Chat With The Author: Inspiring Readers Inspires Her to Write More

Meet Chandra Sparks Splond, a multi-published author, editor, speaker, blogger, wife and mom, advocate of reading and champion of writers. Today she shares what fuels her love of words and her passion for helping others find joy between the pages (or on reading devices and audio) as well.

In what genre do you write?  First, thank you so much for having me, Stacy. I mainly write for the young adult genre, but I have also published a few books for the middle grade and new adult markets.

What is the title of your most recent book?  My most recent release is a Christmas hfh-splondshort story called Home for the Holidays. It’s about a 15-year-old girl named London Bridges who is dealing with her parents’ divorce over the Christmas school break. She’s bummed because her mother has nixed her plans to visit her father where he now lives in Atlanta. When she finds out her brother, Landon, is going to the mall, she begs to go along—partly from boredom and partly because she has a secret crush on his best friend with whom he’s going. The day ends up unfolding in ways she can never imagine.

What is your primary goal as an author? As a writer, more than anything I want readers to be inspired by my words—whether it’s through my books, my speeches or my blog. I’m also on a mission to get people excited about reading. When I do events around the country, one constant refrain I hear is that reading is boring. I believe people who feel this way just haven’t encountered the right book. I’ve had lots of readers tell me they didn’t like reading until they read one of my books because it reflected their reality. I write the stories I didn’t see when I was growing up, about kids like me and my friends and their issues. This seems to resonate with readers.

What has been the most surprising feedback you’ve received from readers about your current book or another recent title? I think the most surprising feedback is how much a story has impacted readers. As a writer, I often wonder if my words are making a difference, so it always surprises and humbles me when someone gives me validation that they are.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your author journey? The most surprising aspect for me is the way my author journey unfolded. I’ve known that I’ve wanted to write books since I was 14 years old. It wasn’t until after I had my daughter in 2004 that I actually sat down to write a book, though. As a parent, it occurred to me one day that I couldn’t encourage my daughter to pursue her dreams if I had never pursued mine, so I challenged myself to write a book before my daughter turned a year old. I finished my first manuscript a month after her first birthday. Once I did that, I challenged myself to land a book deal before she turned two. I received the offer for my book Spin It Like That two months after her second birthday. What’s interesting is I had actually been hired to ghostwrite Spin It Like That. About halfway through writing the book, the celebrity I had been hired to write it for decided she didn’t want to do a young adult novel. My editor came to me and said, “I think we should just let you publish the book.” It was nothing but God. I was writing a book in the genre I’d always wanted to write in, and instead of waiting the normal year or so for my book to hit the shelves, it came out about six months after I received my official offer. God is just awesome like that.

How do you continue growing as a writer? I believe great writers are readers, so I read a lot—mainly via audiobooks these days. Most of the time my reading is for fun, but often it’s for professional and personal development, too. I also do a few webinars or workshops whenever I see something that interests me.

Who are two or three writers you admire or consider mentors? I consider Jacquelin Thomas, Vanessa Davis Griggs and Kimberla Lawson Roby to be mentors—and my friends. Not only are they great storytellers, but they are also Godly women. I’m blessed to have great relationships with all of them.

What else are you passionate about, i.e. if you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing? I’m blessed that my other passion is also my profession. I’ve been an editor for 25 years. I’ve worked in various aspects of publishing, including serving as a copy editor for Good Housekeeping magazine. I was also the consulting editor at Kensington Publishing for BET Books/Arabesque, the African-American romance line. I was the editor for amazing authors like Brenda Jackson, Donna Hill, Leslie Esdaile and Rochelle Alers. I signed quite a few popular romance authors like Angie Daniels, Melanie Schuster and Celeste Norfleet to their first major book deals. I also do freelance editing, and several of my clients, including the late E. Lynn Harris, have made the USA Today, Essence and New York Times bestsellers lists.

What do you like to do for fun? For fun, I love to eat, hang out with my family, craft and plan parties.

_Chandra Sparks Splond headshotChandra Sparks Splond is an editor, speaker and award-winning author and blogger. She is the owner of West End Publishing, LLC., and was the consulting editor for Arabesque romance at Kensington Publishing. She has also edited for Random House, Moody Publishers, Kimani Press, and Hyperion, as well as several New York Times, USA Today and Essence bestselling authors. She was a copy editor for Good Housekeeping, Newsday and The Morning Call, and has written for Black and Married with Kids, Brides Noir, Weddingpages, and Romantic Times.  Visit her at www.chandrasparkssplond.com or on: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/bookofsplond; Twitter: https://twitter.com/cssplond and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chandrasparkssplond/.

Her Story: How Getting Away Helped Me Get Back to Me

By Guest Blogger DaNika Neblett Robinson 

I slid the balcony door open, walked to the end of the railing in front of me, and stood there. Soaking up all of the beauty.  To my left was the sun rising as it peaked through the palm tree leaves that swayed from left to right. In front of me was a picturesque view of someone parasailing over the aqua blue water beneath them.  To my right was a middle-aged man wearing earbuds and walking a trail in the 70-degree weather that would peak at 90 degrees by midday.

I sat down and reflected.  I was on vacation.  I could finally stop for a few days and do nothing.  No emails to check.  No meetings to hurry to and no numbers to crunch.  No football practice to scurry a child to.  No choir performance to slip in the back of the auditorium to hear my baby’s alto voice melodically come through.  Nothing but me, God’s creation, and the fears I had decided to toss into the body of water in front of me.
Back home in the U.S., where I was a leader in my community and at work, I often had to be mindful of eyes watching me – which made me as cautious as the seasoned woman I observed wading in the beach water in front of me, holding the arm of the person who walked beside her. My trip to paradise allowed me to throw caution to the wind, however, as I boarded a catamaran and sailed with the native who guided the vessel to the furthest part of the blue horizon that I could see with my naked eyes. As I sat there on the open vessel, I realized that I had conquered a fear.
You see, I had pondered that boat ride for a few hours, afraid I would drown like I almost did at 10 years old.  Only this time, it was not a pool.  I was surrounded by water so deep I was sure that if I took a plunge, the life jacket would not save me.  At this moment, on the catamaran, I felt superior.  Fear no longer controlled me.
Traveling exposes you to many sites and experiences and provide opportunities to reset, regroup and refresh.  One could choose to go thousands of miles away from home or simply a car ride down the street.  The idea is to get away and do things outside your norm.  I’m glad I did, and I encourage you to do the same. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you for it.
DaNika Neblett Robinson is the author of a novella, The Metamorphic Journey, about three teenage mothers’ quest to succeed. The Metamorphic Journey is also the name of a movement she founded to provide individuals with opportunities to foster personal growth. DaNika has served as a higher education administrator for more than 20 years and is currently the CFO of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary. A recent graduate of the Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, she holds several other degrees and uses that knowledge, coupled with her expertise in transformational leadership, to empower young adults to embrace their purpose. Learn more about DaNika and her body of work at www.themetamorphicjourney.org.

Plan Your Social Media Break – After Reading This

Vacations are great for many reasons – they give you a chance to do nothing if you want; to savor each moment without rushing; to be fully present in your here and now.

What I’ve learned over the years is that this even applies to breaks from social media. (According to a recent Washington Post article, a Pew Research Center study shows that 68 percent of Americans have either temporarily signed off of social media this year or left various platforms for good.)

I took time away from my social media pages last week and part of this week to brainstorm a few writing projects; to connect with fellow writers and authorpreneurs, and to strategize/envision my first quarter of 2019.

All good stuff and worthy of the focus I gave.

But equally important was the time I took to enjoy each day and each encounter – from leisurely reconnections with longtime friends and the meeting of new ones, to an empowering luncheon with amazing women leaders to the simple yet heartwarming phone chats with two of my 20-something nephews, who (unbeknownst to each other) called me out of the blue last week to shoot the breeze. Both of them made my day. 🙂

So my point? Consider taking your own social media break (whenever and however long suits you best) to enjoy your family and friends in real time. Focus on some goals away from the hustle and bustle of the internet highway.

It can be refreshing and revealing, and perhaps you’ll return ready to appreciate – all the more – the good that comes from connecting online, as well as the good you rediscovered within.

Stacy Hawkins Adams original quotes

How to Succeed at Being You

On this first day of November, may we all remember to define and strive for success in ways that fill us and fuel us to bring our best selves to each day and every encounter. The outer trappings of winning at life should simply be the “gravy” we’re grateful for; not the end game.

So here’s my challenge to you (and to myself): For the next 30 days, let’s bathe ourselves in an attitude of gratitude, so that we can more fully appreciate the present for all the gifts it holds. They are there; let’s take some time to see them, big and small – from the breath you’re breathing in this moment to the smile a stranger may have shared.

See yourself as a winner because you are, in your own worthwhile way. And in the places where you’ve stumbled or tumbled, look for the lessons that can help you grow.  Embrace them. Doing this will help accelerate success, because life rarely offers a straight and seamless path to victory.

It is the bumps and bruises and twists and turns along the way that make our journeys – and especially our successes – all the more meaningful and memorable.

6 Steps to Loving Others While Leading Yourself

Only you know the purpose that fuels your passion;
Only you can conquer the mountain over which your destiny awaits.
How you get there matters just as much as when.

  • Focus with fearlessness. It’s natural for fear and doubt to sneak up on you every now and then – we’re all human. When it surfaces, pause in the moment and recognize it for what it is. Briefly analyze what’s causing the anxiety, then decide to push forward.
  • Persist with integrity. Be the same person in private as you are in public, and be sure that’s a person you honor and respect, so others will learn to do the same. Make decisions filled with honor and fairness so that you can expect the same when others deal with you. Not everyone will treat you right; but in your doing the right thing consistently, you’ll sow enough good seed to make a positive difference.
  • Dream big, then do. If you don’t dream beyond your borders you’ll have no new territory to conquer. Allow yourself to imagine the grandest vision possible for your life, then sit down with pen and paper (yes – old fashioned journaling) and map out your path and plans to get from idea stage to reality. Stay the course and eventually you’ll get there.
  • Travel with likeminded warriors of hope who’re willing to stand with you. Everyone needs friends, family or colleagues who believe in you as much as you do – those supporters who will remind you why you started and insist that you finish on the days you want to quit. Some of us may have a tribe of people and others of us may have just one. One is all you need, and as Beyonce’ once sang, in some instances we have “to be our own best friend” and be that one! Whatever it takes, stick with hope.
  • Bless and release those meant to travel another way. Not everyone will get you and not everyone has the stamina to stay the course with you until you win. Be grateful for the part they’ve played in helping you grow, embrace those lessons and wish them well. Just because their part in your story has shifted doesn’t mean they didn’t add some value. Yet, value yourself enough to know when your inner circle must morph in order for you to get unstuck, avoid becoming stuck or humbly soar to your next level.
  • Be an example of the light and generosity of spirit that make the most difference, and remember to treasure the journey as much as achieving your goal. Everything begins and ends with love. Keep this circular reality in mind and operate accordingly, so that when you arrive at your destination, you’ll have few regrets.

How to Perfectly Embrace Your Imperfection

Am I perfect? Nope – far from it.
Am I persistent? Yep – about the dreams and goals that fuel my purpose.
Am I mistake-proof? I wish! But the lessons learned through missteps are refining, and sometimes life-affirming.
Am I kind? Certainly not always; but I do my best to lead with love and follow the Golden Rule, because in the end all that really matters is somehow leaving others better than you found them.
What say you?
How would you answer the questions above?
If you can cut yourself some slack, yet still give 💯, you can enjoy the journey to becoming your best self as much as reaching the destination.
And, perhaps, you’ll better appreciate the excellence-seekers on the path with you, as they stumble and stride forward, too.
The joy is indeed in the journey.

Stacy Hawkins Adams inspirational quotes

Chat with the Author: How Social Issues Fuel This Writer’s Creativity

I haven’t featured author friends in this space for a while, and I’m delighted to resume this practice for fall with one of my favorites – both for her provocative storytelling and for her work ethic as a multi-published, award-winning author.

Pamela Samuels Young and I have not had the pleasure of meeting in person (yet), and I’ll miss her next week when she visits the city where I’m based (Richmond, Virginia) to attend the James River Writers Conference.

However, she has always been supportive of my work as a writing coach, and we’ve danced in similar author circles for years. I salute her for holding down a full-time career in law while writing her books.

Today, just in time for book lovers to consider what new to read for the weekend, Pamela shares some thoughts about her writing process, her life as an author and one of her latest novels.

How many books have you written? 11 novels and one nonfiction book on natural hair.

What themes do you write about in your novels?  Most of my books – which are legal thrillers – deal with social issues. For example, I’ve written about child sex trafficking (Anybody’s Daughter), gender discrimination (Attorney-Client Privilege) and sexual harassment (In Firm Pursuit). I didn’t start my writing career intending to take on social issues. It just turned out that the issues that interested me were great backdrops for legal thrillers.

What is the tile of your most recent book?  The title of my most recent book is Abuse of Discretion.Abuse of Discretion

I learned about teen sexting during a telephone conversation with a law school classmate who is a criminal defense attorney. He was complaining about having yet another teenage client charged with possession and distribution of child pornography as a result of sexting. He explained that teens all across the country were facing pornography charges after taking naked selfies and sharing them with a boyfriend, girlfriend or classmate. I was floored when he told me that these children—some as young as 13 or 14—were not only being prosecuted, but would have to register as sex offenders if convicted. As soon as we hung up, I Googled “teen sexting” and was stunned at the massive number of prosecutions all over the country. Many news articles called teen sexting an epidemic. I immediately knew this was a topic I wanted to explore in a legal thriller and Abuse of Discretion was the result.

 

Can you tell us more about the plot? In Abuse of Discretion, Graylin Alexander is a model 14-year-old. But when his principal gets a report that he has a naked picture of a classmate on his cell phone, he soon finds himself embroiled in the criminal justice system.

What do you want readers to know by the time they reach “The End”? My main goal in writing Abuse of Discretion was to educate parents and grandparents about the teen sexting epidemic and the very serious consequences for our children—who don’t even know they’re doing something that’s against the law. After the book was released, many readers expressed shock that kids were being prosecuted for sexting.I soon realized that I also needed to educate teens. #AOD-YACoverFor that reason, I created a young adult adaptation of the book, entitled #Abuse of Discretion. Open and honest discussion with our kids and grandkids about teen sexting is the key to saving them from the devastating legal consequences of an adolescent act that they don’t even know is a crime.When a reader—be it a teen or an adult—gets to the end of  Abuse of Discretion, it’s my hope that they’ve enjoyed the mystery, but also that they’ve been educated about this epidemic.

What is your favorite writing space/location? Panera Bread

Outside of writing what do you do for fun? Work out at Orange Theory Fitness and hang out with my incredibly supportive girlfriends.

Author Pamela Samuels Young
Author Pamela Samuels Young

More about Pamela Samuels Young: Attorney  Pamela Samuels Young is the NAACP Image Award-winning author of Anybody’s Daughter. Her latest legal thrillers are Abuse of Discretion and #Abuse of Discretion(the young adult edition). She resides in her native California. Visit her at her website, PamelaSamuelsYoung.com or on Facebook.