Friday, February 10, 2012
Love in a Carry-On Bag By Sadeqa Johnson
Erica Shaw spends her week babysitting the country’s bestselling authors for one of the top publishing companies in New York City. But on Friday nights she escapes to D.C., where her sexy-lipped musician boyfriend, Warren Prince, works and performs. Their connection is fierce, and the couple promises to never miss a weekend together. But when real life walks in—an overbearing father, an alcoholic mother, office politics, and a lucrative job contract—the couple starts unraveling at the seam. Tempers flare, violence breaks, while new lovers eagerly wait in the wings—to claim both of them.
Drenched in the perils of passion and the sweet-sounds of jazz, Johnson dives deep into the world of ambition and the stumbling blocks of family. Clever, fast-paced and sexy, Love in a Carry-On Bag is a modern day love story that marks the healing power of forgiveness and begs the question, how much baggage is really too heavy to carry.
Sadeqa Johnson is a formublic relations manager. After several years of working in the publishing industry with well-known authors such as JK Rowling, Bebe Moore Campbell, Amy Tan and Bishop TD Jakes, Johnson is now the co-founder of 12th Street Press, a boutique publishing company specializing in unique voices. An inner peace advocate, Sadeqa Johnson is a meditation teacher and motivational blogger. Love in a Carry-on Bag is her first novel, it will be released March 6, 2012.
Getting to know Author Sadeqa Johnson
1. What inspired you to write a long distance love story?
My husband, Glenn, and I started off in a long distance relationship. He was from D.C., living in Philadelphia. I was from Philadelphia, living in New York City. The highs and lows of only being together seventy-two hours per week was heart wrenching, but also hot, sexy and intoxicating. Every second together counted, so fights couldn’t linger. We had to kiss and make up quickly. The intensity of that experience drove me to write the story of Erica and Warren.
2. There is a strong element of jazz in the story. How did Warren come to be a trumpet player?
My father exposed me to jazz music very early in life. When I would listen to songs with him, he’d ask me to identify the different instruments that I heard playing. I dated a trumpet player while in college and like Erica, I would spend all night at jazz clubs while he lost himself in the music. I’m very attracted to musicians because of their passion for creating beauty. I think they are brilliant, and it was a joy to give Warren the burden of carrying around a gift for music, when all his family wanted him to do was have a good corporate job. I think people will really relate to his contradictions. Warren’s love and passion for his art was satisfying for me to create, because it expressed my own passion for writing.
3. As a first time author, what was your writing process?
Love in a Carry-on Bag took me over ten years to finish. I started writing it when I was a publicity manager at G.P Putnam’s Sons. Every day I closed my office door at four o’clock and wrote for the last hour of the work day. On my commute home, I edited the pages. I got married and left my corporate job to write and raise my children, but still nursed a burning desire to tell this story. I wrote during naptimes, between feedings, in the midst of sleep deprivation and ear infections. My husband calls me the most dedicated woman he knows because I stayed the course, even with the daily pressures of caring for a young family. But I truly believe that the first novel is where you learn to write, so it was important for me to be patient with the process and give my life and the story time to unfold. My characters follow me everywhere. I wake up thinking about them like I do my children. They tell me their secrets while I dream, and the answers to difficult plot issues always come while I’m driving. On a good week I write Monday –Friday for 3-4 hours a day, but on weekends I journal a bit and let me mind wander without structure. I read constantly, books, magazines, blogs, anything to get the juices flowing.
4. You are a self-published author. What made you pursue self-publishing as opposed to signing with a literary agent and/or a major publishing house?
I am the co-founder of 12th Street Press, a publishing company designed to bring to readers those unique literary voices that are getting lost in the shuffle by the big publishing houses. I started my company out of sheer necessity. I had a very prominent agent in New York City who was unable to secure a deal for me. Having a background in publishing and still being unable to be published was devastating. It made me feel like my work wasn’t good enough even though I had worked tirelessly on it. My husband and father are both entrepreneurs and neither could figure out why I didn’t want to go out on my own. So one day my husband asked me, “what is it that you want from a publishing house?” I told him that I wanted an editor to bring my novel up to professional standard. He looked at me and said, “So let’s hire an editor.”
I then had to get out of my own way. I had a limited belief of myself, thinking I was just a writer. But once I recognized that the plan for me was much bigger than what I believed, it became clear that I was destined to be a publisher AND a writer. Once that clicked in my own head and I said yes, 12th Street press started tumbling, twirling and picking up speed.
5. You practice and teach meditation. Tell me how it has helped you as a writer and impacted your life?
I began meditating about five or six years ago after my second child was born. Bleary eyed and overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for two young children while trying to write was crippling for me. Finding meditation was like watering a parched, potted plant. Instantly I felt my life change. The more I sat in meditation and quieted my mind, the clearer I became on my purpose in life. My heart’s mission is to inspire. I write a weekly motivational blog, give talks and workshops on meditation and have been leading a group meditation class for over three years. Meditation has offered me a deeper focus when I’m writing. It helps to clear my head so that I am open and attuned with the characters. Before practicing meditation I use to force the characters into position, now I do my best to listen and be the conduit.
6. Which writers have inspired you?
I’ve been inspired by so many writers over my life. Maya Angelou was the first author I fell head over heels in love with. Zora Neale Hurston touched me so deeply that I named my first daughter Zora. Bebe Moore Campbell was my first writing mentor. Terry McMillian and Judy Blume were the first writers to inspire me to read their novels more than once. Right now I’m inspired by Carleen Brice, Tayari Jones, Lorene Carey, Dolen Valdez-Perkins, Lolita Files, Ernesta Carter, and Paulo Coelho.
7. What advice would you give to writers who are just starting out?
Don’t quit. Writing takes time and dedication and it is very important to be true to the craft. Take writing classes, form a writing group and read as much as you can. Give yourself time and permission to grow, and be patient with yourself. Believe in your creativity above all. Allow the magic to flow.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yxbix9MaZvg Intro interview
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2Q18qyXUO8&feature=related Music that inspired Love