Rhonda is the owner of Legacy Editing, a free-lance editing service for fiction writers and Urban Christian Fiction Today (www.urbanchristianfictiontoday.com), a popular Internet site that highlights African-American Christian fiction. She is the vice-president of Faith Based Fiction Writers of Atlanta. When she is not editing projects, teaching writing workshops or penning her next novel, she spends time with her family.
Originally from a small, coastal town in New Jersey, she has called Atlanta, Georgia home for twelve years. More information about the author can be found at www.rhondamcknight.net.
- What led to your interest in Christian Fiction?
Christian Fiction is one of those genres that finds you. For a while, I struggled with whether or not I would write Christian Fiction or mainstream, because it just seemed easier to get published in mainstream, but then I realized I had to write who I was and that made my work fall in line with what would be classified as Christian fiction.
- What are your impressions on that genre? Do you think that the market for Christian fiction, especially Urban Christian Fiction, is growing?
Wow, is there a market? It’s huge. Christian fiction has been growing for years and African-American Christian fiction is really growing. Even in this sluggish economy, publishers are still looking for African-American Christian fiction, so I think the future is bright. People are finding that the books aren’t preachy. It’s not a sermon turned into a novel. (LOL!) I believe Bishop TD Jakes’ movies Woman Thou Art Loosed and Not Easily Broken (both Christian fiction novel adaptations) have educated the public about what Christian fiction really is.
- What were your experiences like in writing Secrets and Lies? Did you got through many re-writes?
It took me four years to write Secrets and Lies. I probably spent a total of twelve months on the actual keyboard. I was procrastinating big time and, yes, I probably had six or seven rounds of edits, but I think that’s fairly normal for a new writer. It was a pretty bad first draft, so it needed a lot of work. I learned quite a bit about writing over the years and was able to incorporate my learning into the changes.
- What led you to write this story? Was it the characters, the problems with relationships?
I’m going to be transparent here, otherwise I’d be keeping secrets and telling lies myself. I was deep in marital woes when I started writing this novel. I woke up one morning and these characters were talking in my head and I just went to the keyboard and let them have their say. Although it’s not my story, I think the emotions are so real, because I bought my personal pain to the project.
- Did you get much support, like from writer’s workshops, from your peers, or from friends, in preparing your book?
I am in the most awesome writers group on the planet. Although we’ve changed name and shape over the last six years, it started as a core group of ten women who all aspired to write a Christian fiction novel, now six years later, Sherri Lewis and Tia McCollors are multi-published Essence Bestselling authors, and Ashea Goldson is published also. I also have the best mentor in the world! Victoria Christopher Murray, a national bestselling author in her own right, is on speed dial. She has taught me everything I need to know about this business.
- How does it feel to be a published author?
Incredible. I’ve been trying to write a book since I was six. I became really serious about publication in 1998, and I sold my novel to my publisher two years ago. It’s been a long journey, but I can not describe how I feel every time I hold that book in my hand or stop by a bookstore and see it on a shelf. It’s amazing.
- What are you doing to promote Secrets and Lies? What has that experience been like?
I’m doing everything. Internet advertising, interviews, reaching out to book clubs and individual readers. I use social media quite a bit and I find it really works. You build great relationships there. I want to reach out and hug my Facebook friends. They’ve been unbelievable. Then there’s local promotion like booksignings in Atlanta and eastern South Carolina where my parents live. It’s pretty exhausting. I’m more busy than I imagined, but it’s a good busy and I know it won’t be this intense all the time, or at least I hope it won’t. (LOL!) It’s worth it. This is my dream.
- Have you been pleased with the feedback about your book?
I have. My reviews are great. All of them. This honestly, humbles me. I mean, it’s my first book and you know you want it to be received well, but you never know. My reader emails make me cry. They really do. I’m very pleased.
- Would you have done anything differently in writing your book, getting it published, or promoting it?
The only thing I would have done differently was begin my career sooner. Now the market for Christian fiction is more competitive and of course I’m beginning in the worse economy since the Great Depression. Money is tight for consumers. Book sales are down, but I’m still optimistic. It is what it is, and I have to work from where I am.
- Do you have plans for your next book?
My second novel, An Inconvenient Friend, will be released on August 1, 2010 and I’m really excited about it also. My bad girl in book one spins off and gets her own book. She’s still not very nice and that made for some interesting writing.