How do you come up with the titles of your books?
I am more of a social writer. I look at what ails society and the message burning in my heart at the moment, then formulate a title around it. For example, “Of Sentimental Value” came out of a very painful experience when my 22-year-old niece died during childbirth in Africa. Unfortunately, the death was senseless as she was left in labor for 3 days before she was taken to a hospital by an older boyfriend! I began to question why she would have left home without the family’s approval; why did she felt she needed to move in with an older guy who apparently did not value her enough. I began asking hard questions about why some women allow themselves to be taken advantage of… Then, it dawned on me, if my niece knew she was of sentimental value, she would have understood her worth and have acted accordingly. Hence, the title of the current bestselling book, “Of Sentimental Value.”
What is your writing schedule? Do you jump out of bed with coffee in hand, or are you an afternoon writer? What conditions do you like to write under?
Wow! When I am writing, I usually wake up around 2 a.m. and work till 6.30 a.m. and if weekends, that could last till 11 a.m. I am not a coffee drinker, though I sometimes yearn for it. However, tea is my thing; and yes. I load up on it and get cracking. There is something about the stillness of early morning that just empowers and fuels my writing. Once twelve noon hits, my writing genie flies away, and no one can get any great write up from me.
What do you have to avoid when writing a book? Do you ever get burned out?
Insomnia, which I have been told I probably suffer from. At least that is what my husband tells me, since he wakes up seeing me on my laptop and goes to bed with the same image.
How do you start to write a book? What is the first step?
This is a totally cool question. My process starts with just lying in bed and dreaming the plots, the characters, the location, and the dilemmas that could occur. Bottom-line, I write the first draft in my head.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Stephen Covey’s books are quite inspiring. I particularly love: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. As a Personal Development Expert, I have to toot my own horn. My nonfiction book, Your Vision Torch: An Innovator’s Prescription to Igniting Your Dreams & Harnessing Your Vision, will change your life forever! I know it because all tools and tips provided in it changed my life, too.
Do you see writing as a career?
I AM A WRITER! It is that simple. It is what I live and breathe. It doesn’t matter if you are a start-up writer, we must learn to claim who we are. Then the success will follow. I AM A WRITER… a SOTRY TELLER.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
“Of Sentimental Value” really brought out topics which plague society… the story of acceptance, inspiration, and the message of never giving up because there is always light at the end of the tunnel. While this sounds cliché, it is simply the truth. So, would I do anything differently? As a writer, you always think you could have done better because you are your own worse critic. Sometimes, I find myself drifting in that direction, but when I received several awards for the movie itself http://www.ofsentimentalvaluenove.com / http://www.ofsentimentalyvaluemoviel.com I rest and agree that I did accomplish what I needed to accomplish. Case closed.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Well, if you asked my parents, they would tell you that I started writing at two years of age. They once told me that I would scribble on anything I could lay my hands on in the house. At first, it was “cute,” but when I started to write on important documents around the house, they decided to take a massive action to curb my appetite for writing. They didn’t want to kill the passion but felt it needed some re-direction.
Well, they placed a lot of newspaper in one of the rooms, and locked me in the room to go at it. Sadly, when I was through with the newspapers they had placed in the room, I kept on writing. Since grade school, I would write plays for the class to act and poetry with that would reflect my thoughts for that day, even though I didn’t share some with others.
What is your overall opinion of the publishing industry?
Thank goodness the publishing industry is changing from the “masculine” traditional houses, where everyone is looking to be picked up by a traditional publisher. While this is still prestige in being published by a traditional publisher, many have gone to become quite successful financially and with notoriety without the help of traditional publishers. Today, people can just go to places like Createspace, and in weeks their book is ready to be released. However, there is a danger in this too; now the market is flooded with many writers trying to get their voices heard. So, the competition is therefore steeper now. Regardless, it is doable. Anything that can help to support one as an author is welcomed.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Oh, wow. “Of Sentimental Value” was originally birthed very early in the 2000s. It was birthed out of a family experience. We had lost a 22-year-old niece during child labor. What was painful about her unexpected death was that I never got to fulfil the promise I made to her that I would bring her to America. Sometimes, I still wonder what could have happened if I had brought her to the United States before she got pregnant to a man who left her on the streets to die. Today, her son, who is an orphan now (as his father equally died few years after his birth) is alive and well. My goal is to very soon fulfil a promise I made to his mother through him. “Of Sentimental Value” came out of excruciating heartache and pain with poignant question: What if my niece knew and understood that she was valuable? What if she knew she was precious and needed not to take abuse? What if she knew she was “of sentimental value” and a rare gem to behold?
Do you ever get tired of looking at words?
Absolutely yes! When I am done writing a book becomes perfect timing. I take time out to really relax and get away from books before delving in again.
Who designed the covers?
Phatpuppy Art (http://phatpuppyart.com/). She is really great at capturing the essence of one’s story. I highly recommend her.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I actually enjoy the writing process. But after it is done, and editing starts, it becomes very daunting. I am not one who loves to go over my writings over and over again, as some do. Perhaps it is wise to do that.
However, it doesn’t stop me from not liking the process.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I have learned that you must love writing. I have also learned that it takes patience, tenacity, and commitment. You have to know that it is your calling and that even if you do not make money off it, you cannot stop writing.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! And never give up.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
It has always been a pleasure to share a piece of me with them. I love pleasuring them and also hope that within my stories, they are able to find the inspiration to reach for the stars; that through the eyes of my characters, they are able to rediscover, ignite, and launch their inner genius. Above all, that nothing is impossible.