Chat With the Author: She Writes To Bring Joy

By day, Dr. Trevy A. McDonald is a tenured professor of journalism who helps young minds hone their storytelling skills for a variety of communications professions. However, she also has another avenue for feeding her love of research and writing: penning and publishing fiction.

Her most recent works are two women’s fiction novels. The first book is titled Time Will Tell, and the sequel is Round ‘Bout Midnight, which explores the journeys of childhood friends Thomasine, Rachel and Hope as they seek to heal from hurts, unmet needs and unresolved issues. As these women mature and grow, they learn that life is best lived one day at a time, with each new day starting “’round ’bout midnight.”round bout midnight final 72dpi

Meet (or learn more) about Trevy here, as she shares her path to publishing books that feature characters who keep readers turning pages long into the night.

In what genre do you write? I primarily write women’s fiction, which I call “ChocLit” with a literary flair. My current work-in-progress is a middle grades series about the Civil Rights movement.

What is the title of your most recent book? My most recent book is titled Round ‘Bout Midnight.  It is the sequel to my novel Time Will Tell. Both books are titles of songs from an early Wynton Marsalis recording The All-American Hero. In Time Will Tell each chapter is titled after a song which was current when the chapter was set and relates to a theme in the chapter. In Round ‘Bout Midnight each chapter is the title of a jazz song, and most of them are standards. The first chapter, It Never Entered My Mind is also the opening line for each of the three main characters. Other chapter titles include “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” “Rise,” “Love’s Serenade,” and “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.”

What is your primary goal as an author – what do you want your readers to get out of your books? My goal as an author is in line with my life’s purpose, which is to use my God-given gifts and talents to uplift, inspire and empower others in an informative and entertaining way which brings them joy.

What has been the most surprising feedback you’ve received from readers about your current book or another recent title? One reader shared that Round ‘Bout Midnight is more than a work of fiction and compared it to Paula Giddings When and Where I Enter and Alice Walker’s “In Search of Our Mother’s Garden.” For this reader, Round ‘Bout Midnight is about a form of liberation that begins within.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your author journey? The range of audiences my novels attract. I think the biggest compliment came from a 98-year-old reader who recently read Time Will Tell and Round ‘Bout Midnight back to back. She shared that she stayed up late at night reading until she finished the books, and that she relived her younger days through the characters.

How do you continue growing as a writer?  I’m an avid researcher and reader. I also explore other forms of art, such as photography and painting. This helps me in creating pictures with words in my fiction writing.

Who are two or three writers you admire or consider mentors? Yolanda Joe, Jacquelin Thomas and Venise Berry.

What else are you passionate about, i.e. if you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing? I am also a tenured professor of broadcast journalism. Representations of marginalized groups in mainstream media is an issue that I am extremely passionate about.

What do you like to do for fun? I enjoy running, photography, films, baking, painting, and my new hobby—knitting.

Trevy McDonald Headshot August 2018 (1)Trevy A. McDonald is an author, independent book publisher and tenured professor of journalism at the University of North Carolin at Chapel Hill. She was just 25 years old when she earned her Ph.D. from this university’s renowned  journalism school and is the first African American woman to be tenured at the school. She  pursues her passion and life purpose through writing and teaching.  She also owns Reyomi Publishing, LLC, a successful independent book publishing and consulting company based in Durham N.C. Trevy is the author of the novel Time Will Tell, co-editor of two scholarly anthologies, and has contributed to numerous anthologies and publications. Her latest release is Round ‘Bout Midnight, the sequel to Time Will Tell.  Learn more about Trevy at drtrevy.com  and connect with her on Facebook at  facebook.com/DrTrevy   and Twitter at twitter.com/DrTrevy.

Chat With The Author: She Loves the Art of Storytelling – As Both An Actress and Author

If you grew up watching television in the 1990s, you may already feel as if you’ve “met” my featured writer today. Literary advocate and actress Karyn Parsons played the role of Hilary Banks, cousin to Will Smith’s character on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, from 1990-1996.

Karyn Parsons
Karyn Parsons

For years, she has operated Sweet Blackberry, an award-winning animated film series that shares little known stories from African American history; and this week, Karyn’s lead role became author, when her debut young adult novel,  How High The Moon, was released. (Congrats, Karyn!)

This historical fiction book tells the story of young girl in the Jim Crow south who is attempting to reconnect with her mother and learn the truth about her father. The novel is based on the experiences of Karyn’s mother, a librarian who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina.How High The Moon

For her part, Karyn (who I had the pleasure of meeting through a mutual friend) is simply delighted that her words are gracing the world in a way that adds meaning and rich perspective. Enjoy this Life Untapped Author Chat with her, and be sure to pick up a copy of her novel (or download the ebook version) just in time for your weekend reading.

In what genre do you write? My most recent book is historical fiction; however, I love short story fiction. I’ve started writing something else that is also historical fiction, but I am feeling the itch for writing a short story. I have a couple things that I’m anxious to get out.

What is your primary goal as an author, i.e., what do you want your readers to take away from reading your book? Mostly I want them to surrender to the world of the book and empathize and relate to the characters in the book. Hopefully, the story and characters will challenge some preconceived ideas and opinions. I know I learn a lot when I write and uncover truths that I didn’t always know were there when I started writing.  And while it isn’t my primary goal, I do love the many lessons that historical fiction offers.

What has been the most surprising feedback you’ve received from readers about How High The MoonThere as a direction that I went in the book – can’t talk about it specifically as it’s a spoiler – that I was pleased to find readers (at least the ones that spoke with me about it) liked. I had been concerned people might have a problem with it. So vague if you haven’t read it, right?! I was also just really excited that people were responsive to the story and its characters. It’s my first book, so it’s new for me to communicate with people this way. I’ve shared stories with small groups before; friends, writing groups, teachers and classes. That’s a different kind of share. A workshopping, really. To hand over something finished to strangers and have them be engaged and invested in the characters and the story, that’s been very cool.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your author journey? Even though I’d always written here and there and had been a big reader throughout my life, I took to really focusing on writing AFTER I’d made a name for myself as an actress. And as serious as I was, I think I expected others to dismiss the idea of me as a writer. I’d been an actress for so long. It’s what everyone identified me as. So, when motherhood came along and threw me completely off course, there was a sadness that shrouded the writer me. I hadn’t given up, but I was becoming embarrassed by not being able to find time to write. And I was even more afraid to tell people I wanted to write because, well…I wasn’t writing! So, when I bumped into an old friend – a literary agent – who knew me for being as much a writer as an actress, and he encouraged me to write something, that encouragement went a long way. It meant so much to be seen. It was hard and clumsy, but I wrote my novel. And now, because of that accomplishment, even when things are tough, I don’t doubt that I’m a writer or concern myself much with what others might think.    

How do you continue growing as a writer? Reading and writing. Reading all sorts of books, reading about writing, and then just writing. Giving myself permission to be silly and messy and bad, bad, bad. And then…more reading.

Who are two or three writers you admire or consider mentors? I truly admire Toni Morrison. At the same time I admire how clean Hemingway writes. I had already known some of Jacqueline Woodson’s work, but in taking on writing for a young audience, I read more of her work, re-read and paid more attention. Her writing really resonates with me and, at the same time, feels so natural and right. I also read interviews with her and saw her speak. She’s so smart and generous and she’s got this enchanting soul. A lovely person. In a way, she’s a mentor. I trust and feel truth in what she has to say.

Do you think you’ll continue to act in coming years? I still love acting. I think if I could do theater, that’s where I’d be. That’s the best place to be able to really act. To not be so encumbered by all of the technical and production distractions. I get nervous in front of an audience, though. Ugh. That’s always been a mountain for me, that part.

What else are you passionate about? If you weren’t an author and actress, what else would you be doing? We’re big movie people in my household. My husband is a filmmaker and I’m a real film geek. I also like to bake even though I’m really, really bad at it. No one eats my stuff. But, I don’t care, I still like it. And I’ll get better.

50681587_2230760680302384_8356357223718322176_nKaryn Parsons is best known for her role as Will Smith’s cousin Hilary Banks on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. After leaving acting behind, Karyn has gone on to found and produce Sweet Blackberry, an award-winning series of children’s animated films, to share stories about unsung black heroes in history, featuring narration from stars such as Alfre Woodard, Queen Latifah, Chris Rock, and Laurence Fishburne. The films have screened on HBO and Netflix, and are enjoyed by schools and libraries across the country. Karyn’s debut novel, How High The Moon, hits bookshelves this month March 2019. To learn more about Karyn and her body of work, visit  sweetblackberry.org or friend her on the following:

Twitter: @Karyn_Parsons or @swtblackberry

Facebook: KarynParsons or SweetBlackberry

IG: KarynParsons or Swtblackberry

Why Christmas Stories Matter

For those of us who are Christians, nothing matters more than the original Christmas story, which is the reason we celebrate this annual holiday- the birth of Jesus.

However, I believe that another meaningful use for this season is a study and reflection of all that Christmas and Jesus’ birth represent: giving and receiving, unconditional love, grace, joy, and creating special memories.  These are the intangibles that, as one grows older and wiser, tend to become more treasured than any presents wrapped in pretty paper and tucked beneath a gorgeous tree.

Yet, on our route to that discovery, it’s wonderful to have stories – both fiction and nonfiction – that entertain us while helping us recognize areas in which we can grow or help others thrive.

With this in mind, it has been my pleasure to “birth’ a short story this Christmas to share with both longtime readers of my fiction and those who are coming across it for the first time. This super-short piece can be read in one sitting, but I hope its themes will linger during the holidays and long afterward. Sentence-COVER

To learn more about The Sentence Between Us, view my live TV interview with the local CBS station in Richmond, Virginia here.

Also enjoy my Q&A for author/editor Chandra Sparks Splond’s blog here:

You can read a synopsis and download your copy of the short story here: The Sentence Between Us.

Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

Stacy Hawkins Adams 

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/.

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.

Write Your Way Whole….These Scribes Are

I spent Saturday morning at one of my favorite places in Richmond – Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – leading a talented group of writers through the process of refining their novel, memoir, blog and short story ideas, with the goal of helping them captivate readers.

Writing @ The Garden with Stacy
Stacy Hawkins Adams and her Writing @ The Garden workshop participants.

As soon as the workshop ended, I headed to the Meadowdale Library to attend the book launch celebration for my writing mentee DaNika Neblett Robinson, Ed.D., who I’ve watched blossom into authorhood over the past three years while simultaneously completing a doctoral program in leadership at VCU. (Can you say “wow” with me??)  IMG_2221Her novella is a fictional story about three pregnant teens seeking hope amid their difficult choices, and it’s a path that DaNika knows well, having herself journeyed from teen mom to Ph.D standing. You’ll find her book – A Metamorphic Journey – on Amazon.

I’m so proud of all of them and grateful to share my expertise and passion for storytelling in this way. When their works shine, my heart smiles.

Writing Their Way to Joy

May These Authors Making Moves Offer Inspiration for the Purpose You Want to Pursue

One of the participants in the writing workshop I hosted at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden yesterday shared a profound revelation that she received after attending my inaugural Writing @ The Garden seminar at Lewis Ginter two weeks ago.

While her comment gave me chills, I won’t share it verbatim, because I’m expecting it to show up in the book she’s writing. In essence, however, she challenged herself after that workshop to get off the sidelines of life and claim all the good she possibly can.

I celebrate her courage and the courage of all of you who are loosing the shackles of “Why me?” and celebrating where your “Why not me?” attitude is taking you – in particular my literary friends who are touching the lives of others with their words and deeds as they live their dreams: authorwritingcco

Congrats to Kwame Alexander for opening a library in Ghana in his mother’s honor.

Congrats to Robin Farmer for securing an important platform at the 2019 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference.

Congrats to Sadeqa Johnson for being named National Book Club Conference Author of the Year.

Congrats to Bonnie Newman Davis for launching and leading a successful media camp for RIchmond-area teens – filling them with wisdom and ideas that will help shape their future.

Congrats to A’Lelia Bundles for landing a Netflix series for the story of her great-great grandmother Madame C.J. Walker, America’s first African American female millionaire, in the early 20th century.

And this is just in the past week and just in my writer community!

I celebrate their wins and cheer you on, too. Look around you and dance with those in your circle who deserve it. As you applaud their steps forward you’re also moving in the right direction. 😘