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Virginia DeBerry is the co-author of bestselling novels: Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made, Far From the Tree, Better Than I Know Myself and the re-released Exposures, (written as Marie Joyce) originally published in 1990 by Warner Books. In January 2008, Gotta Keep on Tryin’, the sequel to Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made was published by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster.
Virginia, born in Wadesboro, NC, is a former high school English teacher from Buffalo, New York. She attended Fisk University and is a graduate of State University of New York at Buffalo. After almost 10 years in the classroom, she moved to New York and started a successful career as a plus-size model. She was frequently featured in catalogs, advertising, magazines and appeared on several television programs including Today.
During this time she met co-author, Donna Grant, who was also a plus size model vying for the same assignments. Their modeling careers led to the opportunity to launch Maxima, a fashion and lifestyle magazine for plus-size women, where Virginia was editor-in-chief and Donna the managing editor. When publication of Maxima ceased, Virginia and Donna decided to try writing a book together. Virginia and Donna, best friends for more than 25 years, have turned a friendship into the most successful collaboration to date in African-American fiction.
Their first effort, Exposures was published under the pseudonym Marie Joyce (for Donna Marie and Virginia Joyce). It was also published in Spain as Instantaneas. Their next book, written as DeBerry and Grant, was Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made, which was a critical success, an Essence Magazine Bestseller, as are all three of their books, and won the Merit Award for Fiction from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, as well as the 1998 Book of the Year Award from the Blackboard Bestseller List/African American Booksellers Conference-Book Expo America. More than that, it hit an emotional nerve with tens of thousands of readers from all over the world who continue to write to Virginia and Donna ten years after the book's publication. Far From the Tree became a New York Times Bestseller, and Better Than I Know Myself received two Open Book Awards, and was included on the Best African-American fiction of 2004 lists of both Borders and WaldenBooks.
In addition to speaking at book fairs and literary festivals around the country for the past eight years, Virginia and Donna have been keynote, motivational/inspirational speakers and served on panels for a wide variety of meetings, organizations, companies, churches, cultural and educational institutions, including: DELL North America, Women Work!, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Speaking of Women's Health (Procter & Gamble) & the Texas Conference for Women. Their honest and powerful messages have received praise from literary, business and academic audiences. They have also appeared on CNN, Good Day New York and been featured on the pages of Essence Magazine, Glamour (magazine), American Woman, and Black Issues Book Review.
Last year, Donna and Virginia joined with partners Tyrha Lindsey and Tracey Kemble to form 4 Colored Girls Productions. The movie Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made, based on their 1997 novel, was their first independent feature. Their next novel was What Doesn’t Kill You.
Virginia is the daughter of Juanita DeBerry and the late John L. DeBerry II. She also has a sister, Valerie DeBerry and a brother, Dr. John L. DeBerry III. Virginia lives in New Jersey.
Exposures (as Marie Joyce), Warner Books/Popular Library (New York, NY),1990, BackinPrint (iUniverse)2005.
Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made, St. Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Far from the Tree, St. Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Better Than I Know Myself, St. Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Gotta Keep On Tryin’: A Novel (sequel to Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2008.
What Doesn’t Kill You: A Novel, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2009.
Black Caucus of the American Library Association, showing Virginia Deberry & Donna Grant as 1998 recipients of a BCALA Honor Award in fiction for Tryin'. http://www.bcala.org/awards/past_litwinners2.htm
BlackBoard 1998 Book of the Year Winners—Award presented at BookExpo, the Book and Author Breakfast, Sunday May 31, 1998, McCormack Place Convention Center, Chicago, IL(Tryin' was the largest selling hardcover work of African American fiction for 1997)
Go on Girl Book Club, 1997 New Author of the Year Award, (click on Award Winners Hall of Fame)
African American Literary Awards Show—Open Book Award, September 29, 2004,
Glamour (magazine)—an article about Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant appeared in the Between Friends column, January 1997 issue, pg 104. The article is titled "Friend Power"
Essence Magazine—February 1997—Word Star column pg 56
Black Issues Book Review, Sept-Oct 2000, Partners in Their Prime by Sharon Fitzgerald (pg 64-66)
Fox After Breakfast—Feb 6, 1997
Good Day New York—Feb 9, 1997
Contemporary Authors New Revision (CANR)Gale (Cengage)
Black Issues Book Review, January 2001, Robyn Moore, review of Far from the Tree, p. 23; May–June 2004, Kalyn Johnson, review of Better Than I Know Myself,p. 46.
Booklist, July 2000, Lillian Lewis, review of Far from the Tree, p. 1972.
Essence Magazine, November 2000, review of Far from the Tree, p. 82.
Library Journal, November 15, 2007, Laurie A. Cavanaugh, review of Gotta Keep On Tryin’: A Novel, p. 48.
People (magazine), September 11, 2000, Julie K.L. Dam, review of Far from the Tree, p. 59.
Publishers Weekly, August 21, 2000, review of Far from the Tree, p. 47; October 8, 2007, review of Gotta Keep On Tryin’, p. 36.
School Library Journal, March 2001, Joyce Fay Fletcher, review of Far from the Tree, p. 281.
Best Reviews, http://thebestreviews.com/ (June 12, 2004), Harriet Klausner,review of Better Than I Know Myself.
BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (August 30, 2008), Arlene McKanic, review of Better Than I Know Myself.
Curled Up with a Good Book, http://curledup.com/ (August 30, 2008), Joan Burke Stanford, review of Gotta Keep On Tryin’.
Page One, http://conniebriscoe.com/ (February 13, 2008), Connie Briscoe, interview with DeBerry and Grant.
Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant Home Page, http://www.deberryandgrant.com/ (August 30, 2008), author profile.*