Thursday, June 25, 2009


Maurice M. Gray, Jr. is an author (of two novels), an editor, a speaker and a comedian. He serves on the faculty the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, where he evaluates manuscripts for conferees and teaches workshops as needed. Along with Lacricia A'ngelle, Dr. Linda Beed and Wanda Campbell, he is a member of the Damascus Road Authors. As a Christian comedian, Maurice has worked with the likes of James “The Storyteller” Ford and Pat “Sister Betty” G'orge-Walker.

Maurice serves as an HIV/AIDS Prevention Counselor for Beautiful Gate Outreach Center; in this capacity, he regularly educates men, women and teenagers about this disease.

Maurice is a member of Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, DE, where he is active in many ministries (including the Singles Ministry and the Men's Chorus). He is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc and of the Greater Newark Area Toastmasters club. He lives in New Castle, DE with his family.

The Soul of a Man: A Triumph of My Soul Anthology, features short stories, essays and poems by Joe Thomas, Jihad, William Fredrick Cooper, Alvin C. Romer, Marc Lacy, Maurice M. Gray, Jr., Brian Ganges, Jarold Imes, K.L. Belvin, Joey Pinkney, Thomas Ashburn, Jr., Clarence "Baba Simba" Mollock, Tyrell Floyd and Eddrick Dejuan.

Long Term (a short story)

After a season of sowing his wild oats, Nate Carter is a changed man. He’s turned his life over to God, but that doesn’t exempt him from the consequences of his past. Nate, a supervisor of temporary employees at a local credit card bank, is challenged when a former conquest comes to work for him and wants to pick up where they left off a few years prior. The man he is now struggles with the man he was. Who will win? God knows.

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

The knowledge that there are many black male authors out here, and that we each have a different voice that needs to be heard. The fourteen of us in The Soul Of A Man are just the tip of the iceberg. I want those who read this book to appreciate the diversity of minds and talents assembled in this work.

Why did you choose to write this book?

I wanted to be part of this project because it’s something new and different. I hear a lot of women say that there aren’t many male authors for them to read, and this anthology says differently. Here are fourteen different men, none named Omar Tyree or Eric Jerome Dickey or Walter Mosely, but whose writing abilities are just as worthy of a reader’s time.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That holding myself to 5000 words is not an easy task- I’m wordy! I also learned that it just may be harder to write a short story than it is to write a novel. In a short story, you have considerably less space to develop your characters and your plotline. But, writing tight is a good skill to have, and this helped me to hone that particular skill.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

I haven’t read everyone’s contributions yet, so I’d have to speak for my own story, Long Term. My favorite scene is near the beginning, where my main character Nate is stunned to realize that the newest temporary employee under his supervision is a woman with whom he had a brief relationship a few years back (during his BC- Before Christ) days).

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

That writing is a real job :). That it’s not as easy as one may think- just because writing a book involves sitting at the computer for hours on end doesn’t make it any less strenuous than other jobs. And, that writers need serious alone time when on deadline :). It’s not personal- it’s about getting the book or story or article done when you promised it would be done.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

Patricia Haley (author of many Christian fiction books, most recently Chosen) taught me almost everything I know about self-publishing. Without her advice, I more than likely would still be shopping my first manuscript around instead of stepping out on faith and doing it myself.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

There were two occasions where I lost money in literary deals. One was when a publisher I worked with didn’t adhere to the contract I signed for a project, and another is a situation where I signed on to participate in a book expo. I’d sent books to the person in charge, and when the expo was cancelled, I never got my books back. Between those two incidents, I’d say I’m out a good $2000.00-$4000.00. My challenge was to get over being angry with those individuals and write off the money. I was particularly upset because both were African-Americans who call themselves my brothers in Christ, but I had to get over it. I’ve got better things to do than to hurt myself by staying angry over something I can’t control.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

They might be surprised to know that I work as an HIV Prevention Counselor for a faith-based non-profit organization (Beautiful Gate Outreach Center). I’m comfortable in saying that it’s not your typical day job for a writer :).

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

1) That a good printer for your self-published book doesn’t have to cost a small fortune
2) That you should make your business plan and set aside money for a budget before you jump out there and self-publish
3) That you need a strong online presence from Day One to be an effective author

How do you reach new readers?

Word of mouth has done wonders for me in that regard, and a good online presence has also been highly effective. Facebook and MySpace, along with my web site, have gotten me in front of lots of readers I might otherwise not have reached.

If you could have dinner with 3 authors to talk with about their writing (living or deceased) who would you invite and why?

Zora Neale Hurston, because I enjoyed Their Eyes Were Watching God so much I’d love to pick her brain about how she got her ideas.

Alex Haley, because I’d love to know how he handled all that research. He traced his roots all the way back to Kunta Kinte, and it’s all I can do to find out what a person who works a particular job does so I can give that occupation to a new character :).

The Apostle Paul- anybody who could write such compelling letters to those various New Testament churches without computer, typewriter or even pens and pencils as we know them is someone I want to have a writer’s chat with.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do: Put the same level of effort into your writing as you would any job you’ve ever done for any employer. Whether you intend to self-publish or look for a contract with a traditional publisher, this is a business. Treat it that way.

Don’t: Quit your day job without a plan for how you will sustain yourself as a full-time writer.

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

My web site is
. My e-mail is, and I can be found on Facebook and MySpace.

Our theme for this month is REACHING YOUR GOALS. What steps should a writer take to reach their goals?

Research, research, research. Learn the craft, and learn the steps towards your particular writing goal. If you intend to self-publish, find someone who’s successfully done so and learn as much as you can from them. Don’t be offended if you reach out to a professional and they have a fee. You pay a doctor for medical care, and a lawyer for legal advice. If you want extensive information on how to become a writer and the person you ask teaches it professionally, they may charge for a consultation. Treat writing as a business and act accordingly. Make your business plan, set your budget and get to stepping!

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My next novel is due to be released in September. Female Problems follows Erik, Garvey and Sam, three Christian men trying to figure out the women in their lives (or the lack thereof). Think Waiting To Exhale with Christian men in the lead roles and you have the idea :). Those who read my first two novels, To Whom Much Is Given and All Things Work Together, will be pleased to know that this book contains all new characters. These men are by no means perfect, but they are representative of the good men out there that so many women believe don’t exist or are not available.


Jeanette Hill said...

This interview with Maurice is great! We can all benefit from his life, writing and self-publishing experiences and advice. It's encouraging when someone who has already 'run the race', takes the time show others how to train for it successfully!

Linda Beed said...

Great interview. I learn more and more from each interview with this author.


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