Right this second Black women all around the country are discussing Steve Harvey's relationship book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" - as we have been since it hit bookshelves in January. And along with Harvey and his loyal radio listeners who inspired the book, we have to thank crazy-in-love ESSENCE contributing writer and author Denene Millner who helped Harvey shape his thoughts into knowledgeable nuggets for our love lives. We asked and the Atlanta wife and mother answered questions on that plagiarism claim, the joy of entering the male mind and if that 90 day rule is really necessary.
ESSENCE.COM: Congrats on the book's success! What made you decide to collaborate with Steve Harvey to help women in love?
DENENE MILLNER: When I first met Steve to discuss working together on this book, he had a list of about 17 chapter topics he wanted to write about--all of them no-nonsense, common sense, humorous takes on how men view relationships. I admit I found them refreshing. All too often, we turn to our girlfriends or our moms or other women for advice on how to deal with men, not realizing that going straight to the source--men--sometimes can be more helpful in negotiating the opposite sex. My husband, Nick Chiles and I wrote a number of relationship books together, and what we found was that women were thirsty to hear directly from men. I knew that Steve Harvey had a good, solid message to share, and I wanted to use my knowledge and skills as a relationship author to help him bring his message to those who were willing to receive it.
ESSENCE.COM: What's the top response you get from women and men on the book?
MILLNER: Everyone seems to be bowled over by the fact that it's been featured on Oprah twice, and they want to know why I wasn't on there with Ms. Winfrey. (laughs) They also want to know if I had if Steve is as funny behind the scenes as he is on stage. And, finally, they want to know if I've seen all the Internet buzz about the author who claims Steve plagarized her work. My answers to those questions: I wasn't invited; yes, Steve is funny as hell and; I'm 18 books deep in my career, and have worked for and written for countless magazines, specifically about relationships. I didn't know about this woman or her book until she showed up on the Internet a few weeks ago accusing me and my co-author of stealing her words. Trust: I have never, nor do I need to, steal my work from anyone.
ESSENCE.COM: Now, is the 90 day rule for "benefits" in a relationship really necessary?
MILLNER: (laughs) It sure wouldn't hurt to hold back giving yourself so wholly to a man without first knowing what his intentions are for you and your relationship. If you're just interested in being with a guy just to be with him, no strings attached, that's on you. But be very clear about what you're doing: Sleeping with him before you know him will not help you get the relationship you want or deserve. This isn't you holding out just to be holding out. It's about making sure the guy is right for you. The wait is worth it. Love is to be nurtured, protected, and respected, and entered into with a clear mind and a sound heart. Everyone deserves good love. And you can find it, too.