Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cyrus Webb on HYPE Radio ---- April 8, 2009

On Wednesday, April 8, 2009 Shadow Play Entertainment President Cyrus A. Webb was interviewed by Taj Longino of Hype Radio, a subsidiary of Hype Magazine.

Listen to the interview here:
Want to find out who else is working with The Write Stuff Reality Show? Visit

Sunday, May 10, 2009

July 5-11, 2007 --- "Subway and book club begin book discussions and weekly poetry night" by Jackson Advocate News Service

July 5-11, 2007 --- "Subway and book club begin book discussions and weekly poetry night" by Jackson Advocate News Service

Conversations Book Club has teamed up with independently owned Subway Restaurant at 3000 Hwy 80 East in Pearl to provide book discussions every second and fourth Thursday of the month, which began on June 28.

The Subway restaurant is owned by Dorothy and Chris Lawson. This part of a new campaign called "Read Well While You Eat Well," where Conversations Book Club will be featured in a series of new commercials in partnership with this Subway.

The bok club has garnered national attention for being an interactive means for readers to talk directly to authors, even getting an endorsement from national names Andrew Neiderman (The Devil's Advocate), Father Andrew M. Greeley (Cardinal Sins) and Martha Stewart (The Martha Rules). The group will read authors who deal with more family and relationship issues, beginning with Sins of The Father by Felicia Madlock.

A roster has been gathered for the summer which includes books by Felicia Madlock, Alisha Yvonne (sp) and others. A free listing is available at Subway and on the website Discussions will begin at 6:30p.m. and will conclude at 8p.m. The first 20 to 30 minutes will be used to familiarize (sp) the group with a synopsis of the book and then get into the "meatier" issues that it addresses.

Beginning Saturday, July 7, this Subway will also host a weekly spoken word night beginning at 7p.m.

This is history-making in that it is the first weekly night for open mic in Rankin County. Special guests for the first night are bestselling author Lovell Brigham and award-winning Louisiana spoken word artist E. J. Kemper III. Performing artists are also welcome.

Admission is free for both events. For more information about this partnership...

May 16, 2007 -- "Joining in the conversation" by Raymond Reeves for Northeast Ledger

"Joining in the conversation" by Raymond Reeves of Northeast Ledger (May 16, 2007)

The key is in the name. The Conversations Book Club, which meets at 6p.m. every Tuesday and Friday at the Medgar Evers Library, is different than traditional book clubs. While the latest tome is discussed among members, the conversation also includes the author, who is included in a conference call or, occasionally, in person.

By having access to the writer, the discussions acn include not only members' thoughts and opinions but also questions on why th author handled topics and events in a specific manner.

"It actually started for a selfish reason back in November," said Cyrus A. Webb, founder of the club. "I was looking for a club that read a variety of books--not just African American, not just genre--and we really couldn't find one. So we decided to start our own.

"I have been privileged enough to meet quite a few authors over the last few years. I called them up and told them that I wanted to make an interactive book club. By the end of December I had a full schedule for this year."

When Webb met with Laura Turner, the librarian at Medgar Evers, she agreed to hold the library open for an extra hour on the meeting days.

"Cyrus came to me with the idea and I thought it was a wonderful idea," Turner said. "People are so technology-oriented today that nobody wants to read a book anymore; it's almost becoming a lost art. I was very accepting of the idea once I knew it was a book club and it would be books that were in our library.

"I'm a librarian who thinks that reading is good--without any qualifiers, modifiers or any of the other things people (use). To me, reading is reading and it's all good for the most part."

Webb's previous work under the Conversations name -- he has a show called Conversations with C. A. Webb on Mississippi Public Radio and WAPT television, both versions of which are on summer hiatus--opened some eyes for at least one book club member.

"I heard about Conversations, the brand, about two or three years ago," said Andrea Ruffin, who also works at WaldenBooks where some of the club's other branch meetings are held. "I saw him on television and I remember thinking 'Wow, he's doing something for the community.' I lived in Florida for about eight months, and when I came back in January I saw a flyer where I work" about the club.

In addition to traditional authors, the club also brings in those who are better known for their work in another avenue. For instance, music fans hit the club to hear well-known rapper C-Murder earlier this year---and found out that his debut novel was an enjoyable read. The same holds true for the authors affiliated with Grammy-nominated rapper 50 Cent's G-Unit Books.

The uniqueness of the club's setup is a drawing card.

"I think the book club is a great thing. You get the chance to meet people that you normally wouldn't get a chance to meet-No. 1 is the authors," Ruffin said. "They take time out of their busy day to give us an hour every Tuesday and Friday. They're willing to go the extra mile and give the book club a chance.

"When you read a book, you may think, 'Oh, the author seems nice.' But when you get the chance to talk to that author and ask 'Why did you do this' or 'Why did you do that' it's different. It's like bringing in the magic, like at Disney World."

Webb and Stanley Clark, the founding members of the club, consider it important to get involved in other clubs as well as their own.

"The most interesting thing to me about this book club is that it was started by men. That's like one in a million; you never see that," Ruffin said. "And you'll see them out in the community supporting other book clubs. You hardly ever see that."

That is an important aspect, according to Webb. He has said that he views Conversations as an "interfaith" group; he's not looking to get people to leave their current club and join Conversations. He said he would prefer them to remain active in their present club and get involved in Conversations as well.

Webb understands that making every meeting is virtually impossible in today's busy society. Because of that, he gives absent members a second chance at the meeting, thanks to the club's Web site.

"For those who can't make the discussions, we started the Web site--modestly called -- where I do a transcript of the conversation," Webb said. "So, we do the highlights on the Web site for people to reflect back on.

"We also tell what books (the authors) have written, because a lot of times people, especially in our teen groups, say they don't like to read, so it's just a matter of finding something they can relate to or something that gets their interest. That's why we choose a variety of authors. We're trying to get people into the mindset of thinking genres inestead of race. I think that opens up a totally different group for them."

Jnauary 13, 2009 --- "Orange native joins rank of reality TV" by Penn LeLeux of For The Record

"Orange native joins rank of reality TV" by Penny LeLeux, The Record Newspapers
Published 01/13/2009 - 9:50 p.m. CST
Read the entire article here or below:


“He’s been writing since he was teeny tiny,” said 32-year-old Geremy Howard’s mother, Linda Gossett. Howard was selected this weekend as one of the first three contestants for the new reality show “The Write Stuff,” to air on the CW network starting June 6.

Born and raised in Orange, Howard, a 1994 graduate from West Orange-Stark, now lives in Katy with his wife of 13 years, Deborah, and his three children Claudia, 11; Gage, 6; and Morgan Anne, 1.

“I don’t know what I’m getting myself into,” said Howard, but he’s ready. “This is one of those, leap first, then look, things.” Writing has been his passion since early on.

It was always his dream to become a writer, but “you get caught up in life,” he said. Once you get married and have kids, you have bills to pay and sometimes dreams get put on hold.

“He always had notebooks with him... he wrote every time he had a chance,” said mom. Learning new words every day, he has spent years honing his craft.

“I’ve taken classes; entered contests,” said Howard, but he’s never managed to get published. “I’m hoping this is my shot.”

He found out about the competition when his mother read the article in The Record. “I never throw away a paper until I’ve read it, so sometimes it could be a week old or more,” said Gossett. But she read the paper on Friday, with the auditions scheduled for Saturday.

“I suggested she e-mail it to him,” said Gossett’s husband, Claude.

“I’m excited,” said Howard about being chosen. “It’s quite an opportunity.”

Howard is exactly the kind of contestant they are looking for, a diamond in the rough. “He’s got TV written all over him,” said Cyrus A. Webb, co-creator and host of “The Write Stuff.”

At first the judges weren’t sure because he delivered his essay in a monotone, deadpan manner. “I only have two tones; monotone and real mad,” he said, but his writing is good. He loves horror and science fiction; his style of writing is dark in nature with a dry underlying sense of humor. Reading his first Stephen King novel at the age of 6 or 7, “I was hooked, crazy junky, to the point my mother cut me off. It was a Stephen King intervention,” his essay read.

Loosening up once the judges started asking questions is what got Howard’s foot in the door.

He will be joined by two other contestants, Tommie Townsley from Sulphur, La., and Shanedria Ridley of Houston.

Townsley has written four children’s books she has self-published, while Ridley writes educational books, poetry and has a novel under her belt. All of her books are self-published as well.

While they may have more polish than Howard, Webb feels they will also have a great learning opportunity acquiring knowledge of the other aspects of writing; networking, publicity, distribution, etc.
Every task will cover a side of the publishing industry so that even those that don’t make it all the way to the end will still grow tremendously in their connection with the show.

What do Howard’s castmates think of their opportunity?

“I want to motivate children through mass media... show America the many strategies I’ve created for children and adults alike, to read and become better communicators,” said Ridley, a self-proclaimed “edutainer.”

“I’m just so excited...being from a small town... to come here and do this has been an absolute dream,” said Townsley. “I’m on a journey and look forward to what’s going to happen.”

If interested, there are still seven opportunities to audition in person with Atlanta being this week’s location. The closest audition will be in Metairie, La., Feb. 7. Go to for more information.

January 7, 2009 --- "Reality TV looking for the 'Write Stuff'" by Penny LeLeux of For The Record

Read the article by clicking here are reading the text below:

Looking for the ‘Write Stuff’ * Penny LeLeux, The Record Newspapers

Published 01/07/2009 - 1:18 a.m. CST

Do you have the world’s best novel underneath your bedpost?

Have you always thought you could write the next great “Twilight” series?

Now could be your opportunity as a new reality show slated for the CW network kicks off auditions in Houston this weekend.

It started as a lunch discussion between friends two months ago. Cyrus A. Webb, founder and president of Conversations Book Club, was talking about some of the difficulties an emerging writer has breaking into the business. “A lot of authors all have the same challenges,” he said. Finding a publisher, distribution, marketing; it can be overwhelming to someone new.

“Cyrus, you ought to do something about it,” said his friend.

From there it snowballed. At first, plans were to give winners prizes. But while discussing his plans with Brian Smith of Hollygrove publishing, Smith said he wanted to give the winner a one-book deal. That offer just blew Webb over. It has been growing wildly from there. The winner will also receive a marketing plan designed just for them by New York Times bestselling author J.L. King, a two year contract with a public relations firm, a Dell laptop computer, a monthly column in a national magazine and several other magazine opportunities. “Everything they need to get their career started,” said Webb.

He feels so optimistic about the project, Webb is already making plans for the second season even though the first one is just starting auditions.

He has been asked many times why the auditions are starting in Texas, when he is from Jackson, Miss. The answer is simple. Since the publishing house that is offering the big prize is in Texas, he felt it should start there, but the first challenge, once taping starts, will be held in Mississippi.

One thing different with this show; it will tape on weekends, so contestants don’t have to quit their jobs to participate.

Orange County native Sylvia Dickey Smith, author of the Third Eye Mystery Series set in Orange will be one of the judges at the Houston auditions, along with authors Kia Stokes, P. Elaine Archie, Ron Seybold, Bruce Williams and Elaine Flowers.

They will hold a special “meet-and-greet” 6-8 p.m. Friday evening at Quality Inn and Suites, 9041 Westheimer Road in Houston. The gathering is for those that would like to find out more information, meet the judges and network with authors. Admission is free, but a new book of your choice, to distribute to libraries and / or organizations in each city; is requested.

Auditions will be 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday at the same location. Contestants must be 18 years or older, come prepared with five copies of an essay, no more than 500 words in length. The essay should tell them about you, what your talent and skills are, as well as what you hope to get from the experience offered through “The Write Stuff.” Essays will be read by the contestants, while the judges read along. Don’t forget to bring your personality.

You can attend one of the open casting calls, or submit a short, three minute video through the web. There will be eight live auditions throughout the country with the closest after Houston being Saturday, Feb. 7, in Metairie, La.

For more information on locations and complete rules, go to

The first show will air June 6 in 16 states to over 15 million households. Winner will be revealed the first week in September and auditions for season two will begin in January 2010.

Authors who have already published a book are not necessarily disqualified; as long as they are not under a current contract.

Webb doesn’t want to discourage anyone from trying out. “They may have self-published a book, but don’t have the marketing tools they need to succeed.” Tasks to be performed on the show will encompass all aspects of the business including deadlines,

presentations and pricing. One week they will be creating a product to sell from start to finish.

“They will all be winners,” said Webb. “They will be able to say, ‘I was a part of something.’”

January 17-23, 2008 --- The Chicago Tribune to Oprah: 'You might want to watch your back'

January 17-23, 2008: THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE TO OPRAH: 'You might want to watch your back' by Jackson Advocate News Service
An article in the Sunday Chicago Tribune was sent to Conversations Book Club President Cyrus A. Webb Jan. 7. The first line read: "Oprah Winfrey might want to watch her back."

"In those eight words was the validation on the path I have been headed in leading a literary revolution," according to Webb.

"For our book club to be mentioned in the same breath as Oprah is such an honor," Webb, 31, said in a blog to his supports in Chicago.

The book club he began in November 2006 with three members has grown to seven chapters in Mississippi, making it the largest reading group in the state and giving it national attention for hosting a record-breaking 32 authors to the state at no charge to the attendees.

Now in 2008, the book club will be hosting 61 authors in preson and opening up new chapters in New Orleans, Montgomery, Memphis, Little Rock, and Chicago--most of which will be moderated by Webb.

"I think the difference in this project and what I have done in the past or continue to do is that it's not about me," Webb explains. "I am just excited about people reading. That is what matters most to me."

The Chicago Tribune article mentions that on January 19th, Webb will be continuing his partnership with Corey "C-Murder" Miller in New Orleans, he being the first author to kick off the book club there. The two have partnered in other projects as well, including a live author chat that will debut later this month.

MTV was the first national outlet to highlight the partnership between Miller and Webb this year during their MTVNews segment on Saturday, January 2, 2008.

For more information about Conversations Book Club and its growing worldwide campaign, visit

Thursday, April 1,2005 -- "The Art of Staying Alive" by Gary Pettus for The Clarion Ledger

Thursday, April 1,2 005 -- "The Art of Staying Alive" by Gary Pettus for The Clarion Ledger

When he was 10 or so he stole a kiss from his fifth-grade teacher. As a teen, he tried to steal his own life.

What happened to Cyrus Webb during the years in between? Between that triumphant moment of childhood crush and the days when his heart abandoned him?

He was trying to find his way as an artist, but it was too dark.


He remembers that single teardrop--the memory, a mixture of pride and regret.

It fell from the eye of a young boy, a transparent streak of liquid pain melting into his cheek.

It was a drawing. A self-portrait, of sorts.

The Real Me, he called it.

To meet Cyrus Webb today is to wonder if that could still be true. For the man who has re-created himself as C. A. Webb, his professional alter ego, how could it?

C. A. is too strong.

At only 29, without a college education, the 1994 Brandon High School graduate is now an artist, businessman, radio and TV talk show host, arts columnist, poet, novelist. He's a management consultant for two singers.

He has a reputation as a mentor. "He has a certain, almost indescribable, quality of being able to connect to the kids," says Robert Langford, executive director of Operation Shoestring, an non-profit agency that provides services for low-to-middle-income families.

Webb has translated his dreamy love of the arts into the practical ability to tutor children--in music, drama, writing and more, in Operation Shoestring's after-school program. He didn't come by this love honestly.

"I'm the only artist in my family. The only oddball," he says, with smile that is as shy as liquid mercury. "The only one in my immediate family who's left-handed."

With that left hand, he began drawing, at age 5 or 6. The writing came later, he says. "I always liked to think of other worlds, other places. Art and writing became an outlet for me. I always liked escaping."

If Webb enjoys escaping today, he has a funny way of showing it. Several days a week, he can be found inside the Jackson Medical Mall or Metrocenter manning his kiosks--mini-emporiums of his self-published novellas and books of poety, color prints, greeting cards and more.

Melvin Anderson, executive director of the Jackson Human and Cultural Services, helped Webb place his kiosk in the medical mall.

"People need to see the kinds of things he's offering," Anderson says. "He's a very talented man who has a lot to offer to the community. Probably 75 to 1000 people come by his display every day, if not more."

On the third Saturday of every month, re-commencing on April 23, Webb will be found on WAPT-Channel 16 as host of Conversations with C. A. Webb. An interview show featuring the arts community's "movers and shakers," it echoes the format and title of his radio show on WMPR 90.1 FM broadcast at 7:30 on Tuesday nights.

He also can be found sitting on the boards of arts and other community organizations. He can be found giving, or emceeing, poetry readings at Smith Robertson Museum.

Now, if only someone could find The Real Me.

It was stoken from the lobby of the hotel he used to work in not long ago. He hasn't seen the original drawing since. Only prints exist.

It was the first drawing he made after the surgery on his hands. He hasn't re-created it, he says with a sigh.

"I've never been able to duplicate that tear."


The tears that fell later in his life might have been forecast by his fifth-grade teacher, like a far-off storm.

"He was to himself a lot," says retired teacher Sara Mason-Thomas of Jackson, who taught Webb at Brandon Middle School.

"He was well-mannered. But he always wanted to be the last in line. Never in front. Always in back, with his arms folded.

"He never wanted to play games. He would sit there and draw during class time.

"There were only five or six black kids in the classroom. I didn't want him to be an outcast. So I stayed on him, as well as everybody else in the room. And I didn't allow them to criticize him or talk bad about each other."

Then on Valentine's Day, the shy kid "shocked" her. "He asked me to bend down, he had something to tell me," she says. "I leaned over, and he kissed me.

"I said 'OK, now go sit down.' I really didn't know it hurt his feelings until I ran into him the other day, and he told me so."


It was just one more disappointment handed down to him by the adults in his life. one of the many hurts that were, at least in part, his fault.

"I'd always been a 'yes' person," Webb says. "But I found I couldn't be everything people wanted me to be. They wanted to live through me, to be a mirror for what they wanted to be, but didn't have the opportunity.

"And it goes back to the mindset that if you're not a doctor or a lawyer, you're not a success."

His family has since come around, he says. "In the end, they just wanted me to be successful.

"They didn't know how I could do that as an artist or writer, and without college."

But, at one time, the pressure to be someone else turned him into an enemy--a foe, not of his family, but of himself.

"I don't know why I thought I had the right to take my life," he says.

"I guess, finally, it was maturity that made me realize how stupid that was."

He tried to commit suicide three times. The last time, at age 20, with a drug overdose.

Multiplying his depression at the time was this: He began suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful or numbling condition of the hands and wrists caused by repetitive movement. "I was afraid I wouldn't be able to draw or write," he says, "especially because it affected my left hand more."

In 1995, he underwent surgery on both hands. "I couldn't cut my food," he says. "I couldn't dress myself. When I took a shower, I had to wear plastic bags over my hands."

Finally, the healing process ended. The foreboding did not. He captured it in that teardrop, The Real Me.

To this day, if he works too long at one time, the pain returns---the pain in his hands. As for the other...

"I haven't been able to draw that tear again, to re-create it, honestly, because I haven't been to that point in my life again," Webb says. "I was really feeling it then, but I don't feel it now.

"So, technically, it's not the 'real me' anymore.

"But it would be nice to have that picture."