A Piece of my Mind: Life and Love / Inspiration
F. Shepbyrd
$ 8.00 / Paperback / 78 pages
ISBN 0970492812
Rhythm & Rhyme Publishing / 2000

"A Piece of my Mind is peace in my heart," writes the poet, and her heart seems so full of peace that it overflows and spills onto the pages of her book and into the hearts of her readers. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, F. Shepbyrd has had a love for the written word since her earliest youth. At age 12, she wrote poems and short stories for her own pleasure. It wasn’t until much later, after much life experience, that she came to understand the full importance of her gift and love for poetry. In this excellent book you will pierce through the author's fears and concerns for society on her search for inner peace. read more

Let that Be the Reason
Vickie M. Stringer
$12.00 / Paperback 390 pages
ISBN 097247206

Purple Crown Publications / 2002

While rap lyrics continue to glorify destructive lifestyles of drug dealing and gang violence, and while Federal Prisons are rapidly filling with promising young men and women deserving a second chance in life, some sober voices of those who have experienced the cycle of violence and prison offer their hard-earned wisdom to all who would hear them.

The voice of the heroine of this fairly autobiographical book is one of those sober voices that ring clearly and whose effect is deep. A 26-year-old female hassler is the leader of a narcotics trafficking ring that delivers drugs from New York to Columbus, using vans with hidden compartments. Carmen, the ring leader, is a real "baller" who gets caught up in the street game, and while in the streets has only one goal in her mind—money—and she pursues it relentlessly and by any means necessary. She is finally arrested, and ends up awaiting federal trial in the Franklin County Jail, with the prospect of getting a life sentence.

Like many of those caught up in the game, Carmen only wanted love and happiness, but she didn’t understand what happiness was, neither the dangers of the drug game, nor the meaning of love, its true demands and consequences. Carmen’s narrative takes us through a life under the shadow of the terror of the streets. Yet, her story of false choices, grave errors, deadly betrayals, is also one of triumph, love, and hope. In her after word the author notes: "It was very challenging for me to write this book. The events that have transpired in my life are very personal. I’ve exposed myself with the prayer that my life can be used as an example to warn others of the awful dangers of the drug game."

In addition to portraying the daily horrors of the drug game itself as it is practiced in the streets, the author exposes society’s unproductive and inhumane ways of dealing with the problem, including the Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentence Guidelines, which impose punishments that do not fit the crime. Granted, drug trafficking is a serious crime, indefensible in the eyes of the gods and men as it violates both human and divine law. However, what is questionable is the harshness of the sentences administered even to first time offenders and the lack of rehabilitation programs for the young people caught in the game. The author is preparing a sequel to this novel that promises to illuminate the workings of the justice system and its treatment of minorities. She has finally extracted herself from the horrific world of the drug game, and is humbly thankful for her second chance at life and the new opportunities offered to her. To express her gratefulness, she has decided to dedicate her life to the double cause of supporting more humane treatment of those who got entangled in the drug game, and of preventing young people from entering this destructive life style. DAMN!