After the murder of their parents and younger sister, Silk, Satin, and Suede Lee are first taken in by their cruel aunt and uncle, then shipped off to Concourse Village, a state-owned facility for boys. Thrust into survival mode, the boys must decide a path for their lives with only the morals instilled by their deceased parents and the street knowledge they are quickly gaining. Their bond is constantly tested as they transition from boys to men.
The Lee brothers make friends and enemies with the boys of Concourse Village and the girls of Morrisania Manor as they all try desperately to find steady footing in their new way of life. Separately, they have experienced unspeakable tragedies, but together, they learn what it means to be a family. 1380 Prospect Avenue is not another Bronx Tale, but a remarkable tale of life-long connections forged by the tough love of “da streets.”
Tell us about your book 1380 Prospect Ave. Not Another Bronx Tale.
1380 Prospect Avenue is a story about the Lee boys who enter the foster care system after the death of their family. The brother must learn how to survive with the morals instilled in them by their deceased parents and the street knowledge they are quickly learning from the streets.
Why did you decide to write it?
Foster care is supposed to be a temporary placement, however, in the case of many children and the children in the book they experience unspeakable tragedies. I wanted to provide insight into the foster care system for teens who are hard to place and youth who have come into the foster care system for a variety of reasons.
Who is your favorite character in the book, and why?
Mr. Cook is my favorite character, he is a little incapable of being fully explored or to understand why he is interested in the Lee boys and the other boys at Concourse Village or the Girls of Morrisania Manor.
What was the hardest part of writing the story?
The beginning was a challenge. I had to decide how I was going to introduce the boys and how they got involved in the foster care system.
What is something readers would be surprised to know about you?
Beverly Jean Leonard was born, reared, and raised in Dallas, Texas, where she attended the local schools. She went on to receive her teaching degree from Prairie View A&M University. (Go Panthers!) She retired in 2011 after serving 33 awesome years in the Dallas Public School District. While teaching, she was voted “Teacher of the Year” in 1984, in 1994, and in 2004. Every decade! She gives God the glory! Known as, “The Poet with a Message,” she continues to teach and inspire others through her God-given gift of poetry. She explains it this way, “It’s what you get when you combine wisdom and rhyme. You get powerful and inspired messages that are found within the lines. Sometimes they blow my mind.” Her work has been published in several newspapers, including a long run in The Birmingham Times in Birmingham, Alabama. She has also written several articles for The Dallas Morning News. She shares her gift of poetry in schools, churches, and local poetry venues. Her poems have won several oratorical awards that were recited by students. Mothers Against Teen Violence (MATV) displayed her poem, “Please Don’t Count Me Out,” in one of their quarterly brochures. Her first book, “Come Inside,” is touching many hearts, minds, and souls. Her second book “Come Again” is coming along well. She gives the praise and the honor to God and wants to swing from His glory! And while swinging from His glory, she wants to help, uplift, bless, encourage, and inspire others on this earthly journey. She looks forward to the plans that God has for her.
Q: Tell me more about your latest book.
A: I have only one book, “Come Inside.” It is a 265-page book of inspired poetry. It is touching the hearts, minds, and souls of everyone who peruses it. I’m working on book two, “Come Again.” It’s looking really good! All praises to The Most High!
Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A: Sometimes when I mention that I’m a poet, some people’s minds get turned off. They will say, “I don’t like poetry.” Poetry gets a bad rap. I believe that if they give my poetry a try, they will enjoy it. Unless, that is, they don’t love the Lord because my poetry is spiritual based. God is all up in it and I make no apologies about that. The messages are real. They just happen to rhyme. Besides, the rhyming words are simply “The Cherries on Top.” That poem is in the book.
What motivated you to become an author?
A: I needed to make some extra money years ago. I still do. In 1996 I said a prayer, “Lord please send me something OR send me somewhere. Amen.” The next week God sent me my very first used computer and the gift of poetry. God knows His children very well. He knew that I love to read and had a portion of wisdom. My poetry is what you get when you mix wisdom and rhyme. You get some pretty deep and heavy lines. All praises to God! By the way, I’m a retired teacher. So, now I teach through my gift of poetry.
What brought you to write this book?
A: God gave me this gift and the poems were overflowing. Pressed down. The Holy Spirit guided me through everything. From the title, the publisher, the book cover, my pen name (“The Poet with a Message”) to the name of my next book. I was and I’m still in awe as I look back at the process of self-publishing this book.
Q: How many books have you written so far?
A: Just one. Working on book two, but I write all the time. Book two is nearly filled.
Q: What book or books had a strong influence on you and your writing?
A: The Bible
How hard is it to establish in the genre poetry?
A: Very hard. Many agents don’t usually like to work with poets unless you’re well known. Besides, agents cost money. Right now, I’m on a fixed income. But if it is God’s will to get established, then it shall be. If not, it will never become a reality. Nevertheless, I am to bloom where I’m planted and share my gifts with others whenever and wherever I can. I do realize that there are some things that I need to do to help my book/books get out there. So, here I am typing this up to send to you. Smile.
Q: Where do you love to write?
A: On my back porch, in my bedroom, in the living room, in my car, at the park, in restaurants, anywhere. I even write while driving in the rain. I know that’s crazy, but it’s true.
Q: Where do you get your ideas from?
A: From life. I always say that I write it as I live it. It’s the only way I can give it. I write according to how life moves me, soothes me, touches me, trips me, traps me, enwraps me, knocks me down, picks me up, and cuddles me. I write accordingly. I am definitely led by the Holy Spirit.
Q: What is your favorite poetry book?
A: I love poems/poetry books by Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Helen Steiner Rice, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, etc. … And of course, King David. Amanda Gorman, oh, my what a gift!
I have poems on YouTube. at Beverly Leonard Come Inside.
Synopsis: Growing up Anastasia’s only wish was for her father to come and sweep her away from life’s daily struggles. Everything seemed so complicated with her mother. With the holidays approaching there came hope. This year she would take matters into her own hands. Though sometimes, it’s best to leave some things to the unknown and move forward. When love comes sometimes hate, jealousy, and treachery soon follow. Anastasia will soon learn that you should be careful what you wish for and leave some things as they are. Or with tragedy can come an unexpected peace. Will she finally get the family she always wanted?
There was this one time when I was going into the basement to finish my laundry, when I saw Popcorn jump on the bed. Quick turned his back, and his friend the little weasel just sat there acting like he was watching TV. I asked what was going on and of course they said nothing, so I went outside only to learn that they were in the basement mixing up their drugs. They told me that Popcorn was paid to hold the stuff and if anyone came down stairs to get rid of it. Why would she do this here; why would Quick have it here at all? He could have rented an apartment and had his shop set up there, but instead he decided to do his business from the house we grew up in; the house the neighborhood grew up in, IN MY MOTHER’S HOUSE.
Which five words best describes In My Mother’s House?
Crucial and vital, warm and suspenseful, lesson-filled occurrences
Can you share one highlight from the book?
That night, he stayed over, and I was happy, he held me all night, but I was still in pain. So, the next morning I went to the hospital without telling him. I waited until he left. I arrived at the emergency room of Mary Immaculate Hospital, where the doctor told me I would need to get undressed, so I could be examined, so I got undressed and waited for him to check my heartbeat, but instead he pulled these things out…
What is the purpose of this book?
Writing this book was therapeutic. It reminds readers how much we have in common in the good and bad times. It also talks to us about what happens in our own lives from day to day.
Are there themes that you find turn up again and again in your work? Yes, every family have their secrets. A common thread? Everyone has a story to tell
Which character or part of the book was the most fun to write?
Tango was and still is my best person, he has been a very important factor in my life.
Which part was the hardest?
Writing about the birth of Justice was the most difficult thing and experience to write.
I am known as a children’s books author; however, I am venturing into other genres.
–What is your purpose?
I have been advocating for children and families waiting to be reunified with their biological families, foster care and adoption, and restoring their genetic lineage while learning different styles of parenting.
-What is your favorite marketing technique?
Social media word of mouth, I am currently working on book trailers, and hoping to have my books in the social work department at HBCU’s.
How do you get your book in front of readers?
Podcast interviews, Pre-COVID events, conferences, and book signings.
-What is something you want readers to know about you?
I am an advocate for Grandparents Rights.
-What are you reading right now?
Cicely Tyson’s “As I Am”.
-3 Fun facts about yourself.
I can be a prankster, I love shopping at thrift stores for bargains and I enjoy restoration projects and designing.