Intimate Conversation with Author and Publisher Jo Lena Johnson
Jo Lena Johnson, The Absolute Good Resilience Coach, is a Certified Mediator, International Trainer, Acclaimed Author and Writing Coach, Founder and CEO of Absolute Good Training and Life Skills Management, and Publisher of Mission Possible Press. Principle-focused, results-driven, and heart-centered, Jo Lena has taught over 100,000 people worldwide with her no-nonsense and dynamic approach. With messages of how to effectively communicate, manage conflict, and how to maintain even after something bad happens (resilience). Become uniquely self-aware, unburdened, enlightened and empowered through spending time with Ms. Johnson.
BPM: What made you want to become a writer? How long have you been writing?
I’ve always had a lot to say. Speaking is not always the best way to express myself because I’m passionate, outspoken and direct. Because I come from my heart, it’s not always easy to say or receive some of what I need to express. Writing is safer. I can share bits, pieces and all of it – and the reader can choose how much they can take, if they want to engage. I’ve been writing books since 2009. I’ve been keeping juicy journals forever!
BPM: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Using words, pithy sayings and humor to share, connect, delight and sometimes entertain is challenging and fun. Whenever people read or listen to something I’ve written and be influenced by it, especially emotionally is beyond me, however, some say the way I speak from the heart is creative.
BPM: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Absolutely. More pain requires more release. Writing about my experiences with family, friends, and former lovers and with my own internal struggles has allowed me to mature through what has happened, and add gratitude in the process. As a result, some of the things which have happened, at their core are truly meant to build. I appreciate that God is more interested in my character development than in my comfort.
BPM: How has writing impacted your life?
Before I started writing, I was an avid reader, reading nearly 100 books a year, mostly on planes as I was traveling for work. My life was better because of the things I read. One day I decided to write a children’s book to improve the life of my soon-to-be-born niece. I realized I could reach and teach so many more people if I wrote what was in my heart and mind. On many levels, it’s allowed me to serve others, and that is fulfilling. There are so many problems people deal with. If I can share something which offers perspective, then perhaps my own struggles have been worth it.
BPM: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your books?
How much people can be comforted and empowered by honesty, personal experiences and truth. That writing, expressing and reading can truly be a healthy experience for readers and for me.
BPM: How do you find or make time to write?
I do my best writing when I feel deeply – be it extreme hurt, intense anger or injustice. It’s because it comes from my pain and from my soul. Getting it out helps me to process, move through, heal and choose to deal with what has occurred. I may or may not “do anything” with what I write, but if and when I do, it usually comes off as genuine, sincere and helpful to others – because I’m being transparent and again – in touch with my pain. So I don’t sound like Debbie Downer, I also share happy times and victories – but they are more easily sharable so I may make calls or do videos when those things happen versus writing them down per se.
BPM: How did you choose the genre you write in? Have you considered writing in another genre?
I primarily write non-fiction because life is so interesting. I haven’t considered writing fiction for myself though I have coached a few novelists. I plan to stick with non-fiction because we’ll never run out of material. There are so many real, true and important stories to tell. Getting creative by writing like I speak is one of my hallmarks. I think people appreciate feeling like they know the author.
BPM: Please describe your most recent work. Available on Nook and Kindle?
The Clean Colored Girl Chronicles are stories from one woman’s life as she shares how relationships made her and broke her. As she learned how to navigate through being a daughter with parent issues, a black woman, single woman, dating woman, married yet unhappy woman, divorced woman and an entrepreneur, she is a clean colored girl, making it in the world. Trials keep you strong when you learn to endure them, and that she does.
Broken Conditions, Volume 1 of The Clean Colored Girl Chronicles highlights the author’s college years and chronicles key relationships, which lead to drama, adventure, hurt and poor choices into her 30s. See how growing up affects and influences almost every decision, relationship and behavior. When what she learned wasn’t working, she did something about it … sometimes!
Broken Conditions releases January 16, 2018. Lady and the Chief, Volume 2 will be released during the summer and Married and Divorced in the Same Year, Volume 3, will be released in the winter of 2018. Each of the books will be available on Nook, Kindle and as audiobooks, narrated by me. I’m so excited.
BPM: Give us some insight about the series and the first book in The Clean Colored Girl Book Chronicles.
People don’t mind breaking others because they are already broken and we all know, misery loves company. Once broken, restoration is possible. I am excited to put the past where it belongs, because it has passed. But in between, a whole lot of holes happened. These are my stories of life, love, grace and resilience. By reading my chronicles, maybe readers can get some perspective to help with their pasts – or at least avoid some of my failings and shortcomings.
Peeling through the pain is what I think most people need to do in order to get beyond their Broken Conditions. Broken Conditions are often rooted in family dynamics and many times we don’t know the effects of the past until life happens and it’s difficult to cope or heal. With time, the layers are thicker, the contents more fragile. Hurt is real and deep and festers when allowed to collect, rotting in your soul, mind and emotions.
Peeling hurts, too, because the infected areas become exposed. Facing exposure can be shameful, embarrassing and difficult. Yet peeling can be soothing as the core is safe, if you can get to it. Reading the series helps people get to the core, and ultimately safety, if they are willing.
BPM: What Does Being a Clean Colored Girl Mean?
“Being a Clean Colored Girl is being courageous, perseverant and remaining openhearted, even when it hurts, facing interesting and difficult situations in life and becoming resilient as a result.” – Jo Lena Johnson, The Absolute Good Resilience Coach
The Clean Colored Girl Chronicles are stories from my life as I share how relationships made and broke me. As I learned how to navigate through being a daughter with parent issues, a black woman, single woman, dating woman, married yet unhappy woman, divorced woman and an entrepreneur. I remained a clean colored girl, making it in the world! Trials keep you strong when you learn to endure them, and that’s how I survived and lived to write about it. LOL.
BPM: Sounds interesting. Why did you create a series about your life, especially since you’re not yet a senior citizen?
It’s all Jennifer’s fault! She’s one of my best friends and also my assistant. When we started out, it was going to be one book, Married and Divorced in the Same Year. I sent her all of my notes and thoughts and she threw out three fourths of what I had written! I was not a happy camper! When I asked her why she did so, she told me that the other stories weren’t part of the marriage. I told replied, “Everything that happened in my life led to that marriage at 45 years old. You can’t just throw it away!” She reasoned, I listened. I understood her point of view, however, I couldn’t speak of the outcome without laying the foundation so I told her we were doing three books. She laughed, smiled and said, “Okay…” and here we are.
BPM: What can we expect from Volumes 2 and 3? Can we get a quote or description?
Lady and the Chief, Volume 2: My story, my experiences and my choices are bigger than me. What I do, say and how I behave affects many people and until I acknowledge that and act accordingly, I’m letting people down. Some things which have happened are sad and disappointing while others are fun, adventurous and sexy. I can’t take anything back or erase it from history, nor can I bury my head in the sand and walk in shame for the rest of my life. I had to learn how to bounce back and keep bouncing back after each defeat and victory, since I was saved from my own self, and at times, others. That’s what life is about – dealing with what happened and acting differently as new things happen. This book covers a long distance love affair which ended in dramatic fashion. Let’s just say, the other woman got him and they make a great married pair.
Married and Divorced in the Same Year, Volume 3: We should have never married. Yet, we did. Of course I didn’t know it at the time, or I wouldn’t have done it. It was an experience deserving of the story being told, and I’m a better woman for it. I’ve learned that many people have had some of these quick marriages – and many others, wish they had! It’s juicy, interesting and crazy at the same time. His ‘new’ wife is the one for him!!!
BPM: What was your hardest part to write?
Talking about incidents which happened with my mom as I was growing up. Some of what I describe is very personal to her, and it shaped our relationship. Honestly, we had never spoken of many of the things I reveal and I felt she would be closed to me disclosing certain things. Yet, I couldn’t be honest about my holes if I didn’t talk about where some of them originated. The day I went to read her Broken Conditions, I was scared. I truly thank God we both survived the seven-hour session. She listened and heard my heart that day, perhaps for the first time, ever. I also listened and gained perspective about her choice, life and feelings. It was amazing – real breakthroughs for us both. In her artsy, little loft, two Clean Colored Girls came together and began healing our Broken Conditions. I hope that for each person who reads and listens.
BPM: Does writing energize you?
It depends on what I’m writing. If I’m fired up because of social injustice, I’m hot. Power to the people! If I’m recounting pain, I’m refreshed, because it’s flowing out. If I’m writing a note of encouragement to someone, I’m grateful and honored. Never really thought about being energized.
BPM: Have you written any other books that are not published?
Of course. I have about 13 on the computer now. They include a children’s book series about love, life and color, with my dear Aunt Jerry as the central character, along with her white dog named Blu. And several others for teens and adults which may come to pass one day.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
I’ve just finished a project, acting as a writing coach with Audrey and Larry Jones, a married couple of 45 years whose book, Falling Through the Ceiling, Our ADD Family Memoir, is releasing early in 2018. Working with them, helping them share about their lives and experiences raising three sons with ADHD and Larry the husband having ADD was unique, fulfilling and interesting.
As the publisher of Mission Possible Press, we are releasing the new novel Black Hearts White Minds, a legal thriller by Mitch Margo, in January. It’s a great book about race relations, hatred, love and old fashioned American values set in 1964 Alabama. It’s heartbreaking that we are experiencing some of the same issues today, but also makes the book relevant and important in today’s society.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My personal website is JoLenaJohnson.com. They can reach me on Facebook @ Jo Lena Johnson, The AG Resilience Coach.
And I’m trying to get better about using Twitter and Instagram @Jo Lena Johnson.
I’m hoping they will want to be part of The Clean Colored Girl Association! We have formed a group on Facebook and are forming chapters around the country. It’s time for women to connect through life and struggles, coming out better, on the other side.
Books in The Clean Colored Girl Book Series
* Broken Conditions, Volume 1 of The Clean Colored Girl Chronicles releasing January 16, 2018.
“People don’t mind breaking others because they are already broken and we all know misery loves company. Once broken, restoration is possible. I am excited to put the past where it belongs, because it has passed. But in between, a whole lot of holes happened. These are my stories of life, love, grace and resilience. By reading my chronicles, maybe you can get some perspective to help you with your own – or at least avoid some of my failings and shortcomings.” – Jo Lena Johnson, Author, Broken Conditions, Volume 1 of The Clean Colored Girl Chronicles
* Lady and the Chief, Volume 2 of the Clean Colored Girl Chronicles releasing Summer 2018.
“How and why can I tell you these things? Because my story, my experiences and my choices are bigger than me. What I do, say and how I behave affects many people and until I acknowledge that and act accordingly, I’m letting people down. Some things which have happened are sad and disappointing while others are fun, adventurous and sexy. I can’t take anything back or erase it from history, nor can I bury my head in the sand and walk in shame for the rest of my life. I had to learn how to bounce back and keep bouncing back after each defeat and victory, since I was saved from my own self, and at times, others. That’s what life is about – dealing with what happened and acting differently as new things happen.” – Jo Lena Johnson, Author, Lady and the Chief, Volume 2, The Clean Colored Girl Chronicles
* Married and Divorced in the Same Year, Volume 3 of the Clean Colored Girl Chronicles releasing Winter 2018.
“We should have never married. Yet, we did. Of course I didn’t know it at the time, or I wouldn’t have done it. It was an experience deserving of the story being told, and I’m a better woman for it. I’ve learned that many people have had some of these quick marriages – and many others, wish they had! It’s juicy, interesting and crazy at the same time. But honey, his ‘new’ wife is the one for him!!” – Jo Lena Johnson, Author, Married and Divorced in the Same Year, The Clean Colored Girl Chronicles