Valencia Roner is a writer and blogger living in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Black Enterprise Magazine, USAToday.com, BusinessWeek.com and the Los Angeles Times. She is a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA). She is completing her book, The 7 Most Common Barriers to Success and the Strategies to Overcome Them, which is due out in 2013.
Christine: How, and when, did you decide to become an author?
Valencia: I guess it’s fair to say that I first decided to become an author when I was 7 years old. I was in the 2nd grade and the teacher instructed us to write a story with pictures. I wrote a story about the Bionic Woman and the Bionic Man getting married and having a Bionic baby. Although I don’t remember the exact story, I do remember getting an A. I guess you could say right then and there I at least gave very serious consideration to becoming an author.
Christine: What interests you about writing nonfiction?
Valencia: I have always had a preference for nonfiction writing. I particularly enjoy biographies. As early as age 9, I recall going into the school library and checking out biographies written about Abraham Lincoln and Wilma Rudolph. While I also tried to get through the entire Nancy Drew series (I think I got up to volume 18), I have always loved reading and studying about how people overcome adversity to achieve a goal or a life of success.
Christine: What is the writing process like for you?
Valencia: I take working on my books in project stages. By that I mean I play around with the title and chapter outlines. I also work on a draft of the book cover which provides me tremendous motivation. Seeing a mock cover lets me know the book can be real. I can do this pretty fast. However, when it comes to the body of the book, I try to write as much as I can in one sitting – even if it comes out to be a couple of pages per chapter. From there, I begin to tweak and work on one chapter at a time – again in one sitting – until I have a solid, workable first draft. This process can take up to 10 – 15 hours per week.
Christine: Are you solely a writer or do you have multiple occupations?
Valencia: As of now, I do have the proverbial “day job”. However, I am working on a plan or variations thereof for that not to last forever. As a former business owner of a marketing and P.R. firm, I understand the value of a flexible work schedule. Meantime, I am grateful for a means by which to pay the bills.
Christine: What topics do you write about in your books?
Valencia: My primary genre is self-help/motivational books. So many people are looking for possible approaches by which to enhance their lives. I consider myself among that group. I have had some interesting experiences and have overcome some challenging circumstances which allow me to believe I can offer something of value to those seeking encouragement.
Christine: How do you come up with an idea for a new book?
Valencia: I currently have nearly 50 book ideas. Having blogged since 2005, I have no shortage of ideas. Many can be current-event based. However, most of my ideas stem from my seeking to offer new perspectives on traditional ideas like faith, success, trust, relationships and self-awareness.
Christine: What is the title of your most recently published book and a description of it?
Valencia: My most recent and first published book is Chasing Joy: Principles for Making Joy a Core Life Principle. This book is my effort to address the ongoing quest of many people to find joy in their lives. I attempt to share how the key to joy is first finding it within oneself as oppose to those things and others outside ourselves.
Christine: What are your strengths as a nonfiction author?
Valencia: My strength as a nonfiction author is that I tend to be able to write quite fast. I am one of those writers who can be laser focused. Once I get started, I tend not to stop until a designated phase of the project is complete. I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced writer’s block. Most of the time, if I have to stop writing, it’s because I’m tired, or because I have another commitment I must fulfill.
Christine: What marketing techniques do you use to promote yourself as an author and your books?
Valencia: Right now I am still working through this based on my current schedule. I do have a blog at www.onesright2peace.blogspot.com. I also have Facebook and Twitter accounts. I was sure to have author profiles on both Amazon.com and Goodreads.com. While I know there are a host of other marketing techniques I could and want to employ, I want to make sure I have enough time and resources to ensure that all marketing efforts are executed correctly and of quality.
Christine: Are you traditionally published or self-published? Why did you choose that path?
Valencia: I am a self-published author. I chose this path because it is “easier” now more than ever with such tools as Createspace.com. I have more control, and many financial resources were not required to publish this first effort. Also, if I find a mistake it is a lot less stressful to fix with a POD (Print on Demand) format than with the traditional self-publishing route which requires you to order several hundred (or thousand) copies you have to peddle yourself out of the trunk of your car.
Christine: Where can we find your books?
Valencia: Currently, Chasing Joy can be found at Amazon.com in both paperback and e-book formats.
Christine: What advice would you offer writers seeking to become published authors?
Valencia: If you are passionate about your work as a writer and you are confident that your voice can serve of value to a segment of readers within the marketplace, write that book now. Start small. Chasing Joy may be small, but it was written to impact. Don’t be afraid to publish your first book on your own. I am extremely pleased with the process of Createspace and would highly recommend it.
In the meantime, find a way to get paid for your writing. I had my first major article in a national magazine at 27. I sold a movie script at 25 (although it didn’t get made into a movie). Selling my movie script did get me into the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA).
I will leave you with a quote by Stephen King that keeps me inspired:
If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.
Christine: Thanks for joining us today, Valencia. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you. Best of luck with your books.