BLESSEDselling Author E. N. Joy is the author behind the “New Day Divas” series, coined “Soap Operas in Print.” She is an Essence Magazine Bestselling Author who wrote secular books under the names Joylynn M. Jossel and JOY. Her title, If I Ruled the World, earned her a book blurb from Grammy Award Winning Artist, Erykah Badu. An All Night Man, an anthology she penned with New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Jackson, earned the Borders bestselling African American romance award. Her Urban Fiction title, Dollar Bill (Triple Crown Publications), appeared in Newsweek and has been translated to Japanese.
Learn more about E. N. Joy at her website: www.enjoywrites.com
BPM: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times; I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a ghostwriter; the Holy Ghost. When I sit down and my fingers hit the keyboard to pen a story, that is a form of prayer to God. That is me communicating with God. Writing is my assignment from God. All I want to do when I pen a story is to glorify Him. I want to deliver God’s word through the written word. I want to make God famous with my writing. I willing allow my ghostwriter to give me the content for my stories.
God has a message for His people. I’m not a preacher, pastor, prophet, apostle, minister or what have you. But I am a vessel God knows He can use to get a Word to His people. I do so through my writing.
BPM: How has writing impacted your life?
Writing has done more than simply impacted my life. Writing is my life. The written word and I have a passionate marriage. We can’t live without one another; therefore, divorce is not an option. We complement each other on so many levels. When I can’t quite describe something verbally, I’ve always been able to express it through writing. Writing has always been there for me. Writing knows that it can trust me to be careful with the letters, words, and sentences strung together that create the act itself.
Because of the written word, I’ve experienced deliverance. I’ve experienced healing. When I’m penning my stories, more times than even I recognize during the process, I’m telling my life story. In doing so, I’m able to use writing as a way to connect with and impact the lives of my readers as well.
Readers of my work are able to see themselves in the people I write about. They are able to see my characters in the very same predicament they are in or once were in. They are able to see people struggle in those predicaments; struggle to make it out, survive, thrive and overcome. They are able to see the people I write about live with shame, deal with shame, then burry it under their feet, kicking it to the pits of hell where it belongs! This lets my readers know that they are not alone in their situation. It reminds me that I made it through, and that I am an overcomer. My prayer is that readers can declare the same.
BPM: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I had no idea that every book I wrote would be about me. I’m glad I didn’t know, because sometimes knowing too much will keep us from doing what we’ve been called and assigned to do. If I had known before sitting down to take dictation from the Holy Ghost that I was going to have to show readers how awful of a mother I was to my son, I would have never even purchased a computer!
There are so many things penned in my books that I thought were between just God and me, then He turned around and tricked me into sharing it with the world. I won’t say tricked, but there were a lot of things I’d forgotten about in regards to my past. What I know is that God didn’t bring them forth to hurt me, shame me, embarrass me, or make me feel guilty. He brought them back to my remembrance as a reminder of how far He brought me, so that I could then turn around and let my readers know that if He did it for me, then He can and will do it for them.
BPM: Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?
Had I been asked this question five years ago (which I’m sure I was) my answer would have been (and I’m sure it was) “I want to be a New York Times Bestselling Author. I want to have ‘A Million Copies Sold!’ stamped on my book covers. I want to be selling out of books after every book signing. In short, five years from now I want to be a famous author.” I know that was a mouthful, but when I first started writing, achieving all of the above is what motivated me. But now, after having my greatest Ah-Ha moment ever, those answers have changed.
A couple years ago, I was in a room with authors who had pretty much achieved what I had wanted to achieve by that point in my own writing career. Their reputations preceded them. Everyone in the room knew who they were. In that moment, I felt so inferior that I felt myself shrinking in my seat. I remember saying a silent prayer: “God, one day I want to walk into the room and everyone knows who I am.” God’s response to me was, “Me too!”
I always say the greatest Ah-Ha moment a person can ever have is when their life begins to make sense. In that moment my life began to make sense. So, this is how I now answer the question of where I see myself five years from now: “I want to be a BLESSEDselling author. I want to have ‘A Million Souls Saved!’ stamped on my book covers. I want readers to be sold-out on Christ after reading my books. In short, five years from now I want to still be writing, not to become a famous author, but to make God famous.”
BPM: How do you find or make time to write?
I find time to write and I make time to write. How? I hate to be cliché by using the Nike slogan, but I just do it! Seriously. I have a husband and four kids; three of them are still in school. Do you think they give a rats tail about Deborah, Paige, Helen, Tamarra, Mother Doreen, and Pastor Margie (some of the people in my books)? And on the same token, my characters don’t give a flip about my husband and kids either. So I have all these different people wanting to be heard, needing something from me, pulling me in a million different directions.
I know people like to throw the term “balance” around. I probably have a time or two as well, but then I took the liberty of looking up the word balance. Balance deals with equal distribution and equal proportions. Ha! Not in my life. In my world, no task is created equal. I don’t cook with a measuring cup, so I surely can’t use one to live and balance my life.
BPM: How did you choose the genre you write in? Have you considered writing in another genre?
I didn’t choose Christian fiction, Christian fiction chose me. There are Christian fiction writers and then there are Christians who write fiction. There is Christian fiction, then there is what some consider to be church fiction or church drama. You have some authors who didn’t necessarily set out to write Christian fiction, but they were placed in that category by either their publisher, or the book stores simply shelved them that way.
And of course you have the writers whose work is categorized as Christian fiction but they do not write for a Christian fiction imprint, which means they are not necessarily writing with any type of guidelines. I can’t speak for any other Christian fiction author or author who either chose or by default was placed in the Christian fiction genre, but I am a Christian fiction writer who writes Christian fiction for a Christian fiction imprint. That is my choice on purpose.
Will I consider writing in another genre? Perhaps some clean romance. As a matter of fact, I’ve taken a stab at it with a couple eBook shorts I put out titled Let’s Do Summer and The Miserable Wives Club. But will I ever go back to writing the books I wrote as Joylynn M. Jossel (women’s lit/erotica) and JOY (Urban street lit)? That’s not in the plan.
BPM: Tell us about your most recent work? Available on Nook and Kindle?
My latest title is Lady of the House. It’s also the final installment of my “Divas” series. Because I’ve used reality shows to research some of the subject matters in my series, I decided that for the final installment, I’d actually make the book about a reality show. And I wanted it to be a reality show that really gives folks something to talk about.
The main character of the book, who finds herself on a reality dating show in search for her husband, is a pastor. This book is a little more fun and lighthearted than the rest of the books in the series, but I really wanted to bow out gracefully . . . while laughing.
Lady of the House is currently available in print and eBook.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters or the speakers. What makes each one so special?
The main character of Lady of the House is the person who has made a cameo in almost every book in the “Divas” series, but has never had a book of her own. See, each of my books are about a different person, which allows readers to read the books in any order they choose. What makes my books a series is that each character I write about all attend the same church. Well, Lady of the House is about the actual pastor, Pastor Margie, of the church all my characters attend.
What’s funny is that in the first four books in the series, I never mentioned the sex or race of the pastor, yet every single person who read them assumed the pastor was an African American male. So, people who haven’t read the first five books of the series yet look at the cover of Lady of the House and ask, “Is that a white woman on the cover?” LOL.
Yes, the pastor of New Day Temple of Faith has been Caucasian all this time. I’m not saying that makes her special, but you have to admit, it is one heck of a twist, and I can’t wait to receive the feedback from readers on how well they were or were not able to receive Pastor Margie as a main character in the book.
BPM: What was your hardest scene to write, the opening or the close?
The closing chapter was the hardest scene to write in Lady of the House, and I think that’s because I knew this was the final installment of the series. I feel that when an author pens a series, as long as the readers continue to breathe life into the books and want more, a series can go on forever. Look at Kimberla Lawson Roby’s success with Curtis Black. But for me, even though I know for a fact I could go on and on with these divas, it’s time for me to transition into a new season of my life. I’ll still be writing, but my writing will be to help other authors reach their literary dreams and goals.
When I’m not writing books as E. N. Joy, I’m doing literary consulting work as Joylynn M. Ross. I’ve been able to work with so many authors. I’ve helped aspiring authors become successfully published. I’ve helped vet authors take their writing and their literary careers to the next level (branding, creating a platform, paid speakers, instructors, coaches, panelist, etc.). I’ve saved many authors time and money and kept them from making major mistakes in this business. I want to reach more, though, and I’m doing so by my latest literary venture, Path to Publishing (www.pathtopublishing.com), where I offer literary courses, informational newsletters, webinars, one-one-one consulting, and teleseminars.
I also have a YouTube series, “Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business,” where I provide tips that help authors turn their book into a business. The channel can be subscribed to at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZKTCHcj0WQELrvfb9MLxAA
I honestly feel like I’ve won in this business. Now it’s time for me to help other people win.
BPM: Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
One of the main characters in Lady of the House, Pastor Margie, didn’t have the ideal relationship with her mother. They had an estranged relationship to say the least. Even when Margie’s mother fell ill, that didn’t make Margie go running back to see about her. But what finally did was when Margie was able to find forgiveness in her heart toward her mother.
Margie was grateful that she could spend her mother’s last days with her, in spite of the fact that her mother hadn’t changed a bit in their years apart. According to Margie, her mother was still mean, rude, and mad at the world. A white version of Madea if you will. Let Margie tell it, her mother was as unfiltered as they come. But Margie was somewhat regretful that she hadn’t been there for her mother more; that she hadn’t forgiven her sooner rather than later.
My mom passed in 2015 and I think one of the hardest things I ever had to do was to eulogize her. I wanted to express that emotion and personal experience through Margie. I actually used some of the exact words from my mother’s eulogy in the book. It was very hard to get through.
BPM: Do you want each book to stand on its own or do you prefer to write series?
The minute I announced I would be ending the “Divas” series, readers immediately began hitting me with things like “What about So and So? You didn’t give them their own book yet” and “I want to read more about So and So.” There are definitely more divas in the series deserving of their own book. Personally, though, I’d love to write about the men in the series . . . see things from the male perspective.
What’s unique about my series is that the latter books are all stand-alones, yet part of series. I know that sounds tricky, but let me explain. In the first five books of the “New Day Divas” series, I introduce you to the different members of New Day Temple of faith. I soon realized that those divas’ issues were too heavy to mix and match in one book chapter by chapter. Those chicks needed their own book, which is why in the “Still Divas,” “Always Divas,” and “Forever Divas” series I decided that each book would be about a different person with their own storyline, therefore standing on its own.
I have a little fun with the stand-alone books in the series. I allow characters from the other books to play small parts by dropping in for a visit every now and again.
BPM: Does writing energize or exhaust you? Is this a trick question?
Because I’ve sat down energized and ready to write, and I’ve sat down exhausted, but still ready to write. I may start energized, but then my characters and all their issues simply drain the life out of me. I’ve started off exhausted, but then the characters have breathed life into me. This is the difference between a writer and an author.
A writer has to feel a certain way, set a certain mood and “get inspired” to write. An author just sits down and lets it rip. Authors don’t have to get inspired in order to sit down and write. The process of writing alone is all the inspiration an author needs. I wrote about this exact issue in one of my Path To Publishing newsletters, of which you can read by visiting the following link, go here.
BPM: Do you believe in writer’s block? No, but I believe in life block. LOL!
Sometimes as an author, life happens. Life blocks or stifles our creativity at times. What I’ve learned is to write through it. To press through it. What you pen is probably going to be an absolute mess. But you still must get it out, then go back and fix it later. But never stop writing!
I used to tell my literary consulting clients to walk away, take a break, get a breath of fresh air, blah, blah, blah. Nope; that is no longer the advice I give my clients. I advise them not to allow life to bully them into putting down their pen, to shutting down their thoughts. Stand up to the bully and beat him to a pulp with your pen.
BPM: Do you try to deliver to readers what they want or let the characters guide your writing?
Both, plus one. I definitely listen to my readers and what they want. They are my literary heartbeat. They are the wind beneath my literary wings. #Readersarethebossofme. My characters take over my being. I hear their voices. I feel their emotions. Well, the same goes for my readers. Then on top of that I have my ghostwriter (the Holy Ghost) flowing through me. All three of these things are responsible for the results on the pages between the cover of my books.
BPM: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The best money I’ve ever spent as a writer was buying other authors’ books. There is no greater way to study the craft than to read the books of other authors. I definitely try to read authors within my genre, but I don’t limit myself. I want to see how all the greats are doing it so that I can head down that same path of literary success. I want to see how all the not so greats are doing it so that I won’t head down their path.
I’ll read a book with bad reviews so that I can be one hundred percent certain not to make the same mistake the author with the bad reviews did.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
As far as writing, the projects that I’m working on at the present are actually my clients’ projects. I’ve done more writing in the last year than I can remember. The thing is, I’ve been writing with other authors while working on their projects.
Outside of being an author, I’m an editor, ghostwriter, agent, and literary consultant. I have a service called “Write-Behinds.” That’s when an author comes to me with a story that is pretty much written, they just need me to go behind them and tweak it up, juice it up, assist them in crafting it better.
As far as my own projects, Path To Publishing is my baby. It’s going to allow me to reach more authors than I ever could with my one-on-one services. I have a Path To Publishing course that has launched at the Path To Publishing online school (www.path-to-publishing.thinkific.com) titled “The Ground Zero Self-Published Author.” This course is just what it says; it’s for that author who wants publish their book and needs to know how. We start at A and finish at Z. Self-publishing is one huge checklist, and every main category has bullet points. It can become very overwhelming.
A person really must be dedicated to go down the path of self-publishing. I offer a free course letting the authors know in advance exactly what it is they will be getting into and what is entailed. That way they can be honest with themselves in choosing whether to move forward in building their literary empire.
For authors who simply don’t have time to commit to each step of the self-publishing process or marketing themselves as an author, I offer concierge services in which my team and I complete the tasks on behalf of the authors. These services can be found in my online literary store at: https://squareup.com/market/writings-by-joy
BPM: What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you?
I love when readers come knocking on the door of my virtual home, my website, which is www.enjoywrites.com. There is a contact form on my website. When I open a form a reader has sent to me, I feel like I’m welcoming them into my home. Readers tend to share more testimonies with me when I invite them into my home versus when I have a room full of company on social media. In my own virtual home, it’s like we’re sitting on the couch sipping hot tea and opening up to one another. I love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all that other good stuff, but there is no place like home.
I also like when readers email me in response to one of my newsletters. Anyone who would like to sign up for my Author E. N. Joy Newsletter can sign up by clicking this link: http://eepurl.com/cy8gLf
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Aspiring authors, new authors, vet authors, and any author ready to turn their book into a business or take their literary business to the next level can receive tips at: https://www.facebook.com/actlikeanauthorthinklikeabusiness/