Magic City Momma is excited that Kendra Norman, bestselling author, licensed minister and radio host, recently stopped by to discuss her new book and her career.
Magic City Momma: Tell me about your new book, Blondeva’s Boys.
Kendra Norman: Blondeva’s Boys is a project that is near and dear to my heart. The female matriarch in the story is named after my beloved mother who passed away in November of 2014. While the only real likeness between my character and my mom is their deep love for God and family, it was important for me to give her the same name. My mom absolutely hated her first name and solely went by her middle name. Although I didn’t care much for the name either, I’ve come to appreciate it for being as uniquely beautiful as she was, and I wanted Mama’s name to become a household one. In my story, Blondeva is a God-fearing woman in her 80s who, along with her husband, raised four children—all sons. All except one of their sons grew up to be successful in pretty much every aspect of their lives. Their youngest, Isaac, has a history of failures in everything from schooling to marriage, and the shadow of those failures have followed him all throughout his life. He moved away from the small town in which he was raised and even joined the US Air Force in order to escape the constant reminders of his failures. Ms. Blondeva (as she’s called by most) pulls a few strings to get Isaac back to his hometown. He now works as a licensed contractor, and her bait to lure him home are the renovations that are needed on the home that she and her husband have shared for several decades and her “failing health” (note the quotations marks). What Isaac ultimately finds out is that he—not the family home—is the one in store of a makeover: spiritually, mentally, and physically.
Why did you decide to write it?
I wanted to tell a story of a person dealing with issues of low self-worth that are rooted in mistakes made in their past. Those around us have the tendency to identify and categorize us based upon what we’ve DONE and don’t give much respect to what we’re currently doing. They disqualify us by our past. Saddest part is those of us being criticized often start to see ourselves in the same manner as our critics. We make the mistake of allowing what other people think of us to define us, or we find ourselves constantly trying to guard ourselves because any small thing that a person says that remotely sounds like a disparagement shifts us into a mode of defense. This is a huge issue that Isaac deals with, and much of it is because while God has forgiven his past shortcomings, he hasn’t forgiven himself. In Blondeva’s Boys he has to take a personal journey into forgiveness; not of what others have done to him, but he has to learn to forgive himself so that the fullness of his self-confidence can be restored.
What lessons do you want readers to learn from the story?
I’m hopeful that those who read Blondeva’s Boys will be reminded of the importance of faith, family, and forgiveness and also of the importance of having, giving, and sharing love. As with all of my novels, there’s a romance that brews in this story, and it tells a story of its own. I believe readers will be pleasantly surprised by the love story that blossoms in the midst of this family drama.
Tell me about your publishing journey.
My love for writing began as a 10-year-old child when I discovered I had an interest in creating poetry. I solely wrote poetry and skits/plays for many years, never having an aspiration to write novels. My first novel started out as a journal entry. The year was 1999, and I sat down to write a journal entry about a very traumatic and painful experience in my life. What was supposed to be a simple one-page entry didn’t end until nearly 30 days and 150 pages later. It was the first time I’d truly faced the loss of my first husband who had died four years earlier. I’d never properly grieved his death because I felt a responsibility to be strong for our daughters and everyone else who had been close to him. I’d never really cried, but every single day that I spent writing during that monthlong journey, I wept like a child. That writing session became much-needed therapy for me. It freed me from a prison I didn’t even know I was in. Once I’d gotten finished, I suddenly wanted to continue to write; mainly because I discovered that writing brought me joy. It encouraged and uplifted me, and I found myself wanting to write other things that would do the same for others. I never tried to publish anything until after I’d completed about nine fictional manuscripts. I began seeking out publishers in early 2002 shortly after I self-published my first novel. I got rejection letters like most new authors, but I persevered. And by the grace of God I was writing for two major publishing houses by 2003, and my first nationally published book released in 2004.
What advice do you have for people interested in publishing a book?
I’m a big advocate for self-publishing. I believe it allows a writer to better appreciate his/her craft from A to Z. Ultimately, it can also be the most expeditious way of getting a writer’s work in the hands of readers since self-publishing is most often a quicker process than mainstream publishing. Regardless of which route a writer takes, I think it’s important that they respect the craft and know that getting the book published doesn’t guarantee the success of the project. It’s one thing to be a published author. It’s another to be a successful published author. If a person is interested in being successfully published, he or she needs to know that it’s hard work. You have to be willing to hit the ground running and put some real effort (and invest real dollars) into making sure that your book gets into the hands of readers. It’s a process, and it can be challenging at times; however, it’s well worth the efforts.
What is the biggest lesson you want readers to learn from all of your stories?
All of my writing is Christian based. I strive, in every project, to not only entertain but to edify, encourage, and enlighten. I want readers to feel inspired. I want them to see the difference in the outcome of a situation when God is allowed to take control.
What advice do you have for women who juggling raising a family while pursuing their dreams?
I’ve done that, so I know that feeling all too well. When I first began writing, my children were in elementary school. By the time I was nationally published, they were still young girls. It was quite a challenging balancing act. Not only did I have family and my writing, but I also had a nine-to-five corporate American job. Demands came from all three sides. I learned that the only way to do it well is to prioritize correctly. My job and my writing came second to family. I had to make time to write. For me, that meant giving up television and some of my sleep time. I wrote in the night hours after my family had turned in for the night, but I had to learn to shut down at a reasonable time so that I could get adequate sleep in preparation of the next day’s work. I won’t try and make people believe it’s easy. It’s not. But just as with anything else in life, if we desire it badly enough, we’ll find a way to squash the excuses and make it happen.
What’s next for Kendra Norman?
I’ll be promoting and pushing Blondeva’s Boys for a while, but even as I do that, my plan is to be creating my next work. My husband and I have plans to put together a daily devotional geared toward celebrating marriage and family, and I’m excited about working on a publishing venture with him. I think I’ll focus solely on that before starting on another solo project.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
I’d like to mention my weekly radio show, Royal Pen Network. It airs every Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. (EST). The show highlights writers who use their pens to create positive materials (books, music, poetry, blogs, plays, television shows, etc.). We provide excellent information to writers and readers during the one-hour live broadcast. The show is powered by the Stellar Award–winning station, Joynet Radio. I encourage those reading this interview to join me by visiting www.JoynetRadio.com and clicking the “Listen Live” link. They can also listen by downloading the Joynet app from their Play Store and tuning in via their smartphone or tablet. Royal Pen Network’s website is www.RoyalPenNetwork.com.