Thursday, July 08, 2010
Featured Author: Keisha Mennefee
Texas native, Keisha Mennefee, has thrilled audiences with creative works since her youth when a love affair with literature first began. “I've always been a vivid dreamer and creative thinker with a colorful imagination. Books allowed me to escape to another place. I loved them so much as a kid that I volunteered much of my time at the library.” After developing several “mini-series” for her childhood friends and going on to win numerous awards for her work, Keisha penned several short stories which subsequently appeared in various national publications. After high school, Keisha explored other lines of work including stints in the renewable energy field and corporate marketing sector. But her love of writing was never far from the surface and over the years, Keisha held freelance writer, columnist, feature and sports writing positions at some of the most prestigious media outlets in the country including the Sterling McFadden Group, the Journal Register Corporation and the Associated Press.
While continuing to freelance, Keisha discovered another passion: music. Beginning as an intern for recording artists, Boyz II Men, Keisha went on to hold a variety of positions in the industry working with top names such asBrandy, Pink, Vanessa Williams, Patti LaBelleand Will Smith. Never one to walk away from a golden opportunity, Keisha left the music business to work in sports management and marketing working with some of the biggest names in sports including Allen Iverson, Malik Rose and Vince Carter. Despite her success in these arenas, Keisha always felt an internal call back to writing. “One day, I realized that I couldn’t tell my children to ‘always follow your dreams’ if I wasn’t prepared to do the same. I sat down and wrote the first chapter of Blue Interlude that day.”
Since penning Blue Interlude, Keisha has written a second novel, Doesn't Really Matterdue to be release in 2011 and her latest creation, All I Do, is currently in the works. “These projects let me explore a different side to my writing, while still bringing in a healthy dose of humor, sass, and love.”
Between writing and taking care of her family, Keisha travels across the country speaking at events geared toward aspiring writers, single mothers, at-risk youth and anyone who can benefit from hearing her message. “I feel a responsibility to share my struggles and triumphs with others so that they can learn from my mistakes and profit from my experience.’
Keisha currently resides in the Greater Philadelphia area with her four children.
How did you start out your writing career?
I've always had a big imagination and colorful dreams. All of that definitely was a catalyst to wanting to create vivid characters, and what better way to explore them than to write their stories.
What did you learn while writing this book?
With this story, I not only learned patience and dedication, but also the power in forgiveness. This lesson was more powerful once I tackled the issue of self-forgiveness.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
I simply wanted to follow through on a longtime dream of writing a novel to show my children what it's like to believe and follow our dreams.
What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
Swallowing the rejection pill and balancing the creative versus business side of writing. Those tasks can be tough at times.
If you had the opportunity to talk with three writers, who would you choose and why?
Rochelle Alers, Donna Hill, and Francis Ray - all three have released not only a wonderful collection of novels, but have given authors like me something to strive for.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
I wouldn't do it any differently because I love learning, even from my own mistakes. I believe everything happens how and when it needs to, so there is very little I would change.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
One do is to ALWAYS write, even if it's a page or two talking about the day you had. Don't let anyone tell you what you can't do, especially when you've taken the first step and started writing.
I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?
I would love to have a bookstore shelf full of different titles. That would be nice. With a best seller tag on all of them of course!
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
Writers are always writing, even in our heads we are writing. It's not strange, we just have a notebook brain that will not close for any reason.
What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?
The best - write because you love to, not because you want to sell.
The worst - being told what is standard in the industry. Research ad educate yourself to find out what is best for you and what you should accept for yourself.
If you could visit any place in the world where would you travel to?
What is something readers would be surprised you do?
I have my own line of exotic chocolate called "Yummy by Keisha" that is incredible! (no I am not biased!). I creatively share my love for chocolate as unique ingredients with others and love doing so. It's also an awareness chocolate, with proceeds from the flavors benefiting various organizations and charities.
Our theme for this month is Agent Hunting? What advice would you give someone searching for the right agent?
Research, check credentials and timeline for them. Also, access how they treat you as a client to see how they will treat others on your behalf.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
I know that I'm a successful author because I sold all the copies I set out to do - one to myself. *smile*. The additional sales are incredible and sweet icing on the cake!
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
Doesn't Really Matter explores my love for baseball and brings together two people that have come to their own personal crossroads. We also see a couple of favorite characters from Blue Interlude in this one.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
Under her father/manager Timothy Russell’s tutelage, there was no end to the heights singer Tara Russell could achieve. First with her two sisters Mia and Jordan as part of singing group, Pure, and later as a solo artist, the gifted performer delighted audiences with her quiet beauty, charming personality and impressive vocal range. Though her rise to fame included stays in luxury hotel suites, exotic cars and all the designer labels she could want, it also came with terrible sacrifice, including the relationship with her siblings, the loss of her first love, Marcus, and the child Tara gave up for adoption almost a decade ago.
Now on the brink of releasing the “album of her career,” Tara’s life appears golden to the outside world. Only her assistant, Sydney, and her long-time friend and producer extraordinaire, Quinton, notice the pain and loss in Tara’s eyes. When asked by a ratings-hungry talk show host whether she regrets not making time to start a family, Tara, no longer able to mask her anguish, realizes the time has come to finally come to terms with the decisions she has made. Determined to make peace with her past, Tara sets off to heal old wounds and possibly open her heart to love.
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