Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
For the past decade, I have promoted authors and books on various social media platforms and website. I started with MySpace was as popular and pervasive as SnapChat is now. (A looooooong time ago…)
Fast forward to 2014, and I wanted to write and publish more. Up until that year, I kept saying what I was gonna do. The years kept passing me by. I started studying the craft of writing and began to figure out how to combine my creative and imagination with solid storytelling practices.
Even through the "unit of currency" in the book world seems to be "the novel," I didn't have a desire to write a 40,000- to 80,000-word story. I began writing short stories because a reader can get in and out in a reasonable amount of time.
At the time of this interview, I have published 4 short stories, a novelette and a short Twitter guide. I also bundled the novelette and two of the short stories together because they are set in the same neighborhood and share a character between the three stories.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is named "The Legend of Tanisha Biggers." Tanisha Biggers is the main character, and this story puts her smack dab in the middle of a mess she had no parts in creating.
This story is a spinoff of "Swiggers: a short story," and flips the dynamics around. In "Swiggers," Teddy was the main character and Tanisha plays a minor role in that story. In "The Legend of Tanisha Biggers," Tanisha is the obvious focus, but Teddy's presence is felt beyond the grave.
I also wanted to continue what I started in "Cardinal Rule: a short story," which is writing about complex Black female characters. In "Cardinal Rule," Earline Jones is the female lead who is anything but a damsel in distress. Without being rude, she's able to match wits with the comical Teddy. In "The Legend of Tanisha Biggers," I wanted it to be lead by a strong Black woman who has a sense of her family and her history amidst a lot of confusion and turmoil.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
When I have the idea, but the words aren't flowing, my go-to weapon of choice is Mountain Dew and Chocolate with Almonds. Once I get a little that in my system and the buzz set in, the words start flowing and the keyboard starts clicking.
I have full conversations with my characters – sometimes out loud. Many times, they tell me things about the story that I wouldn't have thought to include. For "The Legend of Tanisha Biggers," Tanisha and Vida gave me a lot of insight into how they work individually and collectively within the context of the story. Tanisha told me how she traces her lineage back to her neighborhood's 200 years of history. Tanisha's best friend Vida gave me so much information about the present-day neighborhood of Black Haven that some of the info will be used to build two new stories in that fictitious neighborhood.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
The guys at the Self Publishing Podcast inspire me with their "can-do" attitude. The "Indie Author State of the Union" books for 2015 and 2016 by Michael La Ronn influenced me to push forward with publishing.
"The Insecure Writer's Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond" helped me gain the confidence I need to "just do it." Prior to reading through that ebook, I was constantly second- and triple-guessing myself. My writing partner and author Faydra D. Fields has been a very positive influence on me in terms of getting my stories out there. I currently use her publishing service, SolaPress.com, to release my ebooks.
In a more generic sense, seeing published authors of varying levels of success and popularity on social media all doing what they love motivates me to do my best while loving every minute of it. I take that back. Writing/Publishing/Marketing is hard, hard, hard…
What are you working on now?
Right now, I'm in between writing projects. I'm marketing "The Legend of Tanisha Biggers" and formulating my next few stories in my head. I have quite a few stories planned for the Black Haven neighborhood and characters. I'm excited to keep that momentum going.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
One of the best methods of promotion in this age of Social Media 3.0 is recording video of yourself talking about your book. This video can be about any aspect of the story. The main point is to be yourself and let your potential readers get a feel for your energy. People buy from people.
Getting out and going to book conferences is a great way to promote your book. It's one thing to connect with a reader through the Internet. Person-to-person can be much more fulfilling.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
You have to find that fine line between writing a "solid" story and writing "your" story. There are things that only you will do in terms of writing a story. Don't be afraid of that. Embrace it. In the long-run, the author is the variable that changes the outcome. If you are afraid, your writing will be stagnant and familiar in a bad way. If you face your fears and past them, your writing will connect with readers in ways you've never imagined.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Do your research. There is so much (conflicting) information out there, and it's your job to find what will work for you.
What are you reading now?
I'm not reading anything in particular at the moment. I'm reading mostly nonfiction stuff about book promotion, marketing and social media.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I am going to continue honing my style and pushing my boundaries. I look forward to bringing to life more stories from Black Haven and also fleshing out other storylines and characters.
What is your favorite book of all time?
I have a hard time picking an absolute favorite. For the sake of brevity, "The 48 Law of Power" is my favorite book.