Jacqueline J. Holness (AKA ME!) Reveals the Cover of Her New Novel ‘Destination Wedding!’ (INTERVIEW)

Hello World,

Sorry I had to do it. Write in the third person that is. I just couldn’t figure out how to state the fact that I have written my first novel without being a little extra. And referring to yourself in the third person is as extra as you can get on a written page. So pardon me for being braggadocios. It’s just that I’ve written a novel that I’m extremely proud of and it’s finally time to tell you all about it!

When I first imagined myself as a writer at the adorable age of six, I saw myself weaving words into worlds as a novelist. Well, maybe not a quite a novel, but certainly a work of fiction. As I matured and began to grasp that writing was not as simple as it seemed, I gravitated toward journalism where real life (just the facts, ma’am) was written down and every story was thankfully short. I just didn’t think I had enough words to write a whole novel. But in my heart, behind the wall of fear, I wondered if I would ever summon enough stamina and skill to craft a world of words also known as a novel. In 2009, yes, 10 years ago, a real-life event took hold of me and demanded that I explore this topic as a novel. And it literally took me 10 years to learn how to write a novel AND get it published. So Destination Wedding written by Jacqueline J. Holness (oh so extra I know) will be released in December to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the real-life event that inspired me and captivated me enough to write a novel at long last! So below is the synopsis followed by my interview with 96Kix’s Kimberly Kaye, who interviewed me as I wrote Destination Wedding. (Read and or listen to the interview.)

Three successful best friends in Atlanta believe they are thriving in the Black Mecca. Bossy bank executive Senalda breaks down men from business to bed no holds barred. Hip hop PR guru Jarena praises the Lord and pursues married men with equal persistence. Famous and infamous radio personality Mimi fights with her fans and for the love of her on-and-off-again boyfriend.

But when an ABC News Nightline report, “Single, Black, Female — and Plenty of Company,” asks why can’t a successful black woman find a man? The friends are suddenly hyper-aware of their inclusion in the sad statistic: 42% of black women who have never been married. Like the women in the report, they are career-driven, beautiful black women living in Atlanta who have everything — but a mate. They resolve to defy the statistic by marrying in a year and have it all by tackling their goal as a project with a vision board, monthly meetings, and more. Project Destination Wedding is born. A “happily married” best friend Whitney is a project consultant.

But as the deadline ticks closer, the women wonder if they can withstand another year of looking for love in the media-proclaimed no-man’s land of Atlanta. Senalda wrests a marriage proposal from the male version of herself, but the proposal comes simultaneously with a devastating secret. Jarena unleashes hell when her call to ministry coincides with dating her married college sweetheart. Mimi faces losing her career and jail time chasing her boyfriend and marries another man in the process. Whitney’s power couple profile plummets when her husband, a pornography addict, announces he would rather pursue photography than be an MD.

Inspired by an actual Nightline report, Destination Wedding charts four women’s journeys as they discover that love is not an experiment easily confined to a timetable.

These are the four main characters as I saw them in my mind as I was writing- Jarena, Mimi, Senalda & Whitney…Can you match the women to how they actually turned out on the cover?

Kimberly: 96 KIX. On the line with me, I have Jacqueline Holness. How are you Jacqueline?

Jacqueline: I’m great. How are you Kimberly?

Kimberly: I’m wonderful. Welcome back to the show!

Jacqueline: Thank you so much for having me!

Kimberly: You know the last time you we talked it was all about ‘After the Altar Call.’ Now, what have you been up to? I know I always read your blog. Always.

Jacqueline: Thanks so much for reading. I really appreciate that. You never know who is reading. Thank you so much.

Kimberly: How is it working with the blog?

Jacqueline: Well, I love to write so it’s a creative outlet for me. And I’m always surprised when people actually respond to what I write because it’s not something that I get paid to do. I just love to do it. Even if people didn’t read it, I would still write.

Kimberly: You said, regardless, you’re gonna blog!

Jacqueline: Yes! Definitely.

Kimberly: Now, how do you pick your topics to know what to blog about?

Jacqueline: Well, the most important aspect of my life is my faith so I always want to talk about my faith and whatever area I choose to talk about whether it be pop culture or whether it be more serious issues, I always try to look at it through the lens of having faith in God and how God would want us to see certain things that play out in our society.

Kimberly: Right,  well that’s great. Now, also I saw that you are getting ready to write another book for us.

Jacqueline: Yes, I grew up reading fiction books, but when I got older, I just veered off into non-fiction books. But recently, I rediscovered my love of fiction and I decided to write a fiction book about three single black women in Atlanta.

Kimberly: Alright. Can you give us a little bit more? Or is that all you can give us?

Jacqueline: (Laughter) I’ll tell you a little more about it, but I’m not finished yet. But basically, I’m not sure if you saw the ABC News Nightline special that came on in December 2009 where it was quoted that 42% of black women have never been married?

Kimberly: Wow! That’s a high percentage.

Jacqueline: Yes, a very high percentage and they featured black women in Atlanta who had everything but a mate. And from there, there was a debate that was held in Atlanta. Steve Harvey was here. Sherri Shepherd. A lot of notables came in town to debate this issue in Atlanta. So as a black woman, I was single at the time, I’m married now, it really impacted me. And I thought what if I wrote a book about black women, fictional black women, who saw this report, and decided to defy the statistics and get married in a year.

Kimberly: Now you live in Atlanta?

Jacqueline: I do live in Atlanta.

Kimberly: Do you see that problem?

Jacqueline: Well, I see it all over. When I travel, I meet a lot of single black women, but for some reason, Atlanta seems to be the epicenter I guess of single black women. And because I was single and just got married at 40 years old, I know what it’s like to be single and I know what it’s like to wonder, ‘Why aren’t men choosing me?’ So I decided to write a book from my own personal journey and do it through the lens of fiction.

Kimberly: That sounds great. Do you know when you will be finished?

Jacqueline: Well, I hope to have the rough draft finished very soon. I’m going to work on it for the next few months. What interested you when you read, I know you read the blog post about me working on this book. What interested you? I’m just curious.

Kimberly: Like you said, we have a lot in common, Jacqueline.  I got married when I was 40. Same thing.

Jacqueline: Oh really?

Kimberly: Yes, we have that in common. I was going through life, and I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m gonna ever get married.’ But once I quit thinking about it, dwelling on it, it happened so that’s what kind of intrigued me. It takes a lot. You wonder, Am I doing something wrong? Is it me? Why didn’t I get married when I was in my 20s or in my 30s? So that’s why I was interested.

Jacqueline: Wow! So I’m so glad we have that in common. We may have to talk off the air later about that as older women who have gotten married. That’s a category in itself – older brides. I may have to write something about that.

Kimberly: (Laughter) Yes! Well, I’m anticipating it.

Jacqueline: Yes, well, please go to my website AftertheAltarCall.com and you will see updates about the book. I’m really excited about, and I hope it will be on bookshelves as soon as possible.

Kimberly: And that’s also why I wanted to talk to you. I wanted to spread the word about your blog. I think it’s just terrific, and I want everyone to be aware of it.

Jacqueline: Oh, thank you so much!

(Note: There is just a minute or so more left of the interview, but I included what pertains to today’s blog post.)

 

Below are some advance reviews I have received about Destination Wedding!

“Jacqueline J. Holness has penned a delightful read that puts a new spin on the age-old dilemma of the beautiful, successful, single black woman finding a mate! Did I say beautiful and successful? Set in the Black Mecca – The ATL – Destination Wedding will have you asking, “Why is this so hard?” I found myself in the moment, rooting for these women – and thoroughly enjoyed their journeys to happily-ever-after.” – Monica Richardson, author of the Talbots of Harbour Island series

“In need of a getaway? Destination Wedding is the read you need. Filled with characters that will remind you of your girlfriends and unexpected adventures, it’s the perfect vacation read.” – Chandra Sparks Splond, author and blogger

“In Destination Wedding, Jacqueline J. Holness takes readers on page-turning twists and turns that hijack several friendships on the path to love. If you’re eager for an entertaining read that will leave you rooting for the characters as if they’re your friends, pick up your copy today.” – Stacy Hawkins Adams, multi-published author of Coming HomeWatercolored PearlsThe Someday List and more

So Destination Wedding will officially debut on Dec. 3, but it is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound and Target right now! And I’m not gonna be shy about this: I want this book to be a best-selling book so your pre-orders will help me achieve that goal! As a matter of fact, I will be offering some free gifts if you pre-order so come back here often for updates!

Finally, if you would like to be a member of my book launch team which means getting a FREE advance copy of Destination Wedding, email me at jacqueline@afterthealtarcall.com!

Thank you so much for reading this blog post, and I hope and pray you will be reading my first novel Destination Wedding very soon!

Any thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

Cherisse Stephens Ministries Presents God’s Cover-Girls Women and Girls Conference 2018!

Hello World,

Women and girls from around the globe will gather at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, June 1-2, 2018, for the God’s Cover-Girls Women and Girls Conference. This conference was founded by Cherisse Stephens, CEO of Cherisse Stephens Ministries. This year’s God’s Cover-Girls Conference (GCGC) theme, “No Shade, All Son” is sure to bring inspiration and empowerment!

Our message is clear! It’s your Time to SHINE, no matter what you’ve faced in the past. Our gathering will be a time of empowerment, healing, spiritual growth and self-awareness. We have organized classes, workshops, worship, a vision board party for the youth, shopping with specialty vendors and so much more! Orlando has so much to do and see.

Focusing on self-esteem and awareness, training for success, healthy living (mind, body and spirit), and more, GCGC offers something for all ages. Those looking for spiritual renewal, strategies to jump start their careers or discovering their life’s purpose, will find that the nationally recognized speakers will arm them with the tools for success.

Evangelist Cherisse Stephens, renowned Gospel recording artist, author and television host, founded Cherisse Stephens Ministries in 1994. Since then, the ministry has hosted several major conferences including Spring Forth into Destiny Family Conference, Prophetic Encounter and more. Cherisse Stephens is a graduate of The University of Phoenix and Grand Canyon University, where she received her associate of arts, bachelor of science in Business and master’s degree in Leadership. She is also a media specialist in the Gospel music industry and has hosted television for TBN’s “Praise The Lord” program and WATC’s flagship TV program; “Atlanta Live.” Additionally, she has also produced her own shows that air via television and social media.  She has also appeared on The Word Network, TCT, Impact TV and many other Christian and secular networks.  Cherisse Stephens is an international recording artist and her music continues to bless the nations. Most importantly, Evangelist Cherisse Stephens is proud to be the wife of Preston L. Stephens and the mother of their two awesome sons, Preston & Brandon. Her goal is to be the Proverbs 31 Woman, which is the Ultimate God’s Cover-Girl!

“We desire to provide a real-life transforming experience – spiritually, emotionally and physically for every woman and girl we encounter. I believe that faith-based teachings combined with practical application, truly empower people for change,” says Stephens. “We’ve been hosting these life-changing conferences for years, and each year we’re blessed to offer scholarships for our youth to attend our conferences, thanks to our sponsors and private donors. This year is no different. We are looking for businesses to sponsor a girl, a family or even a women’s small group to help offset the costs,” Stephens says.

Attendees can register for the conference through GodsCoverGirls.Eventbrite.Com and through our online store via Square Market. Adult registration is $50; $20 for Youth; and $40 for Groups of 10 or more if registering together. The VIP registration is $99 per person and includes VIP seating, welcome reception and more. Vendor registration is $100 and available on a first-come, first-served basis as space is limited. To book rooms, go to aws.passkey.com/go/GodsCoverGirls  or call 1 888-421-1442 (God’s Cover-Girls Room Block). For more information about GCGC 2018, e-mail GodsCoverGirls18@gmail.com or call the administrative office at 678.341.0371.

Finally, Evangelist Cherisse Stephens will be appearing on The Word Network THIS Friday, May 4 if you would like to get a taste of her ministry. Please see the flyer to the left for the details!

Any thoughts?

The Lola Brown Foundation Continues to Make Strides Against Breast Cancer!

Hello World,

As today is the last Sunday of the month, I could not let the month go by without mentioning that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I lost two line sisters to this hideous disease so I feel compelled to participate in this advocacy. Unfortunately, I missed walking in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk this year as I and many others who loved Lola Brown, one of those line sisters who passed away, do every year. However, I do want to highlight the work of The Lola Brown Foundation, which was founded by her best friend Jennifer Phillips in her honor. Below is a video in which Lola shares about her passion for breast cancer awareness followed by her bio:

Lola Brown, a native of Denver, Colorado grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. She attended Richland Northeast High School. While in school, she received honors to attend the South Carolina Governor’s School for academics and was named to the South Carolina All-State Band. You could also find Lola on the court scrambling for digs for the volleyball team or shooting hoops with her varsity basketball teammates.

She graduated from Richland Northeast High School with honors and received a music scholarship to attend the University of Georgia. While at UGA, she joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. where she participated in various community service activities. Lola was talented and musically gifted. She was an accomplished pianist and a faithful Christian. She  served as an active member of First Northeast Baptist Church in Columbia, SC for several years where she played the piano and directed choirs.

Lola, began her professional career as a financial specialist in the banking industry, was promoted to portfolio manager, and later branch manager. In 2003, at the age of 28 years old, Lola discovered a lump in her breast as she conducted a breast-self exam. Doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer. She was a newlywed to Gilbert Jamal Brown and a new mother to a toddler, Gilbert Jamal Brown II, affectionately known as Gil.

Despite surgeries and years of chemotherapy, Lola continued to fight. She worked throughout her treatment and emphasized the importance of a healthy diet and exercise. During her spare time she worked as an aerobics instructor. She exemplified the true meaning of strength and courage and inspired others to embrace fitness.

Because of Lola’s generous spirit, passion to help find a cure, and desire to promote awareness about breast cancer to young women, she put together a team of family and friends. Through the years those teams raised more than $10,000 for cancer research, for survivors, and for those she called victors. In Oct. 2013, at 38 years old,  Lola became one of the victors. 

Below are some of the highlights of the foundation’s work to date:

  • As a celebration of her legacy, the South Carolina House of Representatives has recognized Lola Brown and the foundation’s efforts and named October 23, 2017, the official Lola Brown Breast Self-Check Day in the state of South Carolina. Since Lola was diagnosed at 28 years old, Lola stressed the importance of early detection and breast self-exams and wanted to educate young women that they too could be diagnosed with breast cancer even under the age of 40. In honor of her push for awareness, The LBF is currently working with South Carolina lawmakers and school districts to educate high school seniors on the importance of breast self-exams. The goal is to have a certified health professional talk to students about breast self-exams and breast cancer. Those students can only participate in the 30 to 45 minute session if they have signed parental/guardian consent forms. 
  • The LBF Scholarship for high school seniors –

Jennifer Phillips and LBF Scholar….

  • Pampered Pink – The LBF will identify those in need based on financial, or medical hardship through breast cancer organizations and support groups. Once identified, The LBF will pamper and assist women between the ages of 18 to 40 who are affected by breast cancer by donating a Pampered Pink spa gift certificate.

I usually make my donation to the American Cancer Society on behalf of breast cancer awareness during the month of October, but I missed doing so this year as I was out of town. However, this year, to support The Lola Brown Foundation, I will be making my donation to the foundation and you can too by clicking on this Paypal link! Although October will be over in a few days, the foundation’s work continues throughout the year so please consider The Lola Brown Foundation as you give to charitable organizations.

Any thoughts?