Tell us about yourself and your books.:
Writing has always been a passion for me. For the thirty-five years that I taught elementary and middle school, reading and writing were the anchors for motivating my students. As a retired teacher, reading and writing also motivate me. Presently, I’m writing a series entitled Chronicles of the Hamlet of Sipsey. It’s so title because of my love and fascination for C.S. Lewis’s series, Chronicles of the Narnia. My series is about an African-American community in a small Alabama town set in the 1960s. The church is the center of community life and the characters are intertwined in poignant and sometimes humorous ways. The first two novels in the series, The Burden of Sweetberry and God’s Sacred Feast are completed and on sale at Amazon.com. Fury of the Scorned is the third novel and will be published in November, 2018.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I write very early in the morning and very late at night. I listen to music as I write. If my characters are sad, I listen to Lionel Ritchie, Bobby Blue Bland or Brook Benton. If my characters are happy, I listen to Pharrell Williams, Beyonce, Patti Labelle and Whiteny Houston. If they’re in crazy mood I listen to rap. If they’re pining over love, I listen to Coca Taylor or Luther Vandross. I listen to gospel music on Sundays and take my characters to church.
What authors have influenced you?
C.S. Lewis is favorite as a brilliant writer of Children’s Books. Maya Angelou is a favorite as is Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and Terry McMillan. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran has been an enduring influence on my life as well as my writing. I read Gone with the Wind about every three years, and I reference it often because it is very instructive concerning White and Black Southern culture. I use Frank Yerby as a reference, and I also read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and just about anything that Oprah Winfrey recommends.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
My advice to new writers is to embrace every experience as a learning tool. There is value in everything and everybody. Work on your writing everyday if it’s only a sentence or paragraph. Write, proofread, rewrite, revise, review over and over again. Remember, when in doubt, leave it out.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
My first writing teacher said, “Write what you know.”
What are you reading now?
I’m reading Light, Bright, And Damn Near White by Michelle Gordon Jackson.
What’s your biggest weakness?
What is your favorite book of all time?
1. The Dohomean by Frank Yerby
2. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
5. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
What has inspired you and your writing style?
The community in West Alabama that I grew up in has been my greatest inspiration. The style of speaking, singing, worshipping, even the humor was rhythmic and consistent. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings showed me that my culture was beautiful and worth writing about.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on Fury of the Scorned, the third book in the series, Chronicles of the Hamlet of Sipsey.
What is your method for promoting your work?
I announce my books in churches, through my sorority’s magazine, and on local radio stations. I work with book clubs. I have book signings. I run press releases. I promote on Facebook, twitter, and I use paid promotion sites.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I take it one day at a time. I’m overwhelmed at the support that my books have received. I’d like to expand my work through plays and the spoken word. Those are future goals.
How well do you work under pressure?
I rarely feel pressured. But I do try to keep to a reasonable schedule.
How do you decide what tone to use with a particular piece of writing?
I usually know where I want a story to go. Often, the characters tell me how they want to get there.
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