Friday, December 16, 2011

Introducing "Cyrus Webb Presents..."

Since 1999, artist/author/columnist, radio and television show host Cyrus A. Webb has been hosting events that have kept people talking. You are now invited to join him for a special series of discussions geared towards sparking conversation and addressing hot button issues. "Cyrus Webb Presents..." will have something for everyone, but more importantly, it will allow the public to be involved. Using an interactive chat room and taking calls, the entire program will let you be heard.

Below is a listing of topics discussed and events centered around them:

* (MISSION ACCOMPLISHED) Thurs. July 16, 2009: "Hip Hop Under Obama: Change We Can Believe In?",Part One with Taj Longino of Hype Magazine

* (MISSION ACCOMPLISHED) Sun. July 26, 2009: "A Tribute To E. Lynn Harris"

* Mon. Aug. 10, 2009 - "Faith & Literature" / Bestselling authors Evie Rhodes, Kenneth Worth and Don Greco discuss the role that their faith plays in the books they write.

* Thurs. Aug. 20, 2009 - "RACIAL PRIDE: A Thin Line Between Love & Hate"

* Thurs. Aug. 27, 2009 -"HOW SPORTS LOVERS BALL WITH BOOKS" Featuring guest authors Kurtis Scaletta, Sherry Hill and more!

* Thurs. Sept. 3, 2009 -
"Discussion of the book 'Unsigned Hype'" with special guest author Booker T. Mattison

* Sun. Sept. 6, 2009 --- "SEPARATE BUT EQUAL: African American Authors in Today's Bookstores, Part 1" with authors Gloria Mallette, Bernice McFadden and Margaret Johnson Hodge

* Sun. Sept. 13, 2009 --- "SEPARATE BUT EQUAL: African American Authors In Today's Bookstores, Part 2" featuring authors Carleen Brice, Evie Rhodes, Roy Glenn and Tony Lindsay

* Thurs. Sept. 17, 2009 - "
Raising Good Kids and Saving The World" with special guest author Nesta Aharoni

* Tues. January 19, 2010 --- "America Under Obama: One Year Later" --- featuring guests Anzour Jallouqa (founder of Global Outreach and host of IGMG Radio), H. Michael Harvey (political commentator and author of Paper Puzzle), Sasha Abramsky (journalist and author of Inside Obama's Brain), Billy Hallowell (political commentator and host of RENEW TV), Matt Harrison (author of The American Evolution) and Ricky Spann (author of Man-Up).

* Sunday, February 21, 2010 ---
"Black History and Me" Featuring guests Justina Wheelock (WHERE LOYALTIES LIE), Dr. Neal Hall (NIGGER FOR LIFE) and W. James Richardson (THE ECLIPSE BLUES).

* Tues. Feb. 23, 2010 ---
"HIP HOP UNDER OBAMA: One Year Later" featuring guests Jameelah Wilkerson (Hype Magazine and Hype Radio), author Pretty Tony (Playa Step Your Game Up), author Jela (How To Deal With White People), recording artist Chamber, Konata J of Hip Hop Gives Back and author D. D. Turner (Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend).

* Thurs. Feb. 25, 2010 ---
"To Self Publish Or Not To Self Publish" with guests Gary Kaschak and Justina Wheelock

* Sun. March 21, 2010 ---
"Cyrus Webb Presents The Herschel Dixon Story"

* Tues. April 27, 2010 ---
Cyrus Webb Presents... "THE RHONDA TEAGUE STORY: Invisible No More"

* Thurs. April 29, 2010 --- Cyrus Webb Presents
"The Patricia Singleton Story"

* Thurs. Jan. 20, 2011 -- "America Under Obama: Two Years Later" with authors Sasha Abramsky and Harold Michael Harvey,

* Sun. May 22, 2011 --- "Through My Eyes Only: The Marilyn Dixon Story" 

*  Sun. May 29, 2011 --- "A Look At Interracial Relationships" featuring author Skip Masters and family counselors Jessica Stebbins and R. Joyce Morley 

*  Tues. May 31, 2011 --- "You Are Not Alone" with abuse survivors Patricia Singleton, Brad Rickerby and Darlene Ouimet,

* On Saturday, October 15, 2011 Cyrus Webb hosted "Should Love Ever Hurt? A Look At Abuse" Listen here.

* On Thurday, October 27, 2011 and Friday, October 28, 2011 Cyrus Webb featured individuals who he believes are changing the way we look at fashion. Latifa & Moriamo, Liz Fields, Jeannine Benoit, Carolina Mejia, Niiamar, Linda Gail, Myrda Monasterial & Eloisa Serrano & Jessica McMahon were all part of what was called "Gifted By Design". Listen to the shows here: Gifted By Design, Part 1 Gifted By Design, Part 2.

* Saturday, December 3, 2011 --- Cyrus Webb Presents the film The Hammer (Read the review here)

* Tuesday, December 6, 2011 --- Cyrus Webb Presents "A Look At Abortion, Part 1" with Reiko Brown, author of PRODUCT OF MY ENVIRONMENT.

* Saturday, December 10, 2011 --- Cyrus Webb Presents "A Conversations Holiday Special" featuring music from recording artists Estee, Abraham McDonald, Fiya and Ju-Taun. Listen here.

* Friday, December 16, 2011 --- Cyrus Webb Presents "A Look At Abortion, Part 2" with Sheryl Sorrentino, author of LATER WITH MYSELF.

After one of Webb's thought-provoking discussions was featured by USA Today Newspaper there has been national attention on each topic he discusses. Join the conversation...

Have a story you want to share? For more information contact Cyrus A. Webb at or 601.896.5616.

Monday, December 12, 2011

(Review) THE HAMMER's Message Of Enduring In Spite of Challenges Hits Home

by Cyrus Webb

***** (5 out of 5 stars)
TapOut Films/ Fifth Year Productions
A Film Harvest Production

On Saturday, December 3, 2011 I was allowed the opportunity to have the new movie THE HAMMER shown in Central Mississippi to an audience at the Pearl Public Library in Pearl, MS. I have to admit that before being introduced to the project I had never heard of Matt Hamill or his story, but after reading about him and watching the film, I can't say he is a person I will find easy to forget.

Written and produced by Joseph McKelheer and Eben Kostbar and directed by Oren Kaplan, THE HAMMER (rated PG-13) takes you not only into the extraordinary accomplishments of Matt Hamill but the challenges that made them possible as well. We see from the very beginning when it is discovered that he is deaf that his grandfather was not going to allow him to be anything but the best person that he could be. Instead of allowing Matt to go someone that he might more easily fit it, his family pushed him to learn that which he did not know and become a part of the world that some might have wanted to shut him out it.

It wasn't always an easy adjustment. We see in the film that Matt (played by Russell Harvard) could be stubborn and throw a fit when he got frustrated or things didn't go his way. One of the first things we see his grandfather really instill in him was this: "If you're not gonna believe in yourself, I'm not going to." That was really all it took.

The lessons that I took away from THE HAMMER are many, and I think that people of all walks of life could appreciate them as well. When it comes to focusing on the objective at hand, I think we can all learn a little something from Matt. Before competition we see him go off to himself,sit down and close his eyes. This, in effect, shuts the world out and allows him to focus. When asked by Kristi, the woman who would become his wife, how he was able to beat so many people, he answered by saying: 'I just block everything out.' That is what it takes when we are going to be targeting our own objectives. We have to go into our quiet place and be able to shut out the rest of the world so we can focus on the objective at hand. What a priceless lesson!

Another great one came from his grandfather, and it was when Matt felt down in the dumps and like nothing was going his way. "Why do you think you have a right to feel sorry for yourself," his grandfather asked him. For us there are times when we want to throw a pity party for ourselves because something didn't happen the way we thought it should. If we can only remember what Matt was told and how he had to rise above it, we can find a way to do it in our own lives as well.

Wonderfully produced and directed, this is the kind of film that will remind us of the importance of enduring in spite of challenges and give us motivation to tackle the mountains in our own lives.

Find out more about the film and the real-life counterparts at

Monday, November 28, 2011

(Sat. Dec. 3, 2011) Cyrus Webb Presents THE HAMMER

Conversations Book Club President and host of Conversations LIVE Cyrus Webb presents a free showing of the movie THE HAMMER.
Based on the life of UFC fighter Matt Hamill, THE HAMMER is a coming-of-age-drama about the first deaf wrestler's journey to win a National Collegi...ate Championship. Raised among those with the ability to hear, Matt finds himself no less an outsider amidst the Deaf community. But through sheer determination, he turns what could be a disability into an asset, and in the process, serves as an inspiration for both those who can hear and those who can't.

The film stars deaf actors Russell Harvard (There Will Be Blood) and Shoshannah Stern (Lie To Me, Weeds, Jericho) as Matt Hamill and Kristi Hammill. Written and produced by Joseph McKelheer (Godspeed) the film has swept its festival run, receiving awards at 8 out of 8 festivals.

Webb will be showing the movie at the Pearl Public Library (2416 Old Brandon Road * Pearl, MS ) on Sat. Dec. 3rd beginning at 1p.m. et. The admission is free and attendees are welcome to bring refreshments for themselves. Following the movie, Webb will hold a brief Q&A to discuss what we can learn from the journey of Matt Hamill as we strive to overcome challenges in our own lives.

This is one event you don't want to miss. Find out more about the film at For more information contact Cyrus Webb at or 601.896.5616. You can also visit

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Conversations Book Club's Online Chapter Returns In Oct. 2011

When Conversations Book Club began in November 2006 it was with three members and a telephone. The co-ed reading group started in Mississippi by Cyrus Webb and founding member Stanley Clark was designed as a place where readers of all backgrounds could come together and discuss books directly with the author present either on a conference call or in person. It quickly grew from there to meetings in Memphis, New Orleans and Montgomery, all following the same pattern.

Cyrus Webb is pleased to announce the return of such book discussion with the re-launch of the online chapter of Conversations Book Club in October. The weekly meetings will be Saturdays @ 7p.m. et(6p.m. ct/4p.m. pt) beginning Sat. October 1, 2011, and will be open to anyone who would like to join the conversation. At the scheduled time interested parties will simply visit to talk with the author via the message board or join the discussion over the phone by calling 347.426.3645. The author of the book will be a part of the discussion the entire hour and answer YOUR QUESTIONS with Webb serving as the moderator.

The first book the reading group will discuss is GEORGIA JUSTICE by author Jackie Carpenter. Below are the books and authors joining this special book club in the upcoming weeks:

10/01 --- "Georgia Justice" by Jackie Carpenter
10/08 --- "Destined To Live, Despite Me" by Yolanda Shanks
10/15 --- "Something Inside Of Me" by Chitoka Webb
10/22 --- "Teenie" by Christopher Grant
10/29 --- "My Daddy The Devil and Me" by Debra Ann Brown-Davis
11/05 --- "The Playful and Powerful Warrior Within You!" by GJ Reynolds
11/12 --- "What A Wonderful World" by Ricki Riccardi
11/19 --- "Incognito" by Michael Sidney Fosberg
11/26 --- "Manufacturing Hysteria" by Jay Feldman
12/17 --- "Louisa" by Richard Emmel

Make plans now to attend these special meetings either online or by phone. It is the hope of Cyrus Webb and Conversations Book Club that each week will be an opportunity for you not only to get your questions answered but to introduce those who "attend" to new authors and fellow readers.

For more information contact Cyrus Webb at or 601.896.5616. You can also visit

Thursday, July 21, 2011

TAKE TEN: Author T. R. Foster

by Cyrus Webb

Author Tom "T. R." Foster knows how to tell a great story. I had the opportunity of interviewing the New York native on Conversations LIVE and he was able to share the events of his life that led him to his new path as a published author. You wouldn't know it unless he told you, but ANGELS OF VENICE is his first published novel--even thought it doesn't read like it. With an active imagination and characters that pop right off the page Foster shows himself to be someone skilled at drawing in his audience and holding them until the last page.

In this interview for Take Ten and Conversations Magazine he talks about how he got to this point, what message he hopes we take about from ANGELS and what's next for the man who has a lot to say.

Tom, your journey to being a published author is an interesting one. Before we get into your debut novel ANGELS OF VENICE, I want to talk about your love of creating. Can you share when you first became aware of your love of how things worked?

This is almost embarrassing, but my earliest memory of trying to figure out how something worked was probably when I was 4 or 5 years old.  I was curious about electric motors.  I imagined them as a collection of gears and wires.  Somehow sparks would spring from the end of a wire, hit the gear teeth and make them turn.  You know, like a transfer of momentum.  I've always had crazy ideas.  Not so good for science and engineering—but great for writing.

I think growing up to question things going on around us is almost a normal process. As a writer you do it more as you construct the storyline and the characters. Do you remember when you first started to write your thoughts down and how those around you percieved it?

Questioning things that are going around us maybe normal but too often we're satisfied with the superficial answer, the one that doesn't require much in the way of critical thinking.  If you're honest, writing will drive you to that critical level.  I first started to question my entire life when I was in college in the late '60s.  A lot going on then.  But it wasn't until I started writing—maybe twenty years ago—that the questioning became organized and focused.  Then my friends found out I wasn't as quiet and mild mannered as I appeared.  My early storylines and characters were dark and violent and have generally remained so, even in my most recent writing.  Why is this?  Or more to the point, why are we, as individuals and as a society, so fascinated by violence—even as we are repelled by it?  This is a question I keep going back to over and over.  I still don't have a good answer answer.

At the heart of ANGELS OF VENICE is the seen and unseen battle going on in the world between Good and Evil. For many this is not just a physical fight but a spirtiual one as well. What role would you say your view and personal ideals, when it comes to the issue of faith and the future, played in the writing of the book?

My personal view of the future (at the moment) is somewhat bleak, yet I don't doubt our survival.  Angels of Venice is certainly about good and evil, but it's also about choice.  Without giving away too much, the "Angels" give certain individuals tokens of friendship. With these tokens, people can accomplish anything they liked.  Do evil or do good.  And of course there's Eliza's choice at the end.  The balance between good and evil depends on our individual choices—on our free will.  It's my faith in the existence of free will in a world where choice does not always appear to be an option that really drove this book to completion.

For me one of the biggest reminders in your book is that all is not lost. There is good still around us. Is that something that developed organically in the story or was it one of the main lessons you hoped readers would glean from it?

I'd like to say it was an intended lesson but that would mean I know how my stories are going to turnout as I write them—which is never the case.  The key thing is to start with an honest problem and characters with real desires and emotions, then turn them loose.  So it's very much an organic thing.  In Angels of Venice most people are allowed choices based on their feeling and perceived needs, just as in real life.  Many of the choices turn out to be bad, but others are good or at least mixed.  So at the end of the story some good remains, as it must.  There is a continual dynamic and balance between good and evil in the real world because the whole process is driven by a multitude of personal choices.  I think this was of the main points to come out of Angels of Venice.

Writing can sometimes be a rather personal and lonely profession, Tom. What has it been like for you to get feedback about the book and how does that make you feel as you move forward in your literary career?

It's really cool to get compliments from readers.  I'm a big compliment junky—truth be told.  And while it shouldn't be the case, it is also a validation.  Almost anyone can write a set of good sentences.  Sentences that are grammatically correct with just the right number of nouns, adjectives and verbs.  But telling a story is an entirely different matter.  And very few can do it well.  So when you get it in your head that you can be a writer and create powerful visions from mere words, you're taking a big risk.  So that one positive review re-enforces the belief that you weren't deluding yourself.  You are a writer.   Now you're justified in writing another one—even though you were going to do it anyway.

Can you tell us what we can expect next from you?

The novel I'm finishing now is called Kool Blood.  Though it takes place twenty or thirty years in the future, I don't consider it science fiction.  It's more of a dark satirical commentary on the greed and violence that's so prevalent in our culture right now.  See?  There's violence question again!  I'm still trying to get an agent for it.  If that doesn't pan out, I will self publish it, hopefully by early fall.

Shifting gears just a bit, Tom, I want to ask you about the internet and how it has helped you in your writing career. How have you used it to promote yourself and your work?

The main thing has been setting up a website. In fact I have 2.  My ideas are that big!  It's a great way to get my face out there and to let everyone in on my latest projects and crazy ideas.  I also use Facebook, particularly if there is an event coming up that I want everyone to know about.

Do you find yourself having to promote and market more than you actually write these days?

Recently that seems to be the case.  Even if I'm actually not promoting the book, I find myself wondering what other things I should be doing to get T. R. Foster out there.  What's even worse, I'm already thinking about how to market Kool Blood.  Even as I finish word-smithing it, I find myself wondering how a few scenes might be changed so more people will like the novel.  If you have these kinds of thoughts, creatively speaking, you might as well put a gun to your head.

Using your own experiences as a marker, do you have any advice for those individuals out there wondering if the effort is worth it when it comes to pursuing their own dreams?

Not to sound cold, but I think if you have to ask about the effort, you shouldn't even start. There isn't anything rational about acting on your dreams or creative desires.  You won't make much money, most people won't want to look at your stuff, read your writing or even care much about you one way or the other.  The good news is that a few people will care.  And they will care very deeply.  So you need to work extremely hard on your craft and push on your dreams—always be honest about this.  That way when those few people arrive, you're ready to give them something that enriches their lives as well as your own.

Thanks again, Tom, for taking out this time with us. How can our readers keep in touch with you online?

Come visit me at

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

TAKE TEN: Author Stephen Jay Schwartz

by Cyrus Webb for Conversations Magazine

Stephen, when would you say you realized that writing was something you were not only good at but wanted to pursue?
I intended to be a filmmaker, and I made Super 8 films with friends growing up in Albuquerque – crazy James Bond stuff, where I learned to ski backwards, without poles, so I could hold the camera and cover the action. I was always the villain because I loved to ski down enormous moguls with a plastic machine gun in my hands and, after getting “shot,” take a two-story, slow motion wipe-out into a tree. Fun stuff. But when I was in college I wrote a short story that was heavily influenced by my father’s suicide and it won two national contests. That was the moment I realized I had something unique to say as a writer.

Having interviewed you on Conversations LIVE after the release of your second book BEAT, it seems obvious that you put a great deal of yourself in your work. Has than been an easy decision for you to do, and do you feel as though this adds to the realness readers get from your books?
I’ve always put my personal life into my writing and my films. The first short film I made was called Meditations on a Suicide, and I opened up entirely about the relationship I had with my father before his death. For me, art is about exploring the meaning of life, my life in particular, since I’ve got a front-row seat in the theater of my own mind. I like to explore what it means to struggle, to sometimes fail. Failure and success are part of the same cycle, but sometimes people fall deep into the failure hole, they take a long time to hit bottom before starting that long climb towards the top. I had my own struggle with sex-addiction and it nearly ended my marriage, which would’ve had a profound effect on my children. My wife and I worked hard together through therapy and Twelve Step meetings to overcome my addiction and my novels became the catharsis borne from our efforts. The whole reason to write the books was to be open about my experiences, so that people who might be caught in a similar cycle of sex addiction, people like Hayden Glass, might recognize themselves within the pages and seek help. I think my personal experience gives the character a three-dimensional realness that might not have existed if I’d only done traditional research.

You have been praised not just by avid readers and critics but fellow authors as well. What has that been like to see those you respect in the industry enjoy your work as well?
It’s been heavenly. It’s hard for me to express the gratitude I feel when authors—who I consider mentors and heroes—have chosen to address me as a peer. The praise has given me the confidence necessary to “stick to it,” to keep writing no matter what obstacles I might face along the way.

In BEAT we are taken into the life of Hayden Glass who is a hero to so many but a complex individual even to himself. If you don't mind, take us into the creation of Glass and what you hope we the reader learn from him and the way he handles his weaknesses.
Hayden is complex in that he wants to be good, he wants to be normal, but his actions defy his intentions. He has a sponsor, he goes to the Twelve Step meetings. He’ll get 30, 60 or 90 days of sobriety and then he’ll slip. He has so much potential, if only he could pull himself together. And his addiction seems so ambiguous—what does it mean to be addicted to sex? Most people don’t believe his addiction even exists. And yet he’s ruled by it. In BEAT he meets his “counterpart,” San Francisco Homicide Inspector Anthony Locatelli, who is what Hayden would be if Hayden had his act together. And yet we learn that Hayden has a talent, a “gift,” that others like Locatelli don’t. Maybe Hayden’s weakness, his addiction, is behind it. Maybe he knows a little more than the rest of us through his struggles.

Stephen, you write your books in a way that we can picture the words coming alive in front of us. I think it's important for our readers to remember that you do have a history in film. How do you feel as though that background enhances your storytelling abilities?
I do love film. I love the visual language. I try to tap into visual imagery when I write. And I love great cinematography, the kind you see in films like The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Schindler’s List, Searching for Bobby Fischer, The Seven Samurai, Taxi Driver…the list goes on. I spent a number of years as the Director of Development for filmmaker Wolfgang Petersen and I watched a lot of great films and read a lot of thriller scripts. A good screenplay is tight, like a poem, with well-defined acts and escalating action. Screenplays are plot-driven—there’s not a lot of room for much else. So, having written screenplays, I understand that my novels must have a well-defined three-act structure and the kind of pacing that makes the reader want to turn pages.

With that being said, what can we expect from Hayden Glass and you this year?
2011 is going to be a quiet year for me. I won’t have anything on the shelves, since I’ve just started writing my next novel. I’m putting Hayden aside for a while and concentrating on a dark, international thriller set in the U.S. and Europe. I’ve done most of my research and I’m having fun writing the book. I’m also juggling this with a screenwriting assignment—a big, 3-D zombie-type thriller. Pretty fun stuff, and it’ll get me back into the film biz a bit. I still have plans for another Hayden novel—I think I’ll place him in the San Fernando Valley next; the heart of the porn industry. That ought to tickle his addiction. Poor Hayden, I don’t give the guy a break.

Any words of encouragement you want to give to aspiring writers that want to make the new year their time to get published or at least move in that direction?
My standard advice, the advice that was given to me: Finish the Book. Just get it done. Write “The End,” take some time off, then go back and read it from the beginning, and do the rewrite. Repeat. And then, when you have something that looks pretty good, have four or five people with a little experience give you feedback. Listen to the feedback. Find the common denominator—what is everyone saying? Do they agree on certain criticisms? If so, you probably have a problem with that. Go back in for another couple rewrites. You’ve got to learn the craft. It’s about the writing, not the selling, not the “fame.” You’ve got to love the process.

I would be remiss in not asking about your use of social networking sites when it comes to not just promoting your brand but keeping in touch with your fans. What do you enjoy the most about sites like Facebook when promoting a new book?
Facebook is perfect for promoting my books and upcoming events. I love being able to send a sharp-looking invitation to dozens of readers at once. I love being able to quickly update my activities. But you can get lost in it, addicted to it even, and then the writing day (or night) is gone. Facebook has definitely slowed my writing schedule. It’s a necessary balancing act.

I'm always interested in how people who are living their dreams personally see success. How do you define what success is for you today and has it changed any from when you first began your career as an author?
I said once that a writer is successful if he is writing. Everyone has excuses for not writing, and all the excuses are valid. Still, you have to write, despite all the obstacles. It must be done. And, if you manage to slip in an hour or two every day…you’ve succeeded.
Now that I have two published novels, I’m defining success a bit differently. If I can support myself as a writer, I’m successful. If I can just do this full-time. Juggling my writing career with a day job has become counter-productive. But I have overhead and I’m responsible for the lives of my wife and kids. I don’t want to drag them through the trenches just so I can feel like a “real” writer. Again, it’s the balancing act. I’m about to jump into it full-time, for the first time in ten years. I hope this time it’s permanent.

We appreciate your time, Stephen. Happy New Years to you. How can our readers stay in contact with you and find out more about your books?
You can find me at or friend me on Facebook. If you come to my website you can get a free download of my short story prequel to Boulevard, called CROSSING THE LINE.