The Writer's Life Chats with Terrell Dunnum author of While There is Still Time, A Book Of Prophecy Revealed Through Poetry

Terrell Dunnum is an author, teacher, and biblical counselor. He is the founder of Total Freedom Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families and troubled youths by providing counseling, mentoring and basic life skills. He has received Humanitarian Awards for his gallant and dedicated efforts in working with students in the Oklahoma City Public Schools. His first Christian poetry book is While There is Still Time.

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

A:Thank you, it is great to be here. Well I’m an Okie from Muskogee. That was a country song that actually tells you a little about me. I was born in a small town and later moved to a big town. As a young boy, I was always fascinated about reading stories that made me question life as it exists today. Reading became a journey that took me into worlds that could only be obtained by a creative and thoughtful imagination. Writing came to me a little later in life. After thirteen years of teaching middle school students, which is an experience in its own right, I had the chance to work with high school students. The high school students would put on yearly skits and plays. I realized this was a perfect opportunity to make a change and have students think about their actions as well as the consequences of their actions on society. I started writing scripts that connects teenagers to real life issues they face. I occasionally run into students that have graduated several years ago, and they greet me and speak of the various skits and plays that impacted their life.

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

A: While There Is Still Time, A Book of Prophecy Revealed Through Poetry, is an interactive poetry book that connects you to the heart of God. Writing While There Is still Time was not something I set out to do, it just happened. There are so many individuals looking for answers to many of life’s questions. The horoscopes are searched everyday by millions of people hoping to find some word or comfort to help them along the way. While There Is Still Time was written to help fulfill some of those questions. It reads almost like a love letter. There are letters written especially to individuals who are emotional destitute. There are letters or messages that remind us of who God is, what he has promised, and what he is getting ready to do. Finally, there are messages written through poetry that lend themselves to the unique individuals that try God’s patience. The prophetic letters written through poetry are reminiscence of the letters written by St. John on the island of Patmos to the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation.

What kind of research was involved in writing While There Is Still Time, A Book of Prophecy Revealed Through Poetry?

A: There was actually no research involved in writing the book. I am not saying this was a good thing, but in my case the outcome of While There Is Still Time was the result of a one week extraordinary experience. It was an early Sunday spring morning and the scent of fresh spring was in the air. Inspirational thoughts of comfort and words of urgency began to spring up out of my innermost being. This unique experience of a lifetime lasted one week. The following Sunday, While There Is Still Time, was born. Writing from thoughts of inspiration is similar to a spring of water; there are times everything flows at the right Ph balance in order to gives life to the reader.

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

A: There have been a couple of bumps in the road, but for the most part it has been pretty smooth. The first publishing company I sent my manuscript to via online, I never heard back. I have to say, I was somewhat disappointed. A rejection letter would have been appreciated but we must all learn to move on and let go of the past. Every inspiring writer must allow the wind of rejection to move you forward into your purpose and destination. The publishing company I landed was recommended to me by several clergymen and pastors. They have a reputation of working closely with authors during book production.
Every author should seek a publisher that allows him/her to take part in each stage of production. I was truly please with the transition from the beginning to end.

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

A:The book took about eleven months to be released after signing the contract.
I took this much needed time to familiarize myself with the procedures involved for promotion. Writing, editing, and producing a book can be taxing, but the promotion of a book can be more challenging. You may have information or a product that can save someone’s life, but if that information is not shared, what good is it.

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?

A: Some authors hire agents and some are their own agents. Authors especially in the area of screenplays and broadways entertainment might want to look at agents a little closer. Agents cost and some charge fees to evaluate your manuscript. There are others that take a percentage of your contract if a publisher accepts your book. Whether you have an agent or not, it is important to be aware of all language presented in the contract and the ramification of the language. I do not have an agent. I chose to do extensive research and represented myself when reviewing and determining to sign my contract. There is all kind of resources available in book stores, local libraries, and online to help every author becomes more informed to get the best terms when signing a contract.

Do you plan subsequent books?

A:I have been asked this question a lot. I have not made any plans for writing another book at this time. The interesting fact is when I plan to do something on my own accord, it usually doesn’t work out. I have come to the conclusions that when and if it’s time to write another book, the book will find me.

Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

A: Writing in an open space early in the morning in the comfort of my living room is my favorite place to write. There I find peace and tranquility. Having a peace of mind to allow the imagination to flow unhindered is an author’s dream. I have come to realize that turning off cell phones, unplugging televisions, and unhooking the internet, sets the atmosphere in allowing the creativity of free flowing thoughts.

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

A: The internet is the fastest growing tool for promotion in the world. First there was EBay, then there was YouTube, and now there is Facebook. It appears that we have to change along with the time when contemplating abundant ways to promote a product. Ten years ago I would have said running a television commercial or a radio ad would be the best way to promote. I am not saying these techniques are no longer needed. I just understand that along with evolution there is a vast array of resources to pick from when determining what direction or avenue to choose. Targeting your audience and their specific desires and needs makes a difference in how any product performs.

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

A: Success of any book or product requires involves a great deal of promotion on all levels. Authors should inter into a collaborative mode of teamwork with the publisher in getting out as much information as possible. The publisher has a role and the author has his/her role. Promoting or sharing information is similar to staring inside a circle to me. You may start inward sharing book information with family and friends and then sharing outward with co-workers and associates. How one promotes your book can take place on so many levels.
To understand every level, authors must research and gain insight into every opportunity. I enrolled in a workshop entitled, Marketing Your Book and You. It outlined and gave specific procedures on how to properly promote your book or product. I also visited my local library. You will be astonished to find the books, videos, and audios, available for checkout on proven ways to promote your book. There are also online resources such as Youtube. You may take a course on self-promotion in the privacy of your own home and all for free.

What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

A:New writers often become disheartened from the numerous amounts of rejection. Some writers begin to doubt themselves and loose hope. New writers must come to the relaxation that there are many avenues and opportunities available to succeed in having your book published. I too was rejected and began to inquire of author about alternative avenues. All recommendation pointed to this one subsidiary publisher, and three months later my contract was signed.

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

A: To all inspiring authors I would say, shoot for the stars. Stay focused on your destination. Overcome the evils of doubt and rejection through perseverance and determination. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. In closing I would like to quote a verse that is dear to my heart. …” that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. Ecclesiastes 9:11

Thank you for your interview, Terrell. I wish you much success!

A:Thank you, it has been my pleasure.

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