BWABC Literacy Festival: Authors All Over the Place (pic heavy)

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the BWABC Literacy Festival! I had an author/vendor table and while my sales weren’t the best, I appreciated the opportunity to connect with other authors and potential readers. The best part of the weekend was meeting so many of my fellow author friends in person, after connecting with them online. We ate BBQ in the hood, traded war stories, talked writing and had an all around good time! It’s the simple things that bring me the most joy.

The Crew

Christian Fiction writers unite! From left to right: Nicky (Nigeria’s sister), Nigeria, Me, Unoma and Michelle.

Senior writer

I so enjoyed meeting Ms. Evelyn! She’s 79 years old and loves to write about ‘The Adventures of Herman Ant, Private Detective’. She’s an inspiration to me. 🙂

In the pics that follow, you might notice that my hair is different in a lot of them, even though most of them were taken on the same day. See what had happened was that I woke up to a bad hair day situation and was running late, so I decided that getting there on time was more important than looking good…until I realized that people wanted to take my pic. So I went to the restroom planning to fix my bun situation aannnnddd my hair tie broke!  After crying out to Jesus, wetting my hair with my hands and engaging in all kinds of fluffing, it worked out. Those that know me, know that shenanigans like this are just how I roll.

Author table

My Author Table!

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Michelle Stimpson is the author of one of the first Christian fiction books I read. She’s the reason I knew such a genre existed!

BWABC had wonderful volunteers who would monitor our vendor tables when we had to step away. Kayla was so sweet and helpful!

BWABC had wonderful volunteers who would monitor our vendor tables when we had to step away. Kayla was so sweet and helpful! She wants to be a writer too, and I know she can do it. 🙂

This author had her whole family with her for support! I loved how they cheered and danced and just had a good time. :)

Author LaCricia A’ngelle had her whole family with her for support! I loved how they cheered and danced and just had a good time. 🙂

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Savvy Book Club was in the house! I fell in love with these ladies at NBCC and was thrilled to see them again. I promised to head to Jackson to be a featured author at their book club and I can hardly wait.

There were so many great book clubs in attendance. Ask any author and they will tell you that book clubs are our best friends. They tell it like it is, and support authors. I've got nothing but love for them!

There were so many great book clubs in attendance. Ask any author and they’ll tell you that book clubs are our best friends. They tell it like it is, and support authors. I’ve got nothing but love for them!

There were a LOT of authors at this event and I was only able to get pics of about 1/4 of them. I was hot as all get out (maybe hot flashes? I thought I was too young for that, but whateves) so I decided to limit myself to the authors at the tables closest to mine.

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Overall, I enjoyed the experience. I made some new friends that are also pursuing this author thing, and that’s priceless to me. Nobody can understand and support each other like people walking the same path in life, which is why I so appreciated every single one of the conversations I had with other writers this weekend.

Stay tuned. In the near future I have a special announcement to make! Also, I’m going to be sharing my tips for helping to stack the deck in your favor at author events like this one. Because you know that I’m an expert now, right? I’ve attended TWO whole events this year 😉

Do you have connections with people you’ve only ‘met’ online? Have you ever met any of your online friends in person? Did they come off the same in person as they did online? My peeps were exactly the same, and I didn’t feel like I was meeting them, more like just getting to know them better! I’d love to hear your experiences. And if you’re ever in my neck of the woods, holla at me. For real. 

 

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Practice What You Praise: Candice Y. Johnson

No one ever forgets their first time at anything, and launching a writing career is no different. I take special pleasure in introducing debut novelists. Which is why I’m absolutely thrilled to share my interview with Candice Y. Johnson, a new voice in Adult Christian Fiction. She’s witty, engaging and believes in keepin’ it real. Enjoy!

What have you written? 
What haven’t I written? I’ve taken a stab at everything from simply tagging my John Hancock on a brand new apartment lease, to the exit paperwork after the position at the job I’d worked for was suddenly eliminated after 14 years! Seriously, though – I have freelanced for TV Guide magazine, The Dallas Morning News, The Associated Press, Curly Nikki, and my own natural hair blog, The Frizzness.
When did you begin your writing career?
I’ve always had a love affair with words; I began reading at an age when most kids are concentrating on crayons as a midday snack. Reading books and playing with poetry became my world! In high school, I was blessed to attend journalism camps, which eventually led to an editorial assistant gig for the AP.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How do you make time to write?
Full-time…by default. But I’m also the Artistic Director of Ordered Steps Productions Dance Company, and I balance between dancing and writing by hitting the keyboard during the day, stolen moments at night when I’m not teaching/rehearsing, or typing notes into my phone when the words won’t stop talking to me.
What’s your writing process? 
In most cases, I crave NOISE around me. So when I’m writing during the day, I love having the sounds of the court shows entertaining me. I’m not really all that deep and don’t take myself too seriously, so my method is totally informal. And food. I always need food in my path.
Do you keep a journal? If so, for how long? Do you find it helpful for your professional writing?
I stopped keeping a journal years ago, but oddly enough I’m obsessed with them. My personal Facebook page has loads of interactive activity and serves as an online journal of sorts, so I jot my posts into the piles of books I have in my home.
What’s your inspiration? 
Anything that makes me laugh, and most of what doesn’t break me.
What kind of legacy do you expect your writing to leave? The same as my dance – a legacy of healing hearts.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Kick FEAR in the teeth and let it know it doesn’t own you! Go for it – don’t let the opinions of others keep you from completing your destiny.
What’s on your bookshelf or in your e-reader library?
Mostly novels by Michelle Stimpson, Tiffany L. Warren and Kimberla Lawson Roby.
What are you currently working on?
The next novel in my Practice What You Praise series is already getting my attention, as well as a children’s book series that won’t let my heart go.
Latest release and book blurb?
Practice what you praiseA teen mother… a praise dance team… who gives whom the right to praise?
Pregnant and unwed, Jojo was quickly dismissed from the church’s praise team, though the baby’s father (a choir musician) remained in his position thanks to his familial ties at church. Two years later, Jojo believes she’s paid the price for her choices and wants her spot back–after all, anyone who has ever seen her dance knows that she’s anointed to praise Him in the dance. But how long must one “sit down” before being reinstated? Isn’t a repentant heart and a humbled spirit enough?
Pastor Trigg wants to lead the church in the right direction, but the congregation seems quite divided about how to move forward with letting Jojo–who is still in high school–dance in the sanctuary. Will allowing her to dance set a bad precedent? Can the members forgive and forget? While trying to sort through what’s best for the church, his personal life seems to be a total bust. Will he ever find true love?
This debut work deals with a sensitive topic while maintaining a uniquely humorous point of view. Jojo will have you laughing out loud and make you while the story line begs the question: Who gives whom the right to praise?
Tell us about your main character? What actress or actor would you cast to play him or her in a movie about your book?
I am completely in love with the main character, Jojo! She’s a natural haired beauty who is funny, spunky & ANOINTED. Becoming a young mother has forced her to grow wise pretty fast, but her faith is keeping her strong. Yaya DaCosta would be my dream to play her!
How can we purchase your work?
Amazon.com
How can we stay in touch with you?
TWITTER: @iamworship7
INSTAGRAM: naturaldancer

For those not in the know, here’s an example of praise dancing. She’s modest, but Candice choreographed this!


Faith Simone Says:
So yeah, if you know anything about me, you can probably guess that Practice What You Praise is right up my alley. Church politics and whatnot are a trip. I’ve been the judgmental looking-down-my-nose type (Lord forgive me) and I’ve been the one totally aware of my need for grace. Thank God for growth and maturity in Him!  Plus, back in the day I was a fierce praise dancer. I would try to find a picture, but y’all ain’t ready! 
Have you ever been a part of unfair judgement? On the giving or receiving end? Do you think churches are generally harder on women than men when it comes to sexual sin? Have you ever witnessed a double standard in church? How did it make you feel? Any questions for Candice? 

I’ma Give You a Piece of My Mind…(Then I’m going to need that back)

I’m feeling some type of way y’all. One of my pet peeves is being put in a box. No, not literally. I out-of-the-boxwish somebody would try that mess. I’m speaking figuratively. I don’t like when people assume that the girl raised in Compton, CA and Long Beach, CA is automatically hood (although I can be ’bout that life if necessary). I don’t like when people assume that, as a woman past a certain age and unmarried (especially a Black woman) I must be ready to walk down the aisle with any chump, whether he’s unemployed or toothless or batting for the other team. I don’t like when people assume that being overweight, fat, thick’ums or whatever you want to call it, means I spend my days curled up in a fetal position moaning about my cursed life.

That’s that ish I don’t like.

But you know what gets my goat more than any of that? It’s when someone tries to tell me what I can and cannot write. I consider myself to be a Christian Fiction writer. I’m learning more and more that identifying myself as such comes with a huge set of rules that I know nothing about! Not only that, but there’s an undeniable stigma attached to the title as well.

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On the one hand, you have people in the Christian publishing industry up in arms about authors who are using the Christian Fiction title without following the strict guidelines set forth, which include no explicit anything. On the other hand, you have readers who are unfamiliar with the genre who look at you sideways when you identify as a Christian Fiction writer; like you’re going to beat them over the head with a Bible, take their lunch money, and then tell them that they have to forgive you ‘cuz Jesus said so.  Needless to say, they often run in the other direction without giving your book a second glance.

Which is why I’m over here in my feelings, wondering what kind of writer am I? I don’t want to mislead readers. I want readers to be satisfied that what they thought my book was, and what they actually received was pretty much on the money. I also want to attract readers who might have never considered reading faith-based fiction. How do I best present myself in the most accurate and authentic way?

I’m not going to pretend that I have all of the answers. I not even going to pretend like I have some of the answers. But there’s a few things that I do know. I know that I want to be the kind of writer who writes what I’m passionate about. I want to be the kind of writer who writes what I know to be true. For me, that means that I’m a Christian who writes fiction about life. Life as I see it.

Whether all of this ever falls into a neat little box is yet to be determined.

What do you think of when you hear “Christian Fiction”? What do you think about genre specific guidelines? Do you think genre lines are blurring? Do you think the publishing industry is evolving when it comes to genre specifications?