AUTHOR INTERVIEW 57

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson

United States of America

Age 59


La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson, author of Unveiled, is a native of Oakland, CA.  She is a contributor to the award-winning Life’s Spices From Seasoned Sistahs, Go Tell Michelle:  African American Women Write To The New First Lady, All The Women In My Family Sing and an ebook serial novel Jubilee’s Journey. 

A New Orleans attorney, L. Morgan Franklin, finds her well ordered life turned upside down when her younger half-brother, Winston, dies in their small hometown of L’Ouverture, Louisiana.  When it becomes evident that Winston’s death may actually be a murder, Morgan begins a search for answers that uncover long-held family secrets and new discoveries about the people she loves the most.  The mysteries of family, life and love all converge in this story of one woman’s refusal to accept things as they appear.

Romelia:   WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS ARE MOST LIKELY TO BE AN ACTIVIST, AND WHAT KIND?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   There are two characters in “Unveiled” that are likely to be activists – Morgan and her cousin, Lonnie Jean.  Morgan would advocate for the rights of children, particularly those considered a part of marginalized and/or disenfranchised families and communities.  Lonnie Jean is a pediatric nurse frustrated with the disparities in health care, so she would put her activism to use in this area.

Romelia:   DO YOU PLAY MUSIC WHILE YOU WRITE – AND, IF SO, WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I often play music while I write.  My favorite is Jim Chappel’s “Dusk” cd.

Romelia:    HAVE PETS EVER GOTTEN IN THE WAY OF YOUR WRITING?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I do not have any pets.

Romelia:   IF YOUR BOOK WERE MADE INTO A MOVIE, WHICH ACTORS WOULD PLAY YOUR CHARACTERS?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I am absolutely horrible with this and would have to leave it to those with this skill set.  I will say, that once someone else picks the actor, I would know immediately if the person was right for the character.

Romelia:    HAVE YOU EVER KILLED OFF A CHARACTER YOUR READERS LOVED?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   Yes, and believe me when I tell you it was not easy for me either.  I got lots of feedback from the death of a beloved character in “Unveiled” and mourned with the readers.

Romelia:   WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN ABOUT WRITING?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   The most valuable piece of advice I’ve received about writing was to allow time for my process to develop and my own writing voice to come forth.

Romelia:   WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST WAY TO IMPROVE WRITING SKILLS?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I have found a few ways to improve my writing skills.  The first is to write.  It sounds simple but there are days when it is very difficult. The second would be reading. It is crucial to spend time with words and how words relate to each other on the page. Lastly, studying the craft of writing by attending workshops, taking classes or reading about writing techniques.

Romelia:   WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO HELP OTHERS CREATE PLOTLINES?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I would encourage writers to listen to the voice of the character.  Get to know your character intimately.  They will often lead you through the plot. There are several tools available to help with this and many writers use some type of character sketch outline. There were a couple of times when I was writing “Unveiled” that I wasn’t sure what was next until the character took me there.

Romelia:   WHAT HAS HELPED OR HINDERED YOU MOST WHEN WRITING A BOOK?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   Making space to write has helped most.  I had to clear some tasks and projects from my plate to get into the right head space to write. I think I would be hindered by worrying about how the book would be received, so I am intentional about focusing on the work and leaving the rest up to the readers.

Romelia:   DOES WRITING ENERGIZE OR EXHAUST YOU? OR BOTH?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I am always energized by writing.  I find the editing process exhausting.

Romelia:   WHAT IS THE BEST MONEY YOU’VE EVER SPENT WITH REGARD TO YOUR WRITING?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   The best money I’ve ever spent with regard to my writing was attending Tina McElroy Ansa’s first Sea Island Writers Retreat and getting an amazing editor.

Romelia:   WHAT ARE COMMON TRAPS FOR NEW AUTHORS?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I would have to say, for me, it was not taking more time in the beginning to learn about the business of writing.  I had to do it at the same time I was writing and marketing the book and that was sometimes overwhelming.

Romelia:   HOW MANY HOURS A DAY DO YOU WRITE?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   The hours of day I spend writing varies.  I am also a life coach and still do a small amount of consulting with health/education focused organizations.  On my “writing” days I may spend an hour or four or five hours.  It really depends on the energy I bring to that day and where I am in the writing process.

Romelia:   WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BLOGS OR WEBSITES FOR WRITERS?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I am a complete novice when it comes to blogs and am still learning how to connect with this medium.  I am getting a lot of information and support from several Facebook groups for writers.

Romelia:   AT WHAT TIME OF THE DAY DO YOU DO MOST OF YOUR WRITING?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   The time of day I do most of my writing, again depends on where I am in the writing process.  If I am creating, still crafting the story, I find I work best in the early morning hours between 4:30 and 6:00 a.m. or late night after 9:00 p.m.  If I am re-writing or editing, I can do that at almost any time.

Romelia:   HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH CHARACTER NAMES FOR YOUR STORIES?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I have never had to come up with a name for my characters.  They come to me with their names.  This was difficult in the case of Rhonda Lattier, a character in “Unveiled” because my name is La Rhonda.  I wanted to change her name, but she wasn’t having it.  She was very much a “Rhonda.”

Romelia:   DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN WRITING CHALLENGES ON SOCIAL MEDIA? DO YOU RECOMMEND ANY?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I have participated in one, where you were given a daily prompt and asked to write for 15 – 30 minutes.  I recommend anything that gets a writer writing.

Romelia:   IF YOU HAD THE POWER TO CURE A DISEASE OF YOUR CHOOSING, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   If I had the power to cure any disease, it would be all forms of cancer.  This disease has and continues to greatly impact my family and friends.  If hate were considered a disease, I’d want to cure that one, too.

Romelia:   WHEN YOU’RE WRITING AN EMOTIONAL OR DIFFICULT SCENE, HOW DO YOU SET THE MOOD?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I set the mood for emotional or difficult scenes by quieting myself and staying committed to the feelings that come up.  During these scenes I don’t usually play music.  Quiet is important for these.  After the writing of these scenes, I give myself some time away from the writing and/or engage in an activity completely unrelated.

Romelia:   WHOM DO YOU TRUST FOR OBJECTIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OF YOUR WORK?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   In addition to my editor, I am blessed to have several trusted writing friends and a friend who is a voracious reader. I can always count on them to read drafts and offer helpful critique. I often run ideas, by my husband, son and sister. 

Romelia:   WHAT BOOKS DO YOU ENJOY READING?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I love reading and enjoy a variety of genres.  If I had to name a few, I’d say autobiography/biography/history of the African diaspora.  I enjoy mystery/thriller and historical and literary fiction.

Romelia:   ARE THERE ANY BOOKS OR AUTHORS THAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I was inspired by the works of Maya Angelou as a young reader.  My inspiration for writing comes from the story that is inside desiring to come forth.  I love the work of  Yaa Gyasi, Beverly Jenkins, Attica Locke, Stephen King, Tananarive Due, Walter Mosley, James McBride, Leonard Pitts, Jr., Pearl Cleage and the late Bebe Moore Campbell and J. California Cooper, to name a few.

Romelia:   NAME AN UNDERAPPRECIATED NOVEL THAT YOU LOVE.

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   There are so many underappreciated novels, so many great writers whose names are never mentioned on bestseller lists. A couple come to mind:  Tumbling by Diane McKinney-Whetstone and Magic City by Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Romelia:   TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY FROM YOUR ADULT LIFE.

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I absolutely love Christmas movies and during the holiday season spend hours watching them.

Romelia:   describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson:   I am committed to living fully and exploring new opportunities to bring my gifts, skills and talents forward in the best possible way. I am equally committed to supporting others in doing the same. Hate is a strong word for me and one that as a child I was cautioned not to use; so I’ll say that I am deeply disappointed and often dismayed by how badly we, as human beings, treat each other.

Please give me the book link and your contact details. Separate of this document I need an author photo and the book cover you want to be promoted with this interview.

Book Links:

Paperback book link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578652692

 Contact Information:

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson

larhondawrites@gmail.com

Facebook:  La Rhonda Crosby

www.barutienterprises.com

YouTube Channel:

https://youtu.be/Gbt0xwLClGU  – Trailer Link

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