Tamara K. Fournier founded Vision Development Corporation (VDC) in reflection of her own personal success story. P.I.E.C.E.S.: A Booster’s Story is her story. Born in Columbus, Ohio and raised in the Church, Tammy’s connection to her spiritual foundation began at an early age as the sister of a minister and wife to a minister’s son. Her life course took a turn for the worst when she divorced her husband of 14 years and married a Dominican drug dealer. Swept off of her feet and into the fast lane, her life spun out of control, and the end result was her 3-year sentence at the Ohio Reformatory for Women and Franklin County Pre-Release Center.
During her incarceration, Tammy did much soul searching. Having the spirit of a born leader, she knew and understood that her true purpose was to give back to her community through outreach. Today, she is currently the Program Director for the Revival Development Corporation at Trinity Baptist Church. Her ministry has been working hands-on with several Re-entry and prison programs, personally working with and cared for hundreds of at-risk youth in Educational Development Empowering Network (E.D.E.N.) after-school program and Camp Healthy Kids summer camp, as well as being a Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. Life experiences have led her to the creation of VDC and the completion of her first novel.
- What led you to write P.I.E.C.E.S.? Do you remember the moment that you wanted to write your story?
While working at Triple Crown Publications, and reading hundreds of submissions, I realized that many of the stories published by TCP were similar to my own story. During my employment at Triple Crown I assisted with the plotline of the book Crackhead by Lisa Lennox. It was then that realized I had a strong desire to write my story and my “baby” was born.
- Walk us through the process: How did you write your story? How did you edit and review it?
Because my book is based on my life experiences, I began writing my book by first outlining the time period in my life that I wanted to focus on. Knowing that I would be writing a sequel, I knew from the start where I wanted the book to end. My love affair with Julio was a truly moving love story and I wanted to share that experience with the world. I also wanted to use my story as a cautionary tale for anyone that has stumbled in life’s journey. Upon my completion of the novel’s first four chapters, I shared my writing with friends and family members, and used their comments and critiques to help further the storyline.
- What steps did you take to getting it published? Did you search out for an agent?
Having previous experience working in the publishing industry, I was fortunate to have several contacts and friends who were interested in my story and helping me to get it into print. I reached out to my friend, Joylynn Jossel, who read the book, believed in me and secured my two-book deal with Urban Books.
- What have you done to promote your book? What’s it like to do booksignings and readings? Any interesting stories to tell?
In my position as a Program Director, I work hands-on with at-risk youths and incarcerated men and women. Through my work in this field, I’ve been able to promote my book in several youth programs as well as correctional facilities across Ohio. I use my story to teach others how to overcome the challenges that we face everyday. I believe that each of us have a Purpose, and once you’ve discovered your individual Purpose or calling, you should use it to empower those around you. I believe that my Purpose is to be an advocate for the misplaced and misrepresented in our society. By sharing my story, I hope to prevent others from making the same mistakes I’ve made.
My first official book signing was the most stressful, nerve-racking, fulfilling, wonderful experience of my life. I worried about it until the day of the event and ended up having the time of my life sharing my experiences with my friends, family and colleagues. I planned the event for 50 people and, on the day of the event, I had only sold 10 tickets! However, by the end of the event, we had over 100 guests and standing room only. The highlight of the evening was when Joyce Beatty presented me with a proclamation from the State of Ohio.
- Is being a published author what you expect it would be? What has been the reaction of your readers?
It continues to sink in daily that I am a published author. At times it’s overwhelming to think of this accomplishment, considering that, in the early 1990s, I was certain that my life was over. For this reason, and many others, I am so grateful for God’s grace and mercy. I know that each day we have a fresh opportunity to get it right.
- Any plans or hopes for P.I.E.C.E.S. – bestseller lists, theater play, movie options?
My dream is to see P.I.E.C.E.S. on the big screen and to watch the characters in the book come to life in an American Gangster-meets-Medea style.
- Any lessons learned about writing or promoting your book?
I have learned that writing is therapeutic process, especially when you tell your own story.
- Any plans for another book? How about any other artistic endeavors?
Currently, I am writing the sequel to P.I.E.C.E.S., which will pick up where the first novel ends, with Tara heading off to prison. My desire is to tell a very realistic tale of prison life from a female perspective. I don’t think prison life is often told from that view.
- What other books or authors are you reading?
I just started reading Living At The Next Level by B. Courtney McBath. Next, I plan on reading Tavis Smiley’s Accountable.