Please welcome Author Chandra Sparks Splond to my blog today. Welcome Chandra.
- Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Queenie. My name is Chandra Sparks Splond. I’m an author, blogger, editor and speaker. I have published 15 books, including my latest, Pass It On, which is the third book in my Grown Zone series.
My young adult novel Make It Work was named Alabama’s Great Read 2017, Spin It Like That was chosen as a Popular Paperback for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and The Pledge was a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Black Pearls Magazine honored me as a Legends & Leaders for 2017 for my blog, Book of Splond (formerly known as Magic City Momma).
I am also the owner of West End Publishing, LLC. In addition to working for Kensington Publishing as the consulting editor for Arabesque romance, I have done work for Random House, Moody Publishers, Kimani Press (formerly known as BET Books), and Hyperion. I’ve edited books for several New York Times, USA Today and Essence bestselling authors, and I’ve interviewed New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Eric Jerome Dickey and actress Meagan Good and Grammy winner Tamela Mann. I’ve also worked for Good Housekeeping, Black and Married with Kids, Brides Noir, Weddingpages, Newsday, The Morning Call and Romantic Times.
- What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m typically hanging out with my family or listening to audiobooks.
- Do you have a day job as well?
I do have a day job. I currently work in the marketing and communication department for a college in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.
- When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve known since I was 14 that I wanted to write books one day, but I didn’t actually sit down to write one until after I had my daughter in 2004. I wanted to be the type of parent who showed my daughter rather than telling her her dreams could come true, so I challenged myself to write a book before she turned a year old. I finished my first manuscript a month after her first birthday, and the rest is history.
- How did you choose the genre you write in?
Although my latest release is for the new adult market, I mainly write for teens and tweens. I decided to write for the young adult genre because growing up, I never read any stories or saw any book covers of people who looked like me. I figured since I didn’t see them, that meant I was supposed to be the one who wrote them. It’s my prayer that readers see themselves in my stories.
- Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas come from everywhere. I can see a word or a person and create an entire story around them.
- Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I don’t experience writer’s block. For me, writing is my job. If I don’t write, that means my daughter doesn’t eat, and that is a huge motivator for me. That doesn’t mean that everything I write is amazing. Sometimes, it’s not, but once I get it on the page, it can be changed. There’s not much I can do if I just keep the idea in my head.
- Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I typically work with an outline so I have some idea of where the story is going. Often the story develops a life of its own though.
9. Is there any author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
California Cooper had a huge impact on me growing up. She was the first author of color I ever saw, and she gave me hope I could one day write books of my own.
- Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I think my journey to publication was the exception rather than the rule to book publishing. My background is in publishing, and I had actually been asked to ghostwrite a young adult novel. Halfway through the process, the person for whom I was writing it decided she didn’t want to publish a young adult novel, so my editor suggested that we publish the novel under my name since she knew I had always wanted to publish in that genre. I ended up publishing three books for the Kimani Tru imprint of Harlequin. After that, the market turned, and I wasn’t signed to another deal. I decided to self-publish, and I’ve been doing that for almost ten years.
- 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?
There isn’t an aspect I would change. God’s fingerprints are all over my writing career.
- How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Since I write mainly for teens and tweens, I find it best to go to places where they can be found, so I do a lot of events at schools, churches and libraries. Now that I’m writing for adult women, I also speak at women’s conferences.
- Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
The blessing of self-publishing is that I’ve been able to publish all the books I love.
- Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
My latest book is called Pass It On. Here’s a little about the story:
It’s been a long time since Reese Williams can remember things being good. After getting pregnant her senior year of high school, Reese abandoned her dreams of going to college in order to take care of her baby. Now, years later, she’s starting to wonder if life has more to offer. After making a difficult decision, Reese finds herself at rock bottom and considers doing things she never thought she’d do—like returning to her trifling ex. What’s a single momma to do when she wants to pass on the gift of a great life to her daughter?
- Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I was a single mom for about five years, so parts of the book are based loosely on some of my experiences.
- What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I think writing scenes with Ava, the main character Reese’s daughter was one of the favorite parts of writing this book. It reminded me of when my daughter, who is now a teenager, was little.
- How did you come up with the title?
I honestly can’t remember how I came up with the title of the story. I think it just hit me one day that the main character Reese was determined to pass on the gift of a better life to her daughter.
- What project are you working on now?
Currently, I’m finishing up a young adult novel called Get It Together.
- Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Get It Together will prayerfully be out in the next month or so.
- How can your readers find you?
Readers can visit me online at http://www.chandrasparkssplond.com. There, they will find links to all my social media accounts, as well as excerpts and information about all of my books.