Interview with Contemporary Romance Author LaConnie Taylor-Jones

LaConnie Taylor-Jones, a native Memphian, is a health educator consultant and holds advanced degrees in community public health and business administration. Married, she is the mother of four and resides with her family in Antioch, California located in Northern California. She is also an active member of the Contra Costa Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the African American Community Health Advisory Committee, Black Women Organized for Political Action, and the San Francisco Area and Black Diamond chapters of Romance Writers of America.

You can visit her website at http://www.laconnietaylorjones.com/.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, LaConnie! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

Hello everyone!! I’m a native Memphian currently living in Northern California with my husband and four kids. By trade, I’m a health educator consultant and an active volunteer with several social and community organizations. I started writing in the summer of ’03 and my debut novel, When I’m With You released in November ’07.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

When I’m With You is a story about the damage caused by an abusive relationship, how the person who’s abused suffers, how a person learns to trust again, and why one has to FFF: forgive, forget, and move forward.

The inspiration to write this book came from my experience as a health educator. For the last fifteen years, I’ve taught health education primarily to African American women in community-based settings. Oftentimes, before I can lecture on the risk factors associated with chronic diseases disproportionally impacting African Americans, I have to deal with the soci-economic deterrents women face. Unfortunately, abusive relationships top the list.

What kind of research was involved in writing WHEN I’M WITH YOU?

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview several women at length about their experiences involving domestic abuse. The one thing I learned is that if you’re not in that situation, it’s easy to say what you would or wouldn’t do. I walked away with a better understanding of their plight and the reasons behind many of the decisions they’ve made.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

Absolutely none!! The publisher has total control for what the book cover will look like. However, I must say that I love what they came up with for this book!

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

The journey to publication was long and let me tell you, the road was B-U-M-P-Y!! It was a tedious voyage, but I never gave up on it!! After completing When I’m With You, I submitted the manuscript to sixty-eight agents. Eleven requested a partial, but afterwards, declined further interest. Finally in November 2005, I gathered the courage to submit the manuscript directly to six publishing houses. By the spring 2006, three of them had requested the complete and the rest is history.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

Thirteen months. Genesis Press made a contract in October ’06 and the book released on November 6, 2007.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

Yes, I’m represented by Cheryl Ferguson with Ferguson Literary Agency.

Do you plan subsequent books?

My second book, When A Man Loves A Woman, will release on April 1st. I’m in contract negotiations for my third release, which hopefully will make the 2008 production schedule. Also, there are two other works-in-progress, so I plan to stay pretty busy this year.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I’m definitely an early morning writer. I’ve found the best time for me to write is between one and six in the morning.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

God, I’d love to hire a top-notch marketing promotion company to help me put together a nationwide book signing tour.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

In my opinion, self-promotion is one of the most effective promotion campaigns at an author’s fingertips. If you don’t toot your own work, no one else will. Also, with the increased popularity of the Internet, I’ve found on-line promoting to be an extremely effective marketing tool.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

The first tip I’d give is to prepare. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways: reading books from authors published in the genre you’re writing in, taking courses or workshops, entering contests, and if possible, speaking with published authors in your targeted genre. Once you have a workable draft of your manuscript, join a critique group and above all, accept constructive feedback. All of these things will help in the end so that you’re providing a quality product for agents and editors to review.

A couple of books I’d highly encourage writers to purchase are: Building Better Plots by Robert Kernen and Writing Novels that Sells by Jack Bickham.

Thank you for coming, LaConnie! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

They can visit my website at http://www.laconnietaylorjones.com/ and they can find When I’m With You at all the major bookstores and on-line at Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles.com, Books-A-Million.com, to name a few.

Check out LaConnie’s website at http://www.laconnietaylorjones.com/ to see how you can win a $100 gift certificate to Amazon.com!

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