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Book Tour: Introducing LaConnie Taylor-Jones by Angela Wilson
LaConnie Taylor-Jones just can’t get enough of romance novels. For 25 years the Memphis native devoured romance novels with glee. In between teaching health, social responsibility and social justice. It was her husband who finally told Taylor-Jones to merge her passions into novels.
With his support – and that of her four children – Taylor-Jones set out to write novel in 2003. Five years later, she has three full-length novels under her belt – and continues to map out more stories for her fans. Her experience as a health educator continues to spark a multitude of story lines with romantic overtones.
Her efforts paid off. This year she was awarded the coveted Emma Award for Debut Author of the Year. Emma stands for Ethnic Multicultural Media Academy and has been around for more than a decade.
Taylor-Jones is an active member of the Contra Costa Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the African American Community Health Advisory Committee, Black Women Organized for Political Action, and the San Francisco Area and Black Diamond chapters of Romance Writers of America.
Book Tour: LaConnie Taylor-Jones In Her Own Words by Angela Wilson
Writing is a craft and placed in the hands of a writer who’s mastered their craft, an ordinary story transforms into an extraordinary work of art.
When I threw my hat in the literary ring, I wanted my stories to have a unique premise. Therefore, it’s was only natural for me to look back on what I knew best, the field of community public health. For years, I’ve worked as a health educator in the inner-city and teach individuals, struggling with chronic diseases, injustices within a fractured healthcare system, and social deterrents, which regrettably, contribute to the failure in sustaining optimal health. Some have failed, but many have overcome these challenges because someone dared to love them, despite their circumstances.
Well, you guessed it. The love for my day job easily found its way into my writing. The concept for my latest release, When a Man Loves a Woman tackles the issues of betrayal, homosexuality, and inner-city drug trafficking. These are some ‘touchy’ issues and you’re probably wondering how in the world can I spin a romance from all of this? It’s easy because I possess just as much passion for what I write about as I do for the writing process itself.
Nursing administrator Victoria Bennett has soured on love. She has sworn off men; they bring too much drama and too much pain into her life. That is, until she meets pediatrician A.J. Baptiste, a single parent determined to woo her. A.J. will stop at nothing to have her, and Victoria finds her resolve put to the test…but is this a fight she really wants to win?
Vic paused and sucked in a long breath. He was doing it again. Every time they disagreed about something, he’d lower his tone and then give her that sideways grin when she raised her voice.
“I’m moving to Atlanta.”
A.J. gave her a sympathetic nod. “I understand you think you’re moving, but it’s not going to happen.”
Vic stared at him as if he’d just mistakenly been released from the nearest mental ward. Baptiste, you don’t have the sense God gave baby geese. Have you totally lost your mind?
Ignoring the jab, he eyed her intently. “Why can’t you accept the fact that we’re going to be together?”
“I swear, man, you’re U.S. certifiable, Grade-A,” she paused, searching for the right word, then shouted out, “incorrigible.”
He lifted his brow. “You really think so?”
Dear God, help me,” Vic muttered softly and dropped her head.
She silently counted to ten and looked back into the mirror. “Baptiste, there’s not one good reason you can give me why I shouldn’t move.”
Observing their reflections, he shook his head in disagreement. “You’re wrong, Honey. I can give you two. Number one, I love you. And number two, I intend to marry you.”
“I’m not gonna marry you, Baptiste.”
“You’re wrong, Honey.”
“Why can’t we just enjoy the feelings we have for each other without any commitments?”
“No,” he countered quickly, “I’m not going to settle for a casual affair.”
“Because you’re worthy of more, and we deserve better.”
Momentarily speechless, Vic took in a deep breath. Whatever response she’d expected, the one she’d just heard wasn’t it. “Baptiste, I’ve always been honest with you. I’ve told you a thousand times, I don’t do the love boat.”
Reaching out, he turned her around to face him. “Is that why you’re moving to Atlanta, because you’ve convinced yourself not to fall in love with me?”
“I’m not going to let it rest until you answer me.”
“Baptiste, I told you shortly after we met, that I wasn’t going to let history repeat itself with you or any other man.”
“What did Ron do to hurt you so badly that you can’t learn to love again?”
Oblivious to where she stood, Vic recoiled, her hips colliding with the sink. For eight years, she’d been asked that very question more times than she cared to remember. Yet hearing it come from the man who stood in front of her packed the same force as a two hundred mile-per-hour hurricane making landfall.
“I-I don’t want to talk about it,” Vic finally managed to say in a strangled voice.
At that moment, A.J. saw such profound pain surface in her eyes that he felt it, too. The question he’d just posed was the one he’d avoided asking for months. What could a man possibly do to cause a hurt so deep? He reached out and caressed her shoulders. “Honey, whatever Ron did, he was a fool.”
“Y-You don’t understand, Baptiste,” she cried out, lowering her head to hide her tears.
With his index finger, he tilted her chin up. “Baby, if you tell me, perhaps I would.”
“I-I can’t tell you,” she whispered, her words catching on a strangled sob.
“And I can’t help you if you don’t,” he whispered back.
She wiped the tears from her face with both hands and glanced up at him. Maybe, just maybe if he knew, he’d understand there was no way they could ever be together. “You can’t tell…”
“Tell what, baby?” He stroked his thumb along her brow, coaxing her into finishing her sentence. “Honey, I’m a lot of things, but I’d never share with anyone what you tell me in confidence. Understand?”
“H-He cheated on me…”
Finally, after ten, long agonizing months, he knew the cause of her hurt. He pulled her gently against his chest. “Honey, I’m sorry,” he uttered softly, cajoling her face into the space between his neck and shoulder. “Whoever the other woman was, she doesn’t measure up to you.”
Vic’s spine went rigid and she retreated to a private place inside where loneliness and pain resided, the place she never allowed anyone to enter.
The depth of the agony she’d borne alone made her pull back. She stared up blankly at him. Before her brain had time to consult with her mouth, she blurted out the rest of the secret she’d kept hidden for eight long years.
“It was a man.”
With that, she bolted from the room.
Book Tour: Virtual Sitdown with LaConnie Taylor-Jones by Angela Wilson
Health educator, mother, wife and author LaConnie Taylor-Jones sits down with critic Angela Wilson to chat about writing, life, and what’s next for her.
Who is LaConnie Taylor-Jones?
Somewhere between seeing my husband of twenty-four years off to work and serving as chauffeur to four kids, I manage to work as a health educator, and squeeze in a fair amount of time writing contemporary romance. And if that isn’t enough, I’m an active volunteer with several social and community organizations.
How did your writing career begin?
It was the challenge from my husband in the spring of 2003 that made me seriously consider penning my first romance novel.
One night, I was in bed reading a romance, but I simply couldn’t get into the story. It was well past midnight and I guess I’d whined and moaned enough. Hubby turned to me and said, “Baby, if you can write a better book, do it. Now turn out the lights, please.” At first, I thought this man was crazy. Well, truth be told, I thought he was funky, crazy insane. Although I was a fairly decent technical writer in my profession as a public health educator, fiction writing was a different monster all together. Eventually, I honored his request, but not before a zany cast of characters settled in my head, and wrapped around my heart. They’d later become known in the literary world as the Baptiste Family.
I started writing my debut novel, When I’m With You the summer of 2002 and it took me two years to complete the project. After a four month break, I began work on my sophomore project, When A Man Loves A Woman.
Tell us about your latest work.
When A Man Loves A Woman is the sequel to When I’m With You. Victoria (Vic) Bennett and Alcee Jules (A.J.) Baptiste are front and center in this story. After eight years, Vic still battles the pain and humiliation of finding her ex-husband in bed with another man. Readers will see what happens when A.J. enters the picture and helps Vic rebuild her once shattered life and become whole, again.
What compelled you to write it? How did you get the idea for it?
The inspiration for this story came from experience as a health educator. For the last fifteen years, I’ve taught health education primarily to African American women in community-based settings. Oftentimes, before I can lecture on the risk factors associated with chronic diseases disproportionately impacting African Americans, I must first deal with the soci-economic deterrents men and women face.
What contemporary issues does your book deal with?
Generally, the premise of my books centers on a health and/or social related issue most writers tend to shy away from. Once I decided to write, I wanted my story lines to focus on real-life situations readers could relate to.
What draws you to write romance?
I must confess the genre drew me! In 1979, my college roommate introduced me to the world of romance when she handed me a tattered copy of The Flame in the Flower by the late Kathleen Woodiwiss. Overnight, I transformed into a hopeless, never to recover, romance-a-holic.
Can you tell us about the award you won for your debut novel, “When I’m With You”?
Named after the co-founder of the Romance Slam Jam, the Emma Awards is the premier awards event for readers and authors of Black romance. As one of five finalists, I was nominated and won the 2008 Debut Author of the Year.
Who is your greatest champion?
Without a doubt the honor goes to my parents. My only regret is that my mother passed before the release of my debut novel in November 2007. However, her words of wisdom and courage will remain with me for a lifetime.
Who inspires you?
My family is truly the backbone for much of what I do.
What are you reading?
The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama.
What’s next for you?
My readers have totally embraced the Baptiste Clan and I want them to hold on to their seats. The youngest Baptiste brother, Ray will find love in his story entitled, If I Were Your Woman, which is slated for release in April ’09. Also, there are two other Works in Progress as well. With all of this, I plan to stay pretty busy in 2008.
Where can we find you on the Web?
My books are available in all major bookstores as well as on line at Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles.com and other on-line retailers.