Wednesday, September 10, 2008

FEATURED AUTHOR: Vanessa Davis Griggs

Vanessa Davis Griggs is an author and motivational speaker who adores the power of words both written and spoken. At the end of 1996, this former BellSouth employee left 18 years of service and stepped out on faith as she pursues her purpose and passion—writing and speaking. Resides in Irondale (a city just outside of Birmingham) Alabama and is the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards.

Novels: Destiny Unlimited, The Rose of Jericho, Promises Beyond Jordan, Wings of Grace (which was also an audiobook), a trilogy with Kensington/Dafina: Blessed Trinity, Strongholds, and September 30, 2008, release, If Memory Serves


When Pastor George Landris, the dreadlock-wearing minister of the new mega-church, Followers of Jesus Faith Worship Center, urges his congregation to approach the altar and cast off their strongholds--also known as their weaknesses--it's the start of intense soul-searching for many.

From a married couple's twin addictions to gambling and gluttony, to a female member's adulterous affair, a computer expert's obsession with cyber-porn and a therapist's workaholism, the Pastor's church family is about to open the proverbial floodgates. And that's just the beginning. There's also the woman whose battle with mental illness hides a buried trauma, and the religious devotee who's so busy fearing the devil she's forgotten what faith is really about. The plot only thickens when the Pastor's wife lightens his load by helping him counsel--and finds herself at the center of a decades-long deception.


Memory Patterson has been hiding from her family for much too long. Her instinct has always been to run, and never more so than when a chance meeting with Pastor Landris and his pregnant wife, Johnnie Mae, leads to a shocking revelation as Johnnie Mae discloses the truth about Memory’s mother. Told her daughter had died at birth, ninety-year-old Sarah Fleming has spent the past three-and-a-half years searching for Memory. Sarah has been warned repeatedly by Memory’s daughter and granddaughter not to trust the ever-conning Memory no matter how much she may claim she has changed. Just as Memory attempts to convince everyone that she truly is saved now, the faithful woman responsible for reuniting her with her past finds herself suffering with troubles of her own. When Johnnie Mae experiences complications with her pregnancy, Pastor Landris learns he may have to make an impossible choice—one that will amount to true spiritual warfare. Meanwhile, Johnnie Mae’s friend, Charity, finally comes face to face with the painful truth and damaging secret of her own past. For all those involved, secrets have done nothing but tear them apart and destroy their families. And—for Memory and Charity especially—only hope and the power of faith can mend these shattered, fractured lives…

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

The message of how much God loves and cares for us. That no matter what we’re going through, as long as we have Jesus in our lives, we can make it and yes, He has already overcome the world. The comfort in knowing that with God on our side, we’re more than a conqueror, and we have the victory no matter how much the devil may try to convince us otherwise. As a Christian author, I want people to see that Christians deal with issues and have problems just like everyone else. But when you have Christ in your life, you don’t feel alone and in the end, no matter what happens you win because you’re not alone.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That there are messages that run deeper than anything I ever believed would come from what was written. People are examining their own strongholds and have a sincere desire to take them head on because they really do want to rise as high as God would have them to. Strongholds are real and even if you’re not dealing with the strongholds included in this book, it gets you thinking about yourself, where you are, what you can do to be better, and in my humble opinion, that’s a good thing.

What is the hardest part about the writing business?

I think there are hard parts to various stages of the business. If you haven’t gotten a book picked up by an agent (if you choose that route) or a publisher, it’s trying to get it picked up. After the book is published, it’s trying to get the word out about the book. Many people who are published want to get their books into bookstores. Me, I care about getting them out and into readers’ hands. That’s the real challenge. And then there is the rejection you may have to deal with on several levels, from publishers to reviewers to readers. I often say if you can’t handle rejection, this may not be the business for you.

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

People who write have feelings and are human just like you. You may not like what an author writes, and you may even feel you can do better. But it’s not as easy as some people think, so don’t be so critical. If you don’t like a book, just say that book was not for you. Someone else may love it so respect diversity in reading. Generally, it takes a lot longer to write a book than it does to read it. A writer has to take something out of nothing and put it into words on paper. It’s easier to criticize after those words are there than it may be putting them there in the first place.
Our theme this month is Online Marketing. What online marketing have you found that particularly works well for you?

Of course online Web sites that get the word out like,
(to mention a few). Then there’s my own Web site, social networks like I recently have worked with, and I LOVE them because they have my name everywhere these days. Various Blog Talk Radio shows, various Yahoo groups, the list could go on. There are so many places online to use, and I’ve found that every bit you do, even those that seem small, helps.

What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?

1) That once you get there it can start going really, really fast so get ready to pass yourself as you may find that you’re promoting one book while writing another and addressing edits on yet a third while developing the storyline for a fourth.

2) There will be days of frustration that have nothing to do with writing, but there are equally if not more days of joys.

3) It’s a lot harder getting the word out to readers than you think. They are not always looking or listening where you are or when you think so you have to constantly find ways to get the word out if you want readers to know you have a book available for their consideration.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Yes, once. And it wasn’t because I was a quitter. There was a time when I wondered if what I was doing made any difference. I never want to be doing something just to be doing it especially if it’s not making a difference in someone’s life, not something like this anyway. But then comes the emails and the phone calls that assure you that what you’re doing matters to others, that your work really is making a difference in other people’s lives. I just want whatever I do to matter to more than just me and be more than just about me or the money I may get for doing it. It’s about the people you hope to touch.

Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?

Be true to who you are and to your calling. In other words, don’t try to be a copy of someone else, just be the original God created you to be and do you. Be a slamming you and not a second rate somebody else. Also, learn your craft, learn the business, and read other writers while you’re aspiring, taking note of what works or doesn’t work and why or why not.

Five questions about books:

One book you’ve read more than once.

Besides the Bible, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.

One book you couldn’t put down until you finished.

Saving Grace by Ryan Phillips

One book that impacted you.

The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino

One book that made you cry.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

One book you wish you'd written.

The Shack by William P. Young

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

P. O. Box 101328, Birmingham, AL 35210.


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