Saturday, April 14, 2012

Great Blogs for Authors and Illustrators!

There is a lot of great information about the world of publishing in cyberspace if you know where to look. I would like to make your quest for knowledge a bit easier, so I am sharing a couple of blogs that I find extremely valuable. Feel free to add to this list in the comments below!

Inkygirl by Debbie Ohi

My Name Is Not Bob by Robert Lee Brewer

Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner

Raychelle Writes by Raychelle Muhammad (I hear this one is pretty good. :) )

Keep your pen to the paper! Remember, inspiration is everywhere...

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: J.R. Nova

1.Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work.

I'm twenty-five and live in Iowa along the scenic Mississippi River. I have held various odd jobs, mostly in the grocery business. There's nothing special there except that it has given me many opportunities to get to know people, what they think, why, and how that effects their actions—and I feel this translates to my writing. A small town grocery store is a wonderful psychology experiment.

I'm self taught in just about all of my interests. I enjoy playing guitar, meditating, practicing Yoga and running. I'm fairly balanced as far as my interests outside of writing go. I have what I think is a profound joy for life.

I consider myself to be spiritual and mystical, and this effects just about everything I do, including my writing.

2.Describe your journey to becoming a writer/author.

I had an experience in first grade that had a profound effect on what I would later become. My teacher (we lived in Germany at the time) had made small, blank books from construction paper, cardboard and wallpaper, and let us fill them in. I teamed up with a classmate,writing out the story of a young girl who goes to the zoo, and my friend illustrated it. It's one of my fondest school memories, and though I no longer have the book I made, the memory stuck with me and writing was something I always related to, even though I didn't actually write anything on my own until a few years later.

Reading Lloyd Alexander's The High King in fourth grade was another pivotal moment for me. It was the first book I remember reading that affected me personally, and it was definitely the first thing I had read that made me want to read outside the classroom.

I wrote poetry in my early teens, and I began writing fiction when I was sixteen. I eventually quit poetry, but stuck with my stories. At one point I thought I would become rich and famous and that this would happen quickly, but I've since tempered my expectations and have worked harder at crafting a good tale than hoping to be the next Stephen King.

3.Do you gravitate toward specific genres in your writing?

I enjoy writing speculative fiction and fantasy set in more or less modern locations. I enjoy mixing magic with technology, the past with the future, history with the present. I enjoy asking deep “what if”questions and seeing what answers the characters give me.

In my fiction I have no qualms about being perceived as a genre writer.To me my mission is to write what others will enjoy, and many people enjoy a fast-paced, action-filled and suspenseful story. It's what I enjoy reading and it's what I hope to be successful writing, though I have a tendency to throw in deeper subject matter.

I'm also drawn to writing about spiritual and philosophical topics, like“awareness” and meditation. Even more so than being a published fiction author, I want to some day be a publishing nonfiction author.It is a greater challenge for me to actually address truths on the page than to merely show these truths through unreal characters.

4.Tell us about your novel, Rising.Where can readers find it?

I took a break from writing in 2011, taking more time off than I had since before I was sixteen, and it apparently did me much good,because in November I woke up one morning with the idea to Rising and wrote the rough draft in two weeks. I split that draft up, saving the second half for the second book, Sacrifice (unpublished), and went to work on rewriting, revising, and editing the first half, which has become Rising.

Rising is about a young witch, Clara Blackstone, who is searching for a man named Maximus Czar, a former general who had caused much chaos and pain throughout the sector (their name for “country”). After losing her family to his war, and having grown up under the tutelage of a great and powerful witch, Clara sets off to make Czar pay for what he's done, only to find out that Czar is not yet finished.

Clara finds and befriends a boy named Zen Mar, and together they must uncover and foil Czar's evil plans, or risk being destroyed, along with the rest of the world.

Currently, Rising is sold on Smashwords and Amazon as ebooks, but I hope to bring out a paperback through Createspace within the next month or two.

5.Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?

I have many favorite authors, but if I were trapped on a desert island(or in deep space) and had only a few books to read, I would hope they were written by Michael Crichton or Frank Herbert. Then I don't think I could go wrong.

Right now I have a stack of a dozen used library books waiting to be read.Some Anne Rice and Colleen McCullough, who I really enjoy, and some old fantasy novels, as well as modern fiction on my Kindle by Rodney C. Johnson (his short story “Light and Fire”) and A. L. Tyler(her novel Arrival of the Traveler), just to name a couple. I'm also working my way through Lord of the Rings again.

Trying to edit my novel and read at the same time was impossible. I've probably read more in the last two months than I have in the previous year, yet it was the same twenty-four chapters over and over again.I'm glad to be able to read something else for a change!

6.How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

I think “making it” in writing is a mix of luck and word of mouth.I'm hoping to get my novel into as many hands as I can, and hope that people will enjoy it enough to recommend it to their friends, but I don't see how I can force this process.

Because of that I'm taking a long-term approach to marketing. I agree with the idea that my next book is my best marketing tool. What will happen will happen, but I've got to stay focused on what is important: writing.

I do my best to let people know I have a book, that they can buy it,without being an obnoxious spammer. I want readers to be aware of my stories, yet also appreciate my online presence.

Being diverse in marketing is a writer's greatest advantage, and it's what I hope to accomplish with my blog, my Facebook and Google+ pages,interviews and guest posts, as well as my stories. I can be a bit shy about self promotion, but I ignore whatever fear or doubt I have and dive in.

7.What are your upcoming plans for 2012?

I'm in a fortunate situation right now to have a bit of time to write and market myself, and I intend to take advantage of it the best I can. I know time is something many writers don't have a lot of, and it's not something I've always had a lot of. I'm not working full time right now, and it's really freed me up to get a jump on my writing career.

This is an opportunity I cannot waste, as I've wasted similar opportunities in the past. I hope to finish and publish Sacrifice by the end of the year, as well as a nonfiction book I'm working on titled Wrapped in the Present. I have a few shorter works right now, as well, a short story and a novella, and a story that may eventually grow to be a novel at some point. If I can work hard and get each of these projects finished, I may be in a better position for 2013.

8.What is your definition of success as an author?

In the big picture, I will be successful if I can pay my bills. Anything more than that is topping on a quite delicious cake.

But every day I find small victories, things that make me feel as if everything I've done is worth it. When people compliment me on what I write or thank me for changing their worldview, it propels me forward. Success is often more abstract than tangible. I hesitate to measure it by a large contract or an award. Success is happening all the time on an individual level, in how I affect others.

I want to live, and if I can live by writing, I'll be very happy. I don't think I can ask for more out of my own life if I can live by my writing and also change people's lives.

9.What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

For years I've dealt with perfectionism and doubt. I wish I hadn't. Maybe it was a good thing, because it kept me from publishing what now I think was junk, but at some point I know I must leave these feelings behind, or be doomed to obscurity. When I began writing again last November, I gave myself only two rules:

I would not contend with doubt.

I would not be a perfectionist.

I may not have been the most positive and upbeat person in the last few months, but I'll be surprised if I've spent more than a single minute thinking I wouldn't succeed in publishing my first novel. And that I've finally published it is proof that I've caged my former perfectionism.

I would tell any aspiring writer to do his or her best, to learn craft (grammar, punctuation, character, pacing), to work hard, but to also trust that the story is good enough when the work is done. Even if it takes four or five drafts, understand when enough is enough and take a chance.

Readers are a much better judge of our own work than we are. We see it only through our personal perspective, but we are writing for our readers,now for ourselves, and it's their personal perspective that counts, not ours.

Author Bio

"J. R. Nova is an author of speculative fiction and fantasy. He plays guitar, meditates, runs, and philosophizes. Not much else is known about him, as he lives in another dimension with his pet, Harpy."

Contact J.R.



Twitter: @AuthorJRNova



Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Debbie Ridpath Ohi

1) Tell us a bit about who you are, and where you live and work.

I write and illustrate for young people and live in Toronto with my husband, Jeff. I founded Inkspot, one of the first sites for writers on the Web (now shut down). I have way too many online projects; you can find out more at my website: I'm represented by Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown Ltd.

In my spare time, I write songs and perform with my music group ( and also draw webcomics.

2) Describe your journey to becoming an author/ illustrator.

I've been writing all my life. I started out getting short nonfiction published in various print and online venues, was approached by Writer's Digest Books to do The Writer's Online Marketplace (2001), have also had short stories and poetry published.

Lee Wardlaw, a children's book author (, encouraged me early on and helped me improve my writing. Lee was also responsible for connecting me with Ginger; Ginger is her agent, too.

At the SCBWI Summer Conference in 2010, I was convinced by an artist friend (Beckett Gladney to enter the Illustrator Portfolio Showcase and, to my shock, won two awards: an Honor Award and a Mentorship Program Award.

One of the Portfolio Showcase judges was Justin Chanda, who is a publisher at Simon & Schuster and heads three imprints: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, Atheneum and McElderry Books. He offered me a book contract, illustrating Michael Ian Black's newest picture book. I was thrilled!

You can read my blog post about what happened here:

3) Describe your body of work. Which have been some of your most meaningful projects?

As I mentioned above, I've written (and been paid for :-)) short nonfiction, a nonfiction book, short fiction and poetry. I've illustrated a picture book. I'm also working on writing my own picture books, plus working on middle grade and YA novels.

AND I have some more very very good book news but can't share it yet. Hopefully soon, though!

A few of my most meaningful projects:

I contributed a short story to the just-released TOMO, a YA anthology edited by Holly Thompson (Stone Bridge Press). Proceeds will help teens affected by last year's Japan earthquake and tsunami. More info:

Also, of course, illustrating I'M BORED for Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers!

4) Tell us about your upcoming release, I’M BORED.

I'M BORED is a new picture book written by comedian, actor and writer Michael Ian Black. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers is publishing it in September, 2012.

It's a fun story in which a little girl tries to convince a potato (yes, I said a POTATO) that kids aren't boring. I had so much illustrating this book! I also learned a ton about writing and illustrating picture books in the process; I'm posting about my experience in an online I'm Bored scrapbook:

I interviewed the editor, art director and author about the process, and am including quotes, photos and cartoons.

5) What is Inkspot? How did you develop the concept for it?

Inkspot was one of the first websites for writers online. I originally started it as a resource for children's book writers but then opened it up to writers of all genres. You can read more about what happened to Inkspot here:

Now I have a new site for writers called Inkygirl (, which is an illustrated guide for those write and draw for young people.

6) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?

It's hard to choose favourite authors -- depends on what type of book you're talking about: fiction, nonfiction, age range, etc. I read a wide variety of books and always reading multiple books -- depends on my mood, what I'm doing and even where I am in the house. :-)

On my current reading list, on my readers & in physical print:

TOMO edited by Holly Thompson (reading the other stories in the anthology)

THE YO-YO PROPHET by Karen Krossing

DEADLINE by Mira Grant

WITCHLANDERS by Lena Coakley

HEREVILLE: HOW MIRKA GOT HER SWORD by Barry Deutsch (graphic novel)

by John Truby

7) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

This was a much more difficult question for me to answer. To answer it properly would take a long time and go beyond the scope of a single answer.

So instead, here's the type of promotion that I DON'T do that I see being used quite frequently in Twitter:

Promotion that does NOT work, in my opinion: Making what is essentially the same "buy my book" post over and over again.

I figure most people are already being barraged online and offline (but especially online) with companies and individuals who are trying to get them to buy something.

8) How has music played a role in your life?

Music has been an important part of my life since I was a small child. I took piano lessons for many years and then taught piano part-time for about 20 years (since high school). I took flute in high school and started playing flute with my music group ( and in studio sessions with other musicians.

Now I write songs for and perform with my group, just for the fun of it. We've given concerts in the U.S., Canada, Germany and the UK and have several albums out. Other instruments I've played, with varying degrees of competency: guitar, Celtic harp, tin whistle and various bangy percussion instruments.

My current musical project: writing an "I'M BORED" song for a promotional music video!

9) How have your professional associations enhanced your career?

See my answers above for just a few ways that the SCBWI has helped my illustration career: Not only did I get a book contract, but being a part of the SCBWI Illustration Mentorship program (see the SCBWI Mentees blog: has been immensely rewarding in terms of the friends I've made and priceless advice and guidance I've received.

I save up so I attend the annual conferences in NYC and LA every year…it's been worth every penny. Not just for the talks, workshops and critiques but also for the networking opportunities.

I'm also a member of CANSCAIP (, and have been learning a great deal from the monthly local meetings. If you're a Canadian writer or illustrator, I recommend joining!

10) What are your upcoming plans for 2012?

Looking forward to seeing I'M BORED on the shelves!

AND working on new book projects (hope to be able to share more about this soon -- waiting for the contracts to be finalized).

11) What advice would you offer to aspiring author/illustrators?

Be open to new opportunities.

Don't let yourself get into a rut. Keep working on your craft.

Remember that in the end, it comes down to having a good story. No amount of promotion or networking or multimedia formatting is going to help if you don't have a good story to begin with.

Meet other writers, illustrators and people in the industry in person, not just online. I wish someone had told me this many years ago when I was just starting out.

Author Bio

Photo credit: Beckett Gladney
Debbie Ridpath Ohi is a Toronto-based freelance writer and illustrator with a focus on content for young people. She recently illustrated I'M BORED, a picture book by actor/comedian/author Michael Ian Black, due out this Fall (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2012), and has an illustrated short story in YA fiction anthology, TOMO (Stone Bridge Press, 2012). Previously, she was the founder of Inkspot and Inklings, one of the very first online writing communities and electronic newsletters. (Bio courtesy Chris Cheung of Autodesk SketchBook)

Contact Debbie

Twitter: @inkyelbows

Blog for kidlit/YA writers:

More info about Debbie:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Steven Belanger


1) Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work.

Thanks for having me here at The Writer’s Block, Raychelle. I’m a high school English Language Arts teacher, novelist, short story writer—and so-so poet. I live in the Northeast, in a quiet area of a loud suburb. It’s sort of rural where I am, but I’m half a mile from suburban and seven miles from urban. Also just half an hour to the good beaches, forty minutes to an hour to good walking/biking/hiking trails, an hour and a half from Fenway Park, two hours to the peaks and streams, and five hours from Manhattan—all of which I love and go to as often as possible.

2) Describe your journey to becoming a writer/author.

Oh, boy. How much time have ya got? Well, the short of it is that, when I was about six or so, I wrote a short story in a birthday card for my mother, whose name was Carole. The story was called something like, “A Christmas Carole, by Charles Dickens, but re-written by Steve Belanger.” (The misspelling of her name was intentional. I still have the card somewhere, since she’s passed.) It made her smile, and I was hooked. Throw in some slacking, finishing a novel, getting ripped off by an “agent” who scammed me for about a year (she’s still under indictment in NY State after many other victims came forward), and not writing a single creative word for nine years, and then being rescued (creatively and perhaps literally) by a great woman who convinced me to write again. “Hide the Weird” was the first thing I finished and sent out, and it’s in Space and Time Magazine right now. I feel I have those nine years to make up for, so I’m full speed ahead with many projects.

3) Do you gravitate toward specific genres in your writing?

Well, I don’t know. “Hide the Weird” is speculative fiction, I guess, though I’m not happy with that label. I just sold a very short nonfiction piece about how adopting a greyhound changed my life. I also finished a much longer nonfiction piece about managing anxiety in ten easy steps, with examples, anecdotes and short summaries. I’ll be sending that out soon. I’ve written (and am now re-writing) a zombie story that has quite a bit of the feel of Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night.” And a tiny bit of the Sox collapsing last year. Cuz they just rolled over and died, get it? (Sorry.) My edited and re-edited, finished and re-finished (knock on wood) novel is a mystery titled Cursing the Darkness. A draft of a sequel (or maybe a prequel, we’ll see) titled Remembering James is about half done. My novel The Gravediggers is a historical fiction horror novel, which I guess is what Dan Simmons’ The Terror was. It’s about the TB epidemic in 1880s and 1890s New England (specifically RI and NH) and how a creature really could have hidden in the shadows of the hysteria and walked in the footsteps of the disease—suspected, but never seen. Or was it? The Mercy Brown folklore of Rhode Island plays a part, as does the unbelievable sacrifice of the village of Eyam, England during the Plague (look both of those up). Modern-day, hysteria-inducing diseases, like 1980s AIDS, does, too, at least in the draft so far. I’m writing a memoir as well, and even my poems are of differing subjects and themes. Oh, yeah, and a book of my existentialist philosophy, titled Faith & Reality: Jumping Realities. And I’m about 100 pages into a semi-autobiographical novel, The Observer. And a collection of essays and articles about my experience in education, titled When No Child Gets Ahead, No Child Gets Left Behind: Adventures and Lessons in Education. And a concentration camp novel, about a camp the Nazis used as a sort of positive advertising to the world’s cameras (the prisoners were shown performing whatever talent they had, like singing; they ate only for the cameras, and were told to smile or be shot after the cameras were shut off). A small group of courageous adults try to save the life of a young boy who has no obvious talent whatsoever, at first by hiding him in a chorus. And a novel about a different sort of Armageddon, titled Apocalypse. So, no, actually I’d have to say I’m all over the place! I guess there are two different theories for not-yet-firmly established writers: write what’s selling (Do we really need another teenage paranormal romance?) or write what you want and work your butt off trying to sell it. I do the latter.

4) Tell us about your latest published short story, “Hide the Weird”. Where can readers find it?

Readers can find “Hide the Weird” in Space and Time Magazine: The Magazine of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction, via or at a newsstand near you. It’s a romance with a twist: a young man can see into the very near future (usually a couple of seconds to a couple of days); what he sees next is an ex-girlfriend, who he still loves, jumping from her apartment window, aflame, and plummeting to her death, a shooting star he loves crashing to the ground. But, when? Can he stop it? If he can’t, how can he warn her about it without her thinking he’s a freak? And, throughout all this, is he really saving anyone, or just making someone else die? All of that in just four magazine pages, with a nice illustration by Mark Levine.

5) I understand that you have recently completed a novel. What can you share about it?

That I’m soon to seek literary representation for it. Just finishing the pitch and packaging.

And that it’s a story of redemption. Foster was a cop who couldn’t save a three-year old girl from plummeting to her death. Now he’s dead inside—despite a fa├žade, he’s just a depressed and broke PI with a dying mother. But after Henry Blanchard hires him to find his missing daughter, Foster soon learns he’ll have another chance to save someone from certain death. And at the end, when he saves her, he saves himself.

Some people fail at something so traumatic that it defines their lives. How many get a chance at peace and self-redemption? Foster does, but it’s not easy: The vice-president of RI’s largest construction company is extorted and blackmailed by his ex-wife and her lover—a known crime figure named Charlie—who wants the company to work on the Mob’s pork-barrel projects and to launder its money. The VP’s eighteen-year daughter, Melissa, witnesses this and runs away. Foster finds her at her drug-dealing boyfriend’s in time to save her from Charlie’s hitmen. But he’s forced to lose her. Foster solves two other connected crimes while also fending off crooked cops, a dirty detective, a seductive and deceitful woman—and his depression, created by his mother’s illness and his regret and loneliness. The climactic scene: a Wendy’s restaurant, where he finds Melissa—and the hitmen sent to kill her, plus some. The novel resolves with Foster’s and Melissa’s recoveries, his mother’s death, the end of his mental and emotional anguish, and his self-redemption. Sort of.

6) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?

Too many favorites to mention, but here are some, in no particular ranking: Shakespeare, Stephen King, Robert B. Parker, Nietzsche, Anne Lamott, Alice Munro, Umberto Eco, Barbara Tuchman, Dan Simmons (though we need to have a talk about Flashback), Woody Allen (short stories and screenplays), Quentin Tarantino’s screenplays, lyrics of Paul Simon, Lennon/McCartney and Brandi Carlile. And, well, how much space do you have? Right now I’m reading Jonathon Kellerman’s latest (though they all seem to be bleeding into one by now), and The Best American Mysteries of 1998 (working my way up), and Joyce Carol Oates’ Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque. And whatever I’m doing at my job, plus new stuff in the new textbooks that look interesting. And…

7) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

Well, I’m still relatively new at this, so I do what I can without letting it overwhelm the actual writing time, plus the career that I love which also pays The Man. I blog usually three to four entries per week. I’m a member of (too many) online writers groups. I befriend (or is it e-friend?) other bloggers, and I comment on their blogs. I tell everyone who is related to me, who likes me, or who might be interested—or any combination—about my published work. I just took a copy of Space and Time with my story in it to the local library and asked if they could subscribe to it, since my story was in it—and they said “Yes!” (That was completely spur-of-the-moment.) A few other things are in the works.

Despite all this, I firmly believe that the best method of promoting my work is to finish more of it, to send it out, to get it published, and to advertise that—then repeat. I very strongly believe that a writer’s best advertising is his own high-quality, published work.

8) What are your upcoming plans for 2012?

To finish, send out, and publish every single title I mentioned I was working on in #3!!! Plus everything else festering in this overactive head of mine that I haven’t had time to jot down yet. And to set up a better schedule for myself so that I can do all that.

9) What is your definition of success as an author?

This is actually pretty simple, and I’m happy you used the word “author” rather than “writer,” or it wouldn’t be so simple. A successful author is one who gets paid to his/her own satisfaction for the work he or she has produced. Success, unlike beauty (though we could argue about that, too), is in the mind of the individual, not the beholder.

10) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

Read a lot.

Write a lot.

Send it out a lot.

Stir. Repeat.

Thanks very much for having me here, Raychelle. Answering these questions actually helped me realize a few things about my writing—especially how I need to better schedule my writing time.

Author Bio

Steve Belanger has been writing since he was seven, after he read Stephen King's Carrie and thought: I can do this. His first published piece, written at the same age, was "A Christmas Carole," a short story inside of a Christmas card, created for his ailing mother. She smiled, and he was hooked. He's writing whenever he's not paying The Man (or is it the other way around?) and he lives with his better half, his greyhound and his one-eyed cat, who somehow still shoots him a wry glance when Steve's being bad. On most days (and nights, and weekends, and holidays, and--) he's hunched over his office desk, writing stories or novels, pounding the internet pavement, preparing story submissions for magazine editors and novel packages for agents, or pouring over papers and plans for his day job. And over-alliterating the letter P. He also eats and sleeps, on occasion. He enjoys baseball and breathing, when he has the time, and he's finishing his Masters.

Contact Steve



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Sophfronia Scott

1) How did you get started as a writer? Describe your body of work.

I've been writing since I was a girl, but it wasn't until I went to college, at Harvard, that I learned writing could be my career. One of my writing teachers said to me, in what became a life-changing moment for me, "You know you're good enough to get paid for this, right?" I was shocked! I was hired by Time Magazine right out of college and I learned my trade as a journalist. I worked in the company for 15 years. Then I sold my first novel. I've also published two non-fiction books (Doing Business By the Book and How the Fierce Handle Fear) and I've been published in Chicken Soup for the African American Woman's Soul and Forty Things to Do When You Turn Forty.

2) Do you specialize in any particular genre(s)?

I would say I specialize in fiction, especially novels about family.

3) What inspired you to write All I Need to Get By (St. Martin’s Press, 2004)?

All I Need to Get By is a family story about a woman who grew up idolizing her older brother. When I grew up I was particularly fascinated with the life of my older brother and as an adult I came to realize I knew more about his teenage life than he did because I watched him so closely. There aren't many books out there that talk about brother/sister relationships and I thought it would be interesting to explore that bond and what happens when a sibling dishonors that bond.

4) What will authors learn from "Doing Business by the Book"?

They will learn about how a business book really works. Many entrepreneurs want to write a book because they have a good idea and they think a book would be good for their business. But in order for the book to help the business it has to do so much more than just express an idea. It has to get a client to want to work with you, it has to move them to take the next step towards that. Those things won't happen unless you plan it into the writing of the book.

5) Tell us about The Done For You Writing & Publishing Company. What services do you provide?

It helps speakers, coaches and entrepreneurs to write books to promote their businesses. We have a range of services from classes and workshops that teach book strategy and writing to personal coaching to help people with their book projects, to ghostwriting services where we will actually write the book for the client.

6) How did Messenger House Books begin? Which genres do you publish?

Messenger House is a partnership we have with Advantage Media Group to produce books for our clients. The books we've done so far have been inspirational, self-help books.

7) Please share your other brands and how you manage them all.

I have a brand known as "The Book Sistah" that addresses the needs of non-business writers, "Business Book Bootcamp", which is the brand for the webinar class I teach and then "Business By the Book" is my blog. Each gets emphasized depending on what I'm doing and the time of year. For instance, with my focus on fiction these days, The Book Sistah brand will come to the forefront more as I launch a new blog around that. When I'm offering the webinar, Business Book Bootcamp gets a lot of play. It would be too hard to promote all at once.

8) What advice would you give to budding writers?

Be focused on what you want to accomplish as a writer and then bet on yourself. It's easy to get distracted by having to make money for a living but it's something most of us have to deal with, unfortunately. For the past few years I've been sidetracked by my business and raising my young son and my fiction has suffered for it. Last year I made a commitment to change that by going for my masters in creative writing, fiction. I'm now a student at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, one of the top MFA programs in the country.

9) What is your definition of success as a writer?

Writing the work you love to do in the way that only you can do it. The author Robert Vivian, one of my teachers at Vermont, taught me that--it's not just about awards and accolades. When you truly understand your unique voice and your gift as a writer, you will write amazing work that will stand the test of time. And that's also when you will feel the most alive when you're writing. I just love that. By the way, I highly recommend his excellent novel trilogy: Mover of Bones, Lamb Bright Saviors and Another Burning Kingdom. Reading great work is absolutely essential if you're going to grow as a writer.

10) What do you plan to accomplish in 2012?

As part of my masters work I'm currently writing short stories at a clip of about one a month. I'd like to see what I have at the end of it and whether or not it will all come together as a collection. But I may be focusing on my novel in the fall semester, I don't know yet. We'll see. I'm also undertaking a major publishing project for a client that will result in an important book coming out in January. I can't talk about the details on that just yet, but it will be a tremendous book.

Author Bio

Sophfronia Scott has over twenty years of experience as a professional writer. She honed her craft working with some of the best (and toughest) editors in the world during her career at Time and People magazines.

When she published her first novel, All I Need to Get By with St. Martin’s Press in 2004, one prominent reviewer referred to Sophfronia as potentially “one of the best writers of her generation.”

Sophfronia holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard. In her current position as executive editor of The Done For You Writing & Publishing Company, and publisher of Messenger House Books, Sophfronia helps entrepreneurs and speakers to write and publish books to market their businesses. She is also the author of the bestselling award-winning book, Doing Business By the Book: How to Craft a Crowd-Pleasing Book and Attract More Clients and Speaking Engagements Than You Ever Thought Possible and How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times. Sophfronia has published essays in Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul and Forty Things to Do When You Turn Forty. She is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Creative Writing-Fiction at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Sophfronia will be teaching a live workshop, "How to Write & Publish Books That Change Lives", at the University of Connecticut, Stamford, on May 19. For details go to

Contact Sophfronia


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Monday, April 9, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Jordan Trent

1) Tell us a bit about who you are, and where you live and work.

I am a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and the middle child of three girls and I come from a long line of educators, so it felt only natural that I pursue a career in the field of education. I currently work with young people and mentor in Atlanta, Georgia.

2) Describe your journey to becoming an author.

My literary journey began very early in life. In fact, my mom, who also loved to write, encouraged my sisters and I to write when we were children because she didn’t always love the images or stories that were in print.  So we began writing poetry and short stories as kids and then would perform our work for our parents.  However, interestingly enough, I never thought I would publish any of my work until I wrote If Tomorrow Comes and I Am Gone.  I thought I would be like my mom and just share my stories with my own children one day to inspire them. It wasn’t until I became a published author that I learned my mom always wished she had published some of her work as well.  So in many ways I now feel this journey is for both of us.

3) What kinds of books do you write? Who is your ideal reader?

I write children’s books that are specifically designed to help strengthen families and children. However, although children are my target group, any reader who is seeking resources for dealing with challenges that families sometimes face from illness to new siblings are my ideal readers.

4) Where did you find your inspiration for If Tomorrow Comes and I am Gone?

I wanted to create a story that was multidimensional in nature; one that would be relatable among a variety of age groups and cultures. As in America, there is a woman in India who has been diagnosed with cancer, a father who is left to be the sole provider, grandparents who serve as surrogates in many cases. Loss, grief, disease. . .cancer transcends age, culture, and location. Tomorrow’s mission is to inspire, mend broken hearts, and provide encouragement to those who find themselves in these circumstances. The activities are an extension of the story. As an educator, I was very intentional to ensure readers were able to interact with the story; to ensure their takeaway was tangible and meaningful. The response has been overwhelming. Libraries have cataloged Tomorrow, centers that work with children and the grief process have expressed interest in using the book as a tool for their clients, parents have told me that they are using Tomorrow with their children to help them create memories of loved ones who have transitioned.

5) Why did you start The Ngambika Academy?

I am energized by young people and find their power of promise and potential infectious. My passion for our future leaders inspired me to develop The Ngambika Academy—a Kiswahili word meaning ‘help me carry the load’—to provide a ‘train the trainer’ model and curriculum for volunteers and mentors seeking to create ongoing leadership, service learning, and life skills training for young people.  The Ngambika Academy is not an actual school, but is a replicable curriculum that allows others to design and develop their own academies within their schools and/or communities. 

6) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?

There are so many authors that I have loved over the years for different reasons, but Dr. Maya Angelou, Don Miguel Ruiz, Iyanla Vanzant, and Margaret Wise Brown are just a few of my favorites. Unfortunately at the moment my schedule has been so hectic that the only thing on my reading list is my “to do list,” which continues to grow.

7)  How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to promote my work via an array of media outlets that include radio, television, newspapers and online magazines. All have each allowed me the opportunity to share my book with new audiences, so I would have to say that each has worked well for me.

8) What are your upcoming plans for 2012?

I am still seeking opportunities for national press in 2012 and continuing to do readings and signings. Additionally, I am currently working on three additional books.

9) What is your definition of success as an author?

I am sure each author has to defines success differently. For me it is being able to write stories that resonate with readers, that somehow help to enrich their experiences and allows each reader to be reminded that we are not alone.

10) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

I would advise aspiring authors to pursue their desires and dream out loud. Write stories that people want to read and be clear on your intent to publish.

Author Bio


Twitter: @JordanTrent1


To purchase Tomorrow, please visit one of the following vendors:

Barnes and Noble


Please click the links below to learn more about Jordan Trent and the evolution of Tomorrow:

Jordan Trent Talks w/Atlanta & Company

Jordan Trent Speaks w/Twanda Black