Here at The Book Connection we are going to start the week off right. Today’s guest is a debut author who writes contemporary romance. LaConnie Taylor-Jones’ novel When I’m With You was released in November 2007 by Genesis Press. I’ve had the pleasure of coordinating LaConnie’s first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion and the response has been amazing. We’re going to chat with LaConnie about her debut novel and that wonderful juggling act known as balancing a writing career and home life.
Welcome to The Book Connection, LaConnie. It’s great to have you here!
Hello, Cheryl!! Thanks so much for having me here at The Book Connection.
Before we begin talking about When I’m With You, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been writing? Do you write full-time? What do you do to unwind after a long day?
Well, I’m married and the mother of four (yes folks, my husband and I were two crazy people!!). By trade, I’m a public health educator. About four years ago, I left my position with a major voluntary non-profit health organization to become a consultant in community public health.
Since the launch of my debut novel, I’ve slowly, but surely managed to clear my plate so I can write full-time.
Boy, what do I look forward to the end of the day!! There are two things that really help me relax: a glass of wine followed by a hot bath.
You are a wife, a mother of four, a health educator, and you volunteer in your community. When exactly do you make time to write?
I’ll be the first to admit that it was tough finding the time to get those thoughts for a storyline from my head onto paper.
After a few failed attempts, I succeeded. For me, the right time to write is when I say goodbye to the duties of wife, maid, cook, chauffer, doctor, business owner and referrer and stumble down the stairs, groping in semi-darkness for my best friend, the coffeepot.
The illuminated numbers on the microwave indicate one o’clock in the morning.
Do you have any advice on how other busy women might make time in their lives to write the story they’ve always wanted to?
Ladies, learn how to say the word No!! Remember, saying no doesn’t mean never. It simply means not right now.
Writing has to find its way to the top of the priority list. Otherwise, a zillion things will come along and suddenly the day has ended without one word having been written.
Let’s move on to When I’m With You. Tell us about this story and what inspired you to write it.
When I’m With You is a story that shows the damage caused by an abusive relationship, how the person who’s abused suffers, how to trust again, and why one has to FFF: forgive, forget, and move forward.
The inspiration for this story came from my experience as a health educator. For the last fifteen years, I’ve taught health education primarily to African American women in community-based settings. Oftentimes, before I can lecture on the risk factors associated with chronic diseases disproportionally impacting African Americans, I have to deal with the soci-economic deterrents women face. Unfortunately, abusive relationships top the list.
Tell us about Marcel Baptiste. What will readers like about him? Will they dislike anything about Marcel?
Although Marcel is the epitome of success and wealth, he doesn’t allow money to rule his life. He’s also intelligent and savvy, with a heart of gold. I’ll let readers decide if his two personality flaws: arrogance and stubbornness coupled with his inability to accept the word "no" or not getting his way are reasons to dislike him.
What about Caitlyn? Who is she? Why will readers care about her and want to see her get together with Marcel?
Caitlyn is independent-minded with the ability to think on her feet. Readers will see how Caitlyn deals with the trauma of being a victim of domestic abuse and how she overcomes it. They’ll also how she responses to Marcel’s plan to get her to trust and love again.
We actually meet Marcel in the prologue before Caitlyn is introduced and we get a brief glimpse into who Marcel is and what kind of life he lives. Why did you decide to introduce Marcel first? How did you go about deciding what details to share with the reader in the prologue?
The prologue sets the stage for the circumstances that initially bring Marcel and Caitlyn together. It also plays a pivotal role in the story plot and helps readers understand how the life Marcel lives ultimately frees Caitlyn from the fear she’s tried to escape for the past three years.
You were pretty mean to Caitlyn when we first meet her. She’s sitting in her car in triple-digit California heat, hoping the darn car doesn’t die on her in a tunnel while she is on her way back home from an important meeting that never happened because the other person cancelled unexpectedly. Oh, and she skipped lunch and is now starving. Why was it important for us to meet her this way?
Well, I wouldn’t say that I was mean to Caitlyn. Instead, I would say it was a good lead-in for readers to understand how strong Caitlyn truly is and despite the most dramatic circumstances in her life, she always manages to find a way to get through them and land on her feet.
I assume there will be plenty of obstacles for Marcel and Caitlyn to overcome before they can have their happily ever after. Can you share any of them without giving too much away?
Yes, there a few hurdles and twists Caitlyn and Marcel will face and readers will see how they overcome them together. Because of those challenges, each character learns what’s really important in life and most importantly, that trust is the best proof of love.
Tell us where readers can pick up a copy of When I’m With You.
Readers can find their copy in all the major bookstores and on-line at Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles.com, Books-A-Million.com, to name a few.
What’s up next for you? I think there is a sequel to this story coming out, right?
When a Man Loves A Woman hits store shelves April 1st and is the sequel to When I’m With You. The premise of this story is betrayal—not just any kind of betrayal, but the ultimate unfaithfulness no woman should ever have to go through. Readers will see how a woman’s life that was once shattered is made whole again.
My readers have totally embraced the Baptiste Clan and I want them to hold on to their seats. I recently sold the third saga entitled, If I Were Your Woman, which hopefully will make the ’08 production schedule. Also, there are two other Works in Progress as well. With all of this, I plan to stay pretty busy in 2008.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
With all of my stories, there are three things I’d like readers to take away. First, I want them to understand the beauty and power of love that exists between the right man and woman, Secondly, I want readers to know and cherish the importance of family. Finally, I hope readers can discover strategies that they can apply to whatever real-life situation they’re facing to help overcome it.
Thanks for joining us today, LaConnie. It’s been fun finding out more about you and your work. I’m eager to read my copy of When I’m With You. Best of luck with the rest of the tour. I hope we’ll see you again soon.