Vastly approaching 11,000 views, there couldn't be a better way to reach that milestone than speaking with someone as this accomplished young lady. She works as an Education Administrative Assistant; her literary works has garnered her several appearances on radio broadcasts, magazines, and blogs.
She won 2015 Poet of the Year at the AAMBC Literary Awards; her poetry has been published through The International Library of Poetry, from which she has also won awards. She's the founder of the publishing company Strawberry Publications, as well as Strawberry-Lit Magazine. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce LaQueisha Malone.
EA: When did you start writing?
LM: I began writing when I was very young. I was born in the 80s so I’m one of the rare breeds who remember the Gold Spine Books from Disney. LOL! Maybe I shouldn’t have told my age like that, but it’s true. I would take my favorite books from those Disney books and re-write them and mail them to my grandmother. I would explain to her why I loved the books so much, and how it related to some current situation in my life.
I may have been 8-years-old or so. From then on, I would write on anything…paper, napkins, pictures, inside other books, my hand; whatever I could use to get my ideas or thoughts out of my head. I tell people that my pen and paper were my best friends growing up. You never saw me without them and I was always writing something. It was a coping mechanism for me.
EA: What writers, if any, inspired you to become an author and poet?
LM: Wow! There are so many people I could put on this list. I remember being in elementary, maybe 6th grade, and back then every week you would have go to the library and spend a class period. The rule was you had to check out a book to read and if you found that book before class time was over you would sit at a table and read. The first book that caught my eye was I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Dr. Maya Angelou. I can still feel all the emotion I felt as I read that book way back then. It was the first book I read that made me cry. I was so young and connected to it. I was already writing, but I wasn’t a writer. That book gave me a new purpose of wanting to become a writer…an author. Some other writers I would say is Nikki Turner, Carl Weber, Rhonda McKnight, & Rashonda Tate-Billingsley. Those are just a few.
EA: What is the concept of the Sex, Lies, & Church Anthology?
LM: Sex, Lies, & Church Anthology is an anthology I was apart of from the MEP Publishing Company. I had just finished the Love, Marriage, & Divorce Anthology with Shar-Shey Publishing, and one of the ladies who read it and reviewed it had someone to get in contact with to get on her project. She said she really enjoyed my story in the Love, Marriage & Divorce Anthology. I agreed, of course, and the concept was to write a book about two rival churches from three different authors' perspectives.
There were three subjects: Sex, Lies, & Church. I was given the subject Church, so my story would be at the end. I choose to write a story I titled Love For Thy Neighbor which takes an individual that’s neutral who helps these two churches heal from their rivalry and see that we should all do God’s greatest commandment: Love Thy Neighbor. It revolves around Nailah, Priscilla, Krystal, and Marcus Randolph II as my major characters. There is a past secret that is revealed that shows why the rivalry started, and there’s a secret wedding that shakes everything up, but at the same time brings it all full circle.
EA: Would you consider writing to be easy?
LM: Writing is easy. Making my visions I see in my head plain enough for the reader to grasp is my challenge. That’s where I have to consult my Writer Critique group of authors, editors, and reviewers on helping me figure out the open-ended questions I need to fill in any gaps.
EA: Which is more challenging in comparison? Writing novels or poetry?
LM: Wow! That’s a tough one to answer. I started out writing stories, and I found it was easy for people to know who I was basing my stories from. So, I turned to writing poetry to try and hide who I may have been talking about. It was so crazy because even though I was writing a poem sometimes when I was finished I would look at my paper and see that I started out writing poetry, but it quickly turned into a short story. Therefore, I would have to say writing poetry is challenging because sometimes I want to just tell a story, you know, with the characters and details.
|LaQueisha, 2015 AAMBC Poet of the Year.|
EA: Describe the experience of winning the 2015 Poet of the Year at the AAMBC Literary Awards.
LM: The experience was a total shock. For about three years I promised myself I would enter their awards, but I would back out every time. But at the end of 2014 I hired a publicist, and she entered me without me knowing for the 2015 entries, and called me screaming I was nominated. I couldn’t believe it. She built this huge campaign and I got the invitation to attend the event. I went to the event with the expectation of not winning, because no one really knew me, and I was up against some names who had been published longer than me. Needless to say, Shay Johnson called my name and I was in shock. I remember NeNe Capri was sitting beside me and was shaking screaming “You won! You won!” I was so nervous I couldn’t walk. My dad had to hold my hand as I accepted my award. I was shaking so bad I thought I was going to fall. After that event it gave me drive like no other and now I’m being honored for another award in 2018. So, it’s been a great experience. I’ve meet a lot of great connections from that event.
EA: You launched your publishing company, Strawberry Publications in 2013. Was the process difficult? What services does Strawberry Publications offer?
LM: Launching Strawberry Publications was/is a very difficult process. I created my company from a bad publishing experience I had with my first book. I thought about all the things I would have wanted to happen, and I had a lot of people supporting me so I went for it. The most difficult thing was building the following for it, because the industry is so saturated with publishing companies you have to decide how to make yours stand out and find out what’s unique inside. I wanted a place where authors like me could publish their book and would instantly know 100% more about the business than they did before coming in, and would automatically receive a different set of marketing and promotional plans set in place for long term. My motto is “A Ripened Experience for Authors!” I wanted an author to get their book published and enter the publishing industry as if you’ve been doing it forever. Like you were a professional at it. I was surprised to see my first signed author distribute over 4,000 e-book sales within a 3-day span and was in the top 100 ranking on Amazon for 4 months straight and in the top 5 for the first 2 weeks of the release.
Some of the services provided besides a guaranteed published book is marketing and promoting support. Radio interviews, target audience building, lots of coaching and mentoring, marketing plans, and lots and lots of promotion. Strawberry Publications guarantees the author 100% of their rights & royalties, which makes room for lots of marketing and promoting strategies. For more information visit www.strawberrypublications.com.
EA: Along with the publication, you also started a magazine, Strawberry-Lit. Would you tell us more about Strawberry-Lit, and what it offers?
LM: Strawberry-Lit Magazine is a magazine covering all things literary and of the arts. I wanted a magazine dedicated to just us authors that would offer tips, resources, and advice as well as games, contests, and prizes. I wanted to hear authors talk about their journey and career as an author more than just about the book, but also ask those questions that all aspiring authors want to know. The magazine offers interviews, giveaways, advertising space, quizzes, resourceful information about how to get free reviews, marketing advice, book reviews, and more. For more information visit www.strawberrylitmagazine.com.
EA: What advice would you give to aspiring authors and poets?
LM: My advice to an aspiring author or poet would be to never give up, don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible, and everyday find something that will bring you closer to your dreams. If you want it, research it, study the craft of it, and get around like-minded people who are where you’re trying to go.
EA: Finally, tell the readers why the Sex, Lies, & Church Anthology is a must buy. Sex, Lies, & Church Anthology is a must buy because it is three talented authors coming together writing stories about the things that we all can relate to at some point in our lives, and it’s just a fun and beautiful read.
I, too, am an 80's kid, and I remember the Gold Spine books as well. Talk about a trip down memory lane. I can relate to writing the majority of my life, but not being a writer professionally at the time. I've mentioned before that writing was my first love before I took an interest in anything else.
Writing is very therapeutic, and is a great coping mechanism. You can express a diversity of emotions through your stories and characters. Excellent advice, as far as having the determination to pursue your goals regardless of naysayers and other obstacles. Do your research, hone your craft daily, surround yourself and interact with like-minded people, specifically, fellow authors.
I would like to thank LaQueisha for taking the time to speak with me. It was definitely a pleasure. For more on LaQueisha, and her books, or if you want to connect with her on social media, you can do so by visiting the links below.
Facebook Group: www.bit.ly/TeamLovely