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Shades of Romance Magazine Interview- January 22, 2006

Sunday, January 22, 2006


SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

Tamika Johnson:
Well…let’s see. I am a professional speaker specializing in the areas of bullying, dating violence, domestic violence, and discovering one’s personal best. I am the founder and CEO of Leading Lady Enterprises which is an umbrella organization to four different sub-divisions: Leading Lady Publications, Miss Christian United States Pageants, Forever A Conqueror Productions, and Worship Café (coming 2006).

Most important, I am a mother of one special little girl named Andraya (means Courageous), who was my motivation for getting out of a very unhealthy marriage and work on my self-esteem issues. It is because of her that decided to really look deep within myself and attack the issues that kept leading me to destructive relationship.
I am also very excited to be engaged to an incredible man who is supportive and loves me just because I breathe. Isn’t that what we all dream for ladies?

Tamika, the writer, is someone who has always been an avid reader! I love Romance! Beverly Jenkins is one of my all time favorite authors; I have all of the books she has ever written.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

“He Loves Me Not, but I Love Myself!” is a young woman’s guide to understanding and conquering dating violence. At the age of fourteen I found myself in an abusive dating relationship. A relationship packed with verbal, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. Yes…I was only 14! I am from a good home and background as both of my parents are preachers, but I still found myself in this destructive relationship.

Each chapter specifically targets an area of dating violence: verbal and emotional abuse; sexual abuse, and physical abuse. Each chapter begins with my own personal story and then gives factual information on how to deal with a certain aspect of abuse. The book also includes a Parent’s Discussion Guide at the beginning of the book, as well as space for reflection after each chapter. There is also a relationship inventory, dating bill of rights, and listing for all of the domestic violence coalitions in the country.

“He Loves Me Not, But I Love Myself!” is written for the young woman 13 and older who feels that there is something in her relationship that just isn’t right; this book is for the parent who wants to be proactive and talk to her daughter or other loved one in her life about dating violence. This book is for someone who has a friend in an unhealthy relationship and you want to know how to talk to her. This book is for the church group or school book club who wants to shed some light on this growing issue. This book is for ANY woman who may be in an abusive relationship.

SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

Statistics tell us that for every three teenagers you know, one of them with be a victim of dating violence before they get out of high school!!! It’s a lot to swallow, I know, but the great thing is that statistics are always changing. I pray that parents and other concerned adults will be inspired to converse with the loved ones in their lives; that the young women who read this book with say “HE doesn’t have to love me, because I love myself!”

Once we open up the lines of communication and send the message that “Love Shouldn’t Leave Bruises!” statistics will change for the better!

SORMAG: What do you do to make time for yourself?

I escape through good books! After I put my daughter down to bed, I try to give myself a good hour of quiet reading. I am also a performer, having worked professionally as an actress, dancer, and choreographer, I love to put on some good gospel music and dance before the Lord.

SORMAG: Do you do anything to promote family literacy?

Absolutely!!! Literacy is so important. I created a program called “Spotlight: Learning on Center Stage!” which is a Performing Arts based program designed to promote reading and interpersonal communication skills among elementary school age children.

SORMAG: How did it feel to hold your first book?

The first thing I did was drive over to my mother’s place of employment to show her. Don’t we always call mama first? The moment was surreal. I would compare it to holding my daughter for the first time, I’d spent nearly nine months cultivating this incredible project and when it was finally in my hands….it was just beautiful. My publishers, Neshee Publication did an amazing job with the cover.

SORMAG: What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love getting lost in the story. I have just completed my first Christian Romance Novel entitled, “Meet Me At the Altar,” which will be available in September 2006, and I couldn’t wait to get to my computer each night and get lost in the lives of my characters! I view my stories like a movie, I can hear the character voices, see their facial expressions…it’s great!

What I hate most, is the editing process. It can be so tedious reading and re-reading one’s work to make sure the grammar is correct and that the storyline flows. Oh my…it be so painful!!!

SORMAG: What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

JOHNSON: Oddly enough, I would say take your time and create a marketing plan. I was so excited to have my first book published, and after it was in my hands I realized that I had not done much to promote the book. No one knew about it! Creating the marketing plan has so many benefits as it makes you think about who are going to sell your book to, how you are going to inform them of this, and your budget. Here are some good books to add to your personal library:

Bestselling author Mary Morrison has written a very comprehensive and FREE self-publishing guide on her website: It is a good starting point.

Kimberley Brooks, Author of “He’s Fine…but Is He Saved?” also has a self-publishing article on her website:

How to Self-Publish and Market your Own Book by African American Authors Mack and Sara Freeman:

Christian Writers Market Guide, by Sally E Stuart

Publicize Your Book, by Jacqueline Deval (Dedicates a whole chapter to creating a marketing plan)

Also, make sure you file for a Library of Congress Number. It’s free and must be done before your book is published. If you think libraries would be interested in your book, you have to have one of these numbers!!

Distributors are another thing I would tell self-published authors about. If you want to get your book into major bookstore chains, libraries, etc. You will want to get a distributor(s) to help you do this. Some distributors that I have seen used over and over again are the following:

Midpoint Trade Books
(includes Ingram, Spring Arbor, and Baker & Taylor)
27 West 20th Street Suite 1102
New York, NY 10011
(212) 727-0190

Lushena Book Distributors
1804 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60613
(630) 238-8708

African World Book Distributors
2217 Pennsylvania Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21217

SORMAG: What should a new writer know about the publishing business?

In addition to the information I just gave, I would say to believe in the work you publish. You’ve got to believe that what you are publishing is great, if you don’t you won’t be able to sell it.

I would also advise a new author to talk to other authors in the business. I have obtained so much valuable information just by emailing a best selling author. You may not get a response right away, but if you are patient you will make some great connections with those who have already made mistakes and want to help you avoid them.

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Mail: P.O. Box 35, Worton, MD 21678

Readers of SORMAG were given the opportunity to respond to the interview and book excerpt.  Here are some of the things they said:

Vanessa A. Johnson said...

 Hi Tamika,
This is a great introduction of yourself and your work. You've provided a lot of valuable informaiton for first time authors. Much success to you in all of your literary endeavors.

Love & Peace,
Deatri King-Bey said...
This sounds like an excellent read and is right on time. I look forward to reading He Loves Me Not. I think it would be read I suggest for our young ladies organization at church.

And the different resource information for authors was also great. I pray all goes well for you.

Much Joy Peace and Love
Cindy Appel said...
Yes, I think "He Loves Me Not..." would make an excellent basis for a youth Bible study--for both boys and girls. Have you come up with a "workbook" or "leader's guide" for it yet? :)
Mahaira said...
Hey, Tamika,
I'd love to hear about how you promote. What do you think is the most easy and effective method to promote your book when you are a newbie or not so well known? Say, would you like to promote in a circle of readers who have never read African-American literature before?

I'd also love to hear about professional jealousy. How do you deal with professional jealousy, when your friend sells and you don't or when another author hits a list and you don't?

MsJayy said...
Tamika - thanks for the warm introduction both to you and to your book. It sounds like a book that should be used not only in youth bible study groups but also in mentoring groups, detention centers, etc. I will definitely purchase several copies for the young ladies in my life. Much success to you!

Jackie Young
Tamika Johnson said...
Good Morning All!

I apologize for the delay in responding to you. First, please let me say THANK YOU for taking the time to read my interview and respond...I am overwhelmed! I never expected to receive such warm responses.

Tamika Johnson said...
Cindy, I have written "He Loves Me Not..." as a workbook of sorts. Each chapter ends asking a series of questions such as "Have you ever experienced this type of abuse in your relationship?" or "Do you see your partner in the description above?"

There is a Parent Discussion Guide at the beginning "Talk to your teen about dating violence" which gives 10 ways for parents or any adult for that matter to communicate with the teen in their life.

I wrote the book this way so that parents, youth leaders, teachers, etc. would have the same book as the youth in their life and they could read it together.
Tamika Johnson said...

In terms of promotion, I have become creative in that. For example, I have sold my books in beauty shops...hey we have all been inside of a beauty shop with nothing to do, right? So why not go to the dollar store and buy a cute easel (the little one's used for putting pictures on it) and prop your book there. Give the beauty shop a discount (I give them a 40% discount)and sell, sell, sell!

Be creative!

Make sure you sell to everyone you know. When my book first came out, I gave a small discount to those who attended my book launching party as an incentive for them to buy it right there. What I found was that they were so excited about the discount that they purchased more than one copy.

Press Releases are FREE and very effective. Send a press release to your area newspapers. If the newspaper has room, they will print it.

Get well known book clubs like Rawsistaz to review your book.

Put your book here on SORMAG...i've received great exposure from this. LaShaunda is so awesome that she has provided this forum at a very, very, very, very....did i say very? Reasonable cost.

Another place to advertise is

George Cook of Let's Talk Honestly (an online radio show) will do an interview with you and all you have to pay for is the cost of the phone call $3!

Get a website...even if it is a free website. I love the ease of designing with

The name of the game is to try and get as much free or nearly free publicity as you can.

In terms of jealousy. I haven't faced that and don't expect that I will. When i see someone doing well I get excited and contact them and tell how much they inspire me. I then may ask a question or two and pray that I get a response. Most authors are very friendly and willing to share their experiences with you. Hey...there are over a billion people in this Country, there is definitely enough readers to go around for everyone!

Tamika Johnson said...
Vanessa, Deatri, and Jackie, thank you for your encouraging words and support!

Mahaira said...
Thanks for the detailed reply, Tamika.

I heard something interesting recently in that editors often feel that it is not the first book, but often the second or third book that is the test for an author. The first book (or series) is one which has been germinating for what is often years; it’s when that is published that the writer suddenly gets writer’s block, nerves or a dearth of ideas.

I’m not saying that about you, but I thought it was interesting. Is it something you’ve heard, or even agree with?

Tamika Johnson said...

I must say that I have heard something to that nature in the author groups I frequent.

For me, however, my publishing this first book has released a flood gate of ideas and I find myself so overwhelmed with wanting to write at least six different books! I've started my own publishing company Leading Lady Publications and will start accepting authors in the Summer! So I think that I have had a postive experience from this.

One thing I will say is that I have had my bouts with writer's block...I just try not to let it get me down. I will usually read over the pages I have already written and literally brainstorm the way I would like for the story to flow.

When I put pressure on myself during the blocked periods, the writer's block last longer.

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Tamika Johnson
Leading Lady Enterprises
P.O. Box 35, Worton, MD 21678
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