As a new author, one must always being a the look out for opportunities for interviews and book reviews. Recently, LaFreddie B approached Sistah Circle Book Club for a book review and was also given the chance to answer a few interview questions as well.
SCBC: Where are you from?
LaFreddie B: I’m originally from Clarendon, Arkansas. It’s a small town about halfway between Little Rock and Memphis. However, I grow up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I recently took a job transfer to Columbus, OH.
SCBC: When and why did you begin writing?
LB: I began writing when I was a kid. Writing has always been therapy for me. If I was going through something, I would write. If there was something that I wanted to talk about, but didn’t know who I could talk too, I would write. Writing about things was always how I got over them.
SCBC: What inspired you to pen your first novel?
LB: My book was inspired by a very interesting part of my life. It originally started out as just something to do to help pass the time on this new jump that didn’t have a lot of action. I was madly in love with the woman of my dreams whom I thought I was going to marry. Long Distance Relations started out as a tribute to the love we had.
SCBC: Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
LB: My life has been the biggest inspiration. My poetry, for sure, is usually written in the moment. My stories are all influenced by an event, conversation, situation or circumstance that I’ve found myself in. I have a series that I’m working that is also inspired by my family, some of the tragedies we’ve had to face, and how I hope that my family would turn out when I do have children.
Another major influence on my writing is defiantly my relationship with God. Just like my other artistic endeavors, I look to Him to inspire me to write in different ways. That’s actually how I came up with the idea to write Long Distance Relations in an interview format.
SCBC: How did you come up with the title for your book?
LB: The relationship that I was in at the time I began writing was a long distance relationship. And like I said, was originally meant to be tribute to that relationship. However, long distance or long distance relationship was not a catchy title to me. When I played around with the words, I found Long Distance Relations to be the catchiest idea I had at the time. To me, that title left a lot to the imagination. And when I decided not to write with any profanity or explicit scenes, it left so much more to the imagination.
SCBC: How much of the novel is realistic?
LB: Long Distance Relations was inspired by a life changing series of events. So when I was writing the book, I know that a lot people who would read this book would know who or what I was talking about. So I did my best to water truth down as to not damage the reputation or character of the inspiration for the individual characters. But if you talk to me friends that were there with me through those events, they would say that it’s more truth in the book then I originally intended. So, I will say that it’s about a 50/50 mix. However it has a realistic feel through and through.
SCBC: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
LB: I have a sphere of influence that I call the Poetry Girls. This group of seven females is headed by one of my former co-workers, Nessah. I met Nessah when I was on a downward slope in life. She was the outward source that I was able to pull from during that time. She invited me out to an underground poetry spot one night and her friends pulled me into them just the same. Since then, outside of my family, the Poetry Girls have been supportive of my every move.
My Pastors from both Milwaukee and Columbus are also a strong sphere of influence. They push me when I think I can’t be pushed anymore. They always have a word of encouragement. When I’m going through something, I don’t even have to say anything and they know. Ervin & Melva Henderson is like another set of parents to me. They can get through to me when my own parents don’t know where to begin. And I love them for that. Pastor Tyus has also wrapped her arms around me and embraced every endeavour that I’ve made since I moved to Columbus and that means a lot to me since I didn’t know anyone before relocating.
SCBC: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?
LB: Both. I draw from everything around me including conversations. MY friends call me the Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs character from the Best Man) of the group because they never know if something they say or do will end up in one of my stories. But its all meant to be done in good test for the purpose of entertainment. With that said, I would never take something embarrassing, disrespectful, or proprietary and using without their consent. Like I side, it’s all meant for entertainment. Making a few dollars from entertaining a few fans is not worth loosing the trust and respect of a friend or that friendship all together.
SCBC: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
LB: Nikki Rashan and Travis Hunter where there in the beginning to answer most of my rookie questions and for that I am very grateful. I tend to draw a little strength from all the authors that I’ve read or follow. However, if I had to pull one from the list, I would have to go with Travis would have to be the one that unknowingly serves of mentor the most.
SCBC: How does your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
LB: My family and friends are great. They are so supportive. My Mom and my Sisters are always ready to jump into action and serve as my first editor. My former English teachers are there to give me a professional option. They all come out to my events, post on my blogs and social networking sites. They are not afraid to solicit sales for me and they were the first in line to order their copy of Long Distance Relations. Even my Grandmother has gotten in on the action.
SCBC: Do you see writing as a long- or short-term career?
LB: I will defiantly be around for a well. I am currently working on several projects including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. As I write, I continue to run across new ideas. As long as my fans continue to receive me well and writing keeps a smile on my face, I’ll keep writing. If writing was to ever become a chore, that’s when I will announce the retirement of my pen.
SCBC: How do you feel overall about self-publishing?
LB: Self-publishing is a blessing and a curse. I enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to submit query letters and copies of my manuscript to a million publishers and wait for a rejection letter. And I didn’t have to shovel out hundreds of dollars to have a literary agent shop my book around. However, in doing self-publishing, I found that you have to have cash on hand that is not always readily available. But with anything, you have to take the good with the bad. If I had to do over again, I think I would’ve chosen a different POD company.
SCBC: What are the strengths and weaknesses of promotion for self-published authors?
LB: The weaknesses are as mentioned before, funding. You have to fund every aspect of you marketing campaign. You may receive a few tips from the marketing department. However, unless you buy into one of the marketing packets, you have to look for your own avenues for getting the word out there that you are now a published author.
The strengths is that if you are a hands on type of person, which I am, then this is another chance for you to have a little fun and get your hands dirty and work as your personal publicist. But with that, you have to be ready for the long night, the frustration of finding retailers willing to allow you some time in their store. Bookstores will try to get over on you with consignment contracts because they know they can get a better deal through you then through s distributor. But the joy I felt when I looked at my tour schedule was worth the stress to me.
SCBC: What do you feel is one major benefit to self-publishing your book?
LB: Talking with Nikki Rashan I learned that it’s not the cake walk you think it would be to work with a mainstream publisher. Comparing her experience to mines, my one major benefit is that it didn’t take as long to get my book on shelves. From the time I purchased my publishing package to my release date was nine months. According to Nikki it took almost a year and a half for Double Pleasure Double Pain.
SCBC: Would you encourage or mentor someone to become self-publish?
LB: I would defiantly work with someone in helping them active their dream. However, I would encourage them to make the decision that’s best for them. If they feel that self-publishing is the best route to take, I would support them 100%.