Sunday, December 20, 2009
1. Tell us about yourself? My name is Judy Bagshaw and I write romantic fiction, most of which features full-figured heroines. I was an elementary school teacher for 28 years and retired in 2005 to devote myself to writing full-time. When I’m not writing, I work as an editor for a small independent publisher, read voraciously, spend time with my elderly mother and my brother and his family, cook, read and play piano. I’m an avid television fan, currently hooked on True Blood, Dollhouse, Madmen, and Fringe.
2. How long have you been writing? The simple answer is, all my life. But I really didn’t start writing with the intent to be published one day, until the early 90’s. Over the years I took a variety of writing courses and workshops, honing my craft.
3. What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I’m not really sure. Ours was a household of avid readers, so I’m sure that played a big part. I liked nothing better than to discover a great new story. And creative writing was always a favourite subject throughout my school years. I had a vivid imagination as a child, and clearly remember “borrowing” my Mom’s old portable typewriter to pound out stories in my room. I think I attempted my first novel at age 10. If I remember correctly, I got to about chapter four before running out of steam, or getting side-tracked.
4. How long have you been writing books with plus size characters? It has always been important to me to feature realistic looking heroines in my stories. As a reader, it annoyed me that all romance heroines seemed cookie-cutter, and none looked like me at all!
5. Why did you choose to feature plus size heroines in your novels? I am a plus-sized woman, and have been active in NAAFA, an international size-acceptance group for many years. It became a bone of contention with me that large-sized women were not represented in the media as anything other than the villain, the comic side-kick, best friend or the nosy neighbour. Why couldn’t the big girl win the heart of the hero? After all, I knew from experience, that plus-sized women were pursued, wooed, loved and lusted after. Romantic fiction needed to start reflecting that reality. So, I made it my mission at the beginning of my “serious” writing efforts, to create real women in real situations.
6. Your writing career has been filled with ups and downs at least when it comes to actually publishing your books. Tell us a little about your publishing journey. What kept you moving, determined to find a place for you books and stories? I had, for years, wanted to write and publish stories with large sized characters. I took courses and workshops to hone my writing skills and joined a local writer's organization for support and guidance. But when I expressed my desire to write these kinds of stories, I was always told politely that they wouldn't sell. Publisher's wouldn't be interested. There wouldn't be a market. I knew in my heart that there was a market. And even if it was a small one (and I didn't necessarily believe this), I felt strongly there was a need for these kinds of stories to be written.
I was thrilled one day to find reference in a writer's magazine to a small independent publisher specializing in romance stories with large size heroines. And they were accepting manuscripts. Here was my chance. I spent the summer of that year, writing my first romance novel, Teacher's Pet. That fall I was able to send it to the publisher. Months went by and I finally had word back, along with the manuscript with edits to be done and a request to resubmit. I did the work and dutifully sent it off, heart pounding. And then many months went by with no word or reply to emails. I then found out that the publisher had had some problems and things were delayed but it looked like there was still hope. So I clung on. At the end of two years, I gave up on this particular publisher ever following through, and was thankful I'd never signed a contract.
So the manuscript sat gathering dust. I wrote another novel, Love by the Pound, basically to see if I could. And I started a third. And there were several short stories. All have large sized heroines. But I despaired of them ever finding a home. And then I discovered electronic publishers. I saw an industry that was young and full of energy. I saw that many of the publishers were women. I saw an open minded attitude, seeking alternative views and a desire to stretch the boundaries. I saw opportunity.
In 1999, I submitted a couple of short stories to Wordbeams, the publisher I had chosen after doing extensive research, and the first week of August, I signed my first contracts. Shortly after, she also contracted Teacher’s Pet and Love By the Pound. I was on my way! Until… My publisher told her authors that she was closing the company due to major life threatening health problems. As of December 31, 2001, Wordbeams was no more.
I had to begin the job of finding a new publisher for my plus sized stories. I sent out my two novels to a couple of Canadian e-publishers and then submitted and sold three short stories to Real Romances, a Canadian e-publisher who specialized in books that feature 'real sized' heroines. I waited for months to hear from the other publishers and finally decided on a different course. Real Romances agreed to re-publish Teacher's Pet and Love by the Pound. Then lo and behold, a year later, due to staffing changes, they decided to close their romance imprint, and my books were orphaned once more.
I was able to get a contract with a short-lived company for some shorter works, but due to lack of sales, they also closed their doors. Now I was starting to get a complex…like I was some kind of Typhoid Mary of publishing! But I refused to give up.
After considerable research once more, I chose New Age Dimensions. I felt I had come home, loved my publisher and the author family I joined. But based in Florida, it fell victim to one of the major hurricanes and had to close. Again, the search was on.
I have to say, after effectively closing so many companies, I was becoming doubtful I’d never find a stable writing home. But I did, and I’m happy to say, I have at present five very stable and thriving publishers.
The key for me was persistence. I had a vision…a mission of sorts. And I wasn’t going to stop until I had achieved my desired goals. My advice to any author is to persevere.
6. You have a number of books as well as short stories in various anthologies featuring women with curves. Tell us what are the titles of your books and short stories and where can readers purchase copies of your books.
Fictionwise : in ebook formats only
LADY BLUE: novel
TEACHER’S PET: novel
LOVE BY THE POUND: novel
BIG FAT LIES: novel
LEADING LADIES: anthology (Someday My Prince)
LOVE, AT LARGE: anthology (Work of Art)
The Wild Rose Press
THE ENCHANTED FAERIE: anthology (The Strongest Magic)
AT LONG LAST, LOVE: short story collection
(Pearlsong also has a limited supply of print copies of my back list: Lady Blue, Teacher’s Pet, Love by the Pound
ONE FOOT ON A BANANA PEEL: non-fiction, self help
THROUGH ALL ETERNITY: paranormal romance, coming November 2009
SECOND CHANCES: JACK AND GILLIAN: contemporary romance, coming April 2010
7. Of all the plus size women you have portrayed in your books and anthologies who is your favorite and Why? Wow. That’s a tough question. I love all my heroines for all sorts of different reasons. But if I had to pick one, I think I’d have to say Sabrina Blue, from Lady Blue. She took control of her life and decided to follow her dreams and become a singer. It was always a secret dream of mine to sing professionally, but I was never brave enough to go for it. So she lived that dream for me, in a fashion.
8. When will your next book be released? Tell us a little about your next book? Will it feature a plus size character? This month (Nov.) will bring the release of my first paranormal romance. Through All Eternity, from Mundania Press. This book is a departure from my usual fare. It has a darker tone, and examines some darker aspects of human nature. But the overall feeling by book’s end is of hope and optimism.
Imagine if it were possible to straddle the veil between this life and the next. And imagine if it were possible that love could survive after death and you could reunite with your soul-mate. That is the central premise of Through All Eternity. Soul-mates reunited, characters finding redemption, families finding each other again.
There are two main women focused on in this book. Hanna, an elderly woman dying of cancer, who has many regrets in life, the central regret being how she treated her family. And Karen, a thirty-something divorcee BBW, who fears she may have cancer. Meeting Hanna in the hospital begins a journey she never could have expected, and neither could Hanna.
9. Tell us a little about Desperate Hearts, your free e-serial? Why did you start it? Why did you decide to create a written soap-opera? I have a close friend who is also an author, and had quite good success with her free serials over a number of years. We had talked about me doing one as well, to bring in readers and promote my published work. But it took a while for just the right idea to hit me. I wanted to do something different from my “paid” writing, and I wanted it to be something I could just have fun with. When I hit on the idea of writing a “soap opera” (a perfect fit, I thought, for a romance writer), Desperate Hearts was born.
The soap opera format leaves it wide open for just about anything to happen in the fictional world I’ve created. And that’s great fun. I could have alien abductions, or swapped babies, or miraculous resurrections if I wanted to. So far, I just have dysfunctional families, deep dark secrets and a possible psychopath on the loose. www.desperatehearts.homestead.com
10. What are you reading now? What types of books (genres) do you read in general? I just finished a Jackie Collin’s glitzy romance (frivolous fun), and am starting a thriller next. I am an avid reader, and will read just about anything. But my preferred choice is a good thriller: Ludlum, Grisham, Paterson etc. I also seek out romance and mystery featuring plus sized characters. It’s thrilling that so many authors are now embracing the more real –sized hero and heroine. And I enjoy a really good spec fiction book when I can find them.
11. Who are your favorite authors? For thrillers, Robert Ludlum. For mystery, Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia Grey series, and Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladie’s Detective Agency series (fabulous). For spec fic, Skyla Dawn Cameron, Elaine Corvidae, Louise Cooper, JK Rowling. For romance, Daisy Dexter Dobbs (I love her humour)
12. How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? My web URL is www.judybagshaw.com Nice and simple. I love hearing from my readers. You can sign my guestbook on my site, or email me a firstname.lastname@example.org . I also have a guest forum at http://indigochick.conforums3.com/index.cgi?board=judyb
13. What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? I want my readers to know how very much I appreciate their support, and how excited I still get when I get notes and letters from readers telling me how my stories have impacted their lives. It is this kind of recognition that spurs me to keep on writing, even on those days when I’m ready to throw in the towel.
14. If you could tell one thing to every aspiring writer what would it be? If writing is your dream, then persevere. Let nothing or no one prevent you from pursuing what means so much to you.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
2. How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing since I was about eleven, though at the time I started with poetry. I think I probably wrote my first “story” at twelve, but it was short. I spent a lot of years writing short stories, most of which never had endings. Then at some point I actually stopped writing. In 1995, I wrote a book that I felt was my best work ever, submitted it to one publisher, got rejected 18 months later, then put it away in a drawer. In late 2000, I spent about six months revising and rewriting before I sent it out to another publisher, with the result being it got published in 2001.
3. What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I had a somewhat lonely childhood, despite being the youngest of four children. I didn’t make friends easily, I was teased often because of my weight, and I was hella shy. I spent a lot of time reading, and I think it developed my imagination. At some point, I guess my imagination spilled over onto paper because I just couldn’t contain it in my head anymore!
4. How long have you been writing books with plus size characters? My first published book was with a plus size heroine. That was the first time I’d written about a heroine who looked like me. Prior to that, I think I spent a lot of time writing about who I thought I wanted to be…thin and popular. It never fit for me, and always felt like a lie.
5. Why did you chose to feature plus size heroines in your novels? I wanted to be able to read about women who were like me, and I couldn’t find that on the market. Since I knew I had a penchant for writing, and enjoyed writing, I decided to try writing about someone who looked like me. I found I was able to draw on a lot of my own experiences to make the heroine realistic, and I knew in doing so I would be able to touch other women like me who enjoyed romance novels. It always makes my day when I hear from readers who identify with my heroines, who tell me that they are so happy to finally see themselves in a romance novel as the heroine who gets her man!
6. You have a number of titles on the market. Can you give us a run down of your work and where readers interested in your and your work can find these titles.
At this time, I have nine books out, with a tenth to be released just after the first of the year. Several of my early books are connected (The Legacy Tree, Truth and Lies, The Fashionable PI, Lost or Found?, Model Mom), and I’ve also started a new series about a rock band, of which The Crooner is the first. Then I have several books that are standalone (Great Love, You Have Been Disconnected, Driving Adam…Crazy!). All my books are available from your regular online sources, and from bookstores (though they may have to be ordered), as well as from their respective publishers. I also sell signed copies of my books through my website, or from my publishing company, Draumr Publishing.
7. When will your next book be released? Tell us a little about your next book? My next book, The Player, will be released just after the first of the year. It is the second in my rock band series (the series title is Bandmates), and is about that guy who never gets close to anyone, and who plays the field no matter the consequences. He’s outgoing, gorgeous, and everyone loves him, but he’s hiding something deep inside. In The Player, he finally meets a woman (fabulously curvy!) who tempts him in ways he never expected, turning his life, and his heart, inside out!
8. And if being a published author is not enough your are also co-owner of Draumr publishing. Tell us a little about Draumr publishing and your work with authors of Curvy Novels seeking a place for their voice to be heard? Draumr Publishing has been in business since 2004. It came about because I was unhappy with the publishers I was dealing with, and annoyed that I couldn’t find more books with curvy heroines. I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a publisher supporting these books when I knew from my first couple of books—and my immersion into the BBW world—that there were a lot of readers begging for these types of books. With the support of my family, we decided to open Draumr, hoping to offer BBW books a new home. Of course, we knew there were more great books out there than just romance novels, and that not every author would want to write with curvy heroines. So although Draumr does have a BBW line called Dangerous Curves, we also accept other types of fiction. But my heart is really with the Dangerous Curves books, because they are who I am. I will always write books with curvy heroines, and I will always try to support other authors who do the same.
9. How do you manage holding the dual roles of author and publisher? What is a typical day for you like when you with both writing and publishing deadlines to meet? It’s an interesting question, and one I get asked a lot. Fortunately for me, my creative brain seems to wake up later in the day, so I’m able to partition off when I work for Draumr and when I write for myself. However, there is some crossover in that, because when I’m really busy for Draumr, my hours will spill over into the evening. But like many authors, I’ve learned to balance my writing life with my working life…it just so happens that my work life still involves books and publishing. Meanwhile, I enjoy the publishing company so much because even when I’m not knee deep in my own work, I’m living the writing and publishing life with another author. Even when my book isn’t ready for cover art, I get to live the process over and over again with our authors…I get to experience the joy and excitement with them as they see their books coming to life. It’s so much fun. Don’t get me wrong, running and working at a publishing company is work, and it can be difficult, but I do enjoy the challenges involved. Also, the fact that I’m (mostly) my own boss doesn’t suck. And unlike many other publishing companies, we accept and publish very few books a year. So I’m able to give our authors individual attention during every step of the publishing process…and still give myself time to breathe, to write, and to live.
10. What BBW Books will be released in the near future by Draumr Publishing?
My book is due out after the first of the year (The Player), and I know that Misty Simon will also have a book out with us next year in the same series. Misty is participating in the Bandmates series with me, which is an exciting venture for us. Both of us have written BBW series books, but we’ve never shared a series with another author. Should be fun!
Otherwise, we don’t have anything solid on our schedule. We’re always open to submissions for our BBW line, as well as for our regular fiction line. Since we don’t publish a ton of books a year, we don’t schedule our books out too far ahead of time.
11. How can authors interested in submitting their work to Draumr Publishing get more information on the submission process? We have submission guidelines on our website at http://www.draumrpublishing.com/submissions.php. We also have FAQs for authors on our website, which may answer questions authors have. Authors can also check out my blog, where I offer some tips about submitting, as well as talk about new releases, the publishing process, and my own writing (http://www.draumrpublishing.com/forums/blog/ridaallen/index.php). If they can’t find their answers in any of those places, they can always email me at email@example.com.
12. What are you reading now? Who are your favorite authors? At the moment, I’m not actually reading anything for pleasure. I’ve taken a short hiatus from reading, simply because I’m not finding things that interest me in the stores. It seems like many of the print romance publishing houses are putting out reissues, which don’t interest me, for obvious reasons. And despite the lure of technology, I do not have an e-reader, and I do not prefer to read ebooks . My reading enjoyment includes the physicality of books, their feel in my hands, their smell, the visual of the words on the pages… This is also the reason why we put all our books out in print as well as in ebook format at Draumr Publishing. For Draumr, if the book is good enough to be accepted, then it’s good enough to be in print. If it isn’t good enough to be in print, we won’t accept it.
13. How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? I have a personal author website at http://www.ridaallen.com/. There’s a contact me link there if readers want to email me to tell me how fantastic my books are and how much they love my writing. I can also be reached via Draumr email at firstname.lastname@example.org (website is http://www.draumrpublishing.com/)
14. What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? I write because I love to write. Writing is a part of my heart and a part of my soul. I hope that comes through in my books.
15. If you could tell one thing to every aspiring writer what would it be? Write what you know, and what you love to read. Readers will know if you’re forcing it, and likewise will know when what you write is what you know.
About Rida Allen: Born in suburban Maryland, I have lived here all my life, moving only three times and even then, less than half an hour away each time. Growing up, I was the youngest and only girl in a family of four siblings, suffering mightily and for many long years under the hands of my three older brothers. To escape, I locked myself away in my bedroom with books, books, and more books! I am and have been a voracious reader of romance novels for as long as I can remember…even before I was writing my own stories as a pre-teen. At 11 years old, I started my writing hobby with poetry, then began writing “short” romantic stories at about 12. Although I always wanted to be a writer, I found myself instead working with computers. I was in the computer industry for more years than I want to remember, first as an amateur and then as an expert (of sorts). My husband and I met online (before online dating was even a glimmer in some Internet boomer’s eye), and we knew each other for eight years before we got engaged and married. Even now, after sixteen years together, we are best friends, and he is one of my biggest supporters. We live close to both our families and spend as much time with them as possible. We have spent recent years in our single family home, purchased partially for the large yard that our dog thinks is her own personal park.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Contest Alert - All those that comment on this or any of our November and December interviews not holding author sponsored contest will be entered into a drawing to receive a free book. Contest ends December 31st. See side panel for more details on all contest running on this blog.
1) Tell us about yourself? I’m a very shy person who wishes I had half the nerve and courage that many of my heroines exhibit in my books. I love to read (I devour mysteries). I’m also addicted to playing independent role playing games. My favorite to date is the Aveyond series. I have a full-time day job. That and playing computer games help keep writing in my spare time interesting and important.
2) How long have you been writing? That’s a difficult question for me to answer. I say that because when I think back to when I was very young, I realized that I was “writing” even before I realized what I was doing or what writing was. At a very young age, I was making stories up in my head. When I learned to write, I started writing love stories in various notebooks. However, I was nineteen when I first sold anything.
3) What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I’ve always felt a compulsion to write. It’s a large part of who I am as a person. So I write because I have to. A number of times over the years I’ve “stopped” writing when the rejections poured in as fast as I could submit my manuscript. But I always had to start again because the characters in my head insisted I tell their story.
4) How long have you been writing books with plus size characters? My first book with a plus sized heroine was The Fall of Troy, which was published in 2001.
5) What are the titles of your books featuring plus size characters? Taking Chances II—Nice Girls Do, Trina’s Afternoon Delight, Bloodlust IV—Nocturnal Heat, Playing With Fire, The Fall of Troy, Full Bodied Charmer, Fantasy Knights, Teacher’s Pet, Skin Deep, Summer Storm, Eye of the Beholder, In Blood And Worth Loving and Temple Neal.
6) Are all of these books available in both paperback and E-book form? All of the books are available as e-books. Skin Deep, Summer Storm, Eye of the Beholder, and Full Bodied Charmers are also available as paperbacks.
7) How can readers purchase your books? My Books can be purchase from my various publishers Ellora’s Cave, Changeling Press, Loose-id, Red Rose Publishing, and Liquid Silver Books
8) I noticed that most if not all of your books can be purchased as e-books. Why did you choose to make your books available as e-books? Years ago, when I first decided to try e-books, I intended to keep submitting books to paperback publishers. However, as the audience for e-books has grown, I’m happy to submit exclusively to e-book publishers. I have the freedom to write what I like without worrying about what’s selling. I’ve been able to try many different genres with e-books publishers over the years.
At the time I wrote The Fall of Troy, there were very few books featuring bbw heroines. My publisher wasn’t sure how such a story would be received, but she gave me the go ahead and I’m delighted to say that it was and still is well received with readers.
I was also able to write a romance with a secondary couple featuring a m/m relationship years before such books were so widely accepted and sought.
I think the most appreciated freedom writing for e-book publishers afforded me was the ability to write the interracial romance stories I love to write. Back when I first started writing I/R romances, most paperback publishers ignored the desire for romance books featuring I/R couples.
9) Along with your Curvy Books (our term for books with plus size heroines) you have also written a number of multicultural romances. Why have you chosen to featured plus size women and multicultural relationships in your books? I have a number of friends who were involved in either I/R relationships or marriages. None of them could find romance books which reflected their relationships because nearly everyone was writing about size six heroines (very few of who were black). It was difficult to find books with bbw women and almost impossible to find any that featured both I/r elements and a plus sized heroine.
After discovering that there was a segment of the romance community eager to read both BBW and I/R books, I decided to merge the two.
10) Tell us about your most recent novel? My latest release is actually a re-release. It’s called A Thing Called Love.
Does it feature a plus size heroine? No. However, my last published book with a BBW is In Blood And Worth Loving.
11) Out of all the plus size heroines you have written about who is your favorite and why? I think my favorite would have to be Angie from my first BBW novel, The Fall of Troy. She’s my favorite because she paved the way for me to be able to write more books with plus size heroines. And I admired her willingness to take a chance to find love on a cruise ship.
12) Do you plan to write more books featuring plus size characters? Absolutely.
13) When will your next book be released? My next book will be published by Red Rose Publishing this month. [This interview was conducted in November the book is currently available for purchase]
Tell us a little about your next book?
It’s called One Sweet Night. Here’s the blurb:
After struggling to accept the end of her ten-year marriage, Jule Grey's best friend convinces her to start dating again. Finding the dating prospects for forty-year-old women thin, Jule reluctantly agrees to a blind date. One look at the sexy, delivery boy, Daniel, and she's certain the coming night will be very sweet.
Daniel surprises Jule by his insistence on extending their one-night stand beyond the weekend. Despite their mutual attraction, Jule battles her fear of Daniel's reaction to the secret that ended her marriage. She doesn't know that Daniel is also guarding a secret he's reluctant to share with her.
Will it feature a plus size character? The heroine in One Sweet Night isn’t BBW.
14) What are you reading now? At the moment, I’m expending all my energies writing. So I’m not reading anything at the moment.
15) Who are your favorite authors? M.C. Beaton, Tony Hillerman, Betty Neels, Valerie W. Wesley, Jo Dereske, Eleanor Taylor Bland, D.R. Meredith, Kenneth Robeson are some of my favorites.
16) How can readers get in contact with you?
They can email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
17) Do you have a website? Yes. It’s http://www.marilynlee.org/. I also have a fan site Official Marilyn Lee Fab Club which sometimes has contests.
21) What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? That I really appreciate their support and that I love to hear from them.
About Marilyn Lee: Marilyn lives, works, and writes on the East Coast of The US. In additional to thoroughly enjoying writing erotic romances in various genres, she enjoys roller-skating, spending time with her large, extended family, and rooting for all her favorite hometown sports teams. Her other interests include collecting Doc Savage pulp novels from the thirties and forties and collecting Marvel comics from the seventies and eighties (particularly Thor and The Avengers.) Her favorite TV shows are forensic shows, westerns (Gun smoke and Have Gun, Will Travel are particular favorites), and mysteries (Charlie Chan movies in particular). Her all time favorite mystery movie is probably Dead, Again. She’s seen nearly every vampire movie or television show ever made (Forever Knight and Count Yorga, Vampires are favorites. She thoroughly enjoys interacting with readers either through email or via her Yahoo web group.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
1)Tell us about yourself? I am a middle child considered an oldest child because I am the first daughter after a series of boys, yet I am the first daughter of four girls born back to back. If you study birth order and understand the traits, I am considered a leader. As a leader, I often had to entertain my siblings, so I told stories. I found that I was a good storyteller. Since I loved to tell stories, write poems and just loved to talk, it was not a coincident that I won Ms. Ann Landers in college, or that I was pegged with that name throughout high school. What it said to me was that I had something to say and that people wanted to hear it. So it didn’t surprise me to find that I wanted to write and tell stories. What probably surprised most was that I did not go into journalism, but pursued the field of social work/social service. I believe it gave me the ability, and the opportunity to gather all kinds of stories that would later come in handy as I begin to explore the world of writing and publishing. I am married and have been for 25 years and have a daughter who is 21 years old. I also own two companies, Priority Books Publications and The Family Enhancement Center.
2)How long have you been writing? I have been writing since the age of ten. I wrote in journals and notebooks and wrote letters for enjoyment.
3)What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I began to write letters to relatives, friends and pen pals around the age of 10, by the age of 12 I was writing to inmates. Often times, I would look in the back of magazines like Black Beat, etc. to find someone who needed a friendly letter. Once I wrote a letter, the recipient would beg me to write again. They loved receiving my letters, especially inmates who I described the sun, flowers and beautiful landscape too. I wrote letters and received them until my mom found out and stopped it. The inmates were very nice and never said anything out of the norm to a young kid. They just appreciated the letters. When I think of that and whether I would do something like that now, the answer would be a strong no. Writing for me started because of two things. I loved to read and loved to play with words on paper
4)Tell us a little about your book Backroom Confessions and the plus size character in this book. What is it Backroom Confessions about? Who is the plus size character in this book? What role does she play in the story? Is her size a major part of the story as a whole? Backroom Confessions is the compelling tale of five devoted social workers brought together to assist those in need. The fab five quickly realize that within the walls of the backroom lie infinite answers, plentiful problems and scandalous skeletons. Despite their affinity for helping others, each have their own struggles and demons to exorcise. Their often-candid backroom sessions commonly cause clash, camaraderie, connivance, cheerfulness, curiosity and mass-confusion. As the lives of these office professionals intertwine, their journey together will take you on a thrilling expedition; including love, lust, embarrassment, backstabbing, infidelity, hilarity and steamy sexual encounters.
The lead character in the book is Jericka Parker who is the director of a social service agency. She is educated, a great dresser and she is very attractive. But she is a size 16. So busy being a mom, wife, supervisor and friend, she was simply happy with who she was. Though she was plus size, it didn’t stop her from having a good relationship with her husband or being the go to person on the job. Her plus size just gave her style, confidence and the ability to look at issues and problems with an objective eye.
5)Tell us about your publishing company, Priority Publications. How long have you been publishing? What types of books do you publish? How can writers contact Priority Publications? The name Prioritybooks Publications, LLC came from my need to be first in my life. I wanted my writing to be my first priority. I wanted to control my own work, to publish what and when I wanted, and to feed my need to write. I later took on other authors who asked me to publish their work. We are dedicated to providing the best service available to our authors and increasing the interest of reading to all generations through our many literary pursuits. Founded in 2004, our publishing interests include inspirational, autobiographical, poetic and fictional materials relating mainly to teens, young adults, and women. Writers can contact us by visiting our website at http://www.prioritybooks.com/. Our contact information is posted there.
6)When will your next book be released? Tell us a little about your next book? Will it feature a plus size character? I recently released my second book for teens. I co-wrote it with my nephew Edward Booker. The book, Caught in the Net of Deception, is a collection of short stories about teenagers facing danger while meeting strangers on the Internet. As these teens look for love, fun, and opportunities to make money, they will face many problems. Most teens are familiar with Facebook, MySpace, and spend time surfing the Internet, but if not careful they could be sucked into a world of horror.
Sometime in the near future, I will feature another plus size character. But right now I am finishing up a Christian novel, A Sinner’s Cry and another teen novel, Attacked by Love.
7)What are you reading now? Who are your favorite authors? I am reading Mama Dearest, by E. Lynn who was one of my favorite authors. I also am reading Kim Roby’s A Deep Dark Secret, another favorite, as well as several novels that I am reviewing for my newspaper column.
8)How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? They can contact me via my website at www.prioritybooks.com or email at email@example.com.
9)What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? I am also a motivational speaker who has been on the circuit for years motivating and encouraging students, teens and adults. I speak at conferences, mostly educational ones, churches, schools, etc.
10)If you could tell one thing to every aspiring writer what would it be? Write every day and hone your skills. I must add this one too: get a professional edit of your completed manuscript.
About Rose Jackson-Beavers: Rose is a motivational speaker, trainer and the owner of Prioritybooks Publications. Prioritybooks is a publishing company that helps first time authors achieve their dreams of becoming published. Currently a columnist for The Spanish Lake Word newspaper, she has completed four books through her publishing company; one which she co-authored with 15 year old Edward Booker, “A Hole in My Heart”. She has also written and published, “Backroom Confessions, and Summin T’Say as well as co-authored a quilt and poetry book will a nationally known fabric artist, Edna Patterson-Petty. Mrs. Beavers received her Bachelor and Master degrees from Illinois State and Southern Illinois Universities. Rose Jackson-Beavers is married and have one daughter.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
1) Tell us about yourself. (Bio can be found at the end of interview don't skip it it really gives you a feel for Charles Lovett the man, the writer, the husband, the father. I have never been this entertained by just reading someone's bio.)
2) How long have you been writing? What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I began writing seriously in the early 1990s, but as early as I can remember I’ve been intrigued by the idea of being a writer. In college I did some creative writing—in our Modern Drama class we had the option of writing a term paper or a play: I chose a play. I wrote a few short stories during and after college and then began to write academic nonfiction as I became interested in Lewis Carroll in my twenties. My first two books were Carroll studies. Then, in the early 1990s, I was going through a major change in my life—divorce, moving to a new state, closing down my antiquarian book business—and I decided to pursue writing more seriously. I began taking classes and eventually enrolled at the MFA program at Vermont College (now Vermont College of Fine Arts). While there I wrote lots of short stories, and a book length memoir.
3) Tell us a little about your novel The Program and the plus size heroine featured in this novel. When I had been out of graduate school for a couple of years, I decided I wanted to write a novel, and also that I wanted it to be accessible—not highbrow literary fiction, but a good rip-roaring read that would keep people guessing and make them want to turn the page. I hit on the idea behind The Program (an evil weight loss clinic and a small band of friends who try to bring it down) and began to write. The novel that was published several years later is the result of many re-writes, and changes, but I still think it fits my original vision. After several drafts, I tried to decide what the novel was about (on a deeper level than just plot) and decided it was about the facades we all put on at times. This focus helped me with subsequent drafts and, I think, gives coherence to the story.
The heroine of The Program, Karen Sumner, is a “plus sized” woman whose weight has a major effect on her self-esteem. She has a hard time believing that other people could love her and, at the beginning of the book, she dreams of being thin. Part of the arc of The Program is Karen giving up those dreams and accepting herself for who she is.
4) Why did you chose to feature plus size heroines in your novels? The original impetus for The Program goes all the way back to when my older daughter (now out of college) was in grade school. The school had an education program about drugs and alcohol, which is perfectly noble, but as I looked around at the young girls in our neighborhood, I realized that eating disorders seems to be at least as big a threat to this demographic as drugs, yet nothing was said about body image in the school. So, The Program began as a way to help people accept their bodies and realize they can be both healthy and beautiful in a variety of shapes and sizes.
5) Your body of work is vast and very diverse. Tell us a little about your literary journey leading to writing and then the publishing of The Program. Is The Program your only fiction novel? I began my writing career writing mostly non-fiction, but I always wanted to write fiction. I wrote my first novel as part of a creative writing class, and it will, I hope, remain unpublished forever. It wasn’t much of a book, but it did help me believe that I could write a book length piece of fiction, so it was a worthwhile exercise. I wrote a lot of short stories during graduate school, but also began to explore memoir writing. I’ve written two books of creative no-fiction: a memoir about my mother who died of breast cancer when I was two years old (Love, Ruth) and a book about a pilgrimage I took through early Christian sites in Britain (Sparrow through the Hall). Since The Program, I have written another full-length novel (Marginalia) for which I am currently seeking a publisher. I’ve also written a dozen plays for children which have been published and performed in over 2000 productions around the world. I really enjoy different types of writing—the personal emotional journey of a memoir, the act of discovery in a work of academic non-fiction, the complexity of the narrative novel, and the fun of children’s plays. I don’t think I’d be as happy as a writer if I just wrote one type of work.
5) Do you plan to write more books featuring plus size characters? I am actually just finishing the first draft of a young adult novel featuring a plus-sized heroine (The Fat Lady Sings). I had the idea for this novel a few years ago and wrote out some notes but never pursued it. Then, this past summer, I was part of a panel discussing “Fat Friendly Fiction” moderated by my publisher Peggy Elam (Pearlsong Press). One of the issues that came up was the dearth of good young adult novels with plus sized heroes and heroines. I thought about those notes in the drawer and realized that that was what was missing from my idea. As soon as I made the heroine plus-sized, the book just fell into place. I’ve spent the last two months working on the first draft and hope to have it polished enough to show Peggy by the end of the year.
6) When exploring your website I came across The Lovett Foundation. Please tell readers about the Lovett Foundation and the great work you are doing. The Lovett Foundation is a small family foundation that makes grants to non-profit organizations in areas as diverse as homelessness, AIDS support, the environment, education, the arts, and women’s and family issues. Next year, we hope to establish the Lovett Fund for Elementary Theatre, which will make small grants to schools to support the production of plays at the elementary school level. So much research these days is telling us of the importance of arts experiences in education, and I feel that most of schools’ limited theatre budgets tend to go to middle and high school productions; we’d like to encourage doing plays at the elementary level as well.
7) What are you reading now? What types of books (genres) do you read in general? I read pretty widely. This summer I went on a classic English novel kick and read Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, and Pride and Prejudice. At the same time, I was reading Edwardian boarding school novels for fun. Last night I read Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which I had heard a lot about. I’m also currently reading a long experimental novel called 2666. I like literary mysteries like the Book of Air and Shadows or The Thirteenth Tale and quirky non-fiction (I’m also currently reading a book by a friend of mine about Sasquatch encounters). I like classic English novels, anything funny (P.G. Wodhouse, for instance). I like good children’s books like Harry Potter (I’m less enamored of the Twilight Books, I’m afraid. Just not as well written as Rowling). In general my favorite books tend to be well written and tell great stories. Beyond that, I’m not too concerned if they’re fiction or non-fiction, contemporary or classic. I do have a soft spot for books set in England.
8) Who are your favorite authors? Some of my favorites are Tom Sharpe, Robertson Davies, David Lodge, Eric Kraft, Charles Dickens, J. K. Rowling, P. D. James, and John Irving.
9) Tell us about the online and offline personal appearances you have planned over the next couple of months. Where can readers connect with you up close and personal? The best way for readers to connect with me is through my website or on Facebook. Anyone who is in the Winston-Salem area is welcome to come to the world premiere of my new play, Rude Mechanicals, at Summit School on November 19.
10) How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? My website, http://www.charlielovett.com/, includes a book club guide for The Program, as well as a long article about the path The Program took between the first idea and publication. You can also find out about my other publications, including my plays. I love it when readers contact me through my website, and I try to respond to all my e-mails.
11) What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? I am a regular guy. There is nothing mysterious about being a writer. Like anything else, it takes a little innate skill and a lot of hard work.
About Charles Lovett:
Charlie Lovett was born in 1962, shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event for which he disavows all responsibility. He suffered in early childhood from an older brother and sister who enjoyed subjecting him to what they appropriately called “tickle torture.” Charlie has nearly recovered from the emotional damage and is thinking about forgiving his siblings in the next few years.
Charlie entered Summit School in 1966, and hasn’t been able to find his way out since. He is currently Writer-in-Residence at Summit and has recently published Onward and Upward, a 75th anniversary history of the school. This was his first coffee table book, which he actually has a copy of sitting on his coffee table. Charlie’s love of drama began in the first grade when he played the role of the Gingerbread Boy. The New York Times said, on the occasion of the premiere, “Cloudy tomorrow with a 40% chance of rain.” Charlie has ignored the critics ever since.
Charlie went on to play the title role in Tom Sawyer in fourth grade, a part his father said he had been rehearsing for all his life. Other roles at Summit included the lead in Rumplestiltskin, the Badger in Toad of Toad Hall, and his unforgettable turn as Bad Bart Banana Peel in his second grade play (though his part was unforgettable, he has completely forgotten the name of the play.)
In 1977 Charlie entered Woodberry Forest School and began a serious career as a long distance runner. After three years of high school he had been unable to outrun his passion for the theatre, so he spent four years at Davidson College studying theatre. He acted in dramas, comedies, musicals and children’s plays. During college Charlie also wrote two plays, which have thankfully remained hidden at the bottom of a box of old papers ever since. He directed three plays and graduated with a degree in theatre and absolutely no prospects of gameful employment.
After a careful study of career options, Charlie chose antiquarian book selling (a narrow victor over air traffic controller and toll booth attendant). With his first wife, Stephanie, Charlie operated Lovett & Lovett Booksellers (which he foolishly forgot to declare a non-profit entity) in Winston-Salem. Soon he was volunteering on the stage of Summit School once again. In the late 1980s, Charlie began to publish scholarship on Lewis Carroll, drawn partly from his massive collection of Carroll items, which he continues to assemble. He has since published five books on Lewis Carroll yet Carroll refuses to return the favor—he has published NO books about Charlie Lovett.
After a move to Kansas in the early 1990s, Charlie rediscovered his passion for the theatre, playing such roles as Feste in Twelfth Night, Brabantio in Othello, and the lead role of the Duke in Measure for Measure. Charlie later discovered that these plays were all written by the same person, a William Shakespeare who somehow managed to become a playwright without ever having played the role of Bad Bart Banana Peel.
In January of 1997, Charlie received his M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College in Montpelier Vermont. Unfortunately, it was so cold at the time that the diploma was presented to Charlie’s cryogenically frozen body. After thawing out in England for six months with his wife, Janice, and stepdaughter, Jordan, Charlie returned to America and prepared for a move back to Winston-Salem. Jordan entered Summit School as a sixth grader the year that Charlie’s daughter Lucy began the first grade there. Within days Charlie and Janice were helping out with the sixth grade play.
In 2001, Janice was offered the job of third grade drama specialist at Summit. She had all the talents necessary to wrangle 60+ third graders and train them to perform a Broadway-quality masterpiece. All she lacked was a Broadway-quality masterpiece. To fill this need, Charlie shamelessly stole several of Janice’s ideas and wrote the script for Twinderella—his first children’s play. He has since written twelve other plays for performance at Summit in both the third grade and the junior high. twelve of his plays have been published and more are on the way. His plays have been performed across the country and around the world.
For those publishers out there who happen to be reading this, in addition to his twelve published books, Charlie has written two other novels: one will rightly remained buried in the same box with his college plays, the other is a bestseller waiting for a publisher to realize its potential. His published works are detailed elsewhere, but his yet-to-be-published works also include a brilliant sequel to A Christmas Carol written in the style of Charles Dickens (who, Charlie later discovered, actually wrote the original story as well).
Charlie continues to write and act. He has recently played roles such as the Duke in Big River and Marcellus in The Music Man. He is puzzled by this, since both these characters are tenors and he is a bass, but hey, that’s acting. His rendition of “Shipoopi” in The Music Man will be remembered by all who saw it—many of them are still in therapy because of the nightmares.
Charlie’s novel The Program, published in May 2008, will no doubt take the country by storm. Or maybe that’s just another hurricane . . .
With Jordan in college, Lucy in high school, Janice continuing to act and direct, and his dog Sophie asleep on the couch, Charlie believes the best parts of this biography are yet to come!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
1) Tell us about yourself? I am a native of Western North Carolina, where I reside with my family. I also juggle being a full time student majoring in Medical Office Administration and computer lab tutor on campus.
2) How long have you been writing? I have been writing poetry since the age of 11. I began writing short stories and essays briefly in high school and then I picked it back up three years after that. So almost 14 years in total. Wow, I had never really thought about how long I had been writing.
3) How long have you been writing about plus size women? I have been writing exclusively about plus size women ever since 2006 when I first started writing with the intention of being published. My mission is to push the envelope of plus size acceptance and make it clear that we as plus size women are just as sexy and have just as much to offer as our thinner counterparts.
4) You write under both Allyson Deese and Caramel Vixen. What is the difference in your two literary identities? The main difference in my two literary identities is that Allyson Deese is my birth name and I mainly write inspirational and contemporary pieces under that name. Caramel Vixen is the diva that Allyson Deese was too shy to become when I first began writing. I love writing romance and erotica exclusively for and about BBWs under that name.
5) Your latest paperback release, Office Affairs featured a plus size heroine? What other works do you have featuring plus size women? Office Affairs is my first paperback release as Caramel Vixen, originally Office Affairs was an e-novella published under Lady Leo Publishing. Currently at Lady Leo Publishing you can find: Ready for Love, No Matter What and Mr. Magic Fingers
6) You have a number of e-books featuring plus size women? Why did you decide to go the e-book publishing route for some of your books? E-books gave me my start in the writing industry. I will always be grateful for Lady Leo Publishing for initially giving me a chance. The majority of my e-books are short stories, and I’m currently working on turning some of them into novels for print.
7) Why did you choose to feature plus size heroines in your novels? I am a plus size woman and I wanted to see more women like myself in romance and erotica and it was hard to find positive plus size heroines, so I decided to create some.
8) Do you plan to write more books featuring plus size characters? All of my books of all genres will have a woman who’s at least a size 14 as the main character.
9) Tell us about Office Affairs and the plus size heroine we will meet in this book.
Office Affairs is an erotic romance about the discovery of love, self worth. The main plus size heroine that you will meet in this book is Allysia Donaldson, a BBW who at only 30 years of age, owns her own clothing company, Ample Delights, which is centrally located in beautiful Manhattan. Allysia is very successful in her business endeavors but when it comes to love, she’s batting zero.
10) What are you reading now? What types of books (genres) do you read in general? Right now, unfortunately I’m reading “Beginners Medical Transcription” (a textbook) but, I’m looking forward to digging into my book wish list and reading quite a few books over winter break. I generally read contemporary fiction, romance and erotica. I,ve always been an avid reader.
11) Who are your favorite authors? Just a few of my favorite authors are (in no particular order) Linda Herman, Hazel Mills, Victoria Wells, and Zane. Just to name a few.
12) Tell us about the online and offline personal appearances you have planned over the next couple of months. Where can readers connect with you up close and personal. November 28th I will be doing a signing in Atlanta signing copies of After Dark Delights, the latest of my anthology features. Readers can always contact me via email and request to see or talk to me at : firstname.lastname@example.org
13) How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? Readers can reach me at the above email address and also at my websites; http://www.caramelvixen84.webs.com/ and http://www.officeaffairs.webs.com/
14) What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? That I get just as excited about meeting a famous author as they do. Or I still get giddy whenever I receive a new book to read.
About Caramel Vixen - Allyson Deese is an author and a poet as well as a student majoring in Medical Office Administration. She resides in North Carolina. Although only in her twenties, she has been writing poetry for most of her life and has now began penning her poetry into the pages of her fictional stories of multiple genres. "Discovering the Joy Within" is the author's first work of fiction to be published. You can find “Discovering the Joy Within” featured in Elissa Gabrielle’s anthology “The Triumph Of My Soul” www.thetriumphofmysoul.com available now, look for Ms. Deese and friends, in the third installment of the Triumph series. Ms. Deese is currently working on the novel version of Discovering the Joy Within for a 2010 release with Xpress Yourself Publishing http://www.xpressyourselfpublishing.org/
Saturday, October 24, 2009
*******CONTEST ALERT: Leave a comment with an email address on the Monica Marie Jones interview and be entered to win a copy of The Ups and Downs Of Being Round and Swag .
1) Tell us about yourself? I consider myself an artist. My artistic medium is paper ink and words. When I am doing anything that has to do with writing or reading I lose all track of time because I love it so much. I am an author, poet, motivational speaker and radio show host. My mission in life is to use my words to entertain, encourage, inspire and educate.
2) What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? I started out by journaling to process my emotions. The journal entries led to poems, and then one day I decided to write a book. After seeing my first book in print, I was addicted. I have not turned back since. Now I am on book number four.
3) You mention on your website that you are a youth development expert. What exactly is the role of a your development expert? Has your work as a youth development expert influenced your writing? In undergraduate school I studied elementary education and in graduate school I studied social work with a focus on youth. After college I enrolled in the High/Scope Educational Research Foundations Trainer Certification Program. I have worked with youth in several capacities since I was a teenager. I have been everything from a classroom teacher to a camp counselor to an after-school program director. I have contributed to literature in the field of youth work as well as curriculum materials based upon the research based best practice approach to youth development. My work with youth directly effects my writing because I am still very connected with youth and I want to inspire and give them something positive to aspire to. I write my urban fiction with them in mind. I know that urban fiction and street lit is what they are into because I see them reading it. So I write story lines that are real, but I don't use any profanity and I always include a powerful inspirational message
4) You have a number of books, essays and poems available to the reading public. Could you give us a brief list of your titles as well as the where we can find your essays and poetry. How many of these books feature plus size characters or are written for a plus size audience? The titles with two stars are written directly for the plus sized audience, the titles with one start have parts that are for the plus sized audience.
- **Okay to Be Me in Chicken Soup for the Girl's Soul (Short Story)
- **The Ups and Downs of Being Round (Novel)
- New Directions in Youth Development (Non-Fiction-Contributing Author to Chapter 3
- *Taste My Soul (Poetry)
- FLOSS (Urban Fiction)
- 44th (Poem within a book about Barack Obama)
- *Swag (Urban Fiction)
- ** Fat Girl (Poem) and Don't Wait for the Weight (Essay) in The Souls of My Young Sisters (Anthology-March 2010)
- The Perfect Stranger (Short Story) in Bedtime Stories 3 (Anthology-August 2010)
6) Do you have more Curvy books (books featuring plus size characters) in the works? If so can we get a sneak peek of what is in stored for us lovers of Curvy Books? YES! Right now I am working on the sequel to The Ups and Downs if Being Round. It is called The Flip Side of Fat. It talks about what its like living in a skinny body when your mind still tells you that you are fat. I am trying to decide whether I want to make it fiction based on my life like the Ups and Downs of Being Round, or just the straight up true story.
7) Tell us about your newest release Swag. What is it about? How can fans of your work purchase a copy of Swag. Swag is my pride and joy. Here is the synopsis...Noelle Dresden stepped out on faith and left her full-time job to pursue her passion: singing. Six months later, her singing career hasn't gone much of anywhere and neither has her relationship with her charismatic, yet sneaky boyfriend, Jonah. Although Jonah loves Noelle, he’s not willing to give her the commitment and ring she so desperately wants. After Jonah uses Noelle’s hopes of an engagement for his benefit, Noelle gets fed up and decides to move forward with her career…with or without Jonah.Her pursuit leads her to accept an invitation to be a house guest on the popular, hit reality show, House of Swag. On the show, aspiring entertainers with the potential to take it to the next level are trained to become multifaceted mega stars. While in the house, Noelle catches the eye of the show’s creator, Monroe "Paper" Chase. He uses his good looks and smooth talk to charm her, then he uses his money and power to attempt to subtract Jonah from the equation. Drama only escalates when Noelle has to deal with an envious, hating house guest who is not beyond trying to bring Noelle down to get ahead.As Noelle rises toward super stardom, she has some difficult choices to make. What lies ahead of her looks so much better than what she has left behind. Will she work to keep the love that she and Jonah shares alive, or will she choose fame, fortune and a man who can make all of her dreams come true?Readers can buy Swag on my website at http://www.monicamariejones.com/ or on http://www.amazon.com/
8) What are you reading now? Right now I am reading "Just A Little Boy Crazy" by Teen Author Shelbie Moore, but I am desperately trying to get my hands on a copy of "The Ideal Wife" by Jacquelin Thomas.
9) Who are your favorite authors? My favorite author of all time is Jacquelin Thomas. I also enjoy Robyn Williams, Eric Jerome Dickey, Omar Tyree, T.D. Jakes and Francine Rivers.
10) Tell us about the online and offline personal appearances you have planned over the next couple of months. Where can readers connect with you up close and personal? My online appearances include features on the Motown Writers Network and Michigan Literary Network Sites (http://www.motownwriters.com/), Goddess Girl Online Magazine for Teens (http://www.freewebs.com/goddessmag), My weekly column on the I'm A Huge Deal website (http://www.imahugedeal.com/), My feature on the Detroit Blog on Time Magazine's Website (http://detroit.blogs.time.com/2009/09/25/writing-new-stories-about-detroit/)
My offline events include the Essence Of Motown Literary Jam, the second weekend of November as well as visits to Chicago, Austin and New Mexico.
11) How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? Yes, readers can get in contact with me on all of the social networks including Facebook (Monica Marie Jones), Twitter (@monicamjones), Myspace (www.myspace.com/monicamariejones) and of course my website http://www.monicamariejones.com/. Readers can also email me directly at email@example.com
12) What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? I want my readers to know that, December will make two years since I stepped out on faith and left my full time job to pursue my passion of writing wholeheartedly. Since then, the blessings have been infinite and I'm not sure that there would have been a space for them if I had not let go and trusted that the walk in my purpose would be a challenging yet rewarding journey. I said all of that to say, chase that dream until you catch it then hang on tight for a wild yet fulfilling ride!
About Monica Marie Jones: Monica Marie Jones is an author whose published works include The Ups and Downs of Being Round (Fiction/Self-Help), Taste My Soul (Poetry) and FLOSS (Urban Fiction). She is a contributing author in Chicken Soup for the Girls Soul, New Directions for Youth Development, and 44th (A full color coffee table book about President Barack Obama that is a compilation of front page reprints of actual African-American published newspapers and poetry.) She has also contributed to several publications and youth development training materials for the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. She has worked as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications and websites including the Michigan Front Page Newspaper and is an active member of the Motown Writer's Network where she is the host of her own show, “Marketing and Motivation Mondays with Monica Marie Jones” on the Michigan Literary Network Radio.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
1. Tell us about yourself? I am the one and only King Dhakir. King is what I am, which is royalty due to my ancestral blood, and Dhakir means “Remembering God” in Arabic, which I strive to do amongst the weak and wicked. I’m originally from Chicago. Now I’m a rolling stone bouncing from various cities on the East Coast. I’m basically a Renaissance nomad.
2. How long have you been writing? I've been sharpening my pen for 17 years. Drawing cartoons sketches never worked out because I couldn't raw a lick. So I started writing episodes instead. As I got older, I expanded to lyric writing when I was interested in rapping. MCing has helped me tremendously with story writing because I can incorporate poetics and rhythm to my writings.
3. What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? Winning $25 in an academic contest for writing an essay on a famous Black individual sparked my interest in writing. I won the award for writing an essay on Malcolm X. When one of my classmates had told me I won the award, I didn't believe her until they announced the winners over the loud speaker for the whole elementary school to hear.
I beat out everyone in the 4th grade level at my school, which means I pretty much out wrote roughly 80 students to win the award. So I answered my calling instead of refusing to pick up the phone to speak with opportunity.
4. How long have you been writing books with plus size characters? I Hate My Job is the first piece I focused on plus size characters. I've always dated thick women, at least over size 10, even when I was younger. I just find plus size women attractive, at least those who are well shaped. I really didn't dwell too deeply with plus size characters, but the next book will have sub-plots dedicated to plus size women.
5. Tell us about your book I Hate My Job?
I Hate My Job is not about hating your job, per sé.
The title is a metaphor for doing what you want to do instead of doing what you need to do. You need to work at a desk job or a fast food joint to pay bills, but you probably see yourself traveling across the world. My book is the alpha and omega of living out your vision because I’m sure everybody at one point had felt trapped in a situation, and either fought out of a bad spot or fell victim to their environment. I Hate My Job shows you how to GET OUT troublesome situations in order to become victorious.
I Hate My Job is filled with comedy, drama, suspense, and erotica, and also socio-political issues such as gentrification, which is going on in many inner city communities today.
6. Tell us about the plus size character in your novel. Who is she and what is her role in book? Does her size play an essential role in the book? Felicia is the main plus size heroine of the novel, and Justice’s (the main character) close friend as well as off and on lover.
She’s in the process of losing her home due to gentrification in Brooklyn. Gentrification in short is basically when land and property tax increases push long time residents out the area to make way for a new crop of people. Felicia is a fighter unwilling to back down from developers who are interested in turning her brownstone into a condo. The representation of a strong woman is shown in her character, and might be considered a feminist to some people reading the book because she wants to do for self without help from a man.
I really didn't focus on Felicia’s size as much. I didn't want her image to come across as superficial. I described her physical attributes instead, and only focused on her ambition to strengthen a community that’s fighting to keep their homes. When the average person thinks of BBW (Big Beautiful Women), full figured, or plus size, it’s usually has to do with sex parties, partying in general, modeling or physical appearance. I just wanted to focus on the drive of the woman behind the beauty and the size.
I have two other plus size women in the story, but they play minor roles.
7. Do you plan to write more books featuring plus size characters? No doubt. Every book I write will have plus-size characters. I don’t want to exploit people who are plus size, and that’s why I subconsciously didn't point out that Felicia was full-figured. I would rather EXPLORE the life of a plus-size individual instead of “type-writer pimping” a particular size.
And to add on to that thought, I don’t discriminate. I’m too diverse to pigeon-hole myself as an “author who writes only about full-figured people.” Even when I have full-figured characters, I’ll still maintain a balance of images to cease any biasness.
I also wanna point out just because a person is plus-size doesn't mean he/she is living an unhealthy lifestyle. Sometimes genetics plays a part in how people are built. I plan on dropping jewels here and there about health to show folks you can keep your shape while eating right and exercising. Breast cancer, especially among Black women, is due to the fact that the body is lacking Vitamin D. I’ll touch on that in future books as well.
8. Is there another novel in the works? I started writing my next joint entitled, Cracked Mirrors Are Good Luck. Each word in the title has its own story; five short stories in one book. The piece is basically a Science Fiction joint with mad flavor. It’s gonna be dope. I just wanted to do something different.
There’s at least 2 plus size characters, mainly women, in each short story. I’m gonna push the image of full-figured women to the forefront because it seems like I’m the only writer advocating for the size 10 and up crew.
Forget pushing the envelope, I’m bulldozing the postal office.
9. What are you reading now? Who are your favorite authors? I really don’t have any favorite authors. Donald Goines and Eric Jerome Dickey were my favorite authors in the late 90’s when I started reading fictional work. Since I’ve grown a liking in reading, I really don’t have a favorite as of now. I just love a great book that’ll keep my attention when I’m riding buses and trains.
10. Do you have any public appearances in the near future? Bush Baby Café in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn will be hosting a book-signing for me as well as an open mic Saturday, October 24th. You can check out details of that event and other shows I’m throwing in the future by copying and pasting http://www.kingdhakir.com/apps/calendar/ to your browser.
I have a few tricks up my sleeve, for sure.
11. How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? Anybody can reach me @ http://www.kingdhakir.com/
Please leave comments and other concerns of yours on the site. I have links to my other pages on social sites like Facebook, Myspace, etc.
12. What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? The world will get their money’s worth with no question. If they support me by purchasing I Hate My Job from my website, I’ll support them with a great read filled with entertainment as well as education.
I don’t play games with mastering my art as a writer. I appreciate all my supporters. So it’s only right for me to serve them timeless material with every release.
13. If you could tell one thing to every aspiring writer what would it be? I can say one thing, but actually I have three.
Don’t write a popular form of book just because everybody and their mamas are doing it. It makes you look weak and a follower, which equals disaster. The FIRST you is better than being the next someone else.
Also, aspiring authors should stop thinking that a lot of money is involved in the book game. You will make dough if you GRIND hard and make the right connects, but overall, a lot of authors still have their day jobs and are broke. It’s no different from the rap game. STUDY the greats who came before you, and learn how to command attention with words by reading books on the English language.
Last but not least, have LOVE for what you’re doing. What’s in your heart and mind will show itself between the lines. PEACE!!!
About the Author: King Dhakir was born and raised in Chicago and now resides in New York City. He keeps his sanity by reading, writing, traveling and working out in the gym. After graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Journalism, he sharpens his writing through lyrics and blogging during his spare time. King is also happily single and currently enjoys the life of a bachelor, but doesn’t rule out the possibility of settling down with a Queen to accompany the throne. King has plans of writing another novel tentatively titled, Cracked Mirrors Are Good Luck, and is shooting for a future release.
Comment on any of the October and November Interviews (Except the Interview by Monica Jones) and be entered into a contest to win your choice of one of the many books we have on hand.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
1. Tell us about yourself? I'm a mother, and work for a large school district in Texas as a School Nurse Practitioner. I love reading and working in my flower garden.
2. How long have you been writing? I've been writing since around 1990. I first sold short stories before selling a full-length novel, FALLEN ANGEL, to Odyssey Books on December 24, 1991.
3.Your books both romance and mainstream fiction feature strong women of various sizes and shapes. Which titles specifically feature plus size woman? How long have you been writing books and stories with plus size woman? I have novellas in BIG GIRLS DON'T CRY and LIVING LARGE. In single mainstream the titles are NOT EVEN IF YOU BEGGED, and AND MISTRESS MAKES THREE. Romance titles include SILKEN BETRAYAL, and DREAMING OF YOU. I've been writing about plus size women for several years
4. Why did you chose to feature plus size heroines in your novels? My daughter, Michelle, is the reason I began writing about full figured women, and the reason I came up with the idea for the Big Girl series. One night while I was writing she asked why the all women were thin. It was a good question and made me think that women of size were just as beautiful, just as independent, intelligent, and as resilient as other women. Since that night, I've looked at opportunities to spotlight women of size.
5. The last two books in the Invincible Women Series, Not Even If You Begged and And Mistress Makes Three, both feature plus size women. Tell us about these books. Why did you choose plus size heroines for both of these books? NOT EVEN IF YOU BEGGED features Traci Evans who distrusts men because her husband died while cheating on her. Worse, he made her doubt her ability to interest another man. In AND MISTRESS MAKES THREE, Gina Rawlings' husband crushed her emotionally. Traci and Gina came to me as full-figured women with issues that are shared by many women - trying to move on after a man has done a number on you. They needed to learn to believe in themselves. By the end of the novel they're their own woman. A good-looking, intelligent and successful man who loves them is a bonus.
6. Are there any more plus size heroines is the works? I plan to have a plus size woman in a new mainstream series I'm working on.
7. What are you reading now? What types of books (genres) do you read in general?
I'm so far behind on my reading. I love Bette Ford work. I'm reading UNFORGETTABLE. I love romance. I want my happy ending.
8. Who are your favorite authors? I love so many authors work. As I said, Bette Ford, Donna Hill, Gwynne Forester, Mary Morrison, Victoria Christopher Murphy, Eric Jerome Dickey, Evelyn Palfrey.
9. Do you have any public appearances in the near future? I'm signing at Borders at Preston and Royal in Dallas on November 7, 2009. Please check my web site at http://www.francisray.com/ for other dates.
10. How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? Readers can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my web site at http://www.francisray.com/ and join my mailing list so they'll receive updates on books/signings and other information.
11. What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? I'd like for my readers to know how very much I love and appreciate them. Without their continuous support I would not have been able to write over 40 books, made the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers list or any of the other accomplishments I've had writing. Because of them I'm living my dream of being a published writer. Thank you. I wish all of you love, health and happiness and send readers a big cyber hug.
***** Contest Alert *****
Comment on any of the October and November Interviews (Except the Interview by Monica Jones) and be entered into a contest to win your choice of one of the many books we have on hand.