From the #1 Essence bestselling and NAACP Image award-winning author Victoria Christopher Murray comes Stand Your Ground, a novel about two women who are faced with the same tragedy.  A black teenage boy is dead. A white man shot him. Was he standing his ground or was it murder?

Janice Johnson is living every black mother’s nightmare. Her seventeen-year-old son was murdered and the shooter has not been arrested. Can the D.A. and the police be trusted to investigate and do the right thing? Should Janice take advantage of the public outcry and join her husband alongside the angry protestors who are out for revenge?

Meredith Spencer is married to the man accused of the killing and she sees her husband and the situation with far more clarity than anyone realizes. What she knows could blow the case wide open, but what will that mean for her life and that of her son? Will she have the courage to come forward in time so that justice can be done?

Chapter Except:  Stand Your Ground

The doorbell rang and a hard knock followed.
Tyrone and I frowned. It was a little after nine, and Marquis and his friends knew they couldn’t hang out on school nights.
Just a couple of seconds passed before the visitor knocked.
“Who can that be?” I asked, pushing myself up.
Tyrone held up his hand. “You stay here. I’ll get it.”
Before my husband could make it to the top of the staircase, I wrapped myself inside my robe and stepped into the hallway. Marquis’s bedroom door was closed, which was the only reason why I was sure he hadn’t bounced down the stairs to get to the door before his father.
By the time I made my way to the top of the stairs, Tyrone was at the bottom and opening the door.
“Mr. Johnson?”
The door was open wide enough for me to see the two policemen, one black, one white, standing shoulder to shoulder, like soldiers.
“Yes,” my husband said, his voice two octaves deeper, the way it always dropped when he stood in front of men wearing uniforms.
“May we come in?” the black one asked.
Those words made me descend the stairs even though I wasn’t properly dressed for company. Not that policemen showing up could ever be called welcomed visitors.
“What’s this about?” my husband asked.
The policemen stepped inside, though Tyrone hadn’t extended an invitation. Both men glanced at me as I stood on the second stair, gripping the lapels of my bathrobe and trying to come up with a single reason why two officers would be in our home.
“Ma’am.” It seemed the black officer had been assigned to do all the talking.
“What’s this about?” Tyrone asked again.
They stood at attention, as if this were a formal visitation. “Would you mind if we went in there?” The black officer nodded toward our living room.

If the officer had been speaking to me, I would’ve said yes because it seemed like the polite thing to do.
But Tyrone said, “That’s not necessary,” because my husband had been raised on the hard streets of Philly, where a policeman, no matter his color, was never an invited guest.
The officers exchanged glances before the black one said, “Marquis Johnson, is that your son?”
Tyrone’s eyes narrowed while mine widened.
“What’s this about?” That felt like the fiftieth time my husband asked that question.
“There’s been a shooting . . .”
“Oh, my God,” I gasped. “Did something happen to one of our son’s friends?”
The officers looked at each other again before the black one continued, “It’s your son, Marquis. He’s been shot.”
 “What?” Tyrone and I said together.
“That’s impossible,” Tyrone said. “Marquis is in his room.” He yelled out, “Marquis, come down here.”
Not even a second passed before I dashed up the stairs, moving like I hadn’t in years. Not that I had any doubt. Of course Marquis was in his bedroom. He’d come home while Tyrone and I . . . had been spending personal time together. I mean, Marquis hadn’t come into our bedroom when he came home, but he never did when we had the door closed.
Tonight, he’d been home by eight, nine at the latest. I was sure of that.
I never entered Marquis's room without knocking. But tonight, I busted in. And then I stood there . . . in the dark. I stood there staring at the blackness, though there was enough light for me to see that Marquis wasn’t sitting at his desk, he wasn’t lying on his bed.
“Marquis,” I called out anyway, then rushed to the bathroom. “Marquis!” Just like with his bedroom, I busted into the bathroom and stared at the empty space.
Then, I felt my heart pounding, though I’m sure the assault on my chest began the moment the policeman had told that lie that my son had been shot.
“Marquis,” I shouted as I searched our guest bedroom.
I returned to his bedroom and swung open the door to his closet before I crouched down and searched under his bed. “Marquis,” I screamed, wondering why my son was playing this game of hide-and-seek, something we hadn’t done since he was four.
I rushed back into the hallway and bumped right into Tyrone. “He’s not up here,” I said to my husband as he grasped my arms. “He’s downstairs; did you check the kitchen or the family room?"
I looked up into Tyrone’s eyes, which were glassy with tears.
“What?” I frowned. “You don’t believe those policemen?”
He nodded and I shook my head.
“They’re lying.”

“They’re not lying,” Tyrone said softly. “They showed me a picture.”   
 Now I whipped my head from side to side because I didn’t want to hear anything else. I couldn’t believe that Tyrone would accept the word of men in blue. Wasn’t he the one who said the police couldn't be trusted?
If he wasn’t going to look for our son, I was. “Marquis!” I screamed.
Now a single tear dripped from Tyrone's eye. “Janice, listen to me.”

I tried to remember the last time my husband cried. And I couldn’t think of a single time.
“Janice.” He repeated my name.
“Marquis is gone.”
“He was shot over on Avon Street.”
 “He’s dead.”
“Why would you believe them,” I cried. “Why don’t you believe me?”
My husband looked at me as if I was talking foolishness. And I looked at him and begged for him to tell me that he was wrong. Or for him to wake me from this nightmare. Either would work for me.
 But Tyrone did neither of those things. He just stared into my eyes. And as I stared into his, I saw the truth.
Not many words that Tyrone had shared had made it to the understanding part of my brain. But four words did: Marquis. Gone. Shot. Dead.
“Marquis is gone?” I whispered.
Tyrone nodded.
“Someone shot my son?”
He nodded again.
“And now he’s dead?”
This time, Tyrone just pulled me close, so close that I could feel the hammering of his heart. But though I always wanted to be held by my husband, I didn’t want him to hold me now. Because if what Tyrone had said was true, then I didn’t want to be in my husband’s arms.

If what he said was true, then all I wanted was to be dead, too.

(  Continued...  )

© 2015 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Victoria Christopher Murray.  Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

Purchase Books by Victoria Christopher Murray
Contemporary Women Fiction >African American > Christian Fiction 






Victoria Christopher Murray, author of Stand Your Ground says:  Readers often ask what they can do to help authors. And the first thing I say is just by asking that question, you've helped. You want to be engaged in the process and we so appreciate that. But there are things that you really can do:

1. Talk about the book. Everywhere. You are our advertising.

2. Write reviews — the different sites promote the novels with the most reviews.

3. Think about books as gifts — so many people are introduced to authors they never knew because they received a gift.

4. First week sales are important — any time sales are crucial. The most important thing is to buy the book, in whatever format that's best for you. Publishers analyze first year sales to determine whether a new contract should be given.

5. When you can, support independent bookstores. Support the bookstores that have supported the authors you want to read.

The most important thing is to know that YOU are the most important factor in this industry. Everything happens in publishing for one thing — everything happens for the reader. Your sales determine what kinds of books will be published, which authors will continue to write. You ARE what publishing is all about.   Hope this helps...feel free to share with other readers.

Watch the Video Book Reviews for Stand Your Ground -




Black Pearls Magazine Conversation with
Victoria Christopher Murray and Ella D. Curry

Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton University where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating, Victoria attended New York University where she received her MBA.

Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she tested her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria never lost the dream to write and when the “bug” hit her again in 1997, she answered the call.

Victoria originally self-published her first novel, Temptation and in 2000, Time Warner published that novel. Temptation made numerous best sellers list and remained on the Essence bestsellers list for nine consecutive months. In 2001, Temptation was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature.  Since Temptation, Victoria has written over twenty other adult novels, including: JOY, Grown Folks Business, The Ex Files, The Deal, the Dance and the Devil and the popular Jasmine Cox Larson Bush series.

Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being a pioneer in African American Fiction. Since 2007, Victoria has won nine African American Literary Awards for best novel, best Christian fiction and Author of the Year — Female. After four nominations, Victoria finally won an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literary Work for her social commentary novel, Stand Your Ground. Several of Victoria’s novels have been optioned to become movies, including The Deal, the Dance and the Devil and the Ex Files series.  With over one million books in print, Victoria is one of the country’s top African American contemporary authors.

Victoria splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington D.C. In Los Angeles, she attends Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church under the spiritual tutelage of Dr. Beverly “BAM” Crawford and she is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.


BPM: How did you get to be where you are in your life today? Who or what motivated you?
I would have to say my parents had the greatest impact on my life. Not only did they have me believing that I was THE Queen Victoria (I was seven when I discovered that I wasn't), but they made me believe that I could be and do anything. My parents have been my greatest supporters, my biggest fans and I've always wanted to do well and be well to make them proud. My father passed away and my mother is now in her eighties...and I still want to be the kind, generous, giving person that they raised me to be. I want to follow the examples that they set. I still want to make my parents proud and that drives me every day.

BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to? Do you consider authors as role models?
Even though I've been considered a Christian fiction writer for a long time, I don't feel like that's who my writing speaks to alone. I write to speak to women who can see themselves in some of the situations that are plots in my novels. I want people to enjoy my books, and even receive a message. Now, I don't write with messages in mind. Truly, I think that God meets the readers on the pages — of not only my books, but any book. And readers always receive the message they're supposed to.

As far as being a role model, I think established authors are role models for up and coming authors and I take that responsibility seriously. I believe that not only am I responsible for telling entertaining stories, but I must help others who have the same dream. I have to. 

BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Why now?
The idea for this book came to me over a year and a half ago, when the first verdict in the Michael Dunn trial came down. During the first trial, Michael Dunn (who shot into the car killing Jordan Davis) the jury couldn't come back with a decision. It was a mistrial and so many people were angry with the jurors. But I had read the transcript and the judge's instructions to the jury during the George Zimmerman trial and I knew that if anyone used the Stand Your Ground defense as part of their self-defense, that was going to be a hard case to prove. But most people didn't know that, most people didn't understand the law. Heck,
most people didn't know that Stand Your Ground was in dozens of states besides Florida.

So, I believed that I had a platform to not only entertain, but to educate and hope that the education would get us to stand our ground and do something about this legal license to kill. This law must be repealed in every state.

BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I've always felt a little challenged about the types of books that I've written. Yes, I try my best to tell entertaining stories, and yes, I work very, very hard on the craft so that with each book readers can see my growth (readers deserve that.) But to be honest, I've never felt that I've used this gift to do anything important. I've always wanted to write important books, books that make a difference, books that matter. I think Stand Your Ground is the first time I've accomplished this. And for me, that made writing this book enjoyable.

BPM: Where do you book ideas come from? 
Even though I "think" I get my ideas from things that happen in the news or around me, I honestly believe that all of my ideas have come from God. This writing is a gift that He's given to me...a gift that He's given to me completely. So I have the gift of writing well, I have the discipline to do it, and He's even given me the stories.

BPM: Are you books plot-driven or character-driven?
My novels are more character driven than plot driven which can be an issue in this market. Readers love drama, drama, drama. (And I'm a reader who loves drama, so I can say that!) Character driven novels move slower because the story unfolds in the character's time. But, I love being a character driven novelist. I love spending time with my characters (that's why it takes me longer to write a book.) I love developing characters that stay with the readers long after the story is over.

BPM: Could you tell us something about your most recent work? Available on Kindle and Nook?
I'm going to sum up my most recent work in just a few words: A black teenage boy is dead. A white man shot him. Was he standing his ground? Or was it murder? 

And yes,
Stand Your Ground is available, on KindleNook iTunes...everything. It's available in Barnes and Noble, Walmart and Target. There will even be an audio version with the actress Suzzanne Douglass reading the novel.

BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each so special?
I wrote Stand Your Ground from two points of views: the first from the mother of the victim and the second from the wife of the shooter. I loved telling these two stories because there was such contrast — one black, one white...which tells the whole story in a situation like this. Janice Johnson is a mother who adores her only child, her son who she knew was special from when she carried him in her womb. And now she finds herself in the middle of a nightmare. Meredith Spencer is living a life of privilege, though her world is not all that it seems to be. And she has a secret; she knows something that could send her husband to prison for the rest of his life. 

BPM: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured in your book? If so, discuss them.
That's an interesting question. If there is any idea in
Stand Your Ground that you don't see often, it's the anger that is brewing in the African American community with all of the murders that have come to light. We feel frustrated, and sometimes helpless. Those emotions play an important part in Stand Your Ground and were the driving forces that led to the shocking end of the book.

BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation or journey?
I don't think this book has anything to do with my present situation alone.
Stand Your Ground tells the collective story of all of our frustrations. The stories keep repeating themselves in the news: unarmed black teen murdered by a white man/a white cop/a black cop. It plays over and over. And I wonder what are these stories doing to the psyche of us as men, women, mothers, fathers...and especially, what happens when our young black boys see these stories over and over? That's what I wanted to write about.

BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing this book?
I learned everything that I could about the
Stand Your Ground law so that I could pass it on to my readers. 

BPM: Can you share any stories about people you met while researching this book?
It's interesting that you ask that because for the first time, I received a lot of help from men when writing this book. I wanted to put the real emotions of black men on paper. I could imagine how this would affect a mother, but what are fathers thinking/feeling? So, I met a high-powered attorney in Philly who really helped me. And then a young entrepreneur, who actually owns a wine company; he really helped me with the ending of the book. So I'm a novelist who primarily writes for women, but this time, I needed the men to make it happen!

BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
There are a few projects I'm working on — my 2017 novel...the working title is Madam Vice President about a black woman on the presidential a Republican. And, I keep thinking about writing The Autobiography of Mae Frances, the story of one of my beloved characters — this is a story that readers continue to ask me to write.

Connect with Victoria Christopher Murray
Join the Movement: #standyourgroundthenovel
Twitter: @VictoriaECM, 

Purchase Stand Your Ground  by Victoria Christopher Murray
Contemporary Women Fiction >African American Christian Fiction 





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