Tag Archives: Shirley Harris Slaughter

The Birth of a Wonder – The Short History of #RaveReviewsBookClub #RRBC


(Image by All-Free-Downloads.com)

On Sunday, December 8, 2013, I remember sitting at my dining room table and staring at my computer monitor…surfing thru my Twitter feed.

After having finished reading a book that had been tagged on Twitter as “#GreatRead!” and being sorely disappointed and wanting to then tag a more truthful review – “#WorstReadEver” (as it was poorly written, in need of a professional edit and proof and so much more), the wheels of my brain began to spin rapidly.

“I’m going to create a forum where I can post honest reviews of the books that I’ve read,”  I said, half out loud.

After creating the forum and giving more thought to how I could make an even greater contribution to the literary world by posting honest reviews of books, I decided that it would be a great idea to offer more under the umbrella of what I had initially planned; more in the sense of creating a community of readers and writers who could also offer and benefit from honest book reviews.

There were a handful of authors on Twitter who I had developed a special rapport with, and the first one that I reached out to was Bruce A. Borders.  Bruce and I had been supporting one another for quite some time and I had read one of his books and knew that he was a good writer, and also a strong reviewer.

“I’m going to form a book club under the umbrella of Rave Reviews By Nonnie Jules.  A forum where authors will come together to support one another, and also a place where readers can expect that the reviews of books will be honest.  I’d like you to join me and serve as my VP.”

“Sounds like a great idea.  I’m all in,” Bruce said.  “Just let me know when you’re ready to start.”

After the site was fully established with the book club and all that it would offer, I reached out to a few more that I had been reciprocating support with, and, who I also knew would be assets to the club.  The late, Kathryn C. Treat was next on my list and she would serve as our first Membership Director up until two months prior to her death.

In the first month of formation, we added over 300 members to our roster.  By month 5, we had over 600 members.  Membership at that time was really inexpensive: it was FREE.

Since one of the asks of the club was that members #Follow one another on Twitter, we soon came to realize that many were joining us simply to grow their Twitter following.  It soon became abundantly clear that they had no desire or intentions to support their fellow members;  they merely wanted to #follow so that they, in turn, would be #followed.

In our 6th month, we instituted a $25 annual membership fee, which in my eyes was still FREE, especially when you think about all that the club offers.  The advent of the fee was our way of keeping the riff-raff off our roster as we sought to add more of those who were serious about what we were working towards.

I had a TEAM of 7 at the time, and sadly, now I can’t even remember everyone’s name as they weren’t on our roster long (for their own personal reasons)…although we continued to support them off the roster.

Contrary to popular belief, Beem Weeks and Marlena Smith (Marlena Hand at that time) were not original TEAM members of the club.  I noticed Beem, as he was one of the few supporting other authors on Twitter just as much as I was.  I knew that he would be a great asset to the club and he has never proven me wrong.  (After the 7 TEAM members, Beem was the 2nd member on our roster in January of 2014.)

Marlena was also a great supporter of others, and there was something about her persona on Twitter that made me KNOW she would be the best Secretary ever – and for all these years, she has been.  When I asked her to join and serve, she stood back and watched for a couple of days before she said “YES!” (This will surprise many of you, but Marlena was the 174th member on our roster in January of 2014.  And, that was before January 14, 2014! The club was a little over one month old!)  So, as you can see, our membership was growing by leaps and bounds – when it was FREE.

Although Shirley Harris-Slaughter was among my core group of those I reciprocated support with on Twitter, she didn’t come aboard immediately.  Her name was added to our roster shortly after Beem joined, and she has never wavered in her support of RRBC.

Fast forward 5 years and many changes to the faces on my TEAM.  We have had some awesome authors to serve on the RRBC board.  There are some who hold Lifetime Memberships, who have given and who continually give of their time to serve the community of RRBC, who I’m sure will be around until the very end.  Some faces joined our TEAM much later, yet have proven to be committed to serving the RRBC community and our agendas of support.  They’re so awesome, I often wonder how I ever got on without them (Wendy Scott, Jan Sikes, and Mary Adler to name a few).

Although some of the names on our roster have changed over the course of these 5 years, the goals and mission which I established on day one, have not.  We are a community of support.  We are committed to being recognized as an establishment of Indie authors, who take very seriously the business of writing and publishing great works.  We believe in lifting as we climb and we stand by the policy that “honesty” in book reviews, is always the road to travel.  We strive daily to ensure that we put forth our best and most professional “author” face ever so that we are one day placed in the history books alongside other literary greats.  And, with the inception of RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), we aim to be the very best.

Other long-timers also remain on our roster.  Members like:  Bette A. Stevens, Karen Ingalls, Kim Taylor, Peggy Hattendorf, Larry Hyatt, Karl Morgan, Carol Marrs-Phipps, Micki Peluso, Marcha Fox, Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko, Rhani D’Chae and so many more, are all part of this amazing family that we’ve created online.  This list is too extensive to go on, but, these are some of the early joiners. I appreciate each and every one of them for their staying power and loyalty to RRBC.

As with any organization, we have lost members over the years, but, I never concern myself with those who have moved on.  We accept that not everyone understands or subscribes to the theory of commitment and dedication.  If everyone did, that wouldn’t be real life, now would it?  My attention and focus are always reserved for those who remain.

For those members who have left our roster for things out of their control, (i.e. LIFE, etc.) we wish them all the best and we always welcome those members back into the fold, if and when they decide to return.  Many who have left our roster, later realize the importance of RRBC to the literary world and do return, by the way.

And, for every member who we have lifted, promoted and given name recognition to, yet in the end, moved on to try and compete with RRBC, as opposed to remaining and offering the same support to others, they’ve only made room for those who were actually designed to be here;  and, for that, I am grateful.

Until there is no more breath left in my body, RRBC/RWISA will continue to thrive and grow into the powerhouse it was destined to be, and, it will continue on as the most supportive arena for serious writers that it has grown into and that it is known for.

We don’t believe in looking back or dwelling on the past here at RRBC.  Our success lies before us…in the minutes, days, weeks, months and many years to come.  We know that as long as we remember that it’s not about self, but more about community that helps us succeed, we’ll do just fine.

I will end here by saying, “Here’s to another very successful 5 years, RRBC/RWISA!” 



Hello and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules!  Since we are a book club, we had to offer something that included a book shelf.  A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories.  Here on this “SHELF,”  we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask.  We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but no one has dared to cover them.  WE get personal!  Because when you sit on the RRBC “SHELF”, YOU are an open book!

Today I have with me on the “SHELF” our Current “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Mrs. Shirley Harris Slaughter!


NJ:  Welcome, Shirley and before we really get started, how does the “SHELF” feel to you?  Is it comfy?

Shirley:  YES! Very comfy and cozy. I cannot believe I’m actually here getting all this attention.

NJ:  Yes, I see that you’re getting a lot of attention this week.  You’re obviously a STAR!  So, how about we start by confirming whether or not the name we know you as, is your birth name or a pen name?

Shirley:  My author name is a pen name. It’s just slightly different from my legal name. I tried a pen name that was totally different from my own once but it didn’t stick and I couldn’t get used to it so I ditched it in favor of what I am using now. I use the middle name “Harris” in recognition of my son’s heritage; and Slaughter which is my present name. You know we women have all kinds of aliases.

NJ:  Tell us where you were born.  Do you still live there now?  If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?

Shirley:  I was born in Detroit, Michigan and I live just north of it at the West Eight Mile Road boundary in a small bedroom community called Oak Park. It sits right next door to the community I grew up in – Royal Oak Township. Oak Park is a diverse city of Jews, Chaldeans, Caucasians, Blacks and Asians. There are small ranch style homes and large colonial homes depending on what your level of income is. All the streets are closed off. I always say it would be hard for criminals to orchestrate an escape here because the streets are so complicated.

NJ:  Married or single?

Shirley:  I am married to my husband Langston going on 31 years. When they say opposites attract they were not lying. He’s a homebody and quiet. I am on-the-go doing this and that. He has to rein me in sometimes when I get totally out of control.

NJ:  Do you have kids?  If so, how many?  Sons or daughters?

Shirley:  I have a son and my husband has a daughter. We are a blended family which makes for a rockier boat but by the grace of God, somehow we weathered the storms. It wasn’t easy. I think the reason we lasted is because my husband does not allow children to dictate his relationships and he was not letting anyone come between us. Now that’s a determined person and I respect him for knowing where his priorities lie. I have seen examples of that not happening and marriages breaking up because of it. My mother raised us single-handedly and I remember how awful I was to her significant other. Let me stop because I’m going into another realm.

NJ:  Favorite child (and be honest…I’m sure they’re not reading this interview)…

Shirley:  While I love all my children my son is the light of my life and not because he’s mine but because he has always been an amazing child. He was always a hit with other parents so that by the time I came around I felt like a celebrity. But alas, they do grow up and the innocence with them. He turned into a fantastic dad imitating the things he saw me and my husband do.
My step grandchild holds a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s because I always made sure he was included in family get-togethers. That little bit of attention from me has made all the difference to him. He’s 18 now and our bond is stronger than ever. I get a big hug from him every time he sees me. He’s very talented as are all the grandchildren. I am very proud and love each and every one of them. They each have a little bit of our son in them.

NJ:  I think it’s awesome that you can refer to a child you didn’t bear as “my child.” There are so many step-parents who have a hard time doing that so I applaud you for it.   Any pets running around?  If so, what kind?

Shirley:  Don’t have a pet now. I get too emotionally attached and it’s hard when they are gone to let go. I was given a newborn German Shepherd female as a gift and it grew up with my son. When he (Princess) got sick and had to be euthanized, I was devastated and cried like a baby at my job. I actually had to go home. I vowed to never get attached like that again and so I don’t keep pets anymore. Now if my life were to change then I might look into owning one again, but it will be a toy dog that’s well trained.

NJ:  OK, so we’d like to know your favorite food.  You’ve shared with me that you’re a pretty healthy eater.

Shirley:  My husband makes the best homemade spaghetti with meat sauce,,,guaranteed to put on the pounds. I was described once as tiny and cute. Never again will I hear those words. He makes the best chili, mouth-watering beef stews…all those comfort fattening foods. He knows how to blend those flavors. Mmmmm Good! I have no control over the portions. That’s why I got on Weight Watchers. (don’t laugh). Sorry if I got carried away. I love good food and my husband’s company.

NJ:  (Long pause)  Oh, I’m sorry, I was just looking through my notes for the question that I asked about whether or not you enjoy your husband’s company…OHHHHH, there isn’t one, so let’s stay on track here, Mrs. S. Harris Laughter  (LOL) OK, so, we’re going to dig a little deeper here.  What’s your favorite color?

Shirley:  I love warm colors in the brown family. It can make for some interesting outcomes and combinations. I used this color theme in my master bathroom – absolutely gorgeous outcome. My main bathroom was designed using custom made cabinets that were a dark wood finish. So I came up with a rose look by accident. The paint was a light rose so the rugs are rosy with browns and greens in the curtains. I have a white tub I didn’t want and somehow the look came out beautifully. The rosiness of the room reflects off the tub giving it an off rose color look. I was like WOW! How did I do that? I’m a multi-dimensional person so I don’t have just one favorite color. I could name some more.

NJ:  Please don’t.  Let’s move on to your favorite sport…

Shirley:  I used to love the Detroit Pistons but only when they were winning. I’m a fly-by-night kind of fan. I’m not really into sports overall. My mother loved football. Watching football with a can of beer was her idea of heaven. My younger sister loves football too. So does Langston and some of our children. I don’t like it, never have and never will. I don’t get all that violence and I have a problem keeping up with what’s going on. That and playing cards are not my forte. I don’t have a quick wit when it comes to playing cards or watching football. It’s like I’m brain dead or bored out of my mind until there’s a touchdown, and then I wake up.

NJ:  I’m brain-dead and bored with them, too, until a some physical action breaks out (punching, head-butting, etc..LOL).  Then I’m all EYES, “sssshhhhhhing” everyone around.  It’s comical how that physical action can just draw me in.  Just like a well-written book.  What’s your favorite TV show?

Shirley:  I’m a political junkie and I love nature and documentaries. I love Wendy Williams because she knows how to gossip. I love dramatic movies. My attention span is short nowadays for most sitcoms.

NJ:  Favorite Actress/Actor…

Shirley:  I used to love Halle Berry and anything she played in. I love Tia and Tamara, the twins. I loved the actress Melissa Gilbert and watched just about anything she was featured in. There are no real favorites now. It depends on the movie and how the actor/actress comes across. I fell in love with Jamie Foxx when he did Ray. I thought his acting was superb. So was Kerry Washington’s performance. I appreciate a good movie.

NJ:  I appreciate well-written movies.  When I see otherwise, my daughter and I look at each other and say “low budget” and then burst into hysterics laughing.  So, are you a couch potato or a workout nut?  Be honest…

Shirley:  I guess you can throw me in the couch potato crowd when I’m not busy running around. I don’t like to work out so I do stretches and that has helped me tremendously in getting some exercise time in. It’s amazing what a little stretch can do.

NJ:  Shirley, what’s your biggest pet peeve that makes you want to stomach-punch somebody?  (For the record, NJ does not condone violence but she does believe in being honest so she has to admit that there are times when she feels like some friendly stomach-punching is a little necessary.  She also feels she is not alone in these feelings).

Shirley:  I am in 100% agreement with you on this. Sometimes I feel like punching out some lights when I am watching politics play out. It is just awful. It makes me want to throw something at the screen when I see how crazy some people really are. Langston (my husband) tells me to stop watching it. But ignorance is not bliss anymore. It’s a necessity to know what is going on in the world and to exercise your constitutional right to vote and not allow anybody to take that right from you. That right is under attack right now.

NJ:  Uh, OK….calm down a little.  It seems when politics are mentioned, your feathers get a little ruffled.  We’re too high up for that, unless you believe you can fly.  Now, which is your favorite, Facebook or Twitter?

Shirley:  I use both Facebook and Twitter. Although I must say, I am now a total Twitter fan after having found new friends who have helped me learn how to actually use it. And I’m still learning. I wouldn’t be on this shelf if it weren’t for Twitter and meeting so many nice people.

NJ:  Name two of the most supportive people you’ve met on either Facebook or Twitter? Hurry and tell us so we can become their friend.

Shirley:  I know a couple: My cousin Keita Walker on Facebook who just published a book of poems. Unfortunately none of the other relatives have supported me. My good friend Monika Uriel has supported at all of my book events. And she’s not an author. The Board of Rave Reviews Book Club is the only other support system that has gone all out for me and I appreciate that so much.

NJ:  Nonnie Jules or Wonderwoman?  Be honest now…

Shirley:  Oh please! You of course! Who else was I going to name? You’re not going to throw daggers at me. Wonder Woman is a close second. Oh, that’s you too!!

NJ:  Everyone knows the names Mark Twain and Stephen King but how about you give us two names of some INDIE authors that you favor…

Shirley:  I favor my dear friend and fellow author Mamie Smith (RRBC Member) who wrote a wonderful book on coping with the loss of her daughter. I love the way she writes! I was impressed with her world travels and the fascinating life she’s led. She’s got a great sense of humor which I love and it was nice to know that we had things in common, too.

I was impressed with the fact that Nonnie Jules got into this business for such a short time and managed to sell her newly published books and market them in a way that has really pushed her into the forefront of this crowded field and helped to propel Indie Authors in the process. She is mentioned now everywhere we look. She had a vision and exercised it. I admire that. Everybody is not qualified or capable of pulling off something like a RRBC.  Oh, I’m talking about you!!

NJ:  Why, thank you, Ms. Shirley!  So, what is it about these authors that you’ve come to like?

Shirley:  Mamie is doing an online radio show and is an accomplished retired music teacher who resides in Troy, Michigan. Her husband passed away recently and so she has kept herself busy and active. She has always been supportive of me and followed me to the Detroit Writers Guild, where we served together and left together. We became partners in crime. She has a great sense of humor which makes it easy to be around her.

You, Ms. Nonnie, go after what you want and do not take no for an answer. I love your drive and stamina and your energy. You energize me!  I’m getting tired just thinking about it. And you are funny with a quick wit. You’re also such a sweetheart and you grow on people. I’m just along for the ride because I don’t know where you’re going next and I’m too nosy to get off at the next stop.
Both you and Mamie are go-getters.

NJ:  Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read…

Shirley“Titanium Chronicles” by Liesl Kaberry (RRBC member) and your book, “Daydreams Daughter, Nightmare’s Friend.”
I was shocked that I actually liked Liesl’s book because I was not a fantasy reader, until now. I’m waiting for her next book and I think I have inspired her to finally finish it.

I must say that your book was not my taste as well. But you wrote it so well that I got drawn into it and am actually looking forward to the sequel because you left me hanging and I don’t like hanging.

NJ:  ONE good INDIE book you read that was so good you wished the entire world would read it…

Shirley:  I don’t remember the title, but I do remember the author, Donald Goines. He wrote a book so good that I was crying and laughing hysterically all at once; like a crazy person. I was so hysterical with the way he was describing the dogs coming after him. He was running through the woods and they got closer, and closer. You could see and feel the whole scene. Suddenly, everything went dark denoting that he had been killed. I started crying and was so out of control that I dropped the book on the floor and continued to cry. I was never so inconsolable in my life. But that book did it to me.  I don’t know if he would have been called an Indie author since his book came out around the sixties.

NJ:  What a great story.  I must remember to shake you so that you can remember the title and he probably would not have been Indie about that time, Shirley. I could be wrong, but I doubt that the term had even been coined at that time.  So, after you read books, do you post reviews?

Shirley:  All the time!

NJ:  Are you one of those who are afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author gets upset with you, or is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?

Shirley:  When I have a situation where I have reservations about posting a review, I will try to have a conversation with the writer to express what my concerns are. I think when we have conversations about a current read the pros should be discussed as well as the cons. Even a bad review is a good review because you will not please everybody and the book is still generating a conversation. And frankly, I am a little concerned if everybody gives high marks and no one has a negative remark in the bunch. Sometimes I feel like they didn’t really read it themselves and giving 5 stars based on other people’s reviews. I know my book is a bit controversial and people are shy about controversy. I get that but I don’t like it.  This is why I appreciate your review so much because you approached it from an angle no one else would touch. It let me know you actually sat down and read the book. I love that. Any author would love that.

NJ:  Well, I know that you’re an author so we all would like to know how long have you’ve been writing?  You sound very experienced.

Shirley:  Officially I have been writing since my book launched in 2007.

NJ:  What’s the name of your book?

ShirleyOur Lady of Victory, the Saga of an African-American Catholic Community. I severed ties with my publisher and re-published with Createspace in May of 2014. It’s a great book.  And I didn’t say that, you did!

NJ:  Yes, I did and we all know by now how much I like great, well-written books!  I gave it 5 stars!  Do you have a blog or website?

Shirley:  Why yes I do…here it is: http://shirleyslaughterblog.wordpress.com/

NJ:  Name three great online resources or organizations that every author should belong to.

Shirley: RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (of course), Motown Writers Network and Detroit Writers Guild.

NJ:  Which online resource or organization has helped you the most?

ShirleyRave Reviews Book Club, where I am now and it keeps me on my toes. You don’t come into this organization to sit down. You come to serve. That’s what I like about RRBC.

NJ:  Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a Rave Reviews Book Club member, so what do you think of the club?

Shirley:  Well, where do I start? There is so much about Rave Reviews Book Club to talk about. Like I mentioned, you have to come in ready to serve. That’s the only route to being served. It’s not a new concept, but RRBC has taken it to a higher level. RRBC saved me because I was just about to get off the train and take a nice long rest. It started from a vison – yours. Nobody else thought it up. You are the brains behind this operation and I’m giving credit where credit is due. I would not be in here if not for knowing you.
This club offers something for everyone. There are current reads of author’s books; Spotlights and reviews, various promotions like #PUSHTUESDAY; using the #RaveReviewsBookClub – hashtag gets you noticed and propelled like nobody’s business (but please only use it if you’re a member), with more ideas coming all the time. It’s wonderful! I have had my book looked at and reviewed where it never would have gotten a second look. And I know there is more to come. I am around beautiful people who care about each other and I haven’t seen another organization that gives the support this club offers. You can’t buy it.

NJ:  Have you come across any other online entities like it?

Shirley:  I can’t say that I have. That’s because no other entity is offering this. But don’t think there won’t be copycats trying to duplicate what you’ve created with RRBC.

NJ:  This shelf is getting hard on my hiney, so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words?

Shirley: I want to thank you for putting me on the shelf. It’s nice up here. Didn’t think I could climb this high up but look at me now!  I love it!   At RRBC I learn something new everyday. Especially if I take the time to read the website which has a wealth of information. I was just poring through it and stumbled across something that I should have known about but was always out of the loop on somehow. Oh well, better late than never I always say. I’m not the fastest engine in town but I get there. RRBC will get you there if you stick around awhile.

Thank you so much Nonnie for inviting me here. I appreciate you and this club so much. I haven’t had time to catch my breath since joining and now I have the opportunity to be featured and presented to the world.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

NJ:  Thank you so much, Shirley!  That was an awesome interview (you were a little long-winded but that’s OK).  You have made our 3rd day on the SHELF, a most pleasant one!  To my guests, please support Shirley by picking up a copy of her book OUR LADY OF VICTORY:  THE SAGA OF AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY  and by visiting her blog stops on her tour which ends on Saturday.  You can find the tour line up here.  Have you joined Rave Reviews Book Club yet?  Well, here’s your chance!  And since Shirley was on the “SHELF” today, tell them he sent you! Make it a great day, my friends.  We’ll see you next week, right here on the “SHELF”!!



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