I am the third child of Alabama sharecroppers and the first and only member of my family to finish high school. I never attended college or any writing classes. I taught myself how to write and started writing short stories around age four. I spent the first part of my life in Alabama and Ohio and moved to Richmond, California in 1973. I have lived in Oakland since 1984.
My first novel THE UPPER ROOM was published by St. Martin's Press in 1985 and was widely reviewed throughout the U.S. and in Great Britain. An excerpt is included in Terry McMillan's anthology BREAKING ICE. I endured fifteen years and hundreds of rejection letters before I landed a contract for my second novel, GOD DON'T LIKE UGLY which was published in October 2000 by Kensington Books. GOD DON'T PLAY is my seventh novel to be published, and it landed me a spot on the prestigious New York Times Bestsellers list for the first time! My first E-book CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET was published September 2016. My twenty third novel ONE HOUSE OVER was released March 2018, and my Christmas novella REMEMBRANCE was released September 2018. My new novels Over The Fence will be release this March 26th and my 2019 Christmas novel RIGHT BESIDE YOU will be released September 24th. For a list of all of my books click here.
In 2001 I won the Oakland Pen Award for Best Fiction of the Year for GOD DON'T LIKE UGLY, and in 2004 I won the Best Southern Author Award for GONNA LAY DOWN MY BURDENS. In 2016 I received the Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2017 I received the J. California Copper Memorial Award.
I am single, and love to travel, and love to interact with other authors. My passions are writing and reading. Most of my writing ideas stems from current events and the people in my life, yet most of my material is autobiographical. I enjoy reading anything written by Ernest Gaines, Stephen King, Alice Walker, and James Patterson.