Category: Writing and Poetry
We are Pouring Tea with The Cassandra Cookbook Author Shawn James and we are adding some lemon in this water for taste to get our members the answers they have been waiting for.
Yes, we have the juicy details right here on My Space just for our reader’s and fan’s. We ask this Author a lot of questions, by opening the doorway to this Author’s world we get your questions answered, so please join us! Sit down and pour yourself a cup of tea while TBGB’s Book Club welcomes you into the doorway of Mr. Shawn James.
TBGB: Tell us about Shawn James the Writer.
SJ: Shawn James is an easy going guy, who spends most of his time writing stories, novels and screenplays. He works seven hours a day, six days a week, with breaks scheduled in between; for errands, meals and sleep. When he has a day job, he works six hours a day, six days a week, after work on his writing. His mission over the past fifteen years is to create positive stories about the experiences of African-Americans; that will inspire readers to take action towards changing their lives for the better.
TBGB: Now, Tell us about Mr. James the Author.
SJ: Shawn James the author is a hardworking businessman; whom works tenaciously towards promoting his self- published books about the positive experiences of African-Americans. He networks with book clubs, book stores, bloggers and anyone who will read or buy his work.
TBGB: How did you become a Fiction Novelist?
SJ: I have been writing stories since I was nine years old. I started out wanting to copy the art in my brother's comic books. But I couldn't draw so well so I decided to use words and pictures. Professionally, I've been writing novels since I graduated college in 1994. It was a great way to relax.
TBGB: How has becoming a writer changed you if any in your life today?
SJ: I spend a lot more time in front of a computer than I should.
TBGB: What has inspired you to write The Cassandra Cookbook?
SJ: I wanted to create a positive story about the experiences of African-Americans in the workplace.
TBGB: What about the novel did you want the reader to identify with?
SJ: I want the reader to identify with the experiences the characters have in the story. It's easy for many of us to be like Simon and get so caught up with facts, figures, policies and procedures that we forget about the valuable people that give a company its true worth. It's also easy to be like Cassandra and be so wrapped up in their works that they lose their identity and sense of self worth that they sell all their talents and skills short.
TBGB: Is there anything about writing this book you didn't like?
SJ: I really enjoyed writing this book. In fact it was so much fun working on this book that I lost 30 pounds!
TBGB: Our member's had some interesting questions about the cover of this book, who is the Artist? And what made you decide on a drawing for the cover?
SJ: I'm the artist who drew the cover. Before I write, I sketch out what my characters look like so I can have a point of reference when I'm writing their descriptions. Since I couldn't afford a cover artist, I thought that sketch would best tell the story of the Cassandra cookbook.
TBGB: I believe the character on the cover is holding a bouquet of flowers and appear to be of masculine form and the book is about something totally different did you find it difficult to come up with a cover theme to match your story line?
SJ: Errr.... That's not a bouquet of flowers. That's supposed to be a chocolate muffin with a candle in it, and that masculine form is Ms. Cassandra Lee. From what you're telling me, I really stink as an artist. Really, really stink as an artist. I have got to get a pro for that next cover.
TBGB: Our bag.
TBGB: (Laughing our butts off.)
TBGB: I bet you get alot of questions concerning the cover of this book does any one question stick out the most as silly or ridiculous or is all of the questions about the same?
SJ: I don't get that many questions about the cover, because people are so excited about the plot and storyline that they pay very little attention to the cover. But I'm gonna have to revisit that cover and replace it one day.
TBGB: We really enjoyed reading this novel; please tell us about why you decided to put so many twist and turns in this storyline?
SJ: The twists and turns in the story came about organically. Some of them like the scandals and corporate backstabbing were inspired by things I saw transpire on many of the jobs I had in real life.
TBGB: This novel seems to have some bearings on today's economic situations how does this now play in advertising your book?
SJ: I wanted to detail the elements of success in the business world. While I was doing research on numerous corporations I quickly learned that many of them started as simple mom-and pop operations or small one-person businesses. Many were started during economic downturns. As I learned the secret ingredients these companies used to expand themselves, I began developing a promotional campaign detailing Cassandra's recipe for success. In Cassandra's story are tips and advice the reader can use to advance their own career.
TBGB: Wow, this IS awesome!
TBGB: How does your family and friends support you with your writing?
SJ: My family supports me 100% In fact; my brother and sister helped me with my table at the Harlem Book Fair this year. Monroe College published an article about my books in their Alumni newsletter.
TBGB: Please see further details relating on this newsletter by visiting Monroe College website to see if you can request an archive issue or back copy relating to Mr. James.
TBGB: Now, some of our member's want to know are you single?
SJ: I'm single and I'm available.
TBGB: Now I will pass this on to the 3 members’ who wanted to know. Smile.
TBGB: Where do you promote yourself the most in book stores or through book clubs?
SJ: I do most of my promotional work online. This is how I've contacted many of the Black Book Clubs and many Black Book Stores. I've also done some networking with book vendors on the street, but the web is the primary way I promote my work.
TBGB: Do you believe Authors have to promote themselves or do you believe the publishing company should do it?
SJ: Authors have to promote their own books; it’s the only way the public is going to know about them. At the publishing house, the advertising budget is small and the few promotional dollars are spent on the Best-Selling Authors. Everyone else, especially first time authors have to hustle to get the word out about their books.
TBGB: How is writing books for publishing companies different then musicians singing songs for record companies?
SJ: As far as I know in book publishing an author signs a contract giving the publisher permission to print the book in North America. They're paid an advance on the first print run of 5000-7000 copies. If those sell well, the author begins earning royalties of ten percent of the list price on sold copies. I don't really know how it works in the music industry but I think the songwriter gets paid royalties on songs they write and publish. This is why registering copyright is so important, as it on public record who owns the song.
TBGB: Wow, Readers please pay attention on how an Author gets paid. Book Clubs especially. We can help by advertising the feature Book-of-the-Month on our websites.
TBGB: If you were to give advice to a struggling Author what would you say?
SJ: Hang in there this is going to be a rough ride. Grow a very, very thick skin. Get used to hearing “No” more than “Yes”. Get used to hearing “No” than your “Own Name”. Listen to criticism, because it can only help your writing get better. Don't quit your day job! and save money. Save lots and lots of money.
TBGB: What are some of the new projects you are working on and what are some of the projects you have already out?
SJ: My first novel, Isis is available at online bookstores right now. It's an action packed fantasy story that utilizes Egyptian mythology and African-American history to tell the story of Isis, the daughter of the Egyptian god Osiris who after a horrible tragedy has to reconcile with her family.
In addition to Isis, I have two unpublished projects I'm planning on releasing.
All About Marilyn is an original screenplay about a typecast 1990's teen star that at the age of 34 must reinvent her so she can move forward in her personal and professional life. I was reading about the numerous struggles black actresses like Jurnee Smollett to Halle Berry have to face in trying to find work.
My next novel, The Temptation of John Haynes is a Christian, fantasy novel about a man whose soul Lucifer seeks to take by making him a CEO of a major corporation. If the beautiful she-demon he places there as John's assistant can get him to compromise his personal and spiritual beliefs he'll make her a member of his elite cadre of demons.
Both of these projects are on hold until I find another full-time job. I'm hoping I can find some work soon because I really want to share these stories with readers.
TBGB: Yeah and we would like to really read them!
TBGB: How do you feel about book clubs swapping online for books?
SJ: Not a fan of it. It takes royalties away from authors.
TBGB: I know a few of our member’s were guilty of doing this from websites like Paperbackswap.com, etc. and they are STRONGLY advised not to do so, it violates our membership rules. We ARE here to support our Authors. Our President is very strict on this rule. (To any Authors who have dealt with this from our book club please bring to the Club President attention.) We know none of us is perfect but MISTAKES can be corrected to build a stronger bond with our supporting Authors.
TBGB: Do you think book clubs help Authors with sales and promoting?
SJ: Definitely. If it wasn't for book clubs like TB&GB no one would know about my books. Without Black Book Clubs there'd be no way for most authors to get the word out about our books.
TBGB: Well, thank you Mr. James for the compliment.
TBGB: What can we do to improve the relationship between Authors and Book Club?
SJ: You guys are great, some of the best communication, and support. Everyone is friendly courteous and professional. Other book clubs could learn a thing or two from you!
TBGB: Well, thank you again our Club President will appreciate that. We will pass it on to all our members.
TBGB: Is there anything you would like your fans to know?
SJ: In addition to writing novels, I'm writing screenplays. I've entered some screenplay contests, and I'm working developing scripts for a TV series.
TBGB: Well, we wish you all the luck on that we really do.
TBGB: Is there anything you could tell us exclusively?
SJ: Cassandra Lee's story is actually inspired by the story of the real life Sara Lee Bakery, which the owner named after his daughter. He later sold the bakery and the name went on to become an international brand that manufactures everything from cheesecake to handbags!
TBGB: Wow that is good to know.
TBGB: If you could change one thing about the book we just read what would it be and why? Or are you completely satisfied with The Cassandra Cookbook?
SJ: I would definitely correct all those typos I missed. I really would change the cover as well.
TBGB: Laughing, I think overall this is really a good book. We really enjoyed reading this book. It brought some good topics to the table. We will recommend reading this novel to everyone.