It’s Fiction Friday Featuring…Author Chandra Sparks Splond!

Hello World,

Since I officially became a novelist when my debut novel Destination Wedding was released in December, I’ve decided that I want to meet and support other novelists! So one Friday a month, I plan to feature a novelist. I hope these features will inspire you to read their work and support them as you’ve supported me. When I first started this blog in 2008, I was a nonfiction junkie and hadn’t read fiction in years. However, when God gave me the idea for Destination Wedding, He presented it as a novel so I began reading novels again for solely for research purposes. Through this research, however, I rediscovered the passion I had for reading fiction as a child (which was probably God’s plan all along). And this feature is proof of that rekindled passion. (I sound like a romance writer, right?  🙂 )

Since this is my first Fiction Friday feature, I thought it would be apropos to feature Chandra Sparks Splond, a novelist who recently created a new website completely dedicated to fiction. Chandra is the creator of Black Fiction Addiction! Below is Chandra’s bio followed by my interview with Chandra, who is, incidentally, also one of the authors who endorsed my novel!

Chandra Sparks Splond is an editor, speaker and award-winning author and blogger. She is a 2019 recipient of the Learning for Life award presented by the Orlean Beeson School of Education at Samford University. Splond’s young adult novel Make It Work was named Alabama’s Great Read 2017, Spin It Like That was chosen as a Popular Paperback for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and The Pledge was a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.

Splond, who lives with her family in Birmingham, Alabama, is the owner of West End Publishing, LLC. In addition to working for Kensington Publishing as the consulting editor for Arabesque romance, Splond has also done work for Random House, Moody Publishers, Kimani Press (formerly known as BET Books), and Hyperion. She has edited books for several New York Times, USA Today and Essence bestselling authors and has interviewed New York Times bestselling authors Karen Kingsbury, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Eric Jerome Dickey, singer Tamela Mann and actress Meagan Good. She has also worked for Good Housekeeping, Black and Married with Kids, Brides Noir, Weddingpages, Newsday, The Morning Call and Romantic Times. Visit her at chandrasparkssplond.com.

You began blogging in 2015, which is when you originally got the idea for Black Fiction Addiction? What took you so long to launch this website and why now?

First, thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Jackie.

I think there were a couple of things that kept me from launching. One, when I came up with the idea, I had just launched my blog, Magic City Momma, which I eventually renamed Book of Splond. I was still feeling my way through blogging, and I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew by launching another blog so soon after I had started the first one. The more I worked on the first one, I let fear get in the way of launching Black Fiction Addiction. I had built up a following with Book of Splond, and I was afraid of losing them if I switched to something new, although not completely different since I featured authors on Book of Splond all the time. The thing is, the idea just wouldn’t let me go, so back in December, I told myself I would just take one step and see what would happen.

You originally began Black Fiction Addiction on YouTube, but you’ve recently decided to move Black Fiction Addiction to a website. Why, and will you still have some video-based content? Please explain.

Have you ever wanted to do something and pictured it being one way in your mind, but when you actually did it, it was totally different? That’s the way I felt with the YouTube channel for Black Fiction Addiction. It just wasn’t the way I envisioned, not to mention I couldn’t figure out the logistics of how I wanted to eventually do things—scheduling author interviews, editing, etc. I decided to table the video portion until I could think and work through it some more. I do plan to go back to it eventually—I have a few episodes already recorded.

What other types content will you feature on Black Fiction Addiction?

In addition to author interviews, I also plan to do book roundups and book spotlights, as well as share book news. If you follow the Black Fiction Addiction social media pages, I also have a Book of the Day spotlight, and I share games, memes and quotes. I have a few other ideas that I plan to eventually implement too. It’s all a process, and for a lot of it, I’m still feeling my way through.

What do you hope to accomplish with Black Fiction Addiction?

I want Black Fiction Addiction to be a celebration of black books and the authors who create them. I’ve spent most of my almost 25-year career in publishing—I was consulting editor for BET Books/Arabesque and I’ve done freelance editing for a lot of publishers, as well as established and aspiring black authors. I absolutely love black books, and I want to share that love with readers and maybe help some folks fall in love with reading along the way.

You’re a fiction author. Do you hope Black Fiction Addiction will help you to achieve your future fiction writing dreams? If so, how? (And how has COVID-19 pandemic and sheltering in place affected your writing.)

I think Black Fiction Addiction will play a part in my dreams. I’m honestly not sure how yet. I know God placed the idea for Black Fiction Addiction in my heart years ago, and right now, I’m trying to be obedient by moving forward with it. I’m excited to see where it leads.

As far as how COVID-19 has affected my writing, other than blogging, I haven’t gotten a lot of writing done. I was really stressed out about it for a while, but I’ve decided to give myself a little grace. We’re in unprecedented times, so I’m learning to be okay about not accomplishing some things. I’ve learned that things happen when they are meant to, so for whatever reason, I’m not supposed to be working on my own stories right now.

Who are some dream authors who hope you to interview in the future?

I’ve been blessed in that I’ve already had an opportunity to interview some of my dream authors (Kimberla Lawson Roby, Beverly Jenkins, Eric Jerome Dickey, Lolita Files, Victoria Christopher Murray, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Donna Hill, Meagan Good, Jacquelin Thomas, Vanessa Davis Griggs, Kim Cash Tate and Michelle Stimpson to name a few). Interviewing Brenda Jackson, Rochelle Alers, Angie Thomas, Terry McMillan and Bernice McFadden would be amazing.

What are some novels to look for in 2019-2020 thus far?

A few books that have already been released I think people should check out are Lean on Me by Pat Simmons, (Im)Perfectly Happy by Sharina Harris. Upcoming books I’m excited for the release of are The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon; A Duke, the Lady and a Baby by Vanessa Riley; and The Other Sister by Donna Hill. I’m always sharing books on my blog (blackfictionaddiction.com), as well as on social media (instagram.com/blackfictionaddiction, facebook.com/blackfictionaddiction and twitter.com/blackfictionad1). I’d love it if readers would come hang out with me at any (or all) of those places.

Any thoughts?

 

 

It’s First Lady Friday Featuring…Kendra Norman Holmes, First Lady of Deliverance Revival Church in Warner Robins, Georgia!

Hello World,

Editor’s Note: I temporarily paused this feature while promoting my debut novel Destination Wedding, but as of this month, First Lady Friday is back!!! Read. Enjoy..Share…

During Women’s History Month 2019, I’ve launched a new interview series featuring First Ladies! In thinking about my mother who was the First Lady of Central Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia for 38 years before my father retired in 2017 and after reading Kimberla Lawson Roby’s final Rev. Curtis Black book “Better Late Than Never” which explored Charlotte’s desire to not be a typical First Lady, it dawned on me that I should feature First Ladies, which are revered positions particularly in the black church. Everyone is always talking about what the pastor of this church and that church is doing, but First Ladies are equally as important as the pastors to whom they are married! So once per month, on a Friday of course, I am featuring a First Lady. So if you know of a First Lady who should be featured, please e-mail me at jacqueline@afterthealtarcall.com because I’m looking for notable First Ladies to feature!

So with that being said, let me present to some and introduce to others the First Lady of Deliverance Revival Church, Kendra Norman Holmes…

Below is her biography followed by my interview with her. Again, read, enjoy and share!

While born in the thriving metropolis of West Palm Beach, Florida, national bestselling author, Kendra Norman Holmes (previously writing as Kendra Norman-Bellamy, now writing as Kendra Norman) spent most of her formative years in the southern rural town of Dixie, Georgia; a city so small that it can’t be found on most maps. She was raised the daughter of Bishop Harold Norman Sr. and the late Mother B. Francine Norman, two preachers who raised all five of their children in a staunch Christian home where biblical principle was both taught and lived. Kendra received her call into the ministry more than 25 years ago and currently serves as Pastor of Deliverance Revival Church in Warner Robins, Georgia alongside her husband, Dr. Michael Holmes.

An alumnus of Valdosta Technical College (now Wiregrass Technical College), Kendra also received her Doctor of Divinity degree from St. Thomas Christian University and is currently enrolled at Light University where she is pursuing credentials as a Certified Relationship Coach. She currently serves in the capacities of news writer, editor, reporter, and columnist for Houston Home Journal newspaper in Central Georgia. The Holmes have two adult daughters (Brittney and Crystal), one adult son (Dominique), and six amazing grandchildren (Travis III, Jordan, Kennedi, Kyndal, Melody, and Harmony). Like her mother, their firstborn, Brittney Holmes Jackson is also a national bestselling author.

1. How do you feel about the term “First Lady” and is Deliverance Revival Church the first church where you have served as First Lady?

Being that I grew up in the church, the term is one I’ve heard my entire life. My former husband, who went to be with the Lord several years ago, was also a pastor, so I held the position of first lady for several years until his passing in the mid-90s. Although technically, I currently hold the position of “Lady Holmes” at Deliverance Revival Church, very few people reference me in that manner. My husband and I jointly serve as lead pastors of the church, and not only are we both ordained ministers, but we’ve also both been jointly named as successors to the founder and Bishop of our organization. Because of that, we are both referred to by the ecclesiastical titles of either Bishop-Elect or Elder.

2. What is the “job description” of a First Lady? Has being a “Preacher’s Kid” helped you to step into your role as a First Lady?

I’ve actually never seen a “job description,” for the position. The term doesn’t even appear in scripture, so we don’t even have a biblical example to go by. Truth be told, the only requirement to being a first lady is that you’re the wife of the pastor. One would hope that the woman in that position would be a “worker in the vineyard” and take a leadership role in spearheading programs that build the kingdom of God; especially programs that are geared toward women. However, that’s not an obligation to hold the title. In some churches, the pastor’s wife doesn’t take on an active lead role at all. That definitely hasn’t been my testimony though! When I served in the capacity in the 90s, I was very hands-on in the church; mentoring, teaching and organizing. Today, as both “Lady Kendra Holmes” and “Elder Kendra Holmes,” I do all that and more.

Being a “preacher’s kid” didn’t necessarily prepare me for the role but being a “pastor’s kid” most definitely did. Being that my dad was also the pastor of our family church, my mother was the first lady. I was being raised by a first lady. I lived with a first lady. And in my opinion, she was the perfect model of who and what a pastor’s wife should be, so yes; I believe my parents played a huge part in grooming me for the role.

3. What is the best part and what is the worst part about being a First Lady? (Has any of that changed during the COVID-19 pandemic? Has the church been meeting online? If so, when do you plan to return to regular services?)

The best part about my role is being married to my husband. I can’t think of anyone on earth that I’d rather be taking this kingdom walk alongside. Michael and I function together excellently in ministry, and I’m grateful for that. Speaking for myself only, there is no worst part. Pastors’ wives are typically held to a high standard, and when you’re a pastor as well as a first lady like I am, the standard you’re held to is even higher. That’s a sore spot for many women in my position, but I have no qualms with it. No human being can hold me to a higher standard than I hold myself. That pretty much goes for every walk of my life: wife, mom, pastor, first lady, writer, journalist … the whole nine. Colossians 3:23 tells us that in everything we do; we should do it like we’re doing it for the Lord. I strive every day to walk in excellence both inside the walls of the church and outside, because I believe as people of God, that’s the way it should be.

COVID-19 has changed a lot of things about the way we live in general. Using wisdom, Deliverance Revival has heeded to the state mandates and guidelines for helping to stop the spread of this deadly disease. We began doing ministry virtually at the onset of the shelter-in-place ordinance passed from our state governor, and the online services have been a tremendous blessing. When churches were given clearance to convene again, we decided began having services in the sanctuary on first Sundays only. We did that for May and will do it for June as well. Our plan is to resume our regular schedule in the month of July if conditions allow it.

4. What are some misconceptions that people have about being a First Lady?

Sadly, some first ladies have left bad tastes in the mouths of congregants. The attitudes of some pastors’ wives have given people the misguided preconception that first ladies are unfriendly, unapproachable, or even insanely jealous and/or petty. That’s not the case with all first ladies—not by a longshot. I dare say that it’s not even the case with the majority of us. But unfortunately, when it comes to church, people are very quick to judge all people in a certain position by what they only know about one person in that position. Those of us who are genuinely walking according to the will of God just have to outlive the lies.

5. You are known as a novelist with several books under your belt, what made you want to explore journalism as a budding reporter at Houston Home Journal? So far, what do you prefer – writing as a novelist or as a journalist?

The journalist position at Houston Home Journal wasn’t something that I searched out, per se. I’d prayed and asked God for employment in corporate American that more closely matched my divine purpose, which is my ministry of writing. The open position at HHJ literally just popped up in my timeline on my computer. I applied on a Thursday, received a call on that Friday, was scheduled for an interview that Monday, and got hired the same day. I don’t know where this divine assignment will ultimately take me, but this was certainly a step ordered by God. News journalism and creative writing are vastly different ways of composing stories. I enjoy both, but creative writing will always be my first love. I’m working for a highly respected company with some very friendly people, so I feel very blessed to be getting this awesome experience as a news journalist.

6. Additionally, I see that you and your husband, Pastor Michael Holmes are now relationship columnists for Houston Home Journal. How did that happen, and what do you hope to communicate to readers of your column?

The seed was planted shortly after the shelter-in-place ordinance was announced by Governor Brian Kemp. News stories began to break about how divorce filings had skyrocketed because couples couldn’t stand being at home all day together. It was an extremely sad commentary. My husband and I have a coaching business called Royalty Relationship Coaching. In an effort to help couples in our area, we launched a special wherein we offered free one-hour virtual coaching sessions to married couples in crisis. My manager asked me to write a feature column in the paper that announced the service we were offering. That column got nice responses from readers, and a conversation sparked between my manager and myself that lead to the opportunity to become a regular columnist for the paper. I talked it over with my husband, and he agreed to join me. Our column is biblically based and relationship driven. Each week, we pray that what

God inspires us to write will plant a seed that results in the strengthening of bonds shared by husbands and wives. We want to communicate God’s will for relationships—specifically for marriages—through our weekly W.A.R. Room Chronicles.

7. I see that you have The Writer’s Cocoon coming up next month. Can you tell me more about this workshop?

The Writer’s Cocoon is a prose clinic that God birthed through me in 2005. The name of the seminar was inspired by Dama Riles, a minister who was the first person to ever call upon me to teach a writing workshop to a group of aspiring creatives. Dama’s ministry was called “God’s Butterflies.” Because butterflies resulted only after being in a cocoon, The Writer’s Cocoon was the name the Lord dropped in my spirit. At that time, it was only intended to be a one-time training, but God had other plans. I’ve facilitated countless workshops since that time wherein I walk aspiring writers through the entire process of getting their book written, published, and marketed. I’ve been favored to be the God-ordained “midwife” for many men and women who went on to become not only published authors, but successful, bestselling authors of both fiction and nonfiction books. While the seminar isn’t limited to those who wish to write faith-based material, because of who I am and what I do, my classes seem to appeal most to those with that intent.

The Writer’s Cocoon is normally a one-day, four-hour workshop held in a classroom setting. Due to COVID-19, I’m offering it virtually, via Zoom, for the first time ever, and it will be broken up into four Saturdays wherein each session will be one-hour in length. I’m excited about the upcoming June class. I’m exited to see where God will take the registrants as they fulfill their purpose.

Again, if you know of a First Lady who should be featured, please e-mail me at jacqueline@afterthealtarcall.com because I’m looking for notable First Ladies to feature! And if you would like to have conversations about faith, relationship, pop culture and more, please click on this link to subscribe to my blog 🙂!

Jacqueline J. Holness (ME) has been featured on TWO Podcasts – Real Love Real Stories & SORMAG’s Writer’s CafĂ©!

Hello World,

I’m proud to announce that two podcast hosts, Kanu Jacobsen and LaShaunda Hoffman, saw fit to feature me on their podcasts!!! Take a listen and let me know what you think!!!

On Real Love Real Stories, a wonderful podcast hosted by Kanu Jacobsen, I was able to share my self-love story that led to my romantic love story ( a seven-year process)! Disclaimer: I’m spilling tea on myself!!!

A 7 year journey of self love led her to marrying THE ONE!

Hosted by LaShaunda Hoffman, a book promotion expert, on SORMAG’s Writer’s CafĂ©, I, as well as other authors Kristy Jackson, Valerie J. Lewis Coleman and Jessica Matthews, share about the writing life and how we are coping during this Coronavirus Crisis. Also, I read an excerpt of my debut novel Destination Wedding. Disclaimer: Some of my characters are saved and sanctified, but some aren’t…

Any thoughts?

Listen to “SORMAG’s Writer’s.Cafe – Seasons 5 – Episode 1” on Spreaker.

Again, take a listen and let me know what you think!

Any thoughts?