Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am the Chief Executive Officer of Prioritybooks Publications. I grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois, and received my Bachelor and Master degrees from Illinois State and Southern Illinois Universities. I love working with teens and have received many awards and recognition for my youth empowerment and publishing work. I love writing and worked as a freelance writer for A-Magazine, a St. Louis Publication, The Spanish Lake Word Newspaper, and as an Opinion Shaper for the North County Journal Newspaper. I have been married for 37 years to Cedric, and we have one daughter, Adeesha. I am also called Nana by my only grandchild, Prince Gary. I have authored twelve books and published and coached over 100 authors through my publishing company. Her books, A Sinner’s Cry, and Broken Spirit, were finalists in the Religious and African American Fiction categories in The Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2012 in 2018.
Currently, I am serving as a book consultant guru. Rose is an inspirational speaker who speaks to groups on various topics. Some of her topics include Removing the Stigma on Mental Illness, The Church and Mental Illness, Depression, Handling Holiday Blues, and Understanding Grief.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When I am not writing, I speak at many local churches about the stigma of mental health. I am a workaholic, and I work a full-time job working as a senior program manager for a non-profit organization. Last year I spoke to over 1,000 people about changing how we view people who suffer from behavioral health issues. I am also active in my church and serve as the church clerk and board member.
Do you have a day job as well?
Yes, I have always worked in several jobs. When I first started my publishing company, I continued to work full-time because I refused to go into debt with a new company. You know the theory is that many new businesses will not profit in the first 3-5 years. I was not about to allow that to happen to me. I also have a non-profit organization that I started in 2004. When my dad became ill, I could no longer run two companies and work full time. It was too much. So I stopped taking business in 2008 with my non-profit and just did seminars for young boys until 2016 when my mom became ill. Though I still have the non-profit, it is inactive until I decide what to do with it.
When did you first start writing, and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing when I was a little girl. I wrote long letters to relatives and others. When I was 17, I wrote an article in the newspaper about my mom’s first airplane ride. Since then, I have written blogs, articles for various publications and online.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
It chose me. Initially, I did poetry, essays, articles, and then books. Because of a need, I started writing teen books. I love writing Teen fiction because I encourage them through stories about the situations they are facing. I moved to adult fiction, and I have bounced around for various reasons. I love Christian Romance. It’s something beautiful about writing love stories. I enjoy writing inspirational content because readers are searching for a higher spiritual connection. I have a spirit in me that wants to know how to do everything. Once I figure things out, I go to the next. I am writing a mystery now. I’m proud to say I can write in all genres. But ultimately, I think I will stay with Adult fiction because I can keep writing Edgy Christian Romance fiction without people getting offended.
Where do you get your ideas?
I have an interesting family, and I am super close with my nieces and nephews. They have fantastic life experiences. I am also a social worker, and believe me; this is where many topics generate.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
No. My problem is I have too many characters wanting me to tell their stories. Often, I have to stop writing what I am working on to answer the other characters. That can be frustrating because they will not give up until I write their stories. When I don’t respond and write their stories, I have issues sleeping and concentrating on other interests. I have to respond to make them shut up.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I dream stories, and I remember every single scene when I wake up. Sometimes when I begin to write, my pen may detour and tell something better than I dreamed.
Is there any author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
My mother was the first person who influenced me. She was an incredible storyteller and wrote poems and plays that we acted out in church. Many authors influenced me, but there is one author who self-published that influenced me the most. She was from my hometown of East St. Louis, and her name was Willetta. I think she gave me the courage to try to write my first book.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I submitted to a publisher once, and they sent me a letter saying they were not looking for the type of story I had written. That was enough for me. I wasn’t going to accept another rejection letter and allow someone to make me think I couldn’t write. I decided to publish it myself.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
Terry McMillan, Kimberla Lawson-Roby, E. Lynn Harris.
What impact have they had on your writing?
They let me know that the possibilities to write were unlimited and that you can achieve whatever you want with hard work. They all started as self-published authors and blew up. But they put in the work and wrote great stories. They created their lanes.
What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
I think reading is here to stay. Authors will always be around but whether or not they get signing deals is up to the readers. If they are traditionally published or self-published, it’s up to the readers whether they will stay. Authors need their support. I’ll always write because it is my passion and I don’t eat from it. I have other money-making ventures where I can write without worries. I would love to have readers’ support, but I would blog or write articles for magazines and newspapers if I didn’t have that.
Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?
I write by both. With logic, I want to make sure it is reasonable and makes sense, so I will research and ask the right questions to get the story moving. But intuition is using instinct to tell a story based on my feelings, dreams, and understanding. Summarize your writing process. I write in chunks. Like a story I am writing now, I have written almost 20,000 words in three days. Hopefully, I will finish it in a few days. It is a novella. But I have written full stories in three months, not including editing, etc. But first, I dream, then write, then dream, write, then edit and re-edit. Next, it goes to my first editor and then the second one. I read and make changes and send back to the second editor and start the process over for the next story. But the story always comes to me in a dream first.
What is your role in the writing community?
I like to introduce new writers, and I also love to tell stories I hope to read. I also see myself as a support person who is willing to lift, inspire, and educate as much as possible about my writing experiences and the writing business.
How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?
I write what I know, so my spiritual beliefs are involved in my stories because most of my books come from a spiritual perspective because that is who I am.
What is your testimony?
I love God, and hopefully, through my writing, I am introducing Him to others who may feel that God doesn’t love them because of past wrongs. I want readers to know that there is a higher power and that He is in the forgiving and grace business.
How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?
It has given me the ability to continue to tell stories. Our culture and environment are so rich, yet many people have painful experiences, but we rise from the ashes. We have so many stories and perspectives to share our pain, history, and many of us have been through so much that we can tell stories for days. My work experiences introduce me to topics I might never explore, but because I had to help someone rise from something negative, I could explore something new to write about daily.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
I’ve sold a lot of books, yet, I am not well known. I have published several best-selling authors. I have published or coached over a hundred authors. I’m proud that I have helped others bring their work to readers.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I am writing a mystery called Whispers in the Dark. My first time exploring this genre. I have completed a book on finding a husband based on things my daddy shared, and I am just about finished with Tainted Prayers, which is the stand-alone conclusion to Broken Spirit.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I plan to keep writing and to try to get this script we’ve written to someone to make into a movie. Otherwise, I plan to retire, write and enjoy my life.