Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Q&A with LaConnie Taylor-Jones

LaConnie Taylor-Jones holds advanced degrees in community public health and business administration and has written several scientific research publications for the past fifteen years. When not writing, she’s involved with the Contra Costa Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the African American Community Health Advisory Committee, and Black Women Organized for Political. An active member of the San Francisco Area and Black Diamonds chapters of RWA since 2003, Ms. Taylor-Jones has combined her writing skills with a twenty-five-year passion for reading romance in the completion of two full-length multicultural romance novels, When I’m With You and When A Man Loves A Woman.

What led you to the idea of writing this book, and then to the actual writing of it? The thing that got me from reader to author was my husband. In the spring of ’03, I was in bed reading a novel that was horrible. It was pass midnight and I think my husband was tired of hearing me whine about the book because he said, “Honey, if you can write a better book, do it, but baby, turn out the lights.” I took him up on the challenged and I’ve never looked back. The inspiration for both When I’m With You and When A Man Loves A Woman came from my experience as a health educator. For the last fifteen years, I’ve taught health education primarily to African American women in community-based settings. Oftentimes, before I can lecture on the risk factors associated with chronic diseases disproportionally impacting African Americans, I have to deal with the soci-economic deterrents women face. Unfortunately, abusive relationships top the list.

What have you learned throughout the process of writing, pitching - and now, promoting your book? The one thing I’ve learned as an author is that two fundamental elements exist between all three entities - tenacity and perseverance. If an author loses sight of the interchangeable connection between writing, pitching, and promoting, they will not be successful.

When you write a story and subsequently pitch it, the target audiences are publishers and agents. However, once that story has sold, you’ve got to promote it, thus the focus shifts to readers. So, as an author, I must use the same diligence to convince readers that my story is worth buying, as I did to convince publishers it was worth printing.

Any exciting things happening before or during the time period while the book is releasing? Absolutely!! For me a couple of things occur. One, I begin outlining the next story bouncing around in my head. Secondly, I work hard to balance writing that new story while promoting the story that’s already sold.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most? I absolutely love sitting down in front of a blank computer screen and begin the process of bringing my characters and story plot to life. I’m very meticulous with this process because it’s important for me to give my readers a quality product. I want them to not only enjoy the story but understand the characters and their plight the way I do. Believe it or not, I also enjoy working on the revisions from my editor. She’s fantastic and so far, we’ve been able to work in total sync to take my writing to the next level.

Perhaps the one thing that I can live without is the tight turn-around deadlines I face once my book enters the production process. Sometimes, my revision deadlines come at a not-so-convenient time!!!

What do you feel is the key to writing convincing characters? An author must know every aspect of their characters. I don’t simply mean know their external characteristics (i.e. physical make-up), but an author must be intimately familiar with their internal characteristics - their thoughts, their likes, dislikes, and what they would and would not do in certain situations. Once this happens, it’s very easy to translate this on to paper to the point the characters become so vivid, readers momentarily have a hard time figuring out what’s real and what’s Memorex.

How did it feel to hold your first book? Holding that book in my hands for the first time was awesome!!! It was then that I realized how much had gone into turning a dream into reality.

What inspired you to become a romance writer? I’ve been an avid romance reader since I was a junior in college. In fact, I flunked an organic chemistry mid-term because I stayed up all night to finish reading my first romance novel. So, let it go on the record that the genre chose me!!

How do you feel about critique groups? I feel critique groups can be extremely beneficial to an author, but authors must be willing to accept the feedback that’s given — good, bad, or indifferent. All too often, an author only wants to hear the positive feedback relative to their stories and sometimes become testy when the group offers suggestions or recommendations for improvement. Conversely, critique groups should provided unbiased feedback, regardless to how well they know the author.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand? When an author says their characters are talking to them, they aren’t crazy nor or they ready to be hauled off to the nearest mental institution!!

What was the last book to keep you up at night reading it? The Hunted by L.A. Banks. It’s an awesome read and one I highly recommend!!!

What's your secret to balancing career and family? Learning to prioritize. Oftentimes, this means saying N-O to requests at the bottom of my meat chain and not feeling guilty for doing so.

What do you do to make time for yourself? Weekly visits to the beauty salon and monthly appointments to get the nails and toes pretty. Sometimes, I manage to treat myself to a ninety-minute deep tissue massage.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website) I always enjoy hearing from readers. My website address is: www.laconnietaylorjones.com. Also, readers can follow the link on my contact page and drop me a note via e-mail at: lovestories@comcast.net. Plus, there’s also my snail mail address, which is 3377 Deer Valley Road – Antioch, CA 94531

Book: When I’m With You

Publisher: Genesis Press

ISBN: ISBN-10: 1585712507; ISBN-13: 978-1585712502

When your life has been terrorized by violence, how do you manage to go forward, looking over your shoulder at every turn? This is the daily question that haunts Caitlyn Thompson. She has been in hiding from an ex-boyfriend for three years, always careful not to slip up and allow him to find her again. Working for a neighborhood youth center, she has found her niche. This is something she believes in, having grown up in inner-city New Jersey herself. Submitting a grant request to a wealthy philanthropist foundation, Caitlyn is soon to meet the man who will make her want to stop running, want to trust and love again; Marcel Baptiste. It will take a will of iron and a courage she didn’t know she possessed to battle her fears and open up to the wealthy entrepreneur. But when violence comes knocking again, will she have the courage to face her biggest nightmare?


Check out the trailer: http://www.laconnietaylorjones.com/WIMW_trailer.php

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