Let me be the first to give a big Pittsburgh thank you to ReShonda Tate Billingsley, No. 1 best-selling author of “The Devil Is a Lie.” Bil­ling­sley selected Pittsburgh to launch her latest book, “Holy Rollers” (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books; $15).

“Holy Rollers” is a compelling tale of friendship, faith and going after what you want as three lifelong friends—Coco, Nita and Audra—give up their quest for pro athletes and get their chase on for preachers.

AUTHOR OF ‘HOLY ROLLERS’ WITH FANS—ReShonda Tate Billingsley with Laura Fuller and Charlotte Robinson at Joseph Beth Booksellers.

This is the 20th title for the author. Her first was self-published back in 2000 and was titled “My Brother’s Keeper.” She got her hustle on and sold 13,000 copies of her first book and in 2003 Simon and Schuster picked her up and re-released “My Brother’s Keeper.” As far as selling 13,000 copies it didn’t hurt that Billingsley disguised her voice and called bookstores looking for her own titles. Many of the stores thought, “Wow, a lot of people are asking for that book, we better get it in.” The book launch for “Holy Rollers” was a delight held at the new location of Joseph-Beth Booksellers in the SouthSide Works. The store has moved to the old Z Gallery location.

Fans turned out and listened to wonderful stories about how the author used to make up stories, she says her mother called it lying. One year after summer vacation her teacher instructed the class to write about their time off from school. Bill­ingsley wrote about drive by shootings and the mayhem in her neighborhood. Once the teacher read the essay she reached out to her mother to offer help. Her mother informed the teacher that her daughter had embellished her summer, which was actually spent at camp and that she lived a very middle class life.

The “lies” soon paid off. Her first paying gig was a story for True Confessions magazine titled, “I Stole My Sister’s Husband.” At the time she was only 15 and couldn’t cash the check because she couldn’t let her mother know she wrote for such a tawdry magazine. Topping that story was her stint at the National Enquirer as a photographer making $93,000 a year. Her mom didn’t want people to know she was working for a tabloid so she told friends she worked for a top secret organization. ReShonda Tate Billingsley was a delight, in 2007 she became a full-time writer. Her book “Let The Church Say Amen” will become a feature film and will be the directorial debut for Regina King.

Tate Billingsley also pens a teen series called the “Good Girlz Series.” She has three children ages 3, 8 and 10 and one very supportive husband who bought her first computer so she would get busy writing her books.

How did she get the idea for “Holy Rollers?” She was in Atlanta in a hotel and noticed so many young Black women wearing short skirts, showing cleavage, some wearing hats and some with Bibles. She asked what was going on, and found there was a ministers conference being held in the hotel.

Not only is ReShonda busy writing seven more books, she is the co-host of the literary talk show, “From Cover to Cover “on KPFT in Houston, check her out at www. fromcovertocovershow.com.

(Email the columnist at deb­bie­norrell@aol.com.)

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