*Those that are fans of Steve Harvey’s syndicated morning radio show know of her, and even the more recent fans culled from the ‘Steve Harvey Project’ on BET’s Centric network might be familiar with her as well. She dishes advice straight from the heart, and seldom sounds like a snooty know it all, on her segment “The Strawberry Letter.”

Though she has made a career for herself by being giving advice in support of Mr. Harvey’s various media offerings, Shirley Strawberry steps out and gets her own part of the sunshine with her new book “The Strawberry Letter: Real Talk, Real Advice, Because Bitterness Isn’t Sexy.”

Lee Bailey and Shirley recently had a chat in support of her new book.  Here’s what went down.

“In the show, we would get so many heartbreaking letters from women who were in horrible relationships with these men. They thought they were good men at first and something happened and it turned out that he was not the man of their dreams. More often the man of their nightmares.” explained Strawberry of a certain type of letter she often receives. She went on to tell us how Steve managed to release a relationship book before her. After all, isn’t she supposed to be the relationship ‘expert?’ “Steve really saw a need with all of the women calling in and he would tease them all the time and say how he would write a book. He finally sat down and wrote the book and I know that he wrote it because I was there first hand at the writing sessions.”

(Scroll down to learn how you can WIN an autographed copy of “The Strawberry Letter: Real Talk, Real Advice, Because Bitterness Isn’t Sexy.”)

Ok, Steve wrote a book about relationships, and it was pretty well received. But Strawberry tells EURweb that she never thought about writing a book. As a matter of fact, it was the common man and woman on the street that convinced her.

“Nobody asked me to write a book,” stated Shirley.  “I get that question over and over again. Even after Steve wrote his book I never had any intentions to write a book. But people kept asking me. So, I said I’d do it.  I just didn’t necessarily believe that people wanted to hear what I had to say.  I had to hear it a lot of times. People really had to convince me to do it. There was some reluctance on my part. I’m glad I did now that it’s done. I respect all authors and writers because it’s not an easy thing to do.  It’s very cathartic. You have a certain sense of accomplishment when you do it. I’m very happy that I did.”

And we’re certain fans of your signature brand of advice are happy that you got through it Ms. Strawberry. Prior to completing the book Shirley was perhaps sideswiped again when two major publishing house came knocking.

“Random House came to me and they asked me to write a book,” she explained. “They wanted to hear my side.  Harper Collins (publisher of Steve Harvey’s book) asked me to write a book too, but I didn’t want to do it with them.  I kind of wanted to do it on my own. That would have been a great bid and I know they would have taken great care of me, but I kind of wanted to do it on my own.”

As you may already know, Shirley is not a writer herself and had to enlist the considerable talents of author Lyah Beth LeFlore.  She coudn’t have picked a better writer for this particular project if she tried.

“Lyah Beth LeFlore, she’s a writer. She’s written like six or seven books. She’s a lovely, talented writer. Originally out of St. Louis. She wrote the book with Eddie Levert and his son Gerald.  She also wrote “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life.” I just loved her spirit. I loved the type of person she sounded like over the phone, because I still hadn’t met her yet.    It’s like we just had kindred spirits,” gushed Strawberry.

As far as advice books go, relationship books have to be to be the toughest to pen. That’s because nobody has a perfect relationship, ever!  Shirley’s no different, but that shouldn’t disqualify her from writing the book.  She told Lee that she needs extra convincing when being courted.

“It’s no secret that I’m single. It’s interesting … a man would have to knock me down to get me to realize that he was interested in me.  That’s kind of crazy, not literally, but he would have to really come strong with his hunting skills. I would really have to be convinced. If you’re interested in dating me, anyone who might be reading this, have your hunting skills. I wrote a letter to myself in the book. My advise to myself was ‘I need to get out more, meet people. When people ask you to go out, get up and go out. That’s how you meet people. They don’t come and knock on your door and that’s your husband right there.'”

Though she has written the book Strawberry says she has some difficulty following her own advice. Lee jokingly called her out on it.

“I’m trying Lee, I’m hard headed,” she laughed. “My Mom used to ask me why my head was so hard. I should say it’s easier sometimes to be a coach than a player. I mean it’s easier to give people advice than to take advice yourself. You get into this pattern or this mode where you want to help everybody, but when it comes to me…?  I’m doing better and getting out more. I’m going to a party tomorrow.”

And what can readers expect?

“It’s a compilation of some of the show’s favorite letters from our listeners,” said Shirley. “It’s advice from me based on those letters and I recall situations from my past as well. No, (as I said,)I’m not in a relationship now but I have been in the past and I see the signs. Basically it’s a book about loving yourself.”

And what is the one piece of advice she wants folks – and herself – to take away from the book?

“If you get another day there’s another chance to be better. Consider this a blessing because your here. Each day that you’re here is another chance. I’m single, but that doesn’t mean that I have to be bitter, depressed and mean and desperate. I can still be happy where I am, but I can also work to improve and do better and show others how to work and do better.”

When asked what letter stood out to her the most Strawberry offered up a sordid tale that actually didn’t make the book.

“It’s interesting because the one that stands out to me didn’t make the book.  There was this one crazy letter from a woman who said her husband was so overweight that he had problems cleaning himself.  Whenever he had a cleaning problem he would call her, and she was just fed up with it.  I told her to run for the hills. Actually I told her, short of any medical condition her husband might have, she and her husband really needed to sit down and work this thing out. If he’s obese then they really needed to start working on the diet plan and go from there. That was demeaning for her to have to do that. C’mon now, let’s be real. Who wants to do that?”

Though it may appear as Shirley Strawberry and Steve Harvey are quick-witted and have great answers of rapid fire, Strawberry tells EURweb that it’s nothing of the sort.

“Sometimes I struggle with the answers. I’m not a psychologist, nor is Steve. We just give common sense, homespun, sometimes comedic answers.   Sometimes it’s just you’re stupid.  C’mon, let’s not be this stupid.  Sometimes there are letters we don’t have an answer to. If I don’t know we just say ‘I don’t know.’  We don’t have all the answers. Sometime it’s a simple as ‘You need God, this is way over our head.’  I just want people to love their lives and just start wherever they are.  Start wherever you are and go from there.”

“The Strawberry Letter” was released yesterday (April 5, 2011) on Ballantine Books, a division of Random House. It’s not just a relationship book, though it’s sometimes billed that way. It’s Shirley Strawberry’s tips on how to have a happier life. And as much as she laughs and smiles you might want to heed, even if it’s just a bit.

Read excerpts from the “Strawberry Letter” and get MORE info HERE.



WIN an Autographed Copy of The Strawberry Letter: Real Talk, Real Advice, Because Bitterness Isn’t Sexy!

That’s right. EURweb, Ballantine Books and Shirley Strawberry have hooked up to give five (5) lucky fans a chance to win an autographed copy of Shirley’s book “The Strawberry Letter: Real Talk, Real Advice, Because Bitterness Isn’t Sexy!”

To win, all you have to do is send an email to [email protected]. Put Strawberry Letter in the subject line. Also, make sure you include your age, complete mailing address and phone number(s). That’s it. We’ll choose 5 winners at random. Contest ends at midnight April 13, 2011.