Good Crop of Spring Books

May 16, 2014
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A couple of Chicago books, an African-based sci-fi/fantasy, and an inspirational self-helper for entrepreneurs on your bedside table for some nightly reading will help you percolate from a long rough winter.

Exploring Chicago Blues: Inside the Scene, Past and Present

By Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

128 pages

The History Press (April 8, 2014)

Blues history is steeped in Chicago’s sidewalks; it floats out of its restaurants, airport lounges and department stores. It is a fundamental part of the city’s heritage that every resident should know and every visitor should be afraid to miss.

In this newly-released goodie, N’DIGO contributing editor Rosalind Cummings-Yeates takes you inside the Checkerboard Lounge and Gerri’s Palm Tavern, where folks like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon and Ma Rainey transformed Chicago into a blues mecca.

The author describes how the blues musicians developed their skills, created new musical sounds and displayed their musical skills in the various blues clubs in Chicago, and indeed it is historical.

The book explores how the Great Migration brought the blues from Mississippi to Chicago circa World War I; the Black Belt of Bronzeville; Chicago blues pappas, mammas, landmarks, joints, clubs, restaurants, and it looks at a day in the life of a Chicago blues musician.

Rosalind writes:  “I remember vividly the first time I recognized blues in popular music – I was watching Elvis perform Hound Dog and I recognized echoes of the blues in the lyrics, the delivery and the rhythm.  Except this music Elvis was singing wasn’t exactly what I recalled blues sounding like.

“I had a murky memory of that same song being belted out by a woman, and it was heavy-hitting and pumped with emotion.  It was the blues.  But it wasn’t until many years later that I would learn blues history and how blues musicians like Big Mama Thornton, who popularized Hound Dog, would be shoved into the shadows in favor of performers who sang the new, polished genre called rock ’n’ roll.”

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist and arts critic with the same Chicago and Mississippi roots that helped create the Chicago blues. She has been an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago for over 10 years and writes a monthly blues column called “Sweet Home” for the Illinois Entertainer.

Specializing in travel and culture topics, including music, art and fashion, her publishing credits include regional, national and international publications such as Hemispheres, Brides, Woman’s Day, Mojo, Salon, MSN, Allmusic.com, Chicago Sun-Times and theRough Guide to Women Travel.

In her book, Rosalind gives a literary portrait of the who’s who in Chicago blues, both past and present. They include such notables as Willie Dixon, called the “poet laureate” of the blues; the legend himself Buddy Guy; the Brooks Family, considered the first family of Chicago blues; Billy Branch, known as the “Ambassador” to Chicago blues, who also wrote the foreword for this book; Dietra Farr, a highly versatile blues singer and songwriter; and the legendary Koko Taylor.

Rosalind describes blues as having a pinch of jazz, rock, funk and gospel. Whatever flavor of blues you prefer, she takes you on a tour of the contemporary blues scene and the places and locations where you can discover the best spots to hear the purest sounds of Sweet Home Chicago.

Rosalind will be doing book signings at Rosa’s Blues Lounge on May 16th, Dominican University’s Blues and the Spirit Symposium on May 31, and at the Chicago Blues Fest June 13-15.

(For more information, check out www.rosalindcummingsyeates.com.)

You Lost Me @ Hello: Actionable Principals That Move You Beyond Networking

By Donna Smith Bellinger

72 pages

Group Endeavors LLC (September 12, 2013)

From the C Suite to kitchen table CEOs, advancement strategist Donna Smith Bellinger has successfully inspired, coached, mentored and trained hundreds to raise their visibility, laser focus their goals and create a more productive lifestyle.

She is also the author of the recently released book, You Lost Me @ Hello: Actionable Principals that Move you Beyond Networking, which was written to assist in the personal and professional growth of those who are struggling to grow their business identity while watching others who are less talented pass them up on the ladder to more success and more profit.

The book is a fascinating one-on-one conversation that motivates and educates the reader on how to navigate the conversations of business and realize the value of individuals’ – as well as one’s own – value, in a way that goes far beyond the superficial.

“Knowing your value, embracing your differences, your goals and creating a conversation focused on giving more than receiving sounds hard,” says Smith Bellinger, “but with the steps outlined in this book, you will realize that the only thing that has been stopping you from having the confidence to make the connections, follow up on them and have a desirable outcome are minor shifts in your mindset, method and message.

“This is not how to create an elevator pitch or how not to talk past the close; this is thehow and the why for creating memorable impressions and developing sustaining relationships in business and life.”

Smith Bellinger is no Ivy League grad, but proudly states that she received her graduate degree from “Don’t Let This Happen To You” University. Told with humor and transparency, the information covered inside this book helped the author transform from homeless single parent to executive, business owner and sought after speaker.

For nearly a decade, she was a national board member for the National Alliance of Market Developers, as well as a speaker for the Chicago Urban League, the Today’s Black Women’s Expo, and any number of other organizations. In addition to her own weekly radio program, c2: Conversation & Collaboration, she has been heard on WVON’s Urban Business Roundtable, hosted by Pepper Miller, Baseline with Chris Base, and has been quoted in the NBC5  blog The Inkwell. Her new book was mentioned in the March issue of Essence Magazine.

Explaining what she does as an advancement strategist, Donna says, “In corporate America, I helped companies make a lot of money, but like so many others, I found myself totally miserable in that environment. Now, I help people learn what I had to learn – how to clarify what is needed to build an enjoyable and profitable career, whether as a business owner, an employee, or some combination of the two.  Everyone wants to be valued, appreciated and respected, but there are specific things that you must do to get there.”

Donna is a master at communicating proven strategies that have helped others to create entrepreneurial business models packed with profits and infuse their life with more fun and freedom.

“After so many years of creating winning sales and management teams, in addition to my personal life experiences, I find that I am well versed in the challenges, negative self-talk, and blunders that we sometimes feel we can never recover from,” she says.  “But my personal story is one of overcoming a great number of these obstacles, so what I have to offer is real world.”

She is a recipient of the 2014 Woman of Impact Award from the Women’s Entrepreneur Impact Network and the 2014 Women Who Change The World Award from the In Her Shoes Foundation.

Donna will be signing books on Thursday, May 22nd from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Chicago Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Center, 4510 South Michigan Avenue, in conjunction with Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses Program.

(For more information regarding engaging Donna Smith Bellinger, visitwww.groupendeavors.com, where you can also hear podcasts of her weekly radio program. Her book is available in paperback and Kindle ebook on Amazon.com.)


By Jason McCammon

338 pages

Brown Eyed Dreams LLC (May 31, 2014)

On the heels of The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, the Twilight series, Chronicles of Narnia, Indiana Jones, and Lord of the Rings comes an African-inspired fantasy book series called The Ancient Lands by Oak Park’s own Jason McCammon.

As the aforementioned works were taking the literary world and Hollywood by storm, McCammon noticed that almost no fantasy had African characters or themes, but was basically based on European, Greek, Asian, Chinese, Indian and Native American mythology.

He envisioned a Disney-esque vehicle with African characters and wrote his first book,Warrior Quest:  Search for the Ifa Scepter, to be part of a multi-novel series called The Ancient Lands.

McCammon had pondered the idea while working as a cameraman and electrical technician in the film and television industries, but it wasn’t until a Black president, Barack Obama, happened in 2008 that McCammon rushed to fulfillment.  He told Oak Park’s Wednesday Journal reporter Terry Dean that “if this guy had the audacity to run for office, at least I can write a book.”

The Ancient Lands series is about badass teenage warrior prince Bamani (sound like Obama?) who is waiting to be king, but before succeeding his father, encounters enough adventures to realize there are more important things in life than being the main leader.

McCammon ended up self-publishing the first book Warrior Quest and the new one Tribe of Leopards, both of which are available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores, including Oak Park’s Book Table and Afri-Ware.

McCammon told Dean that he wanted to give African-American readers in particular something other than “hood and sex books” and that he also wants to inspire young people to become writers.

“I describe it as a domino effect,” he said. “The goal is to have other kids write a book, maybe even a better book.”

McCammon is currently on his “Celebration of Creativity Tour, ” with the aspiration of trying to appear at 50-100 schools a year.

“The kids seem to really like (the books),” he told Dean.  “I have had Black kids who said they’ve never seen anything like it before. Some said they’ve gone to bookstores to look for similar fantasy books, but could never find any.”

Author Jason McCammon will appear at a book signing on Saturday, June 7 at Harold Washington College.

(For more information or to book him at a school or event, visitwww.theancientlands.com or contact Farrah Turenne at 312/371-1671,talouloun2@yahoo.com, or 773/791-2483.)

Bloomin’ Boomers aka Baby Boomer Stories

By Florencia Arnold-Madden

117 pages

Outskirts Press (Spring 2014)

If you love soap operas, you’ll love this book. Do/did you watch General Hospital, The Young & The Restless, One Life To Live, The Bold & The Beautiful and follow the daily lives of the Newmans, the Abbots, the Buchanans, the Forresters, the Spencers and the Logans? Then you’ll love Bloomin’ Boomers aka Baby Boomer Stories!

The stories are historical, fictional fantasy about exciting, scandalous, funny and naughty baby boomers born in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s living for the moment and taking you down memory lane on the South Side and Gold Coast of the Windy City, Chicago.

The author, Florencia Arnold-Madden, resides in Michigan, where she loves to cook, entertain, dine and write.  But she lived a good portion of her formative years in Chicago as an upper-class Black socialite who hobnobbed with the area’s hoity-toity for decades.

Florencia was also a published poetess and the agent for Sam Greenlee, author of The Spook Who Sat By The Door.  In addition, she was a noted corporate special events/public relations consultant, and the first female executive director of Chicago’s historic South Side Community Art Center.

Bloomin’ Boomers is an historical fiction that paints a dramatically detailed picture of what Black life was like in Chicago in the middle decades of the 20th Century, with lists of businesses and people who reigned in the day in the area that you might have forgotten about and are no longer here.  Black Chicago today pails in comparison to the picture Florencia paints of the way it was in yesteryear.  And then it tells rollicking and sad anecdotes – supposedly fictional, but obviously composites – of folks who were really on the scene and the trials, tribulations and escapades they went through.

Former White House Delegate for Tourism and Travel in America Faye Russell says, “This book was composed and written by a phenomenal woman with winning wisdom.  I want to thank Flo for sharing her story of the Baby Boomers and the impact they have had upon the world today.  The book reflects many life experiences, both positive and negative, of friends, people, places and things, moment by moment, with stories of yesterday and the effects of today.”

And George O’Hare, nationally recognized motivational speaker and host of theAccentuate The Positive radio and television shows, calls the book “a must read for those of us wanting to walk down memory lane with Florencia.  For those of you who have no clue, read on…it’s an interesting read!”

Florencia Arnold-Madden will host a fundraising book signing and continental breakfast during the Printers Row event Saturday, June 7 at 9 a.m.  Bloomin’ Boomers is on sale online at Amazon.com.






David Smallwood

David Smallwood

Editor of N'DIGO Magapaper
David Smallwood

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