Today I have the pleasure of welcoming a member of my writers' group. Roi has an exciting new novel that has just been getting great reviews. Makes me proud to say I know her. Welcome to Urban Christian Fiction Today, Roi. Introduce yourself to my readers. Hello, everyone! I’m Roishina Clay Henderson, a new author who penned Make Me Whole. I work in public relations by day, but fiction writing is my dream turned reality.
It must have been exciting to finally hold your debut novel in your hands. Tell us about that experience, and tell us about Make Me Whole. It was a pretty awesome feeling to hold my novel in my hand for the first time and flip through the pages to see my name in print. As a former newspaper reporter, it was a thrill to see my byline. But to see my name on a book? That took it to a higher level of excitement and appreciation for the craft of writing.
Make Me Whole is about three women in Atlanta who battle with broken faith, infidelity and resentment. Readers journey through the lives Jacky Jayson, Neicy Chavez and Cee-Cee Bates as they finally put the mirrors up to see the reflections of their broken lives. Cee-Cee invites her friends to Memphis to attend the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Annual Holy Convocation that is celebrating their 100th year in faith. This fiction story gives real accounts of the COGIC convocation experience that is held every November in Memphis.
Are these ladies about to experience an unexpected spiritual transformation? It’s much needed when you see how true-to-life these ladies are. Jacky is knocking down 30 and still bad with handling her finances. She also doesn’t like staying on jobs long term and has let her relationship with God fall by the wayside since the death of her mother. Neicy is stunning, and she knows it. Her beauty and hour-glass figure don’t interest her husband anymore, but it doesn’t stop the men of Atlanta from pursuing her. When her countless efforts to amend her marriage fail, she knows she can always find a temporary, lustful fix elsewhere. And Cee-Cee has it all from anyone’s view on the outside. But within the confines of her 6,000 suburban abode, she dreads the touch of her devoted husband who is a well-respected preacher and attorney. Can she ever get past her resentment issues to love her husband the way he loves her? Jacky and Neicy are no strangers to God, but can they put their trust back in God to find restoration in love and faith?
You chose to publish your novel independently rather than try the traditional route. Why? Well, I’m new to the literary and publishing world as an author, so I wanted to learn the ins and outs first. And I’m still learning. I also wanted 100% creative license to share my work to the world the way I wanted. From the cover to the interior design of the pages to the editing and to the official release date, I wanted to be involved and make the final decisions. I have absolutely no regrets for choosing the independently published route, because when (and if) I do decide to pitch my work to the traditional/mainstream publishers, I will hopefully be a little more prepared and ready to face whatever will come my way. I definitely want to gain the attention of traditional publishers when (and if) the time is right.
Any regrets? Advice for others thinking about going the independent route? I would say that I regret that I didn’t start sooner. But everything is in God’s time. I don’t think I could’ve written Make Me Whole five years ago and stepped into the lives of Jacky, Neicy and Cee-Cee to see and feel what they were dealing with in the book. These characters are not based on my life, but I definitely felt their struggles and desires. Any woman could. This is all a learning process, and I’m just getting started.
My advice to those who seek to publish their own work is to do lots of research. Find out what’s already out there in your chosen genre, choose an attention-grabbing book cover, carefully choose quality editors, and compare quotes on your cover designers, editors, marketing collateral and printing companies. And it’s vital to get your manuscript professionally edited; it’s money well spent on your product (your book). So again, shop around and ask fellow writers/authors who they would recommend.
Independent publishing is an investment, so choose wisely on how you spend your money. There can be a handsome profit in the end when you use good business sense and a great marketing campaign, but the best compensation is when your words have touched and transformed someone’s life for the better. So, don’t make quick decisions. Attend workshops, network with like-minded people and take full advantage of the internet to educate yourself. Get a game plan together, write your goals and execute. And of course, seek God for direction from beginning to end.
By now you’ve gotten feedback from readers and reviewers. Any one contact stand out that you’d like to share? I have had some AWESOME feedback from readers. The best one I got was through a text message a couple of months ago when the reader said she renewed her walk with God and her faith was restored. I hope Make Me Whole continues to minister to the souls.
I asked Roi some personal questions and she gave me the followoing answers:
Favorite Dessert: Edwards’s Turtle Pie. It’s a danger to have that pie in my house. It’s the devil. LOL!
Favorite Movie: Too many to name, but I never, ever get tired of watching The Color Purple.
Favorite Bible Story: The woman with the issue of blood. She was determined and knew that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment she could be made whole. That story is true in today’s life: you deal with adversities and people try to discourage you. But you press on, and God answers. He heals and makes us whole. Talk about being a “Rewarder to those who diligently seek Him!”
Favorite worship song: It changes with the seasons, but right now Jonathan Nelson’s “My Name is Victory” is my head and heart.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? I’m not hard to please. Maybe because I don’t travel often. I’d like to go anywhere quiet with a beautiful beach and lush spa inside the hotel. Why? For once to just totally relax and not have to worry about a buzzing blackberry or meeting a demanding deadline.
If you could spend an hour with any person, living or deceased, who would it be and why? It’s funny how people impact your life and you can never let them go after they’ve passed on. Marlon Chavers. He was my high school classmate who I shared homeroom with for two years. He passed Nov. 7, 1995 at the age of 19. He’s been gone 13 years now, but I still think of him often—like he was a blood brother. Make Me Whole is dedicated to him, along with a few other loved ones.
If you were going to a deserted island and could only take one novel that you didn’t write, what would it be and why? The Firm by John Grisham. I’m late to reading his books. I knew about the movies that were based upon his novels, but I never read the books— until recently. His style of writing is so intriguing, and the story lines are awesome.
Roi, it’s been a pleasure having you. Tell my readers where they can find out more about you and how to get a copy of Make Me Whole.
Come sit a spell with me at my cyber home at http://www.roishina.com/. I’ll greet you at the door, tell you more about the book, myself and give you an opportunity to purchase the book and reach out to me via email before you go. Save my website as a favorite to find out the details to the sequel to Make Me Whole in the near future.
Rhonda, thank you for the opportunity!