Friday, March 19, 2010

Interview with LaConnie Taylor-Jones

Tell us all about you, the author. And then tell us about the person behind the author. 

From the author side, I’ve published three full-length novels. In 2008, I was the recipient of the 2008 Romance Slam Jam Emma Award for Debut Author of the Year for my debut novel, When I’m With You, that was published in 2007. I released my second novel, When a Man Loves a Woman in 2008 and back by popular demand, my latest new novel, If I Were Your Woman, was release March 4, 2010.

On the personal side, I hail from Memphis, Tennessee. For the past twenty years, I’ve worked by day as a health educator consultant. By night, I’m full time president, taxi driver, cook, pot washer, referrer and mother to the four Jones kids.

How long have you been writing and what has the experience been like for you?

In the summer of 2003, I seized the opportunity to blend my enthusiasm for teaching health, social responsibility and social justice with my love for reading the romance genre and a multitude of storylines began. However, four years came and went before my debut novel was published in November 2007.

Do you credit anyone with helping along the way to becoming a writer?

Without a doubt my author mentor, Beverly Jenkins.

What motivates you to write?

The inspiration for my stories comes from my experience as a health educator. For the past twenty years, I’ve taught health education to African Americans in community-based settings. Oftentimes, before I present a lecture, I find myself interfacing with students and listening to the soci-economic deterrents they face.

How does writing affect you in other areas of your life?

No book is worth sacrificing the relationship I have with family or anyone else who is important in my life. Therefore, I’ve learn to put my writing in perspective. I never allow my personal time to interfere with writing time and vice versa.

Do you write full time or part time?

A writer is someone who writes stories. An author is someone who sells books. Therefore, I consider myself to be a full-time author.

How long did it take to write If I Were Your Woman?

I wrote this book during an extremely challenging period in my life. Three weeks after signing the contract for this title, my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. For six months while we went to chemo three days a week, I lugged my laptop with me and wrote. I didn’t realize it then, but the personal experience of dealing with cancer enabled me to become a better writer and tell this story from a much deeper perspective.

Sadly, my husband lost his fight on January 13, 2009. Despite the tremendous void in my life, I’ll always be eternally grateful and remember the thirty-five wonderful years we were blessed to spend together.

As far as marketing, do you do more online publicity or print/radio/TV promotion? What seems to work best for you? Feel free to share any publicity tips you might have.

The publishing world has definitely transitioned into the digital revolution. Therefore, I find that my marketing is exclusively on-line.

How would you describe your writing style and how did you come up with it?

When I first began my writing career, ‘unique voice’, ‘interesting story premise’, and ‘strong characterization’ kept popping up. Did I know what any of this meant? Uuh…didn’t have a clue. Interesting story premise, huh? Hmmm…let’s see. What if I took a real-life issue and put a romantic spin to it? And since a romance novel centers on the love between two people and provides an optimistic ending, the only thing I needed to do was connect the dots.

What is your writing process like?

It begins when I stumble down the stairs, groping in semi-darkness for my best friend, the coffee pot. The illuminated numbers indicate one o’clock in the morning. The duties of mother, maid, cook, chauffer, doctor, business owner and referrer have ended, and it’s the right time for me to write!!

Tell us about your book(s) in as many words as you'd like.

WHEN I’M WITH YOU - When your life has been terrorized by violence, how do you manage to go forward, looking over your shoulder at every turn? This is the daily question that haunts Caitlyn Thompson. Caitlyn is soon to meet the man who will make her want to stop running, want to trust and love again; Marcel Baptiste. It will take a will of iron and a courage she didn’t know she possessed to battle her fears and open up to the wealthy entrepreneur. But when violence comes knocking again, will she have the courage to face her biggest nightmare?

WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN - Nursing administrator Victoria Bennett has soured on love. She has sworn off men; they bring too much drama and too much pain into her life. That is, until she meets pediatrician A. J. Baptiste, a single parent who is determined to woo her. A. J. will stop at nothing to have her, and Victoria finds her resolve put to the test…but is this a fight she really wants to win? 

IF I WERE YOUR WOMAN - Tinsel Town is about to learn a few lessons from a Southern doctor with the courage to win the heart of a man who swore no woman ever would. If it doesn’t have a scientific basis, Dr. Laney Olivia Houston doesn’t believe in it —and that includes love at first sight. But she meets Raphael Baptiste. One encounter is all it takes; and she realizes her life is changed forever. Jazz musician, Raphael Baptist is no stranger to women or their beds. When an illness strikes, his life is thrown into turmoil. But the quiet Southern belle sees beyond his past and bitterness. She sees a man who could love. . .

How do you come up with the titles for your books? What about the character names and topics? Why did you choose to write on these specific topics?

In all three cases, I wrote the story first, then selected a title I felt captured the essence of the story. As for the character names, there really wasn’t a method to the madness.

I would say my experience as a health educator played a pivotal role relative to the premise of each story.

What's coming up next for you? (Upcoming books)

Currently, I’m working on a couple of romantic suspense plots

Where is your book available and where can we find you online to learn more about you or your book?

Readers can click on the link of each title for more information:

When I’m With You

When A Man Loves A Woman

If I Were Your Woman

Last question, I've read "If I Were Your Woman," and I'd love to interview you live. Would you do me the honor?

Absolutely!!! Give me a date and time and you’ve got yourself an interview.
A word from Vee:  Awesome!  I know you're promoting like crazy right now, so I'll give you a minute to catch your breath and I'll be in touch very soon.  And thank you so much for stopping by VJBS.  I've got nothing but love for ya.  Peace, my friend.  I wish you so much success.

If I Were Your Woman official book trailor:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Q&A with Author, DD Turner

DD Turner, Author of
The Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend:
Paths of Grand Wizardry

1) Tell us about yourself?

My name is Derrick Turner, writing under the pseudonym of D.D. Turner. I am from Brooklyn, New York but currently reside with my wife and three sons in Houston, Texas. While this is my first novel, I have pre-existing experience with public writing on a local level in NYC; some of my past experiences are music reviews for independent publications, press release campaigns for new/existing artists, program-pitch campaigns, and comic books.

2) Tell us about Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend, Paths of Grand Wizardry?

Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend details the story of a teenage boy who proudly professes his love and support for the culture of Hip Hop. However, he is unaware of the genealogical link that he has with an ancient African civilization that has sowed the seeds for the Hip Hop ideal several thousand years prior. With the current state of Hip Hop suffering as a result of the evil efforts of an opposing group, the teenage boy is given the task of going head-to-head with the opposition with a specific goal of saving the very culture that his ancient ancestors created.

3) For the culture of Hip Hop, this is an unexplored area up until now. How did you come up with the premise for the story?

I always like to say that I didn't come up with the story, but, that God gave it to me. It was 1999 and I had just voluntarily ended my employment with a dot com; On my last day of employment, I was sitting in my truck in the Wall Street area of NYC waiting for my fiancĂ© to end her day at work. While waiting, I revisited LL Cool J’s “Mr. Smith” album and on this particular day, track number 3 entitled “Hip Hop” resonated with me in a special way. During the full several minute length of that song, God provided me with a detailed, yet basic, description of the story. As soon as I got home, I got to work on a treatment for the story which would be delivered using the graphic/visual medium. After pitching the idea to some close friends that would be integral in the development of the story, we got to work on the first issue of the comic book. The first issue was released locally in NYC in late 1999. As always, I’m extremely thankful to God for speaking this into my heart and mind...Good lookin’ heavenly father!! I’m also thankful to LL Cool J for penning that song; it truly served as the vessel by which God’s plans came to me…Goodlookin’ big homie!

4) Tell us about the characters?

Characteristics of each character come from people that I have either come across, or are currently present in my life. Cris,who serves as the protagonist, has a lot of personal characteristics that come from myself as a teenager. And to be honest, some that I wish I had as a teenager. In the instance of Roger “Feedback” Cromwell, who serves as the antagonist, this cat is unlike anybody that I've ever encountered, but what I would imagine the most unforgiving, vile, evil, and cold person to be like. However, Feedback’s evil ways are not arbitrary. In fact, as you come to find out, he has influences that are well beyond his control and contribute largely to his horrid disposition. There are a host of other characters in the story that I am sure all readers will be able to identify with.

5) What will the readers get from the story?

Over the years, Hip Hop has been saddled with a bad reputation; this is largely a result of the street tales and misogynistic messages that have become mainstream in Rap music. But beneath this surface exists a rich culture that has been responsible for the success of many and has been the single most successful instance of a sub-culture responsible for easing the tension amidst race relations in our country. The Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend literary series merely aims to expand upon this success; it provides a family friendly, fantasy-fiction work that delves into the rich culture of Hip Hop from a fictional perspective.Additionally and certainly not least important, it hopes to provide a resolve to the problems concerning literacy, particularly in those communities across the globe where the problem is most prevalent. Using relevance, it looks to provide encouragement to learn how to read, read better, or simply, read more.

6) For those of your readers that might be interested in exploring the area of creative writing,might you have some suggestions for them?

By no means, do I profess to be a popular Novelist with years of experience, but, I do know that there are some things that are fundamentally applicable. Check out my suggestions:

  • Write what interests you not what mainstream dictates. The scope of readers’ interests span far and wide.Therefore, there will always be someone that will express interest and read your story.

  • Allow yourself to be uninhibited when writing…The creative thought process knows no boundaries. If restrained,your creative thought process will abstain.

  • Forget about the editing/correction process when writing. They’ll be plenty of time for that when the work is completed.

  • Do it for the love of writing and not for the love of money.
7) Was there a specific incident that pushed you towards exploring writing (a novel) as an option?

How’d you know?! After writing, developing, and self-distributing the story as a comic book, my partners and I took a hiatus. My Wife and I began to start our family and some of my partners also experienced similar life changing events. We all agreed that sustainability of our families was that main priority. During the hiatus, I continued to write installments of the series, as well as play around developmentally with the work. In 2006, with only three of us remaining, we decided to embark on the journey again. As we were getting ready to start the sketch production for the installment, my childhood friend, who handled all of our art direction and drawings, became gravelly ill and was unable to proceed with his contributions. When it had become evident that a recovery was not realistic, I began to seek an alternate medium to keep the story alive…I began writing Paths of Grand Wizardry (first installment of the Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend literary series) in July and had a 32 chapter manuscript completed by the end of November…My friend died in January. Paths of Grand Wizardry is dedicated to his memory.

8) We often hear humble stories of self-published authors when they embark on this journey of literary authorship. What might be one of your most notable stories?

There are quite a bit but most are from the early days when the work was a comic book. My comrades and I had a lot of great times and misadventures. A notable occasion that stands out after the book was completed was what appeared to be my never ending quest to secure the services of a literary agent. I’m sure every author that has attempted to get an agent interested in their work can empathize with this experience…Straight up, it sucks! But for those of you that are embarking on this journey for the first time, I urge you to let that not be the source of your discouragement. Continue to press on. Your efforts will not go unrecognized…Word is born!

9) What might be your ultimate goal to achieve as an author?

To become an author that is world renowned for his style of writing and to write work that will leave a lasting impression.

10) What's coming up for D.D. Turner?

The list is rather long but I’ll keep it short and relevant. I am a firm believer in keeping multiple irons in the fire and striking with which ever one becomes red-hot first.

  • Currently working on the second installment of the series; tentatively entitled “Cipher and the Lost Relic of Alkebulan.”
  • Continue to develop the sub-plot of the third installment. Sub title not created as of yet.

  • Continue to explore the option of having the first installment of the series available as an audio book.

  • Down the line, looking to generate enough interest world-wide to leverage the opportunity to license translation rights to foreign publishers. I’d like the story to be available in other countries in the respective language.

  • Solicit interest in adapting the story to film.

  • Continue to work tirelessly to have the book available in every market throughout the country and subsequently throughout the world.

The Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend
DD Turner
Xlibris Corporation (February 5, 2008)
$19.99 US; ISBN-10: 1425796931
A word from Vee:
DD, I would like to thank you for stopping by VJBS.
Talking about a breath of fresh air.
You've inspired me.
Peace, love, light and success to you, my friend.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Chicken or the Egg, and what's that got to do with blogging?

Okay, so it's been forever since I've blogged.
It's not that I haven't been inspired, but the inspiration usually comes when I'm no where near a computer. Of course I'll tell myself, "Now don't forget to blog about this," or "this would be perfect to blog about," and then just forget about it totally.

I sit here now as uninspired as can be. Nothing witty, philosophical, meaningful, enlightening, awe-inspiring, or even comical to talk about. I guess it's just another regular old day. lol. Even though I do love those too. But I as type I'm wondering which came first, the chicken or the egg? I guess you'd ask, "what does that have to do with blogging?" But I'm wondering if you should wait to be inspired to write, or if you should write while you're waiting to be inspired.
So I'm just gonna continue typing and maybe when I'm done, I'll know the answer to my question.

I watched the movie, Julie & Julia the other day. It didn't end like I wanted it to, but being that it was based on a true story, I guess that's life, huh? And life is gonna do what it does...surprise, change, rearrange, evolve, sometimes even disappoint, but never just what you want it to do. And Thank God, right? But I liked the movie. It was cute as can be. And I was still left inspired and even a little hungry too. I think I fell in love with Julia Child. She was too funny, and like a lot other great people, she was definitely before her time. I'm going to have study up on her a little more.

Oh, you know what? I have a cousin, Bianka Brunson, who is going to in a major motion picture this year. That is definitely worth talking about. Matter of fact, it's worth a post of it's own, so I'll be blogging about this very soon. But In Our lady of Victory, which is set to be released in March of 2010, Bianka is sharing the screen with Hollywood heavy weight and Academy Award winner, Ellen Burstyn, Carla Gugino, and David Boreanaz. Boy, if I were a jealous person, I would be sooooo green right now. Acting was the thing I grew up wanting to do. But for Bianka, all I have is love and adoration. I can't wait to see this movie.

Well that's about all for now. Still feeling uninspired. Still don't know the answer to my question, but one thing I do know is if you just happen to get hit with a bit of inspiration or creativity, stop right then and write it down, record it, or something. Inspiration is direct communication from the Mighty One. And if He feels you're not listening to Him, well maybe it would be easier for Him to just be talking to someone else.

Peace, Love, & Light.