Monday, November 19, 2007
FEATURED AUTHOR: Fon James
Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.
My name is Fon James and I currently work full-time as a sr. communications consultant for a major insurance company, but within my literary career I am the owner and publisher of Tucker House Publishing. I reside in Houston, TX with my husband Donte.’ Back and Forth is my first novel, and I am also the author of a short story, A Mother, Her Son and The Father, which will be appearing in the upcoming anthology, The Triumph of My Soul (www.thetriumphofmysoul.com) to be released in December. My educational background is in journalism, but I also have an MBA which I think really helps me as a business owner. I’ve worked for several major daily newspapers including The Houston Chronicle, the Contra Costa Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Clarion-Ledger. Prior to my print career, I also did a stint as an on-air radio personality in Jackson, MS (my hometown). I enjoy hanging out with family and attending HBCU football games.
Tell us about your current book?
My current book is Back and Forth. It’s actually set on the campus of my college alma mater and taps in the collegiate lives of four characters: Faith, Gavin, Chrissy, and Remi. The lives of these four friends take an unexpected turn when two of these friends “accidentally” sleep together. While temptations of sex and alcohol are as common as textbooks and pencils for these college students, this little sex incident rocks the core of their friendship bond and slow begins to unravel the once tightly-woven group. Meanwhile, Faith struggles to live a celibate lifestyle and goes “Back and Forth” on her commitment to no sex, all in the name of keeping her man satisfied and happy. To make matters in her life even more strenuous, a big family secret is revealed that leaves her clinging to the only stable thing in her life…her faith in God.
What would you like your readers to take away from your book?
I want readers to know that no matter what you have done, God can forgive you and once God has forgiven you, you don’t have to rehash the past over and over. Let it go and march forward into the blessings He has for your life.
What inspired this story?
The ideas for this book were derived from my experiences in college, along with those I knew in college, my imagination, and God’s divine intervention. Initially, I began writing a different story, but God took over and thank goodness I let Him, because I would have been lost without His direction. This book takes a peek into the lives of those that struggle with doing right. A lot of us know what to do and we “say” we are going to do right, but when it comes to certain aspects of our lives, we straddle the fence and don’t really turn everything over to God. We partially turn it over. We try to handle portions of our lives ourselves, and we can’t do that. We can’t fight the devil alone… period, end of sentence. We need God to fight our battles. There were things in my life that I struggled with (and if truth be told, still continue to struggle with) and I know I’m not alone…so I know that readers will be able to relate to the characters and the messages in this novel, no matter what age they are.
How long did it take from first word to sale? What were some of the steps along the journey?
This writing journey for me actually began when I stated out loud that I would write a book back in 1998. After several attempts, I finally started seriously writing this particular novel in September 2006. I finished the manuscript in July and from that point on, the pace quickened! From revisions and edits and feedback from various friends and family members, to setting up my publishing company and actually waiting on the UPS man to deliver my first proof, it has definitely been an exciting journey and one that will always keep me in a thankful posture. I know that I would not have been able to do any of this without God’s direction. And during the process, I would sometimes get these doubtful feelings of whether or not I could really pull it off by the set November release date. But praise God, I began selling books three and half weeks earlier than my release (official release date: November 6th), and the first place I sold books you ask? My church! It was an awesome day!
What have you learned throughout the process of writing, pitching - and now, promoting - a novel?
The first thing I have learned is that you must have support. Whether it’s from a spouse, a family member, a friend, or like me, have more than three writing groups with tons of people seeking the same goal, you must position yourself around like-minded people. When I got into this business I was warned by so many to watch who you associate yourself with because everybody is not out to help you. I prayed on that very thing and God led me to the “write” places. One of those places is the Writer’s Hut, moderated by national best selling author, Kendra Norman-Bellamy. The members of the Hut have supported me and taught me so much! Becoming a member of that environment alone afforded me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people and gain so much insight and knowledge into the publishing industry…and then on top of that, it’s a Christian group, so we even support each other through prayers and give virtual high-fives with praise reports!
You must also be organized in this writing/publishing process. Not staying on tasks will keep you from reaching your goals. As far as promoting the novel, nothing is off limits. My background in journalism and my current full-time position in marketing communications, has allowed me to utilize many of those very skills that I have attained in my previous positions. But I have so much more to learn with regard to book promotions, so I am wide-eyed and always eager and ready for more info on how to do it!
Any exciting things happening before or during the time period while the book is releasing?
I got a chance to do a book signing at my church three weeks prior to the official release and I sold and signed 85 books out the gate! To me that was a major blessing! I also sold 55 pre-orders and sales have continued to go very well for my debut novel. But what’s even more of a blessing, is the fact that I had a young lady to email me to say that the book changed her life in so many ways and that she wanted to live fully for Christ! She learned about the book on Facebook. Her email to me was more than exciting, it was beyond my mind’s ability to even comprehend the awesome power of God. Wrapping my head around the fact that someone read my book and it changed their life for the better…if I don’t get another sell, my effort and my writing this novel has not been in vain. I thank God for the pre-release blessings and I can’t wait to see what He will do next!
How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?
Currently I am ramping up the marketing efforts with several campaigns. I believe that anyone who doesn’t have an existing platform (i.e. a built-in audience) has to truly create a marketing plan. Therefore by doing interviews with you and sending out media kits to those who already tap into my target audience (mature young adults) and developing unconventional methods, I am slowly but surely getting the buzz going about Back and Forth. Marketing is definitely a top priority right now for me because if no one knows about your book, then how can you sell it to them? I am not sure what the best marketing tactic is right now (other than word of mouth, which is usually the best method), so I am trying a little bit of everything. From targeting students at HBCUs through my sorority affiliation (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority) to keeping my myspace page updated, my marketing strategies will run the gamut on what I do to grab the attention of my audience. So check back with me in six months and hopefully I will be able to tell you what’s really working for me ;)
What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?
I wish I would’ve known that I would be so tired (LOL).Then I would have been more consistent with my workout plan, so that by now I would be habitual about drinking plenty of water and exercising. Now I have to form this habit and keep pushing at the same time…that’s tough (LOL)!
I wish I had known the rewriting stage would take longer than the initial writing stage, and then I wouldn’t have spent so much time trying to make the first draft perfect (LOL). Boy was I in for a surprise when I realized revisions took longer. I thought it would be a quick thing. WRONG!
I wish I had learned about online writing groups a long time ago. Maybe I would have been further along in the process, but actually when I think about how everything has worked out, the spiritual Fon says that God does everything in His time and that’s really where I want to be…following Him, not trying to get ahead of Him. I am most sure that the way everything has panned out is much much better than I ever could have wished it to work out anyway.
What do you do to make time for yourself?
I just have to stop doing what I am doing and say, “Today I am going to rest.” Now mind you, my brain is still trying to think of what I need to be doing, but I pray and ask God to give me peace about where I am and allow me to rest so that He can rejuvenate me to be the best me when its time to lace up to run the literary race again. I recently realized after a weekend full of signings and literary running around, that you have to take care of your body, eat right and exercise. While I can delegate a lot of things, no one else can autograph my novel at a signing but me; or have a book discussion about the characters, but me. So I have to take care of me and make time for me, in order to be the best me I can be! (LOL)
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
You can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, via my website: http://www.fonjames.com/
or on myspace: www.myspace.com/fonjames ; for my publishing company: http://www.tuckerhousepublishing.com/
To get a copy of the book, visit:
Or my website:
- I believe in promoting authors and their books. Let me introduce you and your books to online readers.
I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.
I’m available for:
Online promotion coaching
Contact me at:email@example.com