RED CARPET Release Party

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!

Lashonda’s Websites

www.lashondadevaughn.page.tl -facebook/shondadevaughn –



LaShonda:  It hasn't been easy but I try to keep myself grounded by staying busy and remaining focused and of course keeping GOD first. I've been through a lot, tragedies, dissapointment, you name it. But I keep telling myself that there is light at the end of the tunnel. If I keep myself down then I would be useless to myself and everyone around me.

Da ReVew:  We’re hiphop heads here at Da ReVew. Explain how this global phenomenon has impacted you and your writing.

LaShonda: I LOVE me some hip-hop!! The impact that it has on my writing is that it's real, it's gritty and it's hood. If I could continue to write rhymes and be successful then I would. It's so much harder for a female in the hip-hop game to succeed rather than a male. But I'm able to express myself all the same in my writing because just like that person who has their favorite hip-hop song that they love because they can relate to it, others may have their favorite novel that hit's home and that's what I try to do, to hit home. I like for my readers to be able to relate to what they are reading because it keeps them wanting to read more, it's not watered down, it's more realistic.

Da ReVew:  I hear you’re deep into poetry. Many authors tested the waters of poetry before penning their first novel. How does this rhythmic form of prose relate to writing fiction books?

LaShonda:  Aw man, I was a poem writing diva in high school which is where it all started. My creative writing teacher used to give me all types of techniques to make my poems edgy and creative and we used to have to free write poems before each class and it broadened my writing skills tremendously. I use those techniques to this very day. Poetry brings out the creative style in your writing and I apply it to writing novels.

Da ReVew: After all you’ve experienced, when did you know that writing urban fiction novels was your true calling?

LaShonda:  I realized that writing urban fiction novels was my true calling when I realized that I had more than one story to tell. Just like a rapper, growing up in the hood you see so many things happening that are stories within themselves. Relationships, street drama, family drama, you name it, it has a story waiting to be written.

Da ReVew:  Please enlighten us about your debut novel, A Hood Chick’s Story.

LaShonda:  A Hood Chick's Story is the story of survival. The main character Tiara James takes you on a journey through all types of drama that she is faced with all the while trying to maintain her sanity. From her abusive father, rape, street drama, drugs, section 8, welfare, tragedies and backstabbing, this novel will have you on edge. You may be laughing sometimes or even crying but you will always keep anticipating what will happen next. There is drama on every page from start to finish that both male and females will relate to.

Da ReVew: Most authors support their genre. What type of books do you prefer to read?

LaShonda:  I support my genre 100%, I prefer to read urban fiction and erotica but I'm open to all.

Da ReVew:  Would you mind giving us a sneak peak at your second novel?

Lashonda:  My second novel is going to be part 2 of A Hood Chick's Story so I can't give too much away.

Da ReVew:  When should we expect to read A Hood Chick’s Story?

LaShonda:  You should expect A Hood Chick's Story to hit stores in about another month. For now readers can view the synopsis and an excerpt from Chapter 1 on my website at http://lashondadevaughn.page.tl and keep checking back for updates on the release date.

Q&A with LaShonda DeVaughn, Author of "A Hood Chick's Story"

From "People Who Love Good Books" Click here: http://peoplewholuvgoodbook.tripod.com/id101.html   

Q:  When did you decide you wanted to write?  

A:  I decided that I wanted to write once I realized that I had many stories to tell. I always loved writing, English was my favorite subject in school and once I read urban literature, I fell in love with the whole concept. 

Q:  How many novels in all have you written?  

A:  My first novel, "A Hood Chick's Story" is my first completed novel, I have others in the works, many others actually. 

Q:  How long did it take you to write your first novel?  

A:  It took me about four months to write my novel. 

Q:  Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?   

A:  I got the inspiration for most of my stories through my life experiences.  

Q:  Are the characters based on real people?  

A:  The characters in "A Hood Chick's Story" are made up, however few are based on real people such as the main character Tiara. The inspiration for Tiara's character came from my life, but I made her character endure way more drama. But the people that she lost in her life are the same people that I have lost in my life.

 Q:  After writing your first novel, did you self-publish?? If so, how was that experience?  

A:  Yes, I self-published my first novel. It is a great learning experience and I'm glad that I decided to self-publish. Everything that I'm learning I'm definitely sharing with new authors. One thing that I'll recommend to new authors is asking a lot of questions, it's the only way to master something.  

Q:  What feedback have you received from fans?  

A:  The feedback has been all positive. They love the book because they can relate to it. Whether you live in or out of the hood you'll identify with some of the situations in A Hood Chick's Story. Even older women come up to me telling me what they took from the book or what part they identified with so this book is not only for teens and young adults, it's for everyone.  

Q:  What authors do you admire? Did one of them inspire you? 

A:   I admire Vickie Stringer and Nikki Turner because they are doing it real big right now in this game. I did get inspired by reading about them in a magazine one day and I decided that I would stop talking about it and start being about it. I started writing A Hood Chick's Story and the rest is history.  

Q: Is writing your only passion?  

A:  For right now yes, I plan to master this game. 

Q:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  

A:  In five years I see myself having a prosperous writing career and owning my own publishing company. I plan to launch StreetDreamz Publications ASAP so in five years it should be an empire. 

Q:  What advice would you give aspiring authors?  

A:  Ask questions!!! I can't express that more, if they don't want to answer, keep asking. I ask a lot of questions so that the next time around, I won't need that person or company, I can be my own source. 

Q:  What would you like readers to learn from your stories?

A:   I want them to learn that with every struggle, there is a lesson. There will always be a positive side to my stories, even amongst all the drama. 

Q:  Are you working on another novel?If so, What is it about?  

A:  Yes, right now I'm completing "A Hood Chick's Story, part 2." Just when my readers thought Tiara's life couldn't get any worse, part 2 would make you want to jump in the pages to help her yourself. I'm also working with collaborating with two Best Selling Authors on a novel that we plan to have completed by summer 2008, I'll keep everyone posted on my website. 

Q:  Where can people purchase your books? Do you have a website?  

A:  Yes, people can purchase my books on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, Borders, www.theblacklibrary.com and bookstores worldwide. My website is www.lashondadevaughn.page.tl and my myspace is www.myspace.com/ahoodchick You can pay through paypal on my website and also learn more about my novel, read an excerpt and stay posted on what's next for LaShonda DeVaughn because I ain't going nowhere.



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