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Vanessa Davis Griggs

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Author Spotlight: 
 
 Vanessa Davis Griggs
Author of 
"Promises Beyond Jordan and Wings of Grace"

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Pastor George Landris is a devout and very hip man of God who heads up a large congregation in Atlanta. With his wedding just nine days away, he makes a costly decision. He’s just learned that his first love, Johnnie Mae Taylor, has been badly injured in a car accident. What’s worse, her husband and child are in critical condition. He resolves to go to her, but his choice to leave Atlanta for Birmingham, Alabama, doesn’t sit well with his self-absorbed fiancée, Theresa. So while the cat’s away, the bride-to-be may play…. When all is said and done, George’s marriage plans and his position as pastor will be in jeopardy. Only his trust in God can pull him through.

 

Meet Vanessa Davis Griggs

 Author of

 " Promises Beyond Jordan and Wings of Grace" 

 

 

 

 

PWLGB:  When did you decide you wanted to write?

 

VDG:  Writing for me was not so much a decision as a calling. I began writing plays and when I was in the sixth grade, my teacher asked me to put on one of my plays for the school. So I wrote, produced, and directed as early back as that. I made a conscious decision to write professionally in 1996. At the end of that year, I walked away from 18 years of service with BellSouth Telecommunications and I’ve been doing this with all my heart, body, soul, and spirit every since.

 

PWLGB:  How long did it take you to write your first novel?

 

VDG:  My first written novel was never shared outside of myself. The first novel ever published was a book I self-published called DESTINY UNLIMITED. I only published it because people kept asking for it and I was trying to satisfy them while I figured out which direction I would go. I can write a novel in as little as three weeks (PROMISES BEYOND JORDAN didn’t take me but about that long). If it’s a book requiring a lot of research like WINGS OF GRACE did, the whole time can be 6-9 months. It never takes me long to actually write my novels once I’ve gotten everything down deep in my spirit and things are spinning and whirling to get out of me.

 

PWLGB: Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

 

VDG:  I either hear certain characters talk (you have to be careful when you make these kinds of statements to assure people you’re not crazy—I’m not crazy), or I have a question that begs the answer be sought out. With PROMISES BEYOND JORDAN I heard the question: “Have you ever loved someone that you never had?” From that one sentence, that book took off. With WINGS OF GRACE I wanted to know what could have happened between a mother and daughter that would make the daughter refuse to come back for her own mother’s funeral and only show up once she knew she was in the ground. Boy, did I ever get an answer to that one!

 

 

PWLGB:  Would you tell us a little about "Promises Beyond Jordan"? "Wings of Grace"?

 

VDG:  PROMISES BEYOND JORDAN is a story about a charismatic pastor named George Landris as he prepares for his upcoming wedding to Theresa Jordan. He receives information that Johnnie Mae Taylor, a cherished friend, has been in an accident along with her husband and daughter. He goes in search of his friend, and that’s when the drama begins. Not only will Theresa have problems in the area of her upcoming nuptials, but also there are several personal dilemmas she’s working out that will most likely have you yelling to and at various characters! It’s a tale about faith, family, promises, love, and sacrifices and the true meaning of not just crossing Jordan, but the promises that are beyond Jordan.

 

WINGS OF GRACE is sort of a sequel to many of the characters in PROMISES BEYOND JORDAN. Pastor George Landris is back, but this time he is sharing the spotlight with some strong-willed, true-to-life women on a mission who find themselves in a struggle to overcome wounded spirits and severed ties. Richly populated with complex and unforgettable characters, it ties in real history, places, and happenings (including Biltmore Castle, Oheka Castle, and the World Trade Center on 9/11) that will cause you to examine what’s really important to you in your own life and heart.

 

PWLGB:  What inspired you to write stories like "Promises Beyond Jordan" and "Wings of Grace"? Are the characters based on real people?

 

VDG:  I wrote PROMISES BEYOND JORDAN during a time when so many negative reports were hitting the news about preachers. I feel there are some good preachers out there who really have a heart for God and I desired to see that in my story. Integrity is one word that people use when they talk about this book. I don’t create my people as perfect (I always say God didn’t make perfect people and neither do I), and I want my stories to feel real. True: Pastor Landris is good-looking with charisma, but I love how seriously he takes his call into the ministry. It’s also true that he loved Johnnie Mae Taylor. Most people don’t know that George Landris was originally a minor character in a book I wrote and published called THE ROSE OF JERICHO. He was not a preacher back then, and you can see how far he has come.

 

WINGS OF GRACE came about because I was inspired by fictional character Lena Patterson. Her mother seemed to be something else. I had to pursue the questions I had about her mother, and the story just exploded with new characters and ones I didn’t intend to even show up in this book (like Landris and Johnnie Mae). There is one character in WINGS OF GRACE called Ms. Azile. She was actually inspired by a real person by that same name. Ms. Azile is so colorful; I didn’t even want to mess with her name. I love older people, especially the feisty ones, so I see flavors of the true elderly inside of all my stories.

 

PWLGB:  After writing your first novel, did you self-publish? If so, how was that experience?

 

VDG:  I self-published three novels: DESTINY UNLIMITED, THE ROSE OF JERICHO, and PROMISES BEYOND JORDAN. BET BOOKS’ editor read a copy of PROMISES BEYOND JORDAN and offered me a deal to acquire and republish it. I signed a 2-book deal (that’s where WINGS OF GRACE came in). With self-publishing, I enjoyed the experience of being in control. The things I didn’t like were the difficulty in getting publicity because it is your book and you’re the one trying to tell people about it. You know the: “Everybody thinks their baby is cute” syndrome. The other thing was in having wholesalers like Ingram ordering books, the time it takes to get paid, and I HATED how they could send books back on day 89 (they were due to pay in 90 days) at the publisher’s expense (me) and then on day 92, reorder the same amount of books they just sent back (at the publisher’s expense). There are good and bad points whether you self-publish or sign with a mainstream publisher. It’s just a case of what matters most to you.

 

PWLGB:  What feedback have you received from fans?

 

VDG:  It’s funny, I don’t think of myself as having fans, just as I don’t always consider myself as being famous. I just feel incredibly blessed that people take their time and/or money to support the work I do. I hate when people “make it” and get so cocky they think they’re doing you a favor by having written something and they don’t want to be bothered by “you” the fans. I get emails and I love hearing from people who have enjoyed what I am sharing. I always say, we need each other. If I write and no one reads it, does it make a difference? If you’re a reader and there are no good books to read, then what? When people contact me, I make a huge effort to respond back to them, even if they just sign my guest book. It’s a pleasure for me to do that, especially when people have taken their time to reach out to me. I hope I’m always able to do that.

 

 

PWLGB:  What authors do you admire? Did one of them inspire you?

 

VDG:  There are a lot of great authors hitting the scene these days. I think that’s a blessing and it just shows what happens when the bar is raised and opportunity becomes available. I was inspired by Ernest J. Gaines, Toni Morrison, and surprisingly, a book I read years ago called A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE by Barbara Taylor Bradford. If you can write a story that entertains me while teaching me something and on top of that cause me to think about the characters long after the last chapter, then you’ve done it for me. I believe in giving my best, so anyone who I feel has not “dumb down” a book to me or caused me to feel like I didn’t waste my time, that writer inspires me. Some of my favorite books were by an author named Og Mandino. THE GREATEST MIRACLE IN THE WORLD told a great story, but it caused me to feel so special about myself after I finished it. That’s what I want to do in my readers’ lives: Tell a great story and add value to the reader or listener’s life.

 

 

PWLGB:  Is writing your only passion?

 

VDG:  I love things that have to do with creating. I also love to speak! So I would say my passion is WORDS and the positive effect words can have on people’s lives. My passion is to truly make a difference: Collectively or one-on-one if I have to.

 

PWLGB:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

 

VDG:  I love this question! I see myself looking at certain awards and recognitions and realizing how far I’ve actually come. I see myself flipping through pages and pages of saved emails and notes from people who have shared with my how what I do has greatly impacted their lives. I’m gazing out of my five-sided bay window looking out at the blue waters as the sun hits it and I’m smiling when I reflect on how truly blessed I am because I’m living my life to the fullest and STILL doing what I love to do! Did I mention my Pulitzer Prize in Literature? :-)

 

PWLGB:  What advice would you give aspiring authors?

 

VDG:  Nobody told you this would be easy. If they did, they didn’t tell you the whole truth. You must believe this is what you’re on this earth to do, because there will be times when you’ll question if you’re gifted enough and whether you’re doing the right thing. Please, read all you can about writing and marketing (yes, you will be doing much of this yourself even if you have a “real” publisher). I advise people who are signing with a mainstream publisher to still learn what’s involved with the business (read Dan Poynter’s book on self-publishing). Some people get mad at their publishers because they have no idea what’s really involved and think they are being done wrong. Don’t be destroyed because of a lack of knowledge. Continue to learn and always strive to be better. Learn your craft!

 

PWLGB:  What would you like readers to learn from your stories?

 

VDG:  That all of us have our good days and our bad days no matter who we are or where we’re from. When you think you’re alone, you’re not. I’ve noticed a running theme in my stories: Stop judging and pre-judging people. I also hope people who are objectively seeing what’s going on with my characters see the hope left in their own lives. I mean, when bad things are happening to us, we want to fall apart, but if you can see that by-and-by, things are going to be okay, it will encourage us in our own lives to hang on in there: Things will work out.

 

PWLGB: Are you working on another novel? If so, what is it about?

 

VDG:  I’m actually working on three novels. You could say they are part of what people are now calling: The George Landris Series. When these books will actually be available, I can honestly say, only God knows. It’s not my fault, but I have to be obedient and led by God. He’ll send the right person to publish them.

 

PWLGB:  Where can people purchase your books? Do you have a website?

 

VDG:  My books are available through all bookstores. They can and will only stock so many books on the shelves, so if you don’t see it, ask them to order it for you. Of course, all of the usual online bookstores have them listed. And I just received the audio book version of WINGS OF GRACE. It’s on audio with a different cover! Check my Web site for more information forthcoming about when and where you can get it (Recorded Books www.RecordedBooks.com is the audio producer).

 

My Web site is: www.VanessaDavisGriggs.com. Stop by and visit me. I’d love to hear from you! Thank you so much Shay and PeoplewholoveGoodBooks for this wonderful opportunity to share myself here with all of you. 

 

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