Interview with "On The Rise Magazine" 2011
OTR: Tell us about your novels
LaShonda: A Hood Chick’s Story pt. I is loosely based on my life. It’s about a girl named Tiara James who grew up in an unstable household of abuse, alcoholism and drugs. Being that her homefront was unstable she sought refuge on the streets and that’s when things continued to go downhill. The story shows a girl’s struggle for survival in the jungle of one of the worst hoods in Boston. She lost family and friends to violence, jail and drugs and you feel every emotion that the character endures as you turn the pages.
A Hood Chick’s Story pt. II picks up five years later. Just when Tiara’s life was somewhat on track, her past came back to haunt her. Part II is filled with so much drama, from cheating men to fake friends and devastating events that will have you in tears.
OTR: How and when did you first become a self-published authoress
LaShonda: I actually self-published A Hood Chick’s Story back in 2008. I was unsure if I wanted to go the self-published route since I didn’t know much about it at the time. I had sent off my manuscript to publishing houses and in the meantime began doing my research on self-publishing. Once I found all the connections that I needed, I decided to publish the book myself. In the midst of that, most of the publishing houses that I sent my manuscript to were calling me with offers. I decided to turn down the offers and remain my own publisher. I always had a boss mentality; I like being in control of my project from start to finish and once I found out that I would have that ability with self-publishing, the rest is history.
OTR: How long have you been writing?
LaShonda: I’ve been published since 2008 but I’ve had a love for writing ever since I was in high school. English was my favorite subject.
OTR: Do you have plans of being a traditionally published author?
LaShonda: If the right deal comes along then yes. If not, I’m already doing everything a traditional publisher would be doing for me and even more beneficial, I can control my own vision and collect all the profit.
OTR: Who inspires you as a writer?
LaShonda: Everyone. Life in general inspires me. I will say though, after losing my little brother to murder in 2005, that situation inspired me to put the wheels in motion and get my story out.
OTR: What makes you stand out as a writer?
LaShonda: I think I stand out because I put my personality into my writing. I have never read a single book written the way that I write. Everyone professes that they’re original but I read a lot of the same material. With my books, I make you feel everything that is going on. I like for the reader to be taken on the journey with the characters as if they know them personally; if you can capture the reader’s attention from beginning to the end, then it’s a win, win situation.
OTR: Where do you see yourself within the next several years?
LaShonda: I see myself with a lot more books published from myself and by other Authors under my publication, StreetDreamz Publications. I also plan on expanding my brand via music, movies, hostings etc. I have a lot of things in store for my fans.
OTR: What else do you do besides write?
LaShonda: I’m a mom first. I have two children, a daughter 7 and a son 4, they keep me busy and motivated. I try to find time to write on my down time.
OTR: Why did you decide to become a writer?
LaShonda: It’s a talent that I’ve always possessed and once I found out there was a lane in the book industry where I could use my own voice and relate to people, I kicked down the doors and took my spot in urban fiction.
OTR: Who are your favorite authors?
LaShonda: I like Nikki Turner and Vickie Stringer.
OTR: What are your favorite books?
LaShonda: A Hood Chick’s Story pt. I & II of course ha ha …
OTR: What is it that most people do not know about you?
LaShonda: Most people don’t know that I can sing. I actually have a very nice voice but have never publicly sung around anyone, it’s a hidden talent of mine.
OTR: Tell us what influences you to write the stories you write?
LaShonda: Life influences me. When writing about subjects that people can relate or identify with, it makes for a better project.
OTR: What are/is your biggest pet peeve(s)?
LaShonda: My biggest pet peeve is when people judge things they don’t understand. For instance, with urban fiction, there are lots of people who pass it up and say, “I don’t read books like that,” and honestly if they gave it a chance, they would probably become a fan of the genre.
OTR: When aspiring authors/poetry approach you about getting their book published, what do you usually tell them?
LaShonda: First I ask them if they plan on self-publishing or if they plan to shop their product to publishing houses. Depending on their answer, I point them in the right direction and assist them with all of their questions. I love helping new Authors. One thing I preach the most is to do your RESEARCH before going forward, period.
OTR: What is your advice to authors who are struggling with getting their book out out their target audience? Which innovative marketing ways would you suggest to new authors.
LaShonda: I recommend Authors trying to get their books out to their target audience is to first start with your family and friends. Get your product, promotional material etc., in their hands and branch out from there. Word of mouth is key. Also, you have to invest in yourself if you believe in your dream; purchase ads on sites where you know your target audience will view and reach out to them personally if you have to and introduce them to your product.
OTR: What do you think catapulted your success as an author?
LaShonda: Guerilla marketing, always thinking outside the box and keeping my websites/facebook/twitter updated. Also, socializing and actually connecting with fans on other levels rather than just business. I just started blogging on my website www.lashondadevaughn.page.tl and that has added a new lane in itself to my brand because it lets readers enter your personality and actually connect with you. The more you connect with readers, the more successful you become.
OTR: Do you have plans to open your own publishing company?
LaShonda: StreetDreamz Publications is the publication that I started back when I published A Hood Chick’s Story. We are excited to introduce our roster of new Authors for the winter of 2012 as well as all of our new summer titles. I plan on making StreetDreamz Publications one of the top urban publishing houses.
OTR: Which well-known author(s) would you like to network with?
LaShonda: Maya Angelou, she has such a sweet soul, I would love to network with her.
OTR: What is your advice to budding authors?
LaShonda: My advice to budding Authors is to learn this game entirely and to weed out people who aren’t sincere. Everyone isn’t your friend in this game. Some feel that you are competition so they will only help you but so far. Make your own connections, network with your fans, stay authentic and you will win!
www.lashondadevaughn.page.tl -facebook/shondadevaughn –
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