APKY/AMP: Hello Denise, and welcome to AuthorMeProfessionals and this interview. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer. What inspired you to write your first book?
I was an avid book reader as a child. Pippi Longstocking remains my favorite book character. But I read what was available at the time: the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Curious George, etc. As I got older I started reading the few books written by African American authors on the market, books written by authors like Maya Angelou and later, Gloria Naylor. Yet, I hadn’t heard of Gwendolyn Brooks. Thanks to my sister checking a poetry book (written by Gwendolyn Brooks) out of the library I was introduced to Gwendolyn Brooks. It was while reading one of her poetry books that my higher self spoke to me and told me I was a writer. I was 10 years old at the time.
APKY/AMP: Wow. I find it amazing how most avid writers started loving books at a very early age. So, Denise, what genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Generally, I write mystery and/or inspirational books. I have, however, co-authored non-fiction books for compilations and college textbooks. My latest novel, Love Pour Over Me, is a book that celebrates and explores love. Readers gain romance, mystery (there are some fast paced scenes in Love Pour Over Me!), access to remarkable friendships, intrigue and greater understanding of the human experience when they read and enjoy Love Pour Over Me which is available at online and offline booksellers as Love Pour Over Me is in print and ebook format. For example, it’s for sale at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (online and offline), Google Books, Ebookit.com, local bookstores, libraries, etc.
APKY/AMP: That’s a great spread for a book. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Love is all there really is. We, ourselves, are love. We have simply forgotten this truth, but we are remembering. One day we will remember fully.
APKY/AMP: Yes, Denise. I think there’s a lot of truth in what you say. Anything else you’ve had published to-date?
Portia is my first novel. It’s an inspirational book about a successful Chicago defense attorney and how she uses her faith in God and the love of her family and soul mate to receive her healing of cancer. It was received wonderfully by readers. I so appreciate the reception readers gave Portia. Other books I have written and published include Long Walk Up (an inspirational book about a woman who becomes Africa’s first female president) and Spiral (a murder mystery), Love Has Many Faces (a multi-cultural mystery set in New York City; it’s sold out). I have also written and published a children’s book, Rosetta’s Great Hope, and, of course, my new book, Love Pour Over Me. Excerpts from each of my books are online at my official website – http://www.chistell.com
APKY/AMP: I’m checking your site straight after this – may be Long Walk Up is about Liberia! In the meantime we have another woman president in Africa after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: President Joyce Banda of Malawi. Anyway, do you have any advice for other writers?
Create or write what you are passionate about, what you sincerely believe in. Write something every day. Exercising our passions is powerful! Study the market, hone your craft, work with a professional editor and believe in your good. Read stories about other writers who kept believing until they achieved a remarkable goal to encourage yourself if you must. Keep writing. There is an audience for your work.
APKY/AMP: No doubt our readers – and yours – will appreciate that. Tell us why we should buy your book, Denise.
Love Pour Over Me gives you so much! You’ll feel so many emotions and perhaps gain insights on real life events you’re dealing with – this all while you’re being greatly entertained. But perhaps, most of all, you’ll see more how love works, even when you think love is absent from the scene – in the end you’ll see how it moved and what wonders it brings to pass in the lives of people who, at times, seem utterly abandoned in the world. And again, you can read free Love Pour Over Me excerpts at http://www.chistell.com
APKY/AMP: Right, and a great pitch. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
I use several strategies to market myself as a writer and to market my books. Because I write full-time, often for clients/business owners, I have a greater opportunity to introduce myself to readers. Specific marketing strategies I use include posting information about my books at social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Google+, etc. I also blog (http://www.writemoneyinc.com), post book related videos on YouTube, have a mobile app for my official website, network with other writers, participate in blog tours, take out online and print ads, host a radio show, interview with other media outlets, etc. It all works together to spread the word about me and the books I write and publish.
APKY/AMP: Yay! Please help me do the same for my works, won’t you, Denise. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
I’ve made runner-up writing contest, one sponsored by McDonald’s years ago. If you market winning or making the short list in a writing contest, perhaps adding the achievement to your website, etc., it can gain you leverage. However, I think making respected bestseller list has more of an impact on book sales.
APKY/AMP: Correct. It’s getting there that’s touch, I suppose. Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Usually I write in my office, the same place I create non-fiction content (e.g. web copy, articles, white papers) for paying clients from. My desk is right across from a window in my home. I write from a comfortable, pleasant space and I appreciate that. Thanks for asking.
APKY/AMP: My pleasure, Denise. And do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
I don’t have a literary agent. If a writer sells enough books, gets enough buzz for her work, that alone will get the attention of large publishing houses. If a writer self-publishes and markets his book to success, having an agent is nearly a mute point. But again, if a writer is unpublished and wants to get picked up by a traditional publishing house, I recommend working through a reputable literary agent (as a tip reputable literary agents do not charge reading fees to review a manuscript).
APKY/AMP: Yet agents these days want a published author, funny enough. What are you working on at the moment / next?
I’m writing a book about a woman who visits Chicago (she’s from Louisiana). Although she’s not yet aware (and wouldn’t dare admit it if she was) she’s reliving her mother’s life, the woman she’s desperate to get away from and be nothing like. These subconscious decisions exact a price from the woman. Yet, there’s hope. It comes in the form of a man and a good woman friend. The story is set in the 1940s.
APKY/AMP: Sounds very intriguing. So, do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
I write on a computer. It’s faster, easier to edit/update my work and easier to save and back up. That said, I started writing using pen and paper and later moved to using a manual typewriter. So glad to see these wonderful computers come on the scene!
APKY/AMP: Yours truly too! Alone the Tipp-Ex and carbon papers!! What do you like to read?
I read fiction and non-fiction. I like literary works. Some of my favorite authors are Nicole Titus (author of Akin to No One, an amazing book!!), Joyce Carol Oates, Gloria Naylor, James Baldwin, J. California Cooper, Walter Mosley and Jamaica Kincaid.
APKY/AMP: Right, I find James Baldwin amazing but I have to admit I haven’t read some of the other you mention here. Thank you, Denise. I now invite you to include an extract of your writing:
Denise Turney Bio:
Denise Turney is a professional writer who brings more than thirty-two years of book, newspaper, magazine, radio and business writing to a project. She is the author of the books Portia, Love Has Many Faces, Spiral, Rosetta’s Great Adventure, Long Walk Up and Love Pour Over Me. Denise Turney is an internationally celebrated author who is listed in various entertainment and business directories, including industry leaders such as Who’s Who, 100 Most Admired African American Women and Crosswalk. Denise Turney’s works have appeared in Parade, Essence, Ebony, Madame Noire, The Pittsburgh Quarterly and Obsidian II.
APKY/AMP: Thank you, Denise, and I with AuthorMeProfessionals wish all the best with your projects.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!