Sunday, November 01, 2009

Interview with author, Janice Jones

Janice, introduce yourself to my readers. Hello readers. My name is Janice Jones. I am a newly published Christian novelist. I love the Lord and anything and everything I write is written to teach about His redemptive power. I am also the author of a non-fiction self-published title called Still Standing, which is my testimonial to how God rescues us over and over and over again. I am the mother of two sons, ages 21 & 16 and a 3 year old grandson. Yes, all boys. God knew what he was doing cuz I hate doing hair. Lol. In addition to writing, I currently work at my church, First Institutional Baptist Church, here in Phoenix as Assistant to the Director of Operations.

Tell us about your debut novel. My novel is entitled His Woman; His Wife; His Widow. It is the story of one young lady who goes through these three stages of life. She meets and marries a Detroit City drug deal and eventually loses him to a violent death. The story chronicles the beginning of their relationship through to his death, included all his infidelity, baby mama drama, in-law drama, own mama drama and everything in between. The main character, Lindsay Westbrook-Taylor is raised in church and has a good solid Christian foundation. However, she is turned upside down by the love she feels for her boyfriend/husband, Shaun Taylor, who is selling death in the streets. While Lindsay decides to take a walk on the wild side to be with Shaun, she never abandons her faith in God. She calls on Him in just about every situation she faces, even the ones where she knows she is going to be doing wrong. Her best friend, Shyanne Kennedy is sort of like Lindsay’s own Holy Spirit. She sticks with her through it all. The book is very urban, not at all preachy, but you definitely get the message that God is all up in the mix.

Is there a scripture that was the basis of the writing? Or What is the spiritual take away from this novel? My scripture reference is Job 36:11-15. “If they obey and serve Him, they’ll have a good, long life on easy street. But if they disobey, they’ll be cut down in their prime and never know the first thing about life. Angry people without God pile grievance upon grievance, always blaming others for their troubles. Living it up in sexual excesses, virility wasted, they die young. But those who learn from their suffering, God delivers from their suffering.” Message Translation. This is the theme for the entire novel and all of the main characters.

Tell us about your writing process? Before I sit down to write, I must pray and ask God to give me the words He wants me to share with others. As I have finished both my novels, I have come to realize that what I wrote, I could have never done on my own. I oft times feel like I am simply God’s typist. As with anything thing else you do, you must seek God first before you begin to write. It was not even my idea to write a novel. I was riding in the car as a passenger one day and I clearly heard God’s voice speak and say, “Write His Woman; His Wife; His Widow.” I asked the driver if he heard what I heard and he assumed I was going a little crazy. At that point in my life, I had no desire whatsoever to be a published author. I simply wrote as a way to express myself to others without having to verbally tell them and have a discussion turn into a screaming match. At the same time, I had no goals or aspirations about what I was supposed to do with the life God had given me. After I became saved I began to seek God and ask Him, what was my purpose? As we became closer, He revealed it to me. Here I sit years later as an author of both fiction and non-fiction work.

Share a little about your journey to publication. My journey to publication was paved with a lot of rejections. Had I not known that it was God who co-piloted the journey, I would have given up way early in the game. But I kept sending the manuscript out to various publishers, most of whom said the talent was there, but I needed lots of editorial work. I would then take the advise, go back, revamp and revise it and send it out again, still to no avail. It was heartbreaking. Then a friend of mine told me about Vanessa Miller and her books. My friend said she read one of her books and went in search of other titles in the stores but kept coming up empty. So she looked in the one book she had and found a phone number. She called the number and Ms. Miller answered personally. After the two of them talked, my friend called me and told me how nice she was. My friend suggested I give her a call and ask for her advice on how to get published. I called; Ms. Miller answered and suggested I send her the manuscript to review. She did this for me and then called me about a week later, expressing her love for the manuscript. She called Joylynn at UC and told her about it. Well UC was one of the publishers I had sent the manuscript to, but had not heard anything from them. When Ms. Miller told Joylynn about the novel, Joylynn told her she had been trying to get in touch with me. Between the time I sent the manuscript and the time Ms. Miller read it, I had moved form Detroit to Phoenix. So I guess the correspondence got lost in the move. I resent the manuscript to Joylynn and as they say, the rest is publisher’s history. God will work it out if it is His plan. It may not look the way you imagine it to look, but it is always good in the end.

Share with us the feeling you had when you first held your book in your hands. The first time I had my book in my hands was actually in a Border’s store here in Phoenix. I had not yet received my author’s copies, but a book club had ordered it from Amazon and wanted me to come to their meeting. So I went into the Border’s to order myself and a friend a copy because I was not sure it had made it to the shelves yet. However, the Holy Spirit said go and check. And there it was. I picked up and luckily there was a bench right behind me which I ended up sitting on. Otherwise, I would have landed straight on the floor. I sat on that bench and cried for about 15 minutes. It was like holding my newborn child in my hands for the very first time.

Advice for aspiring writers. Be sure that your vision is in line with God’s vision and purpose for your life. Seek Him first and all other things will be added unto you. Also, before you start to write, I suggest you pick out your characters. Don’t choose too many because then you will be faced with the challenge of trying to keep everybody straight in your head. Pray each time to you sit down and start to write, asking God for His guidance. He wants to be right there with you in the center of everything you do. Don’t take rejection personally. Like I said before, it almost made me give up. Then as I was researching something, God let me to an article that said one of the most famous novels ever written was rejected 88 times before it was finally published. It was Dr. Seuss’ The Cat In The Hat. That inspired me to keep at it.

How have you been able to connect with readers as a newbie on the scene? Word of mouth has been my biggest promotion. I live here in Phoenix and most of the people here are transplants from other parts of the country. My church has been my biggest support group. They have read the book, enjoyed it and called back home to their friends and family and told them to get it. And home is just about everywhere in the country. Facebook has been a great source for promotion and feedback from my readers. I truly love all of the reviews, phone calls, emails and FB post I am receiving from people who don’t know me but have read the book.

Tell us what Janice likes to do when she’s not writing? Janice loves to read. That is my passion. I miss it so much too. Since I have started writing, there is hardly anytime available since I work a full time job and I am raising a teenaged son. In addition to working for my church, I am heavily involved in several ministries and it all keeps me so busy. Serving God in many capacities is also something I love to do.

Thanks for sharing with us today, Janice. Tell us how readers can get in contact with you.
I am still working on putting a website together, but you can always contact me on Facebook. Just look for Janice Jones in Phoenix and then look for my book cover as my profile picture. I can also be reached via email at or Thank you for the opportunity to share. It has been a blessing.


Jo-Jo said...

This is one of the best books I've ever picked up. I couldn't put it down! Thank you Janice for inspiring others and letting God guide and use you!

Anonymous said...

It is a must read. Once you pick it up you are apart of the story. Well done!

sharon stephens said...

Thank you Janice for a really good read. This was the first book I read of yours and I'm sure it wont be the last. Keep up the good work, Sharon Stephens of Dayton Ohio

Anonymous said...

Hello Janice...Im loving the book. Im a member of Speak a Word Bookclub..locally in Phoenix. Your book is our April read!!! We are having a meetup on the 17th April...would like to discuss you being our guest of honor.. 30 minutes of your time ...est 25 members to attend.
Caroline Magee