides to let him go. But Bilal will not have any of that; he is determined to make her his wife no matter what obstacles stand in their way.

Ayo is a strong willed, independent woman. She has overcome the loss of the love of her life at a young age, and against all odds created a successful business out of her soap making hobby. My only problem with her was her constant self-doubt, snap judgments, and her willingness to give up the man she claimed to love so easily. Bilal is a strong, even-tempered, and level-headed man. He is extremely patient and caring, and he bends over backwards to help Ayo.

FROM DUSK TO DAWN is a riveting story of an unconventional romance. The odds are against the leads’ relationship from the beginning. There is the clash between their religious beliefs and the difference in their ages. I enjoyed the way that Ms. Davis worked through all of the characters problems. The supporting characters were considerate and encouraging to the couple, and I thought the friction between Ayo’s son, Kedar, and Bilal was handled very well. The author also managed to weave into the mix the issue of infertility in older women brought on by endometriosis and other ailments. She even broached the topic of depression and the characters ability to acknowledge and cope with it.

Ms. Davis is to be commended for a well written and interesting story. I enjoyed it and will recommend it to my friends.

Of course, I emailed my thanks to Ms. Lemons. Here is her reply:

“I was trying hard not to tell the whole story because people really need to buy this book and read it for themselves. As for Bilal, I gave them a hint, so they are going to have to read the book to find out just how good he is!... So, you are welcome, but I really have to thank you for writing such an enjoyable story. I really had forgotten that this is your first novel. You really are to be commended for such exceptional work. I look forward to reading your next one.”

My second book is in the works. I know what I have to do...