V. Richardson: Hello, Valerie! I am delighted to chat with you about your novel “The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box”.
V. Coleman: Hi, Vanessa. And thanks for the opportunity.
V. Richardson: Interesting title! How did the concept and name come about?
V. Coleman: The concept for “The Goody Box” book was twofold. At this phase in my life (about midlife-ish), I have experienced significant changes—relationally, emotionally, physically and mentally. Almost without warning, my marriage was in chaos, my body was transitioning. (My goody box took on a mind and voice of its own. I still say that I could audibly hear her crying out for attention) and my twenty-six-year career as an engineer ended. (People often said, “I’m so sorry that you lost your job.” With my hands on my hips, I said, “I didn’t lose it. I know exactly where it is: Mexico!”)
So about three years ago, I spoke into the atmosphere that I wanted to write a book to help prepare women for this collage of life transitions. My philosophy is best described by Lao Tzu who said, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” (No sense watching a sister go through the same mess that I went through, if I can do something to prevent it.) The second part of the concept came from my cousin, confidante and co-author, Christopher “Doc” Reid. Every morning, as I tried to walk off the stress, we talked. He counseled, encouraged and enlightened me about marriage dynamics and re-engineering my career. He gave me sound, unbiased advice without a hidden agenda or motive. With his guidance and inside knowledge of men (in case I didn’t mention it, Christopher is a man), he helped—and continues to help—me navigate through the storms of marriage and life in general. One October morning, he said that he had talked to many women who just didn’t understand men.
“We’re quite simple actually,” he said. Yeah, right. Men are the most complicated, confusing—Sorry, I digressed. Anyway, he said that relationships are his passion and he wanted to write a book to help women understand men, avoid broken hearts and maintain some semblance of sanity. Ding! Ding! Ding! We combined our passions to create a solidified purpose: help women understand men to master the forbidden secrets of the goody box.
Sidebar: I assume that you know what I mean by “goody box.” You know, she’s been with me all my life. I never leave home without her. I can put up the pictures, if necessary.
Together, we developed the objectives and scenarios. I did all of the writing and publishing. Doc Reid provided the content that pertained to how and why men do what they do.
Creating the title was as challenging as writing. We tossed around several titles, disagreed, separated to our respective corners, came back for a truce, surveyed friends and fans for feedback and then settled on the one that had the most kick: “The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box”. It speaks volumes to the content of the book and serves as a great marketing tool. The catchy title attracts both men and women. Who doesn’t want to know the forbidden? What person wants to be left out of a great secret? And can you name one person who doesn’t have some connection to the goody box?
From the cradle to the grave, the goody box affects every living soul and comes equipped with an unlimited supply of power. As if the title wasn’t enough, we use the catch phrase “What your father didn’t tell you and your mother didn’t know” to emphasize the magnitude of this well-kept secret.
V. Richardson: What do you want readers to take away from your book?
V. Coleman: The overall theme is to empower women to recognize the men who only want to play games and identify the men who are relationship-ready. However, the book is full of so much wit and wisdom that we actually have multiple demographics:
· Three things that lead you to make terrible relationship decisions
· Every man’s private marriage checklist
· A simple two-letter word that makes him want to pop the question
· How to break a toxic love pattern
· Why he just won’t propose
· Little signs that tell you he’s the one
· Advice from men you’d be crazy not to take
For young ladies (teens and tweens),
· Your beauty shines from the inside and radiates outwardly despite what he says or does
· Love yourself more than you “love” him
· If he really “loves” you, he’ll wait until he marries you
· You are the first protector of your daughter’s goody box
· Learn what makes your daughter feel loved and then fill her heart until it overflows
· What she doesn’t get from you, she’ll spend the rest of her life trying to find in another man, or worse yet, men
V. Richardson: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
V. Coleman: I enjoyed writing this book and watching the characters come alive. Of the three books I’ve written, it’s my favorite by far; however, the readers want more. I have received phone calls, emails, texts and death threats from ladies wanting to know when the second book in “The Goody Series” releases.
V. Richardson: How has “The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box” been received so far?
V. Coleman: The response has been overwhelming. Women have told me that the book is life-changing because they are no longer the wounded doe standing in the crosshairs of the hunter’s bow. Averting the snares and traps is easy because they can spot the hunter and his tactics from a distance. Time out for settling for he’ll-do-because-some-man-is-better-than-no-man. These women are now empowered, in control and finding relational fulfillment.
We anticipated a favorable response, but we didn’t expect colleges, high schools and even elementary schools to contact us to conduct workshops for girls and women. So we’re taking the message to the masses with “Why He Married Her Instead of You”, “Why He Left You for Her” and “Daddy, Look at Me” workshops.
V. Richardson: Who are/were your literary influences? And what books have most influenced your life?
V. Coleman: After the Bible and my own titles (Get ready for a shameless plug… “Blended Families An Anthology” is an Amazon.com Top 100 Bestseller in Stepfamily category, a Black Christian Book Distributors Top 50 Bestselling Nonfiction and the Christian Small Publishers Association’s 2008 Nonfiction of the Year. “Tainted Mirror An Anthology” has inspired readers to stop making excuses and walk in destiny. And of course, “The Goody Box” book), my favorite book is “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. The read was a requirement for high-school English. I fell in love with his vivid description of the emerging marlin. I read that passage multiple times. He made me feel like I was in the boat. I also love “The Outsiders” by S. E. Hinton which my sixth-grade teacher read to the class over several months. The plot and characters intrigued me so that I couldn’t wait to get to class. Now that I think about it, after she finished reading the book, I jotted my first notes for a book (I didn’t follow through with it because it was a slight variation of Hinton’s book). I also like the work of Christian-fiction author, Vanessa Miller. I helped her self-publish her first four books—“The Rain Series”—and now she’s an Essence-bestselling author writing for three different publishing houses.
By far, the Bible most influences my life.
V. Richardson: What have you discovered about yourself on your journey to publication?
V. Coleman: Specific to “The Goody Box” book, I learned that I’m not in this thing alone. Other women have experienced and are experiencing many of the same challenges and struggles; however, out of shame, embarrassment or pride, we suffer in silence. In addition, I knew that I didn’t have an in-depth understanding of men; however, I discovered that I didn’t know much of anything about men and how they think about women. Regarding publication; I have learned that I am tenacious, resilient, skilled and teachable.
V. Richardson: There is always a story behind the author’s works. How do/did you handle rejection?
V. Coleman: As a self-published author content with putting in hard work and keeping all the money, I don’t submit proposals to traditional publishing houses. As a result, I don’t get rejection letters. I once had a distributor reject me—well, not me, but my title. Instead of quitting, I used the denial to fuel my fervor. I researched more distributors and now my books are available through Ingram and Baker and Taylor. Readers can go into any bookstore or library and request my titles.
V. Richardson: What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?
V. Coleman: I’ve been in the publishing business for almost ten years. As an author and publisher (in addition to my three titles, I have published about fifteen books for other authors through www.QueenVPublishing.net), I travel the nation presenting “Self-Publishing Made Easy Cash Machine” workshops (I love to teach. Remember “teach a man to fish”?) and find that most authors do not have a good understanding of the publishing process or marketing. Although it may have taken years to complete the manuscript, writing is still the easiest part of the process. My advice:
· Research the industry. Attend workshops and conferences. Know the true cost of publishing. Figure out how to price your book to make a profit. Find reputable printers. Study the components of a quality book. Establish your marketing strategy. Interview authors.
· Understand the different types of publishers (many of them prey on unlearned writers like vultures circling a weary desert nomad). They steal your dreams, invade your peace of mind and deplete your bank account. Several of my Queen V Publishing clients have been duped by publishers and came to me to make things right.
· Build a team. You cannot do it alone. Invest in a publicist, attorney, accountant and a sales team of devoted fans, friends and family.
The demands of publishing can be overwhelming especially for a neophyte. Over the years, I have saved clients thousands of dollars, tons of frustration and a plethora of disappointment. They begged me to clone myself, but since I’m not a biological engineer, I did the next best thing. I packed my knowledge and experience into a multi-DVD set to steer writers in the right direction. And if that’s not enough, I coach and publish.
V. Richardson: Are there any upcoming and/or future projects readers should be made aware of?
V. Coleman: On March 26, 2011, I’m conducting the sixth annual Write On! Workshop in Dayton, Ohio. The event includes sessions on writing, publishing and marketing. On April 30, 2011, we’re hosting the second annual Dayton Book Expo (www.DaytonBookExpo.com). Our inaugural event drew fifty authors and almost 500 book lovers. I have signing and speaking engagements in numerous cities. A complete calendar of events is available at www.PenOfTheWriter.com.
My friend and Queen V Publishing client, Dr. Karen M.R. Townsend, releases her first book: “It All Started When I Stopped Using Lotion – One Woman’s Journey from Chaos to Calm” (www.AboutMySisters.com) As for “The Goody Box” book, we’re developing additional workshops to fulfill the influx of requests. Several churches have contracted with us to conduct a series of workshops geared toward unmarried, youth and now married couples. I finished the e-book last year (2010) and the audio book will be ready later this year (2011). Doc Reid and I have talked about hosting a conference for the women of the Goody Box Club at an exotic location. We’ll be in negotiations soon for a stage play and eventually a movie. Woo hoo!
V. Richardson: How can readers contact you?
V. Coleman: Doc Reid is at www.ChristopherReid.org.
Everything I do is associated to my publishing company, Pen of the Writer.
From The Heart:
From The Heart:
V. Richardson: When life gets a little hectic and you are feeling a little dismayed, how do you find peace in the storm?
V. Coleman: Does life ever have a time when it’s not hectic? Prayer is first on the list. I may not break into a full sermon, but I can holler, “HELP!” with the best of them. And while I’m waiting on the reinforcements, I may take a long walk, eat some chocolate, call a friend, cry or take a nap. My action depends upon the magnitude of the “disruption.”
V. Richardson: Valerie, thank you for an awesome chat! Thank you for sharing yourself and your works with our viewing audience. Much success to you! As always in closing, continue to inspire as you aspire!