Sunday, September 21, 2008

Interview with Author, Kendra Norman Bellamy


Today I continue the series of interviews with my label-mates at Urban Christian Books. I have the pleasure of welcoming national bestselling and multi-award winning author, Kendra Norman Bellamy. Kendra is the founding organizer of Visions in Print Writers' Group (www.visionsinprint.wordpress.com/) and founder of the highly sought Writer's Cocoon craft worshop. Kendra has 12 novels under her belt and she's done a zillion interviews. I tried to ask her a few questions that I thought would give you a more intimate look into the author and business woman. But we'll start with her current release.

Kendra, welcome to Urban Christian Fiction, tell us about your latest novel, Battle of Jericho. Battle of Jericho is the riveting story of Sergeant Peter Jericho (a U.S. Marine) who is in both a physical and spiritual combat. Over the past year, situations have caused his prayer life and the bonds of his marriage to weaken. Just before being shipped to Iraq to fight in the ongoing war there, Peter allowed an unresolved circumstance to spiral out of control and tear his family apart. And although he makes a promise to his young daughter that he will mend things between her mother and him upon his return to the States, Peter is blindsided by fate and captured as a prisoner of war less than a month before his tour of duty ends. Watching the death and destruction all around him puts his already waning faith to the ultimate test, and Peter finds himself in the battle of a lifetime, to somehow survive the devices of his murderous captors, and not only regain his place in God, but also return to his wife and daughter. The story is full of suspense and drama, but also sprinkled with humor and romance.

Sounds intriquing and very timely with us being at war. Tell us about yourself? Who are you? Where you're from…
I’m a wife, mother, business owner, motivational speaker and national bestselling author. Although, I live in a thriving metropolis, I’m a country girl at heart; the daughter of two preachers who spent most of my formative years in a small town where everybody knew everybody. From a young age, my parents instilled in me the importance of having strong values, setting high standards, and honoring the Lord. Some of my favorite things to do are to read, listen to music and travel. I currently reside in Atlanta, Georgia with my family.

How did you get started writing?
Poetry was where I got my start and that began at the age of ten. I wrote my first full length manuscript in 1998, three years after the death of my first husband; so basically, my pain led me to my purpose. I was still grieving at the time, and writing became a means of therapy for me. In essence, I wrote my way to victory; and the rest, as they say, is history. Once that manuscript was complete, writing became a must for me – literally. It was as though I didn’t have a choice. God had given the calling and I had to answer.

What advice would you give people who may face a desire to obtain success whether it's in writing or life and at times find themselves dealing with heartaches and setbacks?
Very few successes come without challenges. Even the scripture tells us that trials come to make us strong. I’ve had them and still have them now. Heartaches and setbacks are a part of life. Learning to use them as stepping stones instead of allowing them to become permanent stumbling blocks is the key. It goes back to that old adage of “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” To gain success at any thing requires us to be persistent. Focus on the desired goal and press toward it regardless of the opposition. Victory is sweeter when you know you had to overcome barriers in order to obtain it.

You originally started out writing Christian romance, becoming one of the true trailblazers of African-American Christian romance. Now you’ve added a bit of mystery to your most recent work. Tell us about that transition and how have your readers responded to it. I’ve never viewed my writing as having transitioned. From the beginning, my books have consistently carried a hint of mystery in them. There is almost always a twist in the tale that catches most readers by surprise as they journey through my stories. Admittedly, my most recent stories (because they are all a part of a common-themed series) have had a stronger flavor of mystery than some of my earlier novels. But even in that, each of the newer titles still have a romantic involvement somewhere among the lead characters. If there has been a transition period for my readers, they have certainly adjusted well. I have very loyal supporters and I appreciate them. They’ve embraced the new novels just as much, if not more, than the ones before them. My novels will probably always consist of both romance and mystery. These are my two favorite genres in literature.

What's been the most challenging part for you in being an author? The most rewarding? As I stated earlier, I love to travel. Going to new places, meeting the readers of my novels is something that I look forward to doing. However, being a family woman, all of the travels do take me away from the people I love the most. That’s challenging for me. The older my daughters get, though, the less stressful my travels become. Now that I have one away in college and the other, a sophomore in high school, I’m not as concerned with leaving them behind as I was when I began my career six years ago. By far, the most rewarding part of being an author is the knowledge that my books have touched so many hearts; even changed lives. Receiving letters and emails from readers that outline how my books have brought them closer to Christ is beyond humbling. I thank God every day for choosing me to minister in this atypical fashion.

You are quite the entrepreneur. Tell us about Cruisin’ for Christ III and KNB Publications. Cruisin’ For Christ III (http://www.cruisinforchrist.org/) sets sail September 5-12, 2009. Cabins can be booked right now to reserve space and lock in low rates. Cruisin’ For Christ is an at-sea ministry that I founded in 2006 as a unique way to celebrate Christian writing. The first mission launched in 2007. Annually, the featured guest list on the cruise consists of those who use their pens to glorify God. Our roster has included Grammy, Stellar and Dove Award winning recording artists, dynamic spoken word artists, bestselling Christian authors, critically acclaimed stage actors and actresses, award-winning Christian comedians, and nationally known Christian mime ministers. And the registrants who join us each year, not only get to meet all of our “celebrity guests” up close and personal, but they also get to enjoy a wealth of educational workshops, empowerment seminars, praise and old school parties, show-stopping concerts, and more. The fellowship and networking possibilities are incredible. It’s just an awesome experience that is growing each year.

KNB Publications is my baby. It marks the start of my career in that it was originally just a name for my website. Since then, God has given it wings. I have a heart for aspiring writers. Especially those who want to use their gifts to uplift the Kingdom of God. Today, KNB Publications, LLC, is a full service independent self-publishing house that produces the inspirational works of writers who wish to self-publish, but don’t want to take on the sometimes, overwhelming responsibility of going through all of the steps of getting it done. Essentially, authors can write the manuscript and turn it over to KNB to do the rest. From editing to cover design to printing, we do it all. Our motto is: We take you from manuscript to masterpiece. KNB Publications has been blessed to be nominated Best Independent Publisher for two consecutive years.

Your daughter Brittney Holmes (the YA author) has just left the nest for college. What’s that transition been like for you? They grow up so fast! Brittney is a bona fide “mama’s girl,” so she was like my shadow at home. Not having her hanging around me from day to day is a harder adjustment than I thought it would be. As much as I’d mentally prepared myself for her moving out and embarking on her full time college career, it’s still difficult not having her here on a daily basis. I talk to her quite often, but it’s not the same as having her here. I think her absence has been a bit of a challenge for everyone in the house, but we are very proud of Brittney. She was a very actively involved high school student and she’s already doing the same on the campus of the University of Georgia. I know that with God’s help, she’ll continue to excel, both in school and as an author.
I asked Kendra to get personal and she shared the following answers with us:
Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Time of Year: Spring
Favorite U.S. City: Virginia Beach.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
Africa.
For years, it’s been my dream to visit the Motherland and I hope to do so one day soon.
What’s at the top of your TBR (to be read) pile?
Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou. She’s my all-time favorite author and I’m excited about the release of her newest work.
If you were going to a deserted island and could only take one fiction book with you. What would it be and why? Battle of Jericho, because I think it would be pretty sad if I’m only given the opportunity to take one book and I wouldn’t choose one of my own. J

Kendra, tell us what’s next for you?
Well, let’s see. I’m in the early planning stages of Cruisin’ For Christ III, and a project of its magnitude takes a lot of time and energy. In addition, I’m a founding member of Anointed Authors on Tour (http://www.anointedauthorsontour.com/) and we are in the middle of our third annual mission right now, which means I’m traveling quite a bit. And then there is my 13th novel that will release in just a few short months. The Lyons Den is the third book in the Shelton Heights Series (its predecessors are: In Greene Pastures and Battle of Jericho) and it is set to hit bookstores everywhere on April 1, 2009. I’m already getting my calendar lined with dates to help promote it. In the meantime, I’m working toward a writing deadline with another novel titled The Morning After, which is set to release in December 2009. This one is co-authored by Emmy Award winning poet, Hank Stewart, and is the sequel to Three Fifty-Seven A.M.
Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by, Kendra. It was a great interview and I learned alot about you and hope my readers enjoyed it as well. You may learn more about Kendra by visting http://www.kendranormanbellamy.com/
Kendra's books are available where ever books are sold. Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles, Books-a-Million, Target and Wal-mart. Click below and enjoy one today!


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kendra Norman-Bellamy is my absolute favorite author and Battle of Jericho is an EXCELLENT story. Ms. Norman-Bellamy's books are clearly entertaining, clearly purposeful, clearly enjoyable and clearly Christian. That's saying a lot nowadays because so many so-called Christian authors are selling out for the sake of notariety. Many of the books that claim to be Christian fiction are really just regular fiction with some half-living-right church folks in the mix. No ministry in the story at all. Just entertainment. Thank God that there are still authors like Ms. Norman-Bellamy who refuse to compromise just for the sake of book sells. Thank you for interviewing her. Her back story explains a lot about her character and values.

Kennisha Hill said...

Thanks for posting this interview, Rhonda. It was so encouraging. I love what Kendra said about how writing became therapy for her. I'm realizing this very thing, right now. After going through certain things, writing certainly takes me to a place of comfort and God uses it to bring healing. I just pray it helps to heal other readers as well.

Blessings to you. You have such a fantastic blog.

Love and God Bless,
Kennisha

Patricia W. said...

Wonderful interview, ladies!

LaShaunda said...

Good Interview Rhonda. Kendra has always inspired me. Its wonderful to see how her writing ministry has touched others. Many blessings to you both.

Missy said...

This is one of my favorite authors she truly understand kingdom building!!

shelia said...

Good interview ladies. Kendra is one of my favorite Christian ficiton writers. I've read all of her books thus far and look forward to future books.

Both of you keep letting your lights shine.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rhonda
love mom