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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Monday, March 24, 2008


Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

It’s a huge secret that I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth, and my last report card consisted of 4 Ds and 1 B. The B was in art. Needless to say, I absolutely loathed school, but given a second chance, I know I could do better. LOL!

I self published my first book five years after I started writing it and it sold a whopping 117 copies! Then I published it again, and it sold ten thousand copies. And finally, it was picked up by Monique Patterson at St. Martin ’s Press and published for the third time in 2003, and the rest is history. Becoming a writer is the one thing in life that I set my sites on, and saw it through to the end. It’s the one thing I know I’ll do until I take my last breath, whether I continue to get published or not.

Tell us about your current book?

You Gotta Sin To Get Saved is the final installment of the One Day I Saw a Black King series, which was never meant to be a series in the first place. The characters in Black King are probably my favorites because they were all interesting enough to spawn so many different types of stories into so many different directions. Wherein Don’t Want No Sugar was the backdrop to John King’s saga, You Gotta Sin to Get Saved fills in some blanks to Connie Rodgers’ life.

Charlotte Rodgers abandoned her two daughters in 1976, chasing after the man in her life. I wanted to let readers know what happened to Charlotte , and to bring closure for her girls.

What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

That God don’t like ugly! Charlotte was a selfish woman, putting her needs before anyone else’s, even her own kids. In the end, she learned a powerful lesson that only this confrontation can teach her.

And that you don’t necessarily have to let your past define you. Connie, the oldest of her children, was the hardest hit by her mother’s neglect. In her own way, Connie has carried the burden of her past for too long, but despite her trials growing up, she owes it to herself to stop blaming herself for those things that happened to her when she was younger.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

That depends on deadlines. I’ve gotten to the point where I seldom turn a book in on time anymore, and because of that, I’m usually rushing at the last minute to get it done, so I have to write whenever I can. Sometimes, I don’t have the luxury of choosing when to write. I just have to hurry up and get it done.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love it when I finish a book! LOL… I hate starting one, but it’s the beginning that’s the most critical to me. I hate writing the middle, because I just want to get to the end, and it sometimes seems like that’s never going to happen. Writing can be boring, tedious work when I’m up to my elbows trying to get to ninety-thousand words, but when I type that last word, and I know I’m finished, I usually go out and celebrate with a frozen, strawberry daiquiri.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I don’t think I have an answer for that one. I’ve been in this business for many years, and I still don’t understand it all. It’s competitive, complicated, confusing, but I guess that at some point, like anything else, you come to accept the good with the bad.

What’s the most interesting change in your life as a result of being a published author?

I’m actually rather shy. The first time I had to speak in front of a group to promote my first book, And on the Eighth Day She Rested, I didn’t sleep the night before because I was up all night, taking care of business in the bathroom. I do much better now, but it took a long time to feel comfortable speaking in front of crowds.

I’m not very good at self promotion, and I tend to get uncomfortable when I’m out in public and someone I don’t know (or remember) recognizes me.

I get letters from folks from all over the place, telling me how much they like (or don’t like) my books, and that’s amazing to me. I remember when I first started out in the business, and I’d go to Barnes and Nobles dreaming of the day that my book would show up on their shelves. Corny as it may sound; it really is a dream come true knowing that my books sell all over the world.

How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

I’m terrible at marketing. I think it comes from that shy thing. I use the internet a lot, and I have a publicist at St. Martin ’s that does some things for me. I tried doing the “traveling doing book signings” thing at book stores across the country, but those things never work out for me. I usually end up standing there, looking scared and desperate, and hoping someone will stop by my table. The last signing I did at a store was in Philly, and they had the room set up for me to speak to a rather large group. Well, three people showed up (one was my sister). I went ahead and did my spiel like the room was packed, but I vowed – never again.

I do like doing the bigger events, like the Book Expo America . I’ve got a captive audience, and know that folks are going to stop for a FREE signed book! LOL

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

I wish they’d understand that this really is work. People kill me when you meet them and they say something careless like “I think I’ll write a book some day”, like it’s really so easy to do. All I can think is that maybe for them, it is. For me, writing is tough and requires time, energy, attention—blood, sweat, and tears to do.

And I’d like for them also to know that first book you write is probably going to be the easiest. That’s been my experience. I have to dig a little deeper, reach a little farther, and stretch my imagination a little thinner each and every time.

What do you do to make time for yourself?

I procrastinate. LOL

I do some obvious things, like go to movies, hang out with friends, and I love listening to live music. But I can never stay away from writing for too long, so as lame as it might sound, I write for fun too. I love writing plays, and work with a small local theater company here in town where they put my plays into production. Theater is a great outlet for me, because unlike writing novels, the entire burden of storytelling isn’t on the author. It’s a team effort; the writer, producer, director, and actors. I really enjoy the collaborative effort and the results take my breath away.

This month our theme is Writing for Children. Have you ever considered writing a children’s book?

I’ve thought about it, but I think I would scare them. I have two great kids, but other than my own, I’ve never been able to relate to them all that well. I have tons of nieces and a nephew too, but they look at me like they just don’t get me. I love them, though. LOL.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Readers can visit my website at http://www.officiallyjd.com/, or my myspace page at www.myspace.com/officiallyjd.


Carleen Brice said...

Can totally relate to the idea that the 1st book is the easiest! Great interview!

Terri W said...

You learn something new everyday. I had no idea that you wrote plays. JD and LaShaunda awesome interview! Can't wait to read Sin to Get Saved. I wanted those girls to have closure too. :-)

Jess said...

A well-written post. I agree with you about the need to stop procrastination. You can find more help at http://www.stop-procrastination.org This website also has plenty of easy ways you can use to stop procrastination.

latricia said...

This was a truly great interview! I cannot wait to read the new book to find out what really happened. I love these characters and I am glad that their stories have been told. It is also great to know that you also write plays- I hope to see one of your productions one day.

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