Intimate Conversation with E. N. Joy

Intimate Conversation with E. N. Joy


BLESSEDselling author E. N. Joy is the writer behind the "New Day Divas,” “Still Divas,” “Always Divas,” and the forthcoming “Forever Divas,” series, which have been coined “Soap Operas In Print.”

She is an Essence Magazine Bestselling Author who once wrote secular books under the names Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY.  Her children’s book titled The Secret Olivia Told Me, written under the name N. Joy, received a Coretta Scott King Honor from the American Library Association. The book was also acquired by Scholastic Books and has sold almost 100,000 copies. Elementary and middle school children have fallen in love with reading and creative writing as a result of the readings and workshops E. N. Joy instructs in schools nationwide.

BPM: Tell us about your journey becoming a successfully published author. What challenges did you face, if any? 

I have been writing since the days of elementary school journals and rainy day writings. I started out just writing poems, then short stories. My first self-published book, Please Tell Me If the Grass Is Greener, is a mixture of poetry and short stories. Well, actually it’s poetic short stories; short stories told in a rhythmic flow. Kind of like a Dr. Seuss book for Grown-ups-LOL. I love La La Land. Growing up, my escape from reality was the La La Land I invented with pen and paper. So, I guess that is truly what drove me to pick up the pen for the first time. It was an escape. Some people use drugs, some people use alcohol, some people use sex while other people use guns. I used a pen. I wrote and self-published my first full-length novel, The Root of All Evil, under the name Joylynn M. Jossel. I wrote that manuscript with the intentions of eventually selling it to a major publishing house. So, while it was in manuscript form I sent it off (un-agented) to a major publisher for publication consideration.
But in the meantime, I eventually sent the manuscript off to the printer as well. I received a rejection letter from the publisher before the books even came off the press. But that didn’t stop me. I simply sold copies from my trunk in hopes of creating a buzz. Well, the buzz was created. I got an agent and the agent submitted the manuscript to a major publishing house that did end up giving me a three book deal. Ironically, the same publishing house who sent me my very first rejection letter was the same publisher who ended up giving me my very first book deal. After having sold 12,500 copies of the self-published edition in one year, The Root of All Evil was re-released under my first publishing contract. While it was going through the editing process, I wrote a street lit book titled Dollar Bill for Triple Crown Publications under the name JOY. It turned out to be an Essence Magazine bestseller, appeared in Newsweek and was translated to Japanese.

When I dedicated my life to Christ, a great deal of things changed in my life. I couldn’t do some of the things I used to do. I couldn’t say some of the things I used to say and I couldn’t go some of the places I used to go. Well, I soon found that I couldn’t write some of the things I used to write. That’s what prompted the change from being a secular author to a writer of Christian fiction. Now, as a Christian Fiction author, my biggest challenge is pleasing both the readers and God. I’m not just doing writing anymore, I’m doing ministry. So whatever I do has to please God while at the same time send His message to His people and, of course, entertain them and keep them engaged. And boy, oh boy, have I learned that the lives of Christian folk and church folk is beyond engaging and entertaining.

BPM: Who does your body of literary work speak to? Do you consider authors as role models?

I hear authors say it all the time: “I write my book for everybody-not just one particular audience.” That’s all fine and well, but the book business is just that-a business. In dealing with business you have to have a target audience that you start off promoting and marketing to. Once you have saturated your target audience, then you have the bull’s eye affect, where you begin to expand outward into other areas. There is absolutely no shame in my game; I write my books for my sisters. If anyone outside of my target audience wants to pick up my books, that is an awesome blessing. But I want to make sure that my sisters-my target audience-can walk right into the book store and know exactly where to find me.
Richard Ridley once said, "Many writers make the mistake of thinking that bigger is better when it comes to defining a book's target audience. They believe that if a potential reader is simply made aware of their book, then surely they'll take a chance and buy it. But by choosing this "big pond" approach, those authors are being overlooked, and they're missing the opportunity to stand out in a smaller pond. You'll have much better success being a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond."

Yes, all authors would eventually love for everybody to read a copy of their book. But when you sit down to pen a book you have to know who you are penning it for...who you want to read it. Who will understand your words? Who will they resonate with and touch? For me, my target audience is African American women. I used to even put an age limit on it, but when readers as young as thirteen started reaching out to me about how my work has changed and/or saved their life, I stopped doing that. These young thirteen year old readers are the very reason why I'd have to say that authors are role models as well. So what we don't get the press that other entertainers such as singers and actors get. So what that even if an award show does have a category for literature, they don't deem literacy an important enough honor to air on television. People are still watching us...thanks to social media.
Everything we think, tweet and eat is being watched. Either folks are going to look down on us or up to us. I prefer the latter. I know this might sound dramatic and too deep for some, but as an author, my connection with someone could determine whether or not they ever pick up a book to read. I can say this because I spoke at a graduation. Afterward I had a mother of five who was in her thirties purchase one of my books. It was the first book she had ever purchased in her life so this was a milestone for her. To be a part of a milestone in someone's life...to make that kind of impact on someone's life. Do I really have to continue to argue my case???

BPM: Could you tell us something about  You Get What You Pray For, Always Divas Series, Book Three?

You Get What You Pray For is my latest title and it is book eleven in my divas installment. Coined soap operas in print, readers know to expect a fast paced, character shifting, scene changing, drama filled read with a pinch of shenanigans and just enough over the top encounters to still make it all believable. Intertwined and in the midst of it all is that life changing message that makes the emotional roller-coaster well worth the death defying ride. I know that was a mouthful, but so is this read.
The main character, Lorain, will have the reader feeling like she's a hamster in a wheel; doing so much but going absolutely nowhere. Lorain has it all, but having it all and keeping it are two different things. As she fights to hold onto all that is dear to her, she finds herself in a game of tug-o-war. But in this case, she's the one being pulled in two different directions. With the struggle being between good and evil, it would seem like a no-brainer that Lorain would go willingly to what is right, but doing that could mean losing everything, which includes her daughters and her husband. Before even considering continuing to play games with the devil, Lorain should have realized that doing so could lead to hell. But then again, being a prisoner of secrets and lies for the better part of her life has been a living hell for Lorain anyway. When her cell mates (the secrets and lies) begin to unravel, it definitely becomes hell on earth!

BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or speakers. What makes each one so special? 

Eleanor is the main character's, Lorain, mother. This old lady right here will give any reality television mother a run for her money. She is a ball of fire that the fire chief himself couldn't put out. Eleanor tends to irritate a reader or two by constantly being in Lorain's business, but they can't argue that mother knows best and delivers some tough love and advice. Just like any hard-headed child, Lorain doesn't always appreciate what her mother dishes out, but she does honor her. That wasn't always the case though. Once upon a time Lorain and Eleanor had a relationship that was so volatile, it's shocking that these two even speak to one another, let alone practically live together; Lorain in the main house and Eleanor in the in-law suite. But that's what makes these two and their relationship so special. 

By reading Facebook posts on any given day, I could see how so many women struggle in their relationship with their mothers. I believe Eleanor and Lorain give readers hope that a parent-child relationship can be healed and mended. The Bible says we must honor thy mother and father. We should love our mothers the way Jesus loved Mary. No, maybe our mother was no Mary, but heck, some of us weren't a Mary to our own children either.


BPM: What was your purpose or mission behind writing this book?

My mission behind this book is for the reader to walk away knowing that even when we have everything that we have ever prayed for, we still need the One who answered those prayers. Lorain went from the hood life, to the good life. At first she was in awe of why God would even do it for a wretch like her. She got so caught up in her amazing lifestyle and getting everything she'd ever dreamed of, that the fear of all that changing led her to take things into her own hands instead of having faith that God's will would be done.

My career plans are not only to continue penning stories that are so emotionally explicit that the reader feels as if they are in the story experiencing exactly what the characters are, but to continue to help other writers/aspiring writers to evoke that same thing through my literary services. Getting to the point where you are no longer writing about characters but are writing about people takes your writing gifts and talents to whole new levels.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from?

First off, I need to make my usual disclaimer; I have a ghostwriter. Yep, I said it. I sit down at my computer without a thought, care or outline in the world and I take dictation from my ghostwriter. And everyone who knows me knows that my ghostwriter is none other than the Holy Ghost. I allow God to give me the messages He wants for His people. His timing is always right, so readers seem to get the message right when they need it most. I'm sure tons of authors who are Holy Ghost writers can attest to this. We'll go back and read the proof pages of our books and say, "Who wrote this amazing book?" LOL. We can't remember writing half the stuff or even where it came from. We ask ourselves how did we ever come up with that idea. Well, we didn't. God's not going to give you a gift and a talent and, one, not make room for it, and two, not show you how to use it. So my ghostwriter comes up with the book ideas and my fingers just run with it!

BPM: Are your books plot-driven or character-driven? Why? 

Neither. My books are people driven. I only refer to the people I write about as characters for industry sake. When I first started writing books I wrote about characters. Once I started to receive emails and testimonies from readers about how the lives in my stories mirrored their own or someone they knew, I realized then that some readers didn't see the people I was writing about as some fictitious being. They were real and their lives were real. More importantly, they were emotionally connected.

At that point I knew I couldn't deny my readers of what they longed for (a connection/relationship with the people I write about) and just create characters from dust. I had to give them real live people with real life situations. I could no longer create these plots and scenarios just because they sounded like they would make for good drama and a great twist. Heck, real life is filled with enough drama, twists and turns of its own. So why not just bring the real and bring the truth? Readers can relate to something that not only feels real, but they know to be real.

BPM: How does your book relate to your present situation or journey? 

This question is hitting home for me. If I was doing a live televised interview, the audience would see me break down with my ugly cry right about now. As I mentioned earlier, In You Get What You Pray For, readers get to see the result of what once was a terrible mother-daughter relationship after God has done His healing thing. Lorain had not always respected or honored her mother. Lorain had harbored ill feelings toward her mother for things that had happened to Lorain in the past. Some people assume all mothers and daughters have this strong bond, but that is not always the case. There are daughters out there in their adulthood who wish they had a close-knit relationship with their mother, but can't get over the past. I believe this ties in to under-represented groups or ideas that are featured in my book.
I think back to a status I posted on Facebook Mother's Day 2014. It took me quite some time to hit the post button, but I really felt compelled to do so. The post read as follows: "I do not talk to my mother every day. As a matter of fact, when my phone rings and I look down at my Caller ID and see that it is her my blood sometimes begins to boil. I've had anxiety attacks even. "Should I answer the call? Should I send it to voice-mail?" If I answer the call, I know from the moment I say hello she is going to tell me what an awful day it has been for her, how much pain she is in, what hurts and then talk about somebody like a dog. If I don't answer the call there is going to be a nasty voice-mail message that is going to piss me off even more-make me want to call her back and let her know how she makes me feel. But I wouldn't dare cuss or fuss my mother. No, Ma'am, no , Sir. The devil ain't gonna get me there. But it doesn't mean that desire hasn't been within.

I read FB posts everyday with quotes about removing poisonous and negative people out of your life. But your own mother???? It drains me to talk to her or be in her presence and it takes every ounce of energy in me to bear the negativity she is going to spew. When I walk into her home I feel suffocated by the black cloud that seems to dwell there. I'm not exaggerating y'all-I feel it. My children feel it, begging me not to make them go inside. Sometimes after talking with her I can't even write anything, or edit a book because my spirit feels poisoned and I don't want to inject that into anything else I am doing. Have you ever just talked to someone and felt so vexed afterward?

I listen to and watch how she talks to and treats people and I cringe, often having to apologize on her behalf or ask them not to take it personal. I see my friends and the love and relationships they have with their mothers and I just don't get it. But today, my friends, I GET IT! My mother is not a hateful, evil, mean person, of which for years I mentally described her as. But what my mother is is full of hurt, pain, guilt and shame. The person I deal with is not the sixty-one year old body I'm looking at. Instead, I now realize that the person I deal with is that young girl whose uncle violated her. That young girl who didn't have a relationship with her father. That young girl who got pregnant in tenth grade and got kicked out of school for being pregnant. That young girl who was abused horribly by her husband for years. I can still hear the fights, her getting pistol whipped, her getting turned out on drugs and her own husband pimping her. Her husband picking her up from work in his mistress' car with the mistress in the backseat. Then to go on in life only to be abused by future men, all the while doing whatever she had to do to feed her babies. So heck yeah she was mad, angry and bitter. I get that now. I finally get it.

I know this is not the typical Mother's Day post everyone is putting on their wall. There is no bouquet of flowers, balloons or chocolates attached with this one. But what is attached to this one is regardless of what our relationships were like with our mother, grandmother, auntie-whoever raised us-we have absolutely no power to manipulate it into something other than what it was. A person's perception is their reality. Therefore we have to accept it for what it is. We don't have to walk around feeling heavy or wishing we had the kind of relationship someone else has. But what we do have the power to do is choose what we want that relationship to be today. So on this Mother's Day 2014 I pray love, peace, blessings, deliverance and healing to every mother, especially my own and including myself. May God keep our minds to remember all those wonderful things and traits about the women who raised us and all they sacrificed in order for us to make it this far. To forgive and forget those things that serve no purpose but to vex our spirits, so that we may walk forward in a future untouched by pasts hurts designed to keep us bound. I thank, you , Lord, on this day for your mighty revelation. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen!"

I received a multitude of likes, comments and in-box messages on that post. So many women came out of the woodwork to say that my story was theirs. I truly pray that readers of my work, especially women who have had issues with their own mothers, can see where Lorain and Eleanor came from, to where God has brought them now and be encouraged by that.


BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author? What are your ambitions for your writing career? 

Book sales are not the only indicator of my success as a writer. Once upon a time I used to desire to be a New York Times bestselling author. That motivated me to no end. But then I watched Spike Lee do an interview in which he stated that you cannot allow an award or organization to validate who you are in your craft. Talk about a revelation! I heard his words. I got it. Plain and simple I got it. It was at that moment I knew that my success was not based on sells, awards, titles or anything else. Success is personal. So my ambitions for my writing career are no longer based on being a bestselling author-one million books sold. It's to become a BLESSEDselling author-one million souls saved.


BPM: What projects are you working on at the present? 

I'm currently planning the release of my next Divas installment titled When All is Said and Prayed. It will be featured at Literary Feast 2015 which will take place Saturday, October 10, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio.  More info is available at https://eventbrite.com/event/16847639744/.

Instead of just doing a regular book release, I like to treat my readers and supporters to something fun, different, unique and entertaining. We have food, workshops, live entertainment, vendors, open mic poetry, a pampering lounge, an Authors' Lounge and of course the celebration of my book release that includes a live reading, Q&A and swag bag giveaway quiz session moderated by Reading With Soul Book Club.

I'm also working on putting the "Angel" eBook only series, which includes She's No Angel, Angel on the Front Pew and California Angel, in print. I would love for readers to visit me at www.enjoywrites.com
I can be reached out to via email at enjoywrites@aol.com. I'm on Twitter @enjoywrites,  on Instagram as blessedselling_author_enjoy   and on Facebook as E N Joy.  And for those who want to keep up with the divas, there is a  "New Day Divas Fan Page" on Facebook  as well as a discussion group, E. N. Joy's Readers' Lounge.


BPM: Readers, you can visit BLESSEDselling Author E. N. Joy at: www.enjoywrites.com or email her at: enjoywrites@aol.com.  They can also watch the video trailer for the series, by clicking here and leave comments.


Website: www.enjoywrites.com
Instagram: blessedselling_author_enjoy 
Twitter Link: www.twitter.com/enjoywrites
Facebook Link: 
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorENJOY   




Purchase You Get What You Pray For 

Always Divas Series Book Three
Genre: Christian Fiction
Link: http://amzn.com/1601626975  
 
 
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About Ella Curry