Friday, July 29, 2011
FEATURE AUTHOR: Jacqueline J. Holness
Jacqueline J. Holness is a seasoned journalist with 15 years of professional experience. Currently, she is a correspondent for Courthouse News Service, an online, national news service for attorneys. Through her business, Selah Communications, Jacqueline has also written for several publications, web sites, and organizations including: UPSCALE magazine, the Atlanta Business Chronicle newspaper, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, and Atlanta Home Improvement magazine. Her work has also appeared on Citysearch.com and the New Georgia Encyclopedia web site. She has also written for the Atlanta Convention &Visitors Bureau.
Aside from her professional life, Jacqueline also relishes being involved in her church, Central Christian Church, having served as a Sunday school teacher and Vacation Bible School and play director.
Since health and wellness are important goals in her life, Jacqueline is also a fitness instructor for LA Fitness and has completed a marathon and several road races. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.
While her family is of Jamaican descent, Jacqueline has lived in the metro Atlanta area since she was six years old and considers Atlanta her home. After the Altar Call: The Sisters’ Guide to Developing a Personal Relationship With God is her first book.
How did you start out your writing career?
I started my official writing career as an intern for The Christian Index, a Baptist newspaper and the nation's oldest continuously published religious newspaper when I graduated from the University of Georgia in 1996. I earned a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism. But I started writing stories when I was six years old. In fact, my first grade teacher, Mrs. Roberts, gave me an award for “good story writing.” This award hangs on the wall in my office today!
What did you learn while writing this book?
I learned that writing a book is no joke…lol…I had heard about how hard it is to write a book, but hearing about it and doing it are two different things entirely. I have a brand new respect for what God has been able to accomplish through me!
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
I hope to empower black Christian women to live a victorious Christian life through the inspiration of other black Christian women who may be further along in their Christian journey. These are real stories for real people!
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
Well, there were no “characters” as this is a non-fiction book, but I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing Melissa Summers, a formerly well-known DJ in metro Atlanta who walked away from a six-figure salary, notoriety and other worldly trappings to pursue her calling in Christ. It’s one thing to follow God when you ain’t never had anything anyway, but it is quite another level of sacrifice when you have worldly success and you decide to walk away from it all!
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Well, my book will be officially published in February 2012 so I’m not quite there yet, but right now, I’m surprised about how totally consumed I am by marketing and promoting this book.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I love the actual act of putting everything together. It reminds me of cooking in that you put together all of these ingredients that don’t seem like much independently but together, they are extremely satisfying.
I don’t like the editing process. I don’t hate it because it’s necessary to produce a quality product, but it’s nerve-wracking because I don’t want any errors in the book.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
I wish I would have known how long it would take to get here, that is at the cusp of having my first book published, but I don’t think God works like that. He may tell us where we are going, but He doesn’t necessarily provide a time frame -at least that has been my experience.
Other than that, I’m not sure because I’m still at the beginning of this journey. By next year this time, I’m sure I will have more to share. Check back with me then! LOL!
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Do find writing mentors and network with other aspiring writers.
Don’t judge your work too harshly at the beginning. Write what you feel, and then go back and modify as you learn and grow more. Trust in God’s leading from the beginning to the end.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
Non-writers are as important as writers because we need people to read and understand our work. We write to connect with you particularly since writers tend to be solitary people.
If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?
It would be fun to be Ludell from Ludell & Willie by Brenda Wilkinson. This book is such a treasure because it is tender black love story that takes you to south Georgia in the 1950s. I guess it is really touching because I grew up in Georgia , but I came along two decades later. This book provides a window to witness black life before integration. In spite of the challenges of being black in that time period, there was a beauty that does not seem to be matched in present-day life.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
First of all, I adore reading. I also love to hang out with my boyfriend, friends and family. I thoroughly enjoy traveling as well. My family is from Jamaica , and I’ve also traveled to Puerto Rico, the Bahamas , Barbados and other islands. I’ve also been to England and Costa Rica , and I’m planning to travel more. And I’ve also grown to love working out!
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I’m working on that now. To date, I primarily interact with my readers at my blog, http://afterthealtarcall.com/, but I also interact with readers on my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/jholness, but I’m also working on discovering more ways to interact with my readers.
Our theme for this month is FREELANCING. What type of freelancing have you done and any advice for someone interested in breaking into freelancing?
I have written for several publications, web sites, and organizations including: UPSCALE magazine, the Atlanta Business Chronicle newspaper, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, and Atlanta Home Improvement magazine. My work has also appeared on Citysearch.com and the New Georgia Encyclopedia web site, and I have also written for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Go to networking events hosted for journalists and editors. Most of my freelancing opportunities have come through networking. However, I also had many clips or examples of my work to show editors. So first of all, write, write and write some more so that you have examples of your work, and then go where you can meet editors! There are several publications that are looking for people to write for free. It may not be the ideal opportunity but at least you will have something to show when other more ideal opportunities are presented.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
I know for sure that God has a purpose for each us, and that He is the ultimate Creator and therefore loves and supports our creativity!
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
Not right now…I can’t even think about that right now since I’m in the midst of marketing and promoting this book! LOL!
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
After the Altar Call: The Sisters’ Guide to Developing a Personal Relationship With God is a fresh, real and relevant how-to manual for black women who desire to move past “church speak” and to an intimate relationship with their Creator.
As a journalist, I have interviewed black women from diverse backgrounds to discover what having a personal relationship with God is truly about – beyond the initial “come to Jesus” moment typically associated with the altar call experience. I give readers a rare, personal look into the lives of these women, identify precepts these women used to develop a personal relationship with God given their life experiences, and create a plan for readers to craft their own relationship with the Father.
The book includes interviews with 24 women with compelling stories such the “The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd, & Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the first woman elected to Episcopal office in over 200 years of A.M.E. history; and Valorie Burton, life coach, author and co-host on the Emmy award- winning show “Aspiring Women” and the former co-host of the national television program “The Potter’s Touch” with Bishop T.D. Jakes.
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