Raykel Tolson wrote her first book in the 5 th grade and gifted it to her grandmother. The budding writer titled her book The Outsider. It was the story of a little girl trying to make friends at her new school. In 2014, she made a choice to focus on writing professionally and published her first book, Single and Saved.
Raykel has had devotions published in the Women of Color Devotional Bible and has self-published books that that enlighten, encourage and entertain. She writes both fiction and non-fiction books. She says her nonfiction books are classified as Christian self-help books. In the case of her new release, Undefiled, she says it should be considered African American Inspirational Romance because the characters are flawed, like everyday people. They are Christians and believe in God, but they also curse, drink alcohol, or smoke, and they have sex. Many devout Christians don’t want to read about people like that, so she respects their choices.
Raykel has a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from Florida A & M University, a Juris Doctorate from Florida State University College of Law. She also has a master’s degree in counseling from Capella University. Raykel has worked as a family and criminal attorney, a pharmacist, a professor, and workshop presenter.
In her spare time, Raykel volunteers as a mediator for Centinela Youth Services in Los Angeles. She uses restorative justice principles to encourage youth offenders to repair the harm that their offense created in the community. Raykel is also a mentor to young airmen at the Los Angeles Air Force Base. Those airmen encouraged her to start her YouTube channel, Ask Auntie Ray so that she could answer their questions.
The 40-something year old author has one adult son. Raykel was born and raised in a suburb of St, Louis, but has lived and worked in Los Angeles for more than a decade. Raykel considers herself a God-loving, bible-believing, church going Christian on a mission to help people to know God as love and not judgment.
Hello Raykel Tolson! Your bio is impressive! Describe yourself in three words.
Expressive, witty, and encourager.
What drove you to publish your first book? How long have you been writing?
I have been writing stories and poetry since I was in fifth grade. The first book I published was, Just a Little Talk with Jesus (How He Helped Me Win the Battle with Depression) in 2000. I knew I needed to share my story to help others who might be dealing.
Describe what you do outside of writing to expand your business or brand.
I would say that my brand is all about encouraging others to be their best self or at least strive to be better. I am a volunteer mediator for first time youth offenders around Los Angeles. I mentor the young airmen at the Air Force base. I also have a YouTube channel called Ask Auntie Ray where I give advice to those who send me emails or ask me in person.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I learned that the characters will tell you their story.
How did you choose the genre you write in? Have you considered writing in another genre?
I do not choose the genre. I write whatever I am inspired to write. Right now, I have nonfiction self-help and romance books. I currently have an idea for a suspense rolling around in my head. The one thing that is constant thus far in all of my books is God.
Tell us about your most recent work. Available on Nook and Kindle?
Undefiled is my new release available on Kindle and paperback. It is an inspirational romance that deals with forgiveness and love. Liz and Anthony are thrown together when his mother falls ill. Attraction is instant and love blooms quickly, but their happily ever after is threatened by one of Anthony’s disgruntled ex-lovers. Liz learns the truth about Anthony’s past the night before their wedding. Liz has to decide whether she can forgive him for keeping such a big secret and whether she loves him enough to still marry him knowing his past.
Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Liz, like many women including myself, is a single mother who fell in love with a man who didn’t love her enough to marry her. Liz was left broken after years of being disrespected, cheated on and lied to. But this was nothing new for Liz because she watched this same story play out as a child. Her father had cheated on her mom for all of her childhood. Liz’s mom drew the line when the cheating resulted in a child and kicked her father out of the home. Liz never saw her father again.
Anthony is a successful man living a dream life and happily married only to his career. As a top fashion photographer, he has no trouble keeping many of the world’s top models in his bed, but his heart is a different matter. Anthony has no plans to share his heart with anyone other than his mother When Anthony’s mom is diagnosed with cancer, he evaluates his life with the help of his best friend. Anthony decides to be a better man.
Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
At the end of the book, Liz has to decide whether or not she will marry Anthony and gets a great piece of advice from a friend. “When true love exists, you see the heart of the man, not his past.” As a never married, forty-eight-year-old woman, I know that the men I meet will have pasts. Will I be able to see their heart, not just their past?
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I plan to do a follow up to my romance novel, Single and Saved. I want to discuss how you marry the whole family, not just the person. I heard about a couple who had to call off their wedding because the groom’s sister wanted to kill the bride to be.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
I cannot think of any subject I would never write about, but I doubt if I would ever write a horror story.
Have you ever received a rejection from an agent or a publisher?
Yes, I received a rejection letter from a publisher for Single and Saved. It hurt a little, but at least that publisher was nice enough to send one. It gave me pause, but in the end, I decided to self-publish it anyway.
Do you ever have days when writing is a struggle? Have you ever had to deal with rejection?
I sometimes struggle to find the energy to write after working my full-time job. The goal is to work only part-time to give me more time to write. Yes, I have dealt with rejection all my life, in gym class when the captains were picking me dead last for kickball teams, to the undergraduate chapter of the sorority not voting for me to pledge even though I was a legacy, to the guys who chose not to marry me. Nevertheless, I am okay with rejection because it is just God redirecting me to better.
What projects are you working on at the present?
Publishing and promoting Undefiled has been my focus for the past five months. I plan to begin writing the sequel to Single and Saved soon.
How do you stay connected with others in publishing and your readers?
I attend book expos and conferences to stay connected. I also have a website and a Facebook page where readers can connect with me.
What legacy do you hope to leave future generations of readers and new writers with your writing?
I write books that make people think about what they think about. I hope that future generations of readers and new writers learn from me not to accept what they were told to think as gospel. There’s a Walt Whitman quote on my website that sums it up best. “Re-examine all that you have been told, dismiss that which insults your soul.”
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you?
I prefer that subscribe to my website http://www.raykeltolson.com.
Author’s Website: https://www.raykeltolson.com