Friday, October 24, 2008
FEATURED AUTHOR: Chandra Sparks Taylor
IF YOU REALLY LOVED ME, YOU’D…
Raised in a strict household, sixteen-year-old Courtland Murphy never had a date. But that was before the guy of her every dream—basketball star Allen Benson—asked her out. She’s gone from never-been-kissed to dating the hottest guy in school. And now her new boyfriend is pressuring her to prove she loves him: by having sex. But as a member of her community’s Worth-the-Wait club, Courtland made a vow to stay a virgin. Now, everyone – from friends to family to fellow club members – gives her different advice, from “do it!” to “you made a pledge, girl!” It could be so easy for Courtland to go all the way with Allen, but sometimes his charming personality leaves her wondering. Who knew being in love could be so confusing?
Chandra Sparks Taylor is the author of the young adult novels Spin It Like That and The Pledge. She is also a contributor to the updated Souls of My Sister anthology.
She owns Taylor Editorial Service, which specializes in line editing and ghostwriting manuscripts by aspiring and established authors. Her clients have included E. Lynn Harris and Michael Baisden. In addition to serving as consulting editor for Arabesque romance line, Taylor has done editing for a number of publishers and served as senior copy editor for Good Housekeeping magazine.
Visit her at www.chandrasparkstaylor.com, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What would you like your readers to take away from your book?
The thing I would like for readers to take away from my novel The Pledge is the importance of first and foremost loving God and also the fact that you must love yourself. I think as black women, it’s in our nature to take care of others, and we often forget about taking care of ourselves, which often leads us to not listen to the red flags we get in relationships. If we can help our young girls to get the message early that they must love themselves, we will have taught them a valuable lesson.
What did you learn while writing this book?
One of the most important things I learned while writing this book is that loving yourself is a process and it happens for different people at different times in different ways—just because you’re forty years old doesn’t mean you love yourself.
What is the hardest part about the writing business?
The hardest part for me is opening myself up to criticism. I’ve worked as an editor for years, so it’s interesting now to be on the other side of the paper, so to speak. I think being a writer has made me a more sensitive editor, and I pray I have never been guilty of killing someone’s writing dream because of some harsh criticism.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
One thing I wish nonwriters understood is that being a writer is a job and a calling. It takes discipline to sit down and write day after day until you create a story of which you can be proud, and for me, writing books other people enjoy is something that happens only by the grace of God.
Our theme this month is THE BUSINESS OF WRITING. Most new writers don’t know about the business side of writing, what advice can you offer on this important part of writing?
I think the most important piece of advice I can give is to learn your craft. I’ve met a lot of writers who got up one morning and decided they wanted to write a book, which is fine, but all they do is write it. They don’t do their basic homework in terms of reading books in the genre in which they’re interested or studying to discover basic things like the fact that a manuscript should be doublespaced and every paragraph should be indented.
What are three things you wish you'd known before you reached where you are now?
Three things I wish I would have known before I reached where I am now: God’s timing is always perfect, and things happen when they are meant to; being able to say I’ve found “success” as a writer and editor is cool, but that doesn’t mean much if the people in my own home don’t recognize me, so I have to make my family a priority always; and finally, it’s okay to say no to situations, people and things that don’t work for me.
Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?
There have been times I’ve thought of quitting, but for me, that’s not an option. It’s like telling me to stop breathing.
Do you have any advice for the aspiring writer?
My most important piece of advice is to just write. Don’t get caught up with trying to land a book deal or trying to write for whatever genre is hot right now. Write the story that’s in your heart.
What is the best lesson you have learnt from another writer?
The best lesson I’ve learned from another writer is not to be surprised by anything. Not to be cliché, but truth really is stranger than fiction.
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