Today, I have the pleasure of having the Author Michelle Stephens on my blog. Please welcome her today.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello! I am an author and spoken word poet. I am from Durham, NC and have been a featured poet in showcases such as Women Who Jam, Women Empowering Women in Networking, Radio One (103.9 The Light) Unity in the Community Festival, Spoken Word Hour at the Baltimore Urban Book Festival, as well as my hometown-sponsored Read Local NC.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I stay at home with my daughter full-time, so most of my day revolved around her activities.
Do you have a day job as well?
I don’t have any other employment at this time.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started keeping a diary at age 5, had my poem published in the newspaper at 10, but never attempted to write a book until around 2008. I worked on my debut novel, The Divorcee Chronicles: Diary of a Divorcee Diva, for 3 years. I looked it over for a few months, then self-published it in 2012.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I think it was natural for me to choose Christian Fiction. I spent a lot of time at church and I was a part of the drama team at the time of my writing it and they were instrumental in encouraging me to finish the task.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everything I write is based on a true struggle in my life or that of someone I know.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Not necessarily. I always know what I want to say, but the energy to type it out isn’t always there.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I just write, but I do scribble notes reminding me what I would like to string together.
Is there any author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I have always loved the poetry of Maya Angelou and how it was woven into movies and speeches. I also grew up reading these little poetry booklets that would come in the mail and that established a love for the art form.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
The only challenge was trying to learn the business of self-publishing. I knew some established writers around my hometown, but they had published traditionally and couldn’t offer much advice for doing it myself. I love to learn, but it was quite an undertaking with all the shifts happening in the publishing industry at that time.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I wish I had known where to learn about building an audience and marketing your book while you write.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Mainly on social media, but I have occasional ads in magazines and book festival programs.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
No. I have only submitted to one publisher, which is Brown Girls Books, and my work was accepted. All other work has been self-published.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I recently released the third volume of my poetry series, Straight from a Diva’s Heart. I have been putting out a trio of poems each year as a part of my mission to uplift and encourage women who are dealing with divorce and other challenges.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
All my writing is based on real life.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite chapter of Diary of a Divorcee Diva is the last chapter because it is a turning point for the main character’s mindset. Though she has not fully realized her dreams, she is happy and looking forward to whatever the future may hold.
How did you come up with the title?
I grew up writing in diaries and journals, so I wanted to put diary in the title, plus Diary of a Mad Black Woman was out and helped me decide how to phrase it. I was dubbed as ‘Diva’ at a poetry performance and added that to the title.
What project are you working on now?
This spring, I plan to publish a documentary poetry book about my grandmother and work on the sequel to The Divorcee Chronicles.
Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I am aiming for April with the next poetry book, but no set release date for my novella sequel. Readers can subscribe to my website to stay updated.
Social Media Links:
Kindle Version: bit.ly/dhbookstore
Autographed Paperbacks: https://divasheart.selz.com