INTERVIEW | Valerie A. Howard

Valerie, describe yourself for our visitors.

I love the Lord, unapologetically. I am a very busy wife and mother of 5. I enjoy writing, reading, traveling, event planning for my church, family and friends, and learning new things. I am the Managing Editor of my church’s newsletter, The Point, as well as one of the staff writers. I bore easily so I am always going new places and trying new things. I am currently pursuing an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy. I love gospel music, particularly Fred Hammond. But I must confess, my favorite artist is Mary J. Blige (she always has seemed to be at the same place in her life as I) and my favorite group is New Edition (old school). I have a special place in my heart for broken women and believe it is my calling to minister to them.

How do you find time to connect with God?

I talk to God all day long, but, the intimate moments are usually late at night, when the house is quiet and the kids are asleep. I’m usually up working in my bedroom/office while my husband is working down in his basement office. That’s usually the time when God’s voice is clearest to me.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?

My favorite authors are Kimberla Lawson Roby, Victoria Christopher Murray, and Jacquelin Thomas. I’ve read and love most of their books. I enjoy books that tell a good story, explore characters, and don’t have profanity and gratuitous sex scenes laced throughout. Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan was the book that changed my life. Although I started writing as a young child, I got away from it as the years progressed. Someone close to me (won’t say who) was discouraging to me about following that career path. But, Terry McMillan showed me that there was a possibility for me. Because my childhood was filled with books, my favorites remain, C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

Tell us about your journey to publication.

One early morning as I drove to work, I asked the Lord what my purpose was and asked Him to give me a mighty work for His kingdom. By the time I made it to my workstation, I was bombarded with ideas for women’s ministry; conferences, retreats, workshops, etc. But, also, I was given the title, Sassy, and the words just started pouring out of me onto the paper. I finished the first chapter before I left work that day. I did most of my writing at work (uh, oh) and edited at home at night. It took about 3 years to complete the book because I had two little girls, 16 months apart, so, which cut substantially into my writing time. The actual writing time was probably about a year.

I shopped the book around for two years to many agents and a couple publishers. I got a lot of great feedback and encouragement. No one said anything negative, they just weren’t willing to take on a new author. So, I put the book aside for a while. Several people suggested that I self-publish but I fought it with all that I had. Finally, I decided to go for it. I found a great opportunity with Lulu.com.

Tell us about your current book?

Sassy is a book about love, friendship, and forgiveness. The title character is a professional Christian woman who has very high ideals for herself and for others in her life. The book covers what happens when those in her life begin to step outside of the invisible boundaries that she has for them and how she is able to reconnect with them while she learns some valuable life lessons herself.

How did you come up with ideas for this book?

Would you find me crazy if I said the book kind of wrote itself? Or if I said these characters live in my head and they told me about themselves? For example, there is one scene in which a character named Jayna reveals her deep, dark, secret. I began to type it one way, which I admit was very predictable. However, when I finished the scene, it was totally different from what I had previously envisioned and much more intense! A lot of what I write is just based on things and people I have encountered throughout my 36 years on this earth, mixed with a lot of imagination.

What’s next for you?

Sassy is my debut novel, however, I am working on the second release, After Bobby.

After Bobby is about a family’s attempt to return to some sense of normalcy after the tragic death of their son, the title character.

Where can visitors find you online?

Sassy is available on most online retail bookseller sites. My website is www.valerieahoward.com and my email address is valerieahoward@aol.com

I would love to hear from my readers on the message board or by email.