Saturday, March 10, 2012
Pen & Prosper Presents Publisher Vicki Ward of Nubian Images Publishing
1. Can you tell us a little about who you are and your background?
I can remember enjoying writing all my life. I wrote essays, and chronicled events. In my 40s I took creative writing courses, joined writing groups, and attended writers' workshops. I interned as a writer for a regional entertainment magazine and wrote monthly articles for two years. My duties included writing stage play reviews, writing music reviews and interviewing artists Jonathon Butler, Earth Wind & Fire, Gill Scott Herron, Ruth Brown, Freddie Jackson and others. My career background is working in the criminal justice system for 34 years retiring from the position of Juvenile Court Administrator. In the last years of my employment I launched my publishing company and producing my first book which won three awards. The focus of my writing is on women of color, mature women, and the empowerment, esteem building, and education of women and girls.
2. What was the inspiration behind starting your anthology series for women?
The inspiration for the anthology series "Life’s Spices From Seasoned Sistahs" came from my observations of the lives of women in my family, my sistah friends and their families. As women we evolve; we have jobs, take on partners, and give birth to and raise children. Added to this mix are parents, siblings, other relatives, and all the drama life can conjure up with this great mix. I had heard the stories of the past where big mama would hold court in the kitchen with her sistahs aunts and other women friends. In these kitchens some were busy cooking pots of greens, shucking beans, and frying chicken. Others were braiding hair, or placing that well worn straightening comb on the stove and easing the natural curl out of a sistah friend’s hair. In the sanctuary of these settings no men were allowed, and no subject was off limits. Women suggested remedies for health, issues with their children and the subjects of their husbands and men in general. These were bonding sessions where women could get no-nonsense advice about many of the important issues in their lives. No matter what the culture, these sessions have taken place all over the world. It struck me that with today’s busy lives women do not have the opportunity to share their pressing issues, to gain insight from other women, and to bond recognizing they are not experiencing many of life’s travails alone. That’s when I knew that Life’s Spices From Seasoned Sistahs could be that bonding opportunity. Women tell of their issues, offer advice and suggestions; readers see how other women handle life’s obstacles.
3. How would you define success?
I have a framed card I received upon a promotion to a very prominent position within the Superior Court over 18 years ago. It says simply: Success is doing more than you need to, before you’re asked to, not because you have to…but because you want to.
The simplicity of this truth is why I have it hanging prominently on my office wall. It becomes a motivator, a litmus test, a self check for what I do. It leads me to consider what really constitutes success for me. Success and accomplishment are now intertwined for me. Being presented with three awards for my first book, Life’s Spices From Seasoned Sistahs was euphoric! It provided a great feeling of accomplishment and success at meeting my goals. Getting offers to lead workshops and speak to women’s groups, professional organizations, church groups, and senior centers also makes me think of accomplishments and success. Having this book used in colleges and universities was another measure of success, but one college took it over the top as it has been used for the past 6 semesters. To sum it up, It’s not so much about success, but that I am reaching my audience, that I am accomplishing my mission to write books with a subject matter that is timely, needed, useful and relevant to the lives of the people for whom it is targeted.
4. What has been your most rewarding accomplishment thus far?
I have long prayed to know just what it is I am supposed to do in this life. Yes, I married and have a wonderful son who has given me 5 beautiful grandsons. I enjoyed my career and over the years, I was successfully promoted from an entry-level clerk to a Court Administrator, yet I wanted to do something more. I have a different feeling about my writing and publishing career, because through the work I do I can encourage women, lift them up, cause them to question their lives, and yes make them laugh. When I present workshops, or give speeches about women’s issues, about empowerment, about writing…they get it and that is so rewarding to me.
5. What would it surprise others to know about you?
They may be surprised to know that I have found that turning 40 unleashed other creative endeavors too. I craft African dolls and create African mirrors and picture frames from recycled materials and creative boxes from African tapestries. I have developed a separate company to create and distribute these, but my writing leaves little time for this endeavor.
6. Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
My mother has been a huge influence in my career because I watched her as a battered wife separate from my father and carve out a new life for herself and her four children. She was uneducated without a high school diploma, yet she went to work finding a job, then a better job, getting her high school equivalency diploma, and never lost sight of the goal of self-sufficiency for herself and her children. She also had a creative side I saw at work all my life, and yet I believed for so long that the creative gene had skipped me, only to find it waiting for me to discover it was there all along and I just needed to walk into it.
7. What types of stories have the greatest chance of success for inclusion in your series?
The stories that have the greatest chance of success for inclusion are those that show how a woman has faced an issue in her life-- be it a death, or involving her mate, her children, or family. Those are surefire sources of stories that bring out strong emotions. The best stories show her emotions and explore her options. We are privy to the emotional roller coaster she may be travelling on. Through her frank and open disclosure the reader gains insight into the problems she may be reading about while allowing her to compare an event possibly similar to something she may be facing, or has faced. These stories are challenging, engaging, and thoughtful. Many are humorous, and all encircle women who read them and confirm they all share similarities in life.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors?
I’ve been reading more independent and new artists recently, but an old favorite author of mine is Diane McKinney-Whetstone. She is a great storyteller. In her books she creates a broad picture of the neighborhoods, houses, inhabitants, protagonists, and neighborhood characters. ReShonda Tate Billingsley is another author whose work I have enjoyed in the past.
9. What‘s the biggest myth you think others have about writing or publishing?
I believe a common myth about writing is that anyone can do it. You hear so often, “I want to write a book, it can’t be that hard”, or “I need to write a book about my life cause I know I got a good story to tell”, or “anyone can write a book.” Many people have a story, but most aren’t skilled enough as writers to know how to write a compelling body of work that captures the subject matter and keeps the reader interested. There is not just a story to be told, but there is a lot of developmental skills involved with presenting a body of work that meets all the target points for good literature. Most do not know how important it is to tell a story that draws the reader in, enticing them to continue wondering, to keep on reading. In this age of witnessing so many people utilizing vanity presses to get their books published, it’s easy to see they know nothing about the most important aspect of marketing their book, to a niche audience over and over again.
10. How do you think women benefit from telling their stories?
The women who tell their stories receive valuable validation for their experience. In this life, many things occur that are expected, unexpected, welcomed, shunned, and feared. That’s just life. As we grow and mature we react differently to life’s hills and valleys, and begin to use the storehouse of past events to help motivate through new challenges. It provides a look back, confirmation for the journey taken, and an awakening of some things forgotten, recalling how strengths were gained.
And, last but not least…
Can you share a little about your upcoming book and future projects?
EMBRACING CHANGE,the most dynamic decade of your life will be
Published in 2012. The focus of this book is the decade of 60 to 70. As the subtitle implies, this is the decade that most people will go from working to retirement, from having a daily schedule to now having the vexing question of what to do with their time. During this decade folks will down size their standard of living, maybe their houses, they will become eligible for Medicare, and will find slightly slower aging bodies and may become infirm. We have included health and fitness information, finance and retirement planning. Individuals experiencing this phase of live offer their comments to the questions, What does embracing change mean to you, and how do you embrace change?
More of Life’s Spices, the sistahs still keepin’ it real will be published in 2012. For all the reasons that the first volume of women’s stories has been successful and continues to sell, women are still vulnerable to life conditions and will always need to find camaraderie in the sistahood. We continue to believe that as experiences are shared, women and men who read and bond with these very real experiences learn a little more about the lives of women, and the women in their lives.